Monthly Archives: May 2010

Asparagus Season

The Great British Asparagus Season is upon us. Joy. The asparagus from my local fruit and veg shop is £2.50 a bunch, but fantastic, the stuff from the supermarket is £1.30 a bunch, and a bit woody.

I do mine in the stockpot, tied up, and stood upright. They only need about an inch of water, boiling gently, for about five minutes. The boiling water sorts out the stems and, as the lid is on, the resulting steam does the delicate tips.

I serve them with aïoli.

Cunning trick. If you tie them up, and find they won’t balance, hold them in place with the tongs for about thirty seconds. The boiling water will soften the stalks enough that you can then take the bunch to one side and slice half an inch off the bottoms easily.

Aïoli

Yum. Here’s how I do it.

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 150mL olive oil
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • pinch of salt
  • squeeze of lemon

Put the egg yolk into a large bowl, or your food processor, add the salt, and stir with a spoon to combine. Peel and crush the garlic into this, again combing with the spoon.

Now, if you’re doing this in the food processor, just get the thing whirring, and slowly slowly slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream. It will go white. Taste at the end, and add lemon juice, more salt, and pepper until you’re satisfied.

If you’re doing it with a whisk, it’s much the same process, although you’ll quickly realise you need three hands, so enlist the help of a glamorous assistant. The end result will be yellow, and not quite as stiff as the stuff from the food processor.

Smear all over asparagus and/or new potatoes.

This really only keeps for a day or two. It may start to separate the day after, but tastes just as good, if not better.

Overnight Rise

I appear to have slipped into a rhythm of knocking up a loaf of bread about once a week, whilst doing the washing up, and attempting to clean the kitchen. Be assured that every bit of the kitchen does get cleaned, just not all at once. It makes domestic chores more interesting.

This week’s batch used 400g white to 100g wholemeal flour and the first rise overnight; in the fridge. The results were tasty, the overnight rise giving it a bit more flavour.

Bread dough can also be put in the fridge after rising at room temperature and then knocking down. Just remember that either way, it will need longer for the second rise, as it will be colder. You can also put it in the freezer at this stage, but I’ve not tried this. Presumably the second rise would need to be overnight at room temperature.

Oh, and something else I forgot to mention for when you’re making a loaf. When doing the second, brief round of kneading, don’t fold the dough in half, but fold it in three. This will lend an orderly squareness about the dough.

French Toast

Burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp.

I feel fat, unhealthy, and more than a teensy bit bad. The tail end of a homemade loaf of brioche (not brilliant, I’ll post a recipe at some point when it works) was winking suggestively at me as I laboured over the coffee, so some French Toast seemed in order. There are various traditions over the origin of this, but its name seems to have come from the Southern United States. (In England it more often goes under the rather prosaic name of Eggy Bread.)

For each two thick slices of bread (or brioche) I use one egg, beaten with an equal volume of milk, plus a teaspoon of sugar, and a pinch of salt and cinnamon. (There are savoury versions where you use pepper and herbs instead.)

Get the frypan going on a gentle heat, enough to melt some butter and have it very gently bubbling.

Soak the bread on both sides in the egg/milk mixture, and then transfer to the frypan. About two minutes a side, to get a nice brown crust. Take a peek from time to time, and turn down the heat if this is happening too fast.

Oh, and make sure your cardiac surgeon is ready and waiting just in case.