Sunday, 19 August 2012

Deeply dippy: about asparagus

Asparagus was one of the treats in my pack from Asda, that has been the basis of this series of Simple Summer Essentials. Truthfully I would normally only buy and cook asparagus during the British season (around Aprilish time) but this year the crops were pretty much devastated by the awful, awful weather we've been subjected to, so I think I managed to find some once. For me, I think part of the beauty of asparagus is in the fact that it's season is so limited, and I do look forward to it.

As I'd gone without in the Spring, I thought 'to hell with it' (just this once mind you) and decided to embrace my Asda asparagus with open arms. I had two bunches so decided to do it two ways.

The first was - and probably always will be - my favourite way to eat asparagus is with softly poached eggs. I use the lightly steamed spears as green soldiers, and dip them happily into the golden, runny yolks of my eggs. (I get bored once the yolk has gone but don't tell). The only thing I do differently from the post linked to above is poach the eggs properly now, and omit the toast.

Poached eggs - pantry style (I say that, this is probably the easiest thing to do ever)

Poached eggs work best with fresh eggs - at the supermarket I'm never entirely convinced about how fresh they are, so when I can I get them from either a local farm shop, or our farmers market, where a free range chicken lady sells her eggs. Not 'her' eggs obviously, that would be weird. The eggs her hens lay.

Fill a wide, flat pan with a couple of inches of water that you've just boiled in the kettle, put this on a lowish heat until you get small bubbles.
Break the egg into the water and let the water stay at this gentle simmer for a minute
Take the pan off the heat and leave to sit for 10 minutes. Serve with asparagus

To cook asparagus I either steam it, or cook it this way. Put the stems, tip down in a pyrex jug - fill up to to about two thirds of the way up the stem with boiling water. Leave to stand for 5 minutes. Dunk with gusto into eggs, using the cold ends to hold. Genius!

OK, so now - asparagus another way.

Just lately there's been something I've really taken to about savoury tray bakes. Not adding vegetables to sponge cake, but the whack it all in a roasting tin and leave it in the oven for an hour or so. I've started to buy a whole chicken and ask the butcher to joint it, then just add some potatoes, veg, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for about an hour at 200 degrees C. It's a no fuss supper and ideal for when M's edgy because we've not had meat yet that week.

Roast asparagus

About 5-10 minutes before the end of any savoury traybake - the one pictured was sausages, sweetcorn and potatoes. (I had salad with mine) add the asparagus to the roasting tin, tossing it gently in any oil or seasoning. Then pop back in the oven until you're ready to serve, and on serving - fight over who gets the bigger portion (true story)

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