Friday, April 29, 2016

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Do you know what I love about this time of the year? Asparagus. Well, there are other things, too, but I dearly love asparagus. When I had the garden space and could grow my own, I never did because I just didn't have the patience to wait three years for a decent crop. Thinking back, if I'd have had the patience to wait back then, I could have enjoyed decades of fresh asparagus by now. Let this be a lesson to you.

There are many ways to enjoy this vegetable, from simple roasting and sauteing, to prosciutto-wrapped, to amandine and piled on toast, but no way is more delicious than in this wonderful bowl of soup. Served cold, hot, or room temperature, it is fresh, complex, and exceedingly delicious. A bowl and crusty roll makes for a satisfying meal; served in ramekins, it is a lovely side to tea sandwiches or a spring greens salad. For a welcome addition to a brunch, fill shooter glasses and serve it as a part of your buffet.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

3 cups fresh asparagus, cut in into 1” pieces
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, diced fine
1/4 cup flour
3 cups half and half
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 teaspoons L.B. Jamison chicken-flavored soup base
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Bring a 2-quart pot of water to a full boil over high heat. Drop in asparagus pieces, reduce heat slightly, and boil for 5 minutes; drain and reserve.

In the same pot, melt butter over medium high heat. Add onion and saute until translucent (2-4 minutes). Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly add half and half, milk, and cream, stirring constantly with each addition. Add soup base, pepper, and thyme. Bring to a low boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer and gently add drained asparagus. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in Parmesan, and simmer for an additional 1 minute.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

America's Best Breakfasts by Lee Brian Schrager and Adeena Sussman, reviewed

Breakfast is a meal that I truly enjoy. I can take or leave lunch, but breakfast offers so much of interest that I'll often serve it in place of dinner. So, it was only natural that I welcomed America's Best Breakfasts by Lee Brian Schrager and Adeena Sussman with open arms. It is a colorful, informative, interesting book that is in part travelogue, but at best a collection of amazing recipes from equally amazing restaurants nationwide.
Divided into sections by regions so that you can plan your “Breakfast Road Trip,” or look up your favorite in your home state, it offers up glimpses behind the scenes in some of the most innovative and creative restaurants around. Recipes are as innovative as their creators, are attractively offered, and surprisingly doable.
Consider Lobster Scrambled eggs when making your next breakfast, or make your own Pop Tarts for the kids (or yourself), using the simple recipe from San Francisco's Foreign Cinema. Caramelized Grapefruit is both easy and elegant, and you'll swoon over Prasino's Pretzel Croissant French Toast. 

If you crave something heartier, try the Breakfast Spaghetti, The Big Hot Mess, or the Barbecued Brisket Breakfast Burrito. I loved the Bacon, Egg, and Cheese “Paco” (a taco made from a pancake), the Morning Glory Muffins, and the hearty, healthy, and satisfying Baked Oatmeal with Raspberry Compote and Candied Pecans, all of which I made with great success. Southerners will like the Shrimp and Grits, Texans will love the Frito Pie. There is truly something here for everyone.
Hints, tips, notes, ingredient sources, as well as homey comments and mouthwatering pictures make this book a must have for every lover of the day's first meal.

They lose a star in the ratings, however, for erroneously reporting Prasino as being in St. Louis, thereby making all other locations suspect. Prasino is located west of St. Louis in the city of St. Charles, once the first Capitol of the state of Missouri. Reporting it as being in a city that routinely ranks in the list of top ten most dangerous in the nation as opposed to its actual location, in a city that routinely ranks in the top ten safest, may serve as a deterrent to people who might actually like to go. Still, I heartily recommend this book. You will drool just looking at it.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This post is linked to:
Cookbook Wednesday

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Date Nut Tea Bread

In yesterday’s post I mentioned a Tea Bread that went perfectly with the Tea Ladies’ Chicken Salad.  A number of people emailed me asking for the recipe, so here it is. It is a dense, flavorful, delicious bread that pairs well with pretty much everything, from cinnamon and brown sugar-infused cream cheese for breakfast, to chicken salad at lunch, to your favorite salad at dinner, or alongside a sumptuous bowl of Cream of Asparagus Soup at dinner. It makes a great treat for “Elevenses” with a hot cup of tea, or a satisfying afternoon snack with a cool glass of iced tea or cold brew. However you choose to serve it, people will love it and ask for more.
oHowever you decide

Date Nut Tea Bread

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Crisco
1 cup mashed banana (about 3)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tablespoon Pure Maple Sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease and sugar a 9 x 5"x3 loaf pan.

Cream sugar and shortening thoroughly; add bananas, lemon juice, and vanilla bean paste and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, soda, and salt, and stir to blend. Add blended dry ingredients, dates, and nuts to creamed mixture, stirring just until flour is moistened. Spread batter into prepared loaf pan and sprinkle with maple sugar. Bake 60 minutes, or until loaf tests done.

This post is linked to:
Wine’d Down Wednesday