Asparagus - Loved 3 Ways

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Asparagus. The tall green trees of the vegetable forest. They are cousins to broccoli; the shorter, fuller shrub like relative. But trees, all the same. I love these tall beauties all on their own, just as much as when mixed in with other vegetables. I love asparagus grilled, or sautéd, roasted or steamed.  It's safe to declare that I simply love them.  

I guess all that love started a want.  How can I include these more often but with flair.  That's when I began flirting with ways to enhance these long, earthy stalks. A simple addition of one or two extra items is all that was needed. Once I did, they went from average vegetable side dish, to a 'stand out, move over' dish. It doesn't take much to make them shine brighter.  Here are three ways, but I don't need to tell you that there are countless others. 
On tap today:

  1. Quail Eggs, Shallots

  2. Goat Cheese, Lemon Zest

  3. Chorizo & Caramelized Onions

Long, tall, green. Like cypress trees swaying in the wind.

Long, tall, green. Like cypress trees swaying in the wind.

Asparagus, chorizo, caramelized onions, goat cheese, lemon, shallot, quail eggs.

Asparagus, chorizo, caramelized onions, goat cheese, lemon, shallot, quail eggs.

The first time asparagus arrived at my enhancement clinic, I made hard boiled eggs, quartered them, steamed the asparagus, scattered some thinly sliced shallot then drizzled the entire dish with balsamic vinaigrette and served them as an appetizer.  My latest upgrade;  swap the big ole chicken egg for their diminutive cohorts, the quail egg, I must admit I loved it even more.  The quail eggs are petite and deliver a more delicate touch.

Asparagus with Hard Boiled Eggs & Balsamic Vinaigrette

When cooking the quail eggs, drop them in boiling water for only 2 minutes, then into a bowl of cold water, and peel. This amount of cook time and cold water shocking provides soft yolk perfection.

When cooking the quail eggs, drop them in boiling water for only 2 minutes, then into a bowl of cold water, and peel. This amount of cook time and cold water shocking provides soft yolk perfection.

The next time asparagus showed up for some freshening up, I grilled them, let them cool slightly then crumbled goat cheese along their bristled tops, let it rain lemon zest and drizzled a red wine, lemon shallot vinaigrette.

Asparagus with Goat Cheese & red wine, Lemon shallot Vinaigrette

It's truly as simple as adding goat cheese, lemon zest and drizzling with a red wine shallot vinaigrette. This ain't brain surgery, I know but it does taste good to the brain, the taste buds and the belly.

It's truly as simple as adding goat cheese, lemon zest and drizzling with a red wine shallot vinaigrette. This ain't brain surgery, I know but it does taste good to the brain, the taste buds and the belly.

The third time the asparagus knocked at the refresh clinic, they were seeking a bit more intensity. So a good helping of sautéd chorizo and caramelized onions with just a drizzle of oil, coarse salt and pepper fit their request.

Asparagus with chorizo & caramelized onions

Sauté chorizo and chop into small pieces, add caramelized onions and drizzle of oil.

Sauté chorizo and chop into small pieces, add caramelized onions and drizzle of oil.

3 approaches. 3 ingredients.

3 approaches. 3 ingredients.

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In all these versions, I opted to oven roasted the asparagus. I preferred this method over steaming for this round.. You can prepare them to your liking. These are just three simple stories to tall tales of a stalky green vegetable. Of course, there are more tales to tell...

Asparagus in quiche.  Or salads. 
Use creamy sour cream mustard dressing or a blue cheese dressing
Asparagus tart
Grilled asparagus tossed with pasta

3 ways? Oh dear asparagus, stop by the enhancement clinic any day of the week, there are an eternity ways...

 
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Tortilla - Tradtional Spanish Style

Oh so many years ago, I had the awesome experience of living in Spain.  Madrid, to be specific. And I loved every minute of it. Including the moment I arrived and ordered a Tortilla Tradicional.  

Tortilla, in Spain, is quite a different thing than that of Latin American countries.  In contrast to the flour or corn flat bread,  the Spanish tortilla is made with eggs, potatoes and onions, and is considered more of a cake or torta. Tortilla being the diminutive form, means little cake.  Hence this egg/potato combo is less omelette and more cake.  In Spain, it is simply known as Tortilla, but to distinguish it from a French omelette or from the South American flatbread, it is often called tortilla de patatas or tortilla española.

No matter what you call it, this 'cake' is a delight to eat either as a snack, which is how the Spaniards usually eat it, or for breakfast/brunch.  Heck, why not a slice for dinner with a vegetable or salad on the side.  (A true Spaniard would be appalled at that suggestion.  But I am here in the U.S., and we need our greens!)

I will admit that making this was new to me. Years ago I tried my hand at making a tortilla but it didn't quite turn out to the thick, dense omelette it should be. A few reasons for my failure as a true Spaniard.  I didn't have an equal amount of eggs to potatoes which is what creates both the thickness and density. Plus I didn't poach the potatoes first. I cooked it altogether in a frittata style.  Working at Despaña has taught me a ton, including how to make a proper Spanish Tortilla.  After asking Chef Jaume Guerra, and watching the cooks make countless tortillas, one after another, each looking exactly the same, I felt ready to attempt it again. Please, do not get me wrong, I'm still not an expert.  Mine did not look as stunningly perfect as theirs but I have more confidence that I have the right technique now.  With that, an ever-good student knows how important it is to teach after she has been schooled. So here is the proper way to make this famous, delicious, versatile Tortilla.  Best part, It requires very few ingredients.

Ingredients

 

6 eggs, beaten
6 potatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
Oil, salt

 

 

 

 

Instructions

Slice the potatoes and onion thinly.  I use a mandolin.  You can use the single cutter side of a box grater, or simply cut thinly with a knife.  In a sauté pan add at least 2/3 cup of oil and slowly heat, and add the potatoes and onions. Beat the eggs and set aside.

Ready, set, poach.

Ready, set, poach.

Yes, it's a ton of oil.  but not all of it is absorbed so don't freak out.

Yes, it's a ton of oil.  but not all of it is absorbed so don't freak out.

The key in cooking the potatoes is to poach them in the oil not fry.  So low and slow is the goal.  Let them cook in a gentle manner until the potatoes break apart. Then drain them, reserving the oil.  (Since the oil was not heated to the boil point you can reserve it and use it to cook at a later time.)  

Slowly poaching away to a soft tenderness.

Slowly poaching away to a soft tenderness.

Let the potatoes cool slightly. You don't want to add them to eggs when they are too hot, but you do want them to be warm so that when you mix them with the eggs it creates almost a custard.  

Drain the potatoes, and reserve the oil.  It can be used again.

Drain the potatoes, and reserve the oil.  It can be used again.

Mix with eggs while still warm, but NOT hot.

Mix with eggs while still warm, but NOT hot.

Put some of the oil back in the pan and add your egg/potato mixture.  Cook over low heat slowly. Let the mixture set a bit and then using a spatula start to form sides and keep the omelette moving.  Allow this to cook 3/4 of the way. Then once it is set with rounded edges, slide it out of the pan onto a plate and then place the pan on top of the plate and flip it over back into the pan to let that side cook.  

You can see that it's potatoes being held together lovingly by eggs.

You can see that it's potatoes being held together lovingly by eggs.

Slide it onto a plate.

Slide it onto a plate.

Then place the pan on top and flip it over.

Then place the pan on top and flip it over.

Despaña makes a variety of tortillas.  Some have chorizo, others have cheese, or zucchini.  The traditional is made of just the ingredients listed above but you can add whatever floats your Spanish Armada.  With Mother's Day approaching, this could be a nice way to start the day and treat your 'reina' - aka Queen.

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I made this for dish when my niece, Lauren who studied in Barcelona, came for a visit. She loved living in Spain too, and has a passion for Spanish food and culture.  So I thought it only fitting to make this classic tapas treat for her.  

 

 

 

It was the perfect offering for a late Saturday lunch along with a charcuterie and cheese platter. Slice the tortilla up by cutting a pie wedge, serve with a glass of red wine and some crusty bread.  Can you say OLE! Sure can. And now you, too, know how to make a proper Traditional Spanish Tortilla. Viva España!