Another Idea For Shredded Brussels Sprouts

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While reading some articles this morning I came upon another idea using shredded brussels sprouts. This one, found on the blog Food52, is from Danny Meyer & Michael Romano‘s classic Union Square Café Cookbook. The description: “a brussels sprout recipe that will bring a bright new pattern to your life: the hash. Hashing combines the best of our favorite techniques — the loft of a raw shredded salad with the warmth and toasted edges of high-heat roasting or frying. It takes little time or planning to pull off and, just in time for January, gives you a light — but not too light — new favorite.”

OK I’m sold. Will be trying this soon. Hope you will too.

Union Square Café’s Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Poppy Seeds and Lemon

Strawberries Have Been Consumed Since The Stone Age

Did you ever wonder where the strawberry originated? The Woodland Strawberry, (Fragaria vesca) it is said has been consumed by humans since the Stone Age. I really don’t want to think about how archaeologists figured that out but it is written that they did, so we’ll leave it at that. Evidently strawberries were first cultivated in ancient Persia. Seeds were traded along the Silk Road towards the Far East and into Europe where they were cultivated until the 18th century. These species were largely supplanted by cultivation of F. X ananassa over the last 250 years. Native American strawberries were enjoyed by early settlers in the eastern USA, and in the early 1800s, F. X ananassa cultivars were brought to America from Europe. Plants selected in Pajaro, California became the basis of the California industry sited near Watsonville, the main strawberry region in California. Today, strawberries are cultivated in 73 countries worldwide with the USA producing about 27%. California alone outproduces most other countries.

Even though Strawberries have been a favorite food of man for it looks like forever, strawberries are not one of my favorite fruits. But, sometimes they smell so good it’s hard to pass them up.  Such was the case Sunday when I purchased a beautiful basket of plump brightly colored, fragrant, organic strawberries at the Farmers’ Market. I also picked up a couple of lemons, some beautiful snap peas, a couple Fuji apples and some more Japanese sweet potatoes.

After lunch I spent some time browsing through recipes and found a clipping for Cornmeal Cake with Strawberries. The clipping touted the cake as the perfect foundation for unstructured strawberry shortcake so I decided to give it a try thinking it might be the perfect dessert for Mother’s Day.

Cornmeal Cake with Strawberries

Unsalted butter and cornmeal for preparing the pan

1 ¼ cups sifted whole wheat pastry flour

6 Tablespoons yellow cornmeal

2 Teaspoons baking powder

¼ Teaspoon salt

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 Teaspoon grated lemon zest

½ cup milk (I used soy as that’s what I had on hand)

1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9” round or square pan with 2-inch sides, then dust with cornmeal, shaking out excess.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.

Using an electric mixer beat the butter until creamy. Add sugar gradually and beat, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice, until creamy and light. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add lemon zest.

Combine milk and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with milk. Beat just until blended, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake until top is golden brown and firm to the touch, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in pan 20 minutes. Invert the cake onto a rack, then reinvert onto another rack. Cool to room temperature, then transfer to a serving dish.

Hull two baskets strawberries. Put half of them in a large bowl and crush with a potato masher. Slice the remaining strawberries and add to the bowl. Sweeten to taste with sugar. Add enough lemon juice to give the mixture a refreshing tart edge. Cover and Chill.

Just before serving, whip 1 cup heavy cream to soft peaks with 2 Teaspoons sugar. I flavored this with a touch of brandy.

To serve spoon berry mixture into shallow bowls, top with cake, whipped cream and a little more of the berry mixture. Serve immediately. Serves up to 8.

I really liked this cake. It’s not too sweet and has a really nice texture. I also think replacing the lemon with orange with work well. This would be a nice cake to eat along with any berry mixture.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Early Egyptians, Greeks and Romans prized Asparagus. Me too!

Although it isn’t officially Spring, it sure feels like it. Days have been warm and sunny. The trees are blooming, and the fields are filled with flowers of mustard and wild radish. There are even California poppies blooming here and there.

It’s a time when the earth is waking from her winter sleep. A marvelous time when there are not only an abundance of flowers blooming there are wonderful vegetables that only come with spring.  And that includes one of my favorites, asparagus.

A member of the lily family, asparagus, (Asparagus officinalis), comes from the Greek word asparagos, which first appears in English print around 1000 A.D. It is known to be native to the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor areas. Egyptians, Greeks and Romans prized asparagus for its unique flavor, texture and cleansing and healing properties. It has been grown in Syria and Spain since ancient times and in the 16th Century, asparagus gained popularity in France and England. The colonists introduced it to the US. Today people throughout Europe, Asia, and North America enjoy fresh asparagus in a variety of ways.

Asparagus can be used as an ingredient in a main dish, served in salads and soups, and makes a delicious appetizer. It can be steamed, sautéed, grilled, stir-fried, baked or broiled. Not only is it delicious, it’s low in calories and sodium, and contains no fat or cholesterol. Asparagus contains Glutathione, one of the body’s most potent cancer fighters and Rutin, which is valuable in strengthening blood vessels.

Early asparagus can be very thin; fatter, juicier spears come in later in the season. Thinner asparagus is better suited to sautés, sauces, or grilling. Later, fatter asparagus is better served whole. Look for asparagus that is smooth-skinned and bright-colored. The heads should be compact and tightly formed. If the heads are not compact and tightly formed the asparagus was harvested too late, and will likely be tough, taste grassy and bitter and may discolor when cooked.

Here’s a recipe that just shouts Spring.

Asparagus in lemon and herb sauce

Serves 4 -6

20 to 30 stalks of asparagus, 6” long

3 egg yolks

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup warm Chicken Stock

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

1 tablespoon finely minced chives (optional)

1 tablespoon finely minced dill (optional)

Clean the asparagus, removing the tough ends. Cook asparagus in boiling water until tender; be sure not to overcook. The stalks should still be slightly crisp. As soon as the asparagus is done, run it under cold water. Keep warm while making the sauce.

In a small heavy saucepan, combine the egg yolks and cornstarch. Add the lemon juice and whisk until the mixture is quite smooth.

Add the warm stock and place the saucepan over medium heat. Cook the sauce until it is quite thick, whisking vigorously all the time. As soon as the sauce has the consistency of custard, remove the saucepan immediately from the heat and continue whisking until the sauce has cooled.

Season the sauce with salt and pepper and add the optional, chives and dill. Place the asparagus on a serving platter and spoon the sauce over it without covering the tips. Serve immediately.

From: The Seasonal Kitchen, by Perla Meyers

For another delicious way to cook asparagus check out my recent post  Grill\’n Between Storms.

What to buy at the Farmers’ Market:

Asparagus

Eggs

Lemon

Chives