Thursday, April 7, 2016

Asparagus Stock / Pasta with Asparagus Stock



Long before the current trend to use the whole animal or the whole plant, I saved the tough ends of my local asparagus stems.  Local asparagus is so spectacular I could not bear to assign the less tender portions to the compost pile.  I made stock from these stems and turned the resultant stock into soup.  The soup cried for cream and since this was a weekday staple, I did not answer the call.  Pasta cooked in asparagus stock is a great dinner on its own, no cry for cream and could only be improved by perhaps a bit of chopped parsley or grated Parmesean.

After several years of this practice, I find I have company.  Headline from a May 22, 2015 article in the Wall Street Journal:

Vegetable Scraps Go Haute: How to Cook Root to Stalk

Save those stems! Across the country, chefs are getting very good eating from parts of our produce we typically trim away. Here are their tips for using every part of the vegetable, plus recipes mindful of making the most of your market haul*


And an article in the Spring 2015 issue of edible Aspen, "The Skinny on Asparagus", included a recipe for asparagus stock and directions on how to cook pasta in stock.  

With the asparagus season fast approaching some asparagus stock still left in my freezer, I remembered the pasta recipe.  I used whole wheat linguini fini with excellent results.  The whole wheat pasta makes a heartier, less delicate but also healthier offering than white pasta.   

ASPARAGUS STOCK

The edible Aspen asparagus stock recipe is pretty close to the one I have been using for several years, except it finishes the stock using a food processor and then a food mill.  I find the food processor or even easier an immersion blender sufficent.  I collect the asparagus trimmings over the course of a few meals. Often I cook for only two but we eat a lot of asparagus so it does not take long to fill the quart container I keep in the refrigerator during asparagus season.

Place the asparagus stem pieces (I do a quart of 1 -2 inch stems at a time) in a medium pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, cover and gently boil until the asparagus is very soft, about 45 minutes.  Add more water if necessary to keep stems covered.  Let cool and then puree with a food processor or immersion blender.

I freeze and save for use after asparagus is no longer in season.



PASTA COOKED IN ASPARAGUS STOCK

"Cooking pasta in stock is a fabulous alternative to using your stock for soup. The pasta absorbs the flavors from the stock and leaches out starch, which thickens the sauce to create a savory sauce.."**

Serves 3

Heat until boiling: 

1 quart asparagus stock 

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add

8 ounces pasta, linguini fini or spaghettini works best

The pasta will be stiff and probably not all fit in the stock initially. Gently push down on the pasta until it softens and collapses into the stock.  Stir constantly to avoid strands from sticking together. Cook the pasta until it is al dente. Time on box/bag will not be accurate as pasta is being cooked in a significantly reduced amount of liquid and not water.  You will have to taste for doneness. During cooking, stock will thicken. Add a little water if sauce gets too sticky.  Divide into bowls and serve immediately.

This combination stands well on its own but could be garnished with 

finely chopped parsley 

and/or

grated Parmesean





* I don't subscribe to the WSJ so only saw the headline, not recipes.

**  edible Aspen, No. 30 Spring 2015, page15.



Alex's Almond Pancakes

One Sunday morning this January Henry crawled into bed with me and announced we were having pancakes for breakfast.  Alex's turn to cook.  My pancakes cannot compete with hers. I looked forward to breakfast along with Henry.

This recipe serves 4 adults and 1 pancake loving toddler, with maybe one pancake leftover for a mid-morning snack.

Preheat a pancake griddle, and preheat oven to low (250 degrees F)

In a large bowl, mix together:

3 c all-purpose flour
1 T + 1 1/2 t (4 1/2 t) baking powder
1/2 t salt

Beat together

3 eggs
2 1/4 c milk (may need as much as 3 c milk or combination of milk and yogurt - see beow)
3 T melted butter
1 1/2 t almond extract

Then gently stir in the dry ingredients.  If the batter seems thick, add more milk or yogurt. The thickness of the batter determines the thickness of the pancakes, the more liquid, the thinner the pancakes.

Butter or oil a hot griddle then ladle or pour the mix onto the griddle. Turn pancake when bubbles form across the surface. Adjust heat as necessary, subsequent batches may require less heat then the first batch. When both sides of pancake are browned, remove to the warm platter in the oven and hold until all batter is cooked.

Serve with warm maple syrup.





Reviewed 5/8/17