Asparagi ed Uova con Prosciutto (Asparagus and Egg with Prosciutto)

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“Velocius quam asparagi coquantur” – Ancient Roman saying that translates as “faster than cooking asparagus”.  It means that something was accomplished very quickly.  Kind of like cooking this dish!

Asparagus with egg is is a springtime favorite across Italy.  You can find it listed on the menu as a lunch item, or as a first course on a supper menu.

Traditionally it’s made with the thicker (female) stalks which are boiled in salted water and then topped with a crispy fried egg, parmegiano reggiano, and the browned butter from the fry pan.

I make mine just a little differently because I love to match up crispy prosciutto and roasted asparagus.  And you know what?  I almost bought some quail eggs because I just KNOW it would be super cute to make a little asparagus and prosciutto “bouquet” with tiny fried quail egg “flowers”.

Alas, I’m still trying to figure out what to do with all the eggs I already have, so it didn’t seem right to purchase an entire dozen of the wee little guys.  No matter how cute it would be.

Speaking of cute, here is a picture of my dog peeking out from under the table at a restaurant where I ordered this dish.

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Now we make it at home, and so can you.

Happy Spring Vegetable Recipes Everyone!

Asparagus with Egg and Prosciutto

Per person:

1 egg

Handful washed asparagus, all about the same size

1 piece prosciutto

grated Parmegiano Reggiano

salt and pepper

1/2 T to 1 T Butter

Preheat oven to 400 F

Preheated small fry pan (medium or just under), you want it pretty hot.

Wash and pat dry your asparagus to make sure there is no sand in them.  Steam for about 3 minutes over boiling water if they are the thin (male) stalks, or about 5 minutes if they are the thicker (female) stalks.  If you have JUST picked them, from your own garden, you lucky person you, you can get away with an even shorter period of time.  Drizzle with olive oil, and wrap the prosciutto around it like a bundle of love.  Place the asparagus on the baking tray with the seam side down so it doesn’t pop open or curl up.  Grind some pepper over the top.

Cook for 10-12 minutes, remove from oven and put on plate.  Top with desired amount of cheese.

*I like my asparagus crisp tender, even if it’s roasted, but feel free to cook it for a longer period of time depending on your preference.*

Add pat of butter to fry pan – it should melt right away and almost want to turn brown.  If it browns immediately your pan is too hot, so lower the heat and try again. Pour your egg in, top with some salt and pepper, and cook until the white is set but the yolk is still runny.

Carefully place the egg on top of the asparagus, and pour the remaining browned butter over the asparagus.

Serve immediately

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Herbes de Provence Cod

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It has been a while since I have posted.  There are a lot of reasons why, but if I have to look deeply at myself, a big part of it is because I thought:

What I ate is not post worthy

I’m experimenting a lot, and the recipes are good, but

Not post worthy

People like what I cooked, say they love it, but can it be replicated?  Can anyone do it?  Anywhere?

Not worthy

Wow.

Psalm 139:14 says

I will praise you; for I am fearfully (gloriously) and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and THAT my soul knoweth right well.

That’s US.  Who we are, when we agree with who God says we are.

So today, I made some fish.  And it was good. So I’m posting it.  Not because it’s fancy, takes a lot of technique, or ticks any of the current dietary things, or is post worthy, but because it was good, and after eating it, I FELT good, and a cloud lifted from my brain.

Not only that, but afterwards I ate the leftovers of a recipe I was working on that is the

PERFECT DESSERT for this meal.  I’m so excited again to work on that one, because somehow, in the days when I couldn’t figure out what to post…it was all coming together in a glorious and wonderful way.  A little bit of research showed, that when you put certain foods together, you actually assimilate all of the nutrients and AMP UP the nutritional value.

Seriously?

It’s true!

The dessert that I have been working on is super good, and fits completely with the fish I made tonight, it just needs a few tweaks and twiggles.  I made up the word twiggles but feel free to use it.

This recipe is for ONE.  Just multiply the ingredients if someone else is eating with you.

You start by laying very thinly sliced potatoes, carrots, and a little bit of onion in a cast iron pan that was heated to med low, and had a small amount of olive oil spread on the bottom.  I salted all the veg except the onion, and let the liquids come out.  Then rinsed them and patted them dry before putting them in the pan.  Some of the starch will come out of the potatoes.

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Then I laid the cod on top of the potatoes.  The cod was seasoned with garlic, herbes de provence, olive oil, and some pink salt.  I topped it with some thin sliced lemon, and drizzled some more olive oil over it all.

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After 10 minutes in a 350 F oven, I took it out and stirred up all the vegetables around the fish.

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Another 10 minutes in the oven, take out, stir the vegetables again, and cover in tin foil.  It should sit for at least 5 minutes covered by the foil tent.

I’ll do the first picture again, because all I do many times is top with a chiffonade of lettuce.  Even if it’s not just you eating, it’s fun to set out salt and pepper that has to be ground, and some olive oil.  That way everyone gets interactive with the food, even if someone else cooked it. There is always going to be someone who wants to put some hot pepper on it, so put that out also.  Anyway, have fun!

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Herbes de Provence Cod

1 piece cod approx 6 oz (I used a frozen at sea piece)

2 T good olive oil

1 T Herbes de Provence ( I used a blend from a place called gaec le frigoulet – but I can’t find a website.  It is the BEST EVER blend I ever had, and it was a place where we just stopped because I said “let’s stop here” as we drove past it on the road.

1/2 clove minced garlic

More olive oil

Mix olive oil, garlic and oil together with a fork.  Let sit for a while.

Pat your fish dry if it is very wet.  Coat each side with the herb mixture.

Drizzle with some more olive oil, and cook in oven for 20 minutes.  Take out and cover with tin foil for at least 5 minutes.

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Food Pics from Italian Wedding

I thought you might be interested in seeing  pictures of some dishes that were served at a wedding in Naples. (Napoli)  Naples is located on the sea, and most of the dishes were updated versions of foods traditional to the area.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll let the photos themselves be the the story today.  Enjoy and be inspired!

Fresh Fish Appetizer

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Mussels Pesto with Garlic and Spices

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Potatoes Vellutata with Calamari and Peppers

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Pasta with Beans, Mussels, and Calamari

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Octopus with Tomato and Beans

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I hope you enjoyed taking a look at some really beautiful foods that were prepared for a beautiful day!

Many hugs,

Christina

Asian Ramen Salad w/ Seriously Addictive Sesame Dressing

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This ubiquitous summer salad goes by many names.  Oriental coleslaw.  Asian Ramen Noodle Salad.  Asian Coleslaw.  Crunchy Ramen Salad.  Crunchy Asian Coleslaw.  I really have no idea who created this recipe, but it has been showing up at most every potluck, picnic, family reunion, church function, etc. for decades.

In North America, a potluck is any kind of social function that you go to where all the guests contribute a dish.  They tend to be informal, and long tables are set out for people to pick and choose what to put on their plate – buffet style.  It’s a chance to try a lot of new things, and some savvy people come armed with copies of the recipe they brought.

You learn pretty quickly that if this salad is on the table you should get some right away, and not wait to get it on the second pass.  It probably wont be there when you come back!

I can eat this as a meal, but it’s tangy dressing and crunch really shine as a side dish, especially when served with grilled meats that have a sauce.  Like a barbecue sauce. Not only does it work as a palate cleanser, but it also helps to regulate the acid-alkaline balance in the body. When you eat a grilled meat it can make the body more acidic (do not want), but eating something acidic actually makes the body more alkaline.  Which you want.  So it’s important to balance out your meals so the body functions at optimum levels.

As the years have gone by, this salad is continually getting upgrades and personal touches.  My recipe is no exception!  I do however still use sugar for the dressing because I think it tastes better than using honey or sugar substitutes.  Feel free to use those if you wish, and of course if you can’t find a miso soup mix, you can use a regular ramen soup mix just as well.

And if you are outside of the US and have never tried this salad, give it a whirl! It’s fast, easy, inexpensive and HEALTHY.

Sesame Dressing

1/2 C Grapeseed Oil

1 t toasted sesame oil

3 T vinegar (I used a mix of apple cider w/the mother, a grapefruit vinegar, and a red wine vinegar – if you let it sit together overnight the “mother” grows in in – quite tasty!)

1 1/2 T fine sugar (can use more if you like)

1 T toasted sesame seeds

1/2 T Miso Soup seasoning

Ramen Salad

1 pound slaw (cabbage, broccoli, or kale)

1 green onion (thinly sliced)

1/2 block of ramen noodles from soup mix (I used a gluten free version from a miso soup mix)

1/3 C nuts for topping (toasted sliced almonds, toasted sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds)

Whisk the dressing ingredients together or shake in a jar.  Combine everything but the nuts, cover, and let sit until ready to serve.  Before serving pour dressing over the salad and top with the nuts.

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Char Sui (Chinese Barbecue Pork)

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PACKAGED MARINADE VS HOMEMADE MARINADE

A Scientific Experiment that Resulted in Me Eating A Lot of Pork

Whilst looking at wonderful recipes, I came across one for Char Sui, or Chinese BBQ Pork.  It was on a site called culinarychronicles, and was crossposted on another site called mamabatesmotel.

I have one of those brains that can latch on to something like a Border Collie focuses on sheep.  Intense concentration.  Unwavering devotion to a cause, principle, or course of action.  It is in those beautiful moments that everything seems to just…flow in a river of excitement and anticipation.

In the case of trying a new recipe, it’s mouth watering anticipation.

And WOW, did I want to try to make char sui.

And travel to multiple Asian countries to purchase it from market stalls and street vendors.  To use it as filling in puffy steamed buns and on a kebab.  Could I surprise my Chinese friend with a hunk of it just to see what she thought?  Would it do?

Could I make a gluten free version?  Could I get the red color without using food coloring? Could I make a decent version using items I already have in my pantry?

Off I went to the store to pick up organic, pasture raised pork shoulder.  Expensive yes, but besides the taste which is so much better, it has elevated levels of healthy fats that can withstand high cooking temperatures without breaking down.  Not fed antibiotics, not fed GMO corn and soybeans, not fed various waste products.  And of course, raised in a much more humane and ethical manner which is very important.  Especially for an animal lover and former vegetarian like me, who simply has a body that NEEDS animal products, especially the fat.

But I digress.

Once I had the pork shoulder, lo and behold, I came across beet powder for a natural food coloring, and a gluten free hoisin sauce.

Score!

And from there I discovered a seasoning packet with no listed gluten sources AND all natural coloring, no artificial red food dye.  And it was the last packet.

Scoredy Score SCORE!

The seasoning packet directions are simple and take just seconds to prepare.  Open packet, dissolve in water, and pour over meat.  Badabing badabang, done.

Homemade is not too much longer but goes into the minutes range.  I had sake (yes, I know it’s not Chinese but I’m using what I have), molasses and sorghum, amino acids, a red wine vinegar, chili paste, Chinese 5 Spice, garlic, ginger, clam juice.  Close enough.

How would it work out?  Here are the two versions side by side as they are starting to marinate.  As you can see, the packaged version on the left has a much brighter red color.  Maybe because it contains carmine – a natural dye that is made from bugs.

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Here is a taste test after three hours of marinating.  The top is the packaged, and the bottom is the homemade.  It’s cooked at 450 F for 20 minutes in the oven, and then broiled for about a minute or so total.  They weren’t glazed before broiling.  I would like to say that the only reason I cooked it after three hours was in the interest of science.  Because the seasoning packet had 2-3 hours of marinating in the directions.  But that’s an excuse.  I just couldn’t wait to try it.

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I would say that there wasn’t a HUGE amount of difference between the 2 versions at this point.  There was a faint…oh…metallic aftertaste to the packaged version, but it was very mild and hardly noticeable.

Back they went into the fridge to finish up properly.

And the results of the experiment?  Besides eating a lot of charred hunks of pork?

  1. neither version had that appealing red ring of color that you see in pictures, but the packaged version had an overall brighter reddish hue, whereas the homemade was a deeper red.
  2. the packaged version STILL had a slightly metallic taste, but the flavor was good
  3. the homemade version tasted much better when  eaten side by side. After the full day of marinating you could tell the difference.
  4. I would recommend taking some of the marinating mixture, adding some hoisin and honey, and reducing it on the stove.  You can brush the hot mixture on the top of the meat right when it comes out from under the broiler.  I didn’t do this, but will next time.  That way it will have a nice, shiny, sticky glaze.

This was fun to make and eat!  I served an Asian cabbage slaw with it, and that recipe will be shared in a few days.  It’s a recipe familiar to most Americans (except that I use Miso) but almost non existent in Europe, which is a pity because it is SO GOOD, and cabbage is perfect for digesting pork.

Sauce

For 2 – 2 1/2 pounds pork shoulder cut into 1 1/2 wide strips

4 T gluten free Hoisin

4 T Bragg’s Amino Acids (tastes like soy sauce)

4 T Sake

2 T Molasses

2 T Sorghum

2 t gluten free chili paste

2 t Chinese 5 Spice

2 t clam juice (gluten free, because it says so on the jar)

2 t beetroot powder

2 t minced ginger

2 t minced garlic

2 T red wine vinegar (or use the vinegar you have)

2 T water

Whisk together sauce ingredients and pour over meat.  Marinate overnight or 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 450F

Line a pan with aluminum foil to catch drippings and put an oven safe rack on top of the foil.  Place pork strips on the rack – and cook for 20 minutes total, flipping after 10.

Remove from oven and turn broiler to high.

Remove pork from cooking rack and place directly on the pan.  Brush well with the marinade juices.

Broil for about 30 – 45 seconds, remove from oven and quickly flip, then return for another 30 seconds or so.  Do NOT leave the oven unattended. 30 seconds only seems like a long time when you’re waiting for water to boil.  When you’re broiling meat in the oven it goes extremely fast and your meat could burn.

Remove from oven and let sit for a little bit to let the juices redistribute before serving.

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Ravioli di Zucca (Butternut Squash Ravioli) Made with Wonton Wrappers

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Yep, I got all fancy by making these ravioli in heart and circle shapes for hugs and kisses ravioli.

This version is lighter than the Ravioli di Zucca that you will find in a restaurant.  The dish is traditionally made with a thicker egg pasta, and then bathed in a brown butter and sage sauce.  It’s very good, but sometimes too heavy for me, especially when spring is coming.

In the Italian language, “zucca” means “pumpkin” and “pumpkin” means “winter squash”.

zucca =pumpkin=winter squash

Interesting enough, this is the same in the English language.  We just don’t know it.  Americans associate the word pumpkin with the familiar round orange winter squash that comes in a small size for pie making, or a large size for carving and decoration.  That’s how we use the word pumpkin.

Every once in a while I see a meme exclaiming:

DID YOU KNOW THERE IS NO PUMPKIN IN YOUR CANNED PUMPKIN PIE FILLING???  HOW CAN THEY GET AWAY WITH THIS???

My pie eating friends, please rest assured that it truly IS pumpkin in your canned pumpkin.  It’s just a variety of pumpkin that is shaped differently than what you are used to seeing at the grocery store or on your neighbors porch.  It’s a pie pumpkin – a kind that was bred in a different shape so it would be easier to harvest and can.

For ravioli di zucca, I like to use the milder, more flowery flavor of butternut squash.  Roasting it results in a carmelized note and silky texture once you put it in the food processor.  It’s so good that it doesn’t need any spices at all.

That’s why this filling is just butternut squash, a small amount of amaretti cookies, and a sprinkle of lemon zest.

Make sure to heavily salt your water whenever you cook pasta.  It should be as salty as the sea.

Enjoy!  And if someone makes this FOR you, make sure to give them lots of hugs and kisses, because believe me, it takes a long time to make these little guys.  Add in a back rub as well.  Hugs and kisses and a back rub ravioli. 🙂

Ravioli di Zucca

makes 64 ravioli

1 1/2 pounds roasted butternut squash, roughly chopped

9 Ameretti cookies

wee amount of lemon zest – like 1/8 teaspoon

wonton wrappers

1 egg + small amount of water, beaten

sauce for 24 ravioli – 4 servings

2 T butter

2 pinches red pepper

1 t crushed sage (more if you want)

handfull baby spinach leaves

1 C water

1/2 cube (crumbled) of vegetable bouillon with salt

optional: top with grated Grana Padana cheese

In a food processor, grind the cookies first, then add the squash and the zest until fully incorporated.  The mixture should be somewhat dry, and fully ground.  Transfer to a mixing bowl.

Place 1/2 T of squash mixture into the center of a wonton wrapper.  Brush beaten egg on all four sides of the wrapper, and place another wrapper on top, pressing down and getting out as many air bubbles as possible.  Use a cookie cutter, glass or ravioli machine to cut out the desired shape.  Place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet, and cover with a damp dishcloth.  Once the tray is full, remove towel, and transfer ravioli to the freezer or refrigerator.  Continue until all the ravioli are finished.  You can freeze the ravioli you are not cooking for supper at a later time!

Bring several quarts of water to a boil and then add salt. While waiting for water to boil, heat up butter, sage, and red pepper in a saute pan on med low until the butter browns.  As soon as it starts to brown, add the spinach leaves and crumbled bouillon, then the water.  reduce the heat to simmer once it boils, and let it simmer while you cook the ravioli.

I recommend cooking the ravioli thawed if it was previously frozen.  These take about 2 minutes or so.  Transfer from water to the saute pan to soak up flavoring for at least another minute.  Transfer the ravioli to serving dishes and ladle the broth over the top.

Top with cracked pepper and grana padana if you wish!

 

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Three Sisters Vegetable Medley and Maple Glazed Scallops

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Many Native American tribes planted a crop called “The Three Sisters”.  Consisting of grain corn, beans, and winter squash, all could be stored and eaten later as a nutritious and protein rich meal.

This companion planting was as beneficial to the soil as it was to the body.  The sturdy, upright corn stalks provided a trellis for the bean vines to climb upwards, and the nitrogen producing bacteria on the roots of the bean plants fueled the growth of the corn.  The large leaves of the rambling squash vines provided moisture retention and shade to the soil during the hot summer afternoons.

This recipe uses canned items, but if you wanted to get really authentic you could use hominy, polenta, or grits instead of the sweet corn.  All of those are grain corns.  Dried beans are also more authentic, as they have fully developed their protein structure.

String beans, sweet corn, and summer squash don’t really count as “The Three Sisters”, but they do taste good together.

*Fun Fact – Is corn a vegetable, grain, or a fruit?

It depends on when you eat it.  Corn is a type of grass – a cereal grass.  Meaning that you can eat the seeds (dried corn kernels) as a grain.  When you eat sweet corn, it’s considered a vegetable because the kernels are tender and immature.  Botanically, the kernels are the “fruit” or seeds of the grass.  So there you have it!

Maple Glazed Scallops  (These only take about 5 minutes to cook, so save for last)

6 scallops, pat dry, and season with garlic salt and pepper

2 T butter

2 T water

2 T maple syrup

Heat a cast iron skillet to medium.  Make sure it’s nice and hot.  Mix water and maple syrup together.  Add butter to the pan, and once it’s browned, gently lay your scallops in the pan.  Cook for 2 minutes without moving the scallops around.  Flip, and cook for another minute.  Add the water and maple syrup, and let cook for another minute.  Transfer to plate.  Pour liquid (it will have cooked down very quickly) over scallops.

Three Sisters Medley

1 C Cannellini beans (canned)

1 C sweet corn (canned)

1 C roasted butternut squash, diced

1 C baby spinach, rough chopped

1 C red bell pepper, diced

1 green onion, sliced very thin

1/4 cube vegetable bouillon, crumbled

1 T nutritional yeast

1 T crushed dried sage

1 big pinch red pepper flakes

1/4 C heavy cream

1/4 C marscapone

2 slices thick cut bacon, fried and chopped.  Reserve bacon fat.

salt and pepper to taste

Combine beans, corn, squash, bouillon, yeast, sage, pepper flakes, and cream in a bowl.  Heat skillet to medium low and cook red pepper and green onion in bacon drippings until onion is translucent and peppers are getting soft.  Pour in the vegetable medley, stir, and when cream hits a boil add the chopped spinach.  Once the spinach starts to wilt, stir in marscapone.  When the marscapone is fully melted, reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve the scallops on top of the Three Sisters Medley, and top with bacon and the maple juices from the scallop pan!

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