Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Asparagus, endive and stilton

I bought my first bunch of English asparagus at the weekend. We ate it in a salad, with some of that purple, lettuce-style endive, cubes of Stilton, and toasted pine nuts. There is little point in giving a recipe: the proportions are a matter of individual taste. I recommend a fairly sharp dressing -- I used one part of vinegar to three parts of oil -- to offset the cheese. As I've mentioned in an earlier posting, the easiest way to toast pine nuts is in a dry pan over a gentle heat. Keep stirring, and watch carefully, because the transition from toasted to burned is rapid.

Chefs like to boil green vegetables, and then to plunge them into iced water, to fix a bright colour. That is because their customers are more likely to be impressed by the colour of their food than by its taste. I steamed my asparagus; but, because I was using it in a salad and wanted it to retain some vigour, I did refresh it. I gave it three minutes in the steamer, followed by a brief dunk in the cold bath.

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