May – Sous vide asparagus

May – Sous vide asparagus

Yes, you can use your sous vide machine for vegetables. It isn’t the answer for all vegetables though, you do need to be selective. So far I have cooked carrots and asparagus with wonderful success. We usually grill or roast asparagus, and it is delicious that way. Asparagus cooked by sous vide is similar to steamed but with a wonderful crunch and intense asparagus flavor. All the vitamins are intact and that green grassy taste jumps into your mouth with every bite. And sous vide timing is very forgiving, you don’t have to worry if you are distracted for a few minutes. Roasted or steamed asparagus will overcook in 30 seconds; turning drab, mushy and unappealing. Limp asparagus is not attractive. Sous vide asparagus stays bright green and crisp, the stem just as tender at the tips.

Sous Vide Asparagus

Method:

  • Preheat the water with your sous vide machine to 185 degrees F (85 degrees C)
  • Encase the asparagus in a vacuum bag or large zip lock bag (you may want to put a teaspoon in the bottom of the bag first). Try to get the asparagus in one layer. If you need to use two bags, separate the asparagus by size.
  • Season as desired. For example lemon salt, butter, coconut oil, mint, slices of lemon, etc.

    Cyprus Citron Lemon Flake Sea Salt

  • If using vacuum, seal on the moist setting.

    Asparagus in Vacuum Bag

    • Once your water bath has heated to the appropriate temperature, add the asparagus to the hot water and set your timer for 10 minutes. Thicker spears may need to cook for longer, maybe 12 minutes. That is the reason for two bags if the spears in your bunch are different sizes. Squeeze the bottom of a spear to see if they are done to your liking.
    • Cut open the bag and slide the asparagus onto a plate. Or, cool in an ice bag for using cold or reheating later.

You may note that this bag does not have a teaspoon, big error. As the contents of the bag heat, the air expands, causing it to float. I had to put a weight on top to keep the asparagus under water. Next time I will add that teaspoon. Don’t make my mistake.

Sous Vide Asparagus

The photo is fuzzy because of the steam rising. We couldn’t wait for it to cool before eating. Yum!

March – The Best 4 Ingredient Chinese Sauce for Green Vegetables

March – The Best 4 Ingredient Chinese Sauce for Green Vegetables

That’s a mouthful of a title for something so simple and quick. But it packs a wallop of flavor in those four ingredients. You commonly find a sauce like this in Chinese Dim Sum restaurants, used to dress some kind of Asian green leafy vegetable. Yu choy is classic as well as Chinese broccoli.  I find it works equally well for asparagus or baby bok choy.

Yu Choy

yu choy

Chinese broccoli

Chinese broccoli

Baby Bok Choy

Baby Bok Choy

Asparagus with 4 Ingredient Chinese Sauce

Asparagus with 4 Ingredient Chinese Sauce

This sauce will make your vegetables glisten and the sesame oil has a wonderful nutty aroma.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil

You can use any neutral oil, I’ve even used coconut oil and it was delicious.

  1. Wash your vegetables to get rid of any sand or grit, trim away any tough ends. Drain well.
  2. You can cook the vegetables by steaming, or blanching in a pot of water, or by roasting.
    1. If steaming: bring the water of your steamer to a boil and place your vegetables in the basket, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil, cover and steam until tender.
    2. If boiling: bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of oil to the boiling water. Add the vegetables and cook until they turn bright green, this could take only a minute or less. Taste a bit to see if they are done to your liking.
    3. If roasting: preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Add the vegetables to a large sheet pan, drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil and roast until tender, about 6-10 minutes.
  3. In any case, while the vegetables are cooking, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a small skillet, add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Whisk and bring the mixture to a simmer, immediately remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Drain the cooked vegetables well (especially if boiled), arrange on a dish and pour the sauce over. Toss carefully to coat.
  5. Taste if you need to add additional salt and pepper.
    Asparagus with 4 Ingredient Sauce

    Asparagus with 4 Ingredient Sauce

    I’m taking this to share on Fiesta Friday #113 hosted by Angie. Come check out the wonderful goodies being served. This week’s co-hosts are Sonal @ simplyvegetarian777 and Laurie @ ten.times.tea.

April in the Kitchen – Teriyaki Salmon with Spring Vegetables

April in the Kitchen – Teriyaki Salmon with Spring Vegetables

Did you ever think there could be a “healthy” teriyaki sauce? Certainly one without MSG is making progress. But, what about one without granulated sugar? Impossible! Well, I’m going to give you an alternative…dates, yes dates. This sauce consists of medjool dates as the sweetener. What a brilliant idea, don’t you think? Simply soak them in warm water for a few minutes, then dump them with some garlic, ginger, soy sauce and rice vinegar into the jar of your blender. Puree all of them together with some of the soaking water from the dates until smooth. That’s all there is to it. It goes together very quickly.

I’m sorry to say I didn’t invent the sauce. I saw it in a post on the blog “A Pinch of Yum” for 30-Minute Sesame Mango Chicken. It was too good to pass up. If you are not familiar with that blog, it’s worth a visit as she posts some great recipes, many of them healthy and vegetarian.

This is a thicker sauce than my own “old” favorite using maple syrup. You’ll find that recipe here from an earlier post in February of this year.

I marinated some wild caught salmon steaks (the first of the season) in the sauce, then sautéed them quickly. They were still slightly pink in the middle, just the way we like them. Served with a quick stir fry of asparagus and snap peas with a spoonful of roast garlic lemon butter it was a quick and delicious mid-week dinner. You’ll find the recipe for the roast garlic and lemon butter here.

Salmon Steaks in Teriyaki Sauce

Salmon Steaks in Teriyaki Sauce

 Teriyaki Sauce

  • 15 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked in 1/2 cup of very warm water for 30 minutes
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce, regular or low sodium
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • Optional – pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Optional – 1/4 cup sesame oil 
Dates

Medjool Dates

  1.  Soak the pitted dates in the hot water
  2. Dump the dates and rest of the ingredients (including the soaking water) into your blender and blend until very smooth.
  3. Pour into a container until ready to use.
Teriyaki Sauce with Dates

Teriyaki Sauce with Dates

This will keep in the fridge for at least a week, we found it got “hotter” and spicier the longer it sat.

Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki Sauce

Grilled or Sautéed Salmon with Teriyaki Sauce

I sautéed the salmon steaks but they would be equally wonderful on the BBQ.

  1. Marinate salmon steaks or fillets in the sauce for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour in the fridge.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of peanut or other vegetable oil in your skillet on medium high heat.
  3. Add the salmon, skin side down.
  4. Saute on medium high heat for about approximately 10 minutes total for every inch of thickness. We like our salmon on the rare side and they weren’t quite so thick, so I started the steaks skin side down and turned them after 4 minutes.
Wild Caught Salmon

Wild Caught Salmon

Asparagus and Snap Peas with Roast Garlic and Lemon Butter

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, ends snapped and cut into pieces about the length of the snap peas. I used a spiral diagonal cut, turning the stalk a half way round after each diagonal slice. That exposed more of the inner part of the stalk to the heat, cooking is a bit faster.

    Asparagus

    Asparagus

  • About 3-4 cups of snap peas, stringed if necessary and cut in half lengthwise

    Snap peas

    Snap peas

  • 4 scallions, cleaned and cut in half lengthwise, then into pieces the same size as the asparagus and peas.

    Snap Peas and Scallions

    Snap peas and scallions

  • 2 tablespoons of roast garlic and lemon butter, (or 2 garlic cloves, finally minced, plus the zest and juice of one lemon, and 1 tablespoon of butter)

    Roast garlic and lemon butter

    Roast Garlic and Lemon Butter

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium low heat.
  2. If not using the roast garlic butter, add the minced garlic to the pan and saute until softened but not brown.
  3. Add the asparagus to the pan and turn up the heat to medium high. Saute for about 4 to 5 minutes until bright green and beginning to soften.
  4. Add the snap peas to the pan and saute for an additional 3 to 4 minutes until everything is bright spring green and slightly softened but still crisp.

    Asparagus with Snap Peas

    Asparagus with Snap Peas

  5. Finish with the roast garlic butter or add the lemon zest and juice plus the tablespoon of butter. Continue to heat until everything is coated with sauce.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Asparagus and Snap Peas

Asparagus with Snap Peas and Roast Garlic/Lemon Butter

Salmon, asparagus, and fresh peas…this meal is the essence of spring. What are you serving to celebrate the season?

I’m taking this to share on Fiesta Friday #66 hosted by Angie. If you would like to see what is on the menu, come pay a visit to the party.

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

April in the Kitchen – Grilled Asparagus with Pickled Asparagus and Prosciutto

April in the Kitchen – Grilled Asparagus with Pickled Asparagus and Prosciutto

Juxtaposing grilled and pickled asparagus highlights two sides of this wonderful spring vegetable. On the grill, the asparagus is smoky and meaty. In vinegar, it’s grassy and green with just enough tartness to counter the richness of a slice pf prosciutto. If you topped this with a fried or poached egg, it would make a tasty savory brunch dish.

This recipe is adapted from “The Preservation Kitchen” by Paul Virant.

Grilled Asparagus with Pickled Asparagus

Grilled Asparagus with Pickled Asparagus

Grilled and Pickled Asparagus with Prosciutto

  • 6 spears pickled asparagus – commercial or home made (recipe below), thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons pickled asparagus pickling liquid
  • 1/4 cup of sliced spring onions, or finely minced shallots, or red onion
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • Either 1/4 cup olive oil or 1/4 cup of sour cream
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus
  • 4 generous slices prosciutto
  • 1 cup of loosely packed and chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, chives and tarragon (optional)
Grilled Asparagus

Grilled Asparagus

  1.  Prepare a fire in your grill, preheat a stove top grill pan, or preheat you oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl stir together the pickled asparagus, pickling liquid, onion, and mustard. Whisk in the olive oil or sour cream, add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Rub the asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill or roast the asparagus until it is charred at the tips, about 10 minutes.
  4. Spread the slices of prosciutto on either individual plates or a platter.
  5. Arrange the warm asparagus on the prosciutto and top with the vinaigrette. Sprinkle the herbs on top.
  6. Serve each person a slice of proscuitto, some asparagus and sauce.
Grilled Asparagus with Proscuitto and Pickled Asparagus

Grilled Asparagus with Proscuitto and Pickled Asparagus

Substituting sour cream for olive oil also makes a delicious variation.

Grilled Asparagus with Pickled Asparagus Sauce

Grilled Asparagus with Pickled Asparagus Sauce

Pickled Asparagus – makes 4 quarts

  • 6 1/2 cups champagne vinegar
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 4 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 8 sprigs of tarragon or fennel or dill
  • 4 whole cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
  • 16 cups of asparagus, trimmed
  1. In a pot, bring the vinegar, water, salt and sugar to a boil. Keep hot. In a dry skillet toast the cumin seeds until fragrant, about a min.
  2. Scald 4 quart jars in a large pot of simmering water fitted with a rack for processing the jars. Right before filling, put the jars on the counter. In each jar, place a teaspoon of cumin seeds, 2 sprigs of thyme, and 2 garlic clove halves. Meanwhile, soak the lids in a pan of hot water.
  3. In a large pot of boiling and salted water, blanch the asparagus for 1 minute. Drain the asparagus and pack the stalks into the jars, tips up.
  4. Pour the hot brine over the asparagus, leaving about a 1-inch space from the rim. Check for air pockets and add more brine if necessary. Seal with the lids and screw on the bands.
  5. Place the jars in the pot with the rack and add enough hot water to cover by at least an inch. Bring the water to a boil and process for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the jars sit in the water for a few minutes. Remove the jars from the water to a dish cloth on the counter and cool completely.

Please consult a canning book for more details.

I am taking this to Fiesta Friday to party with Angie and friends.

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

Pickled Asparagus

Pickled Asparagus

February in the Kitchen – Roast Asparagus

February in the Kitchen – Roast Asparagus

Asparagus season in Northern California hasn’t started yet, although it will be soon. With unseasonably warm weather in January everything is a few weeks ahead. The asparagus below came from Argentinia and buying it is totally against my politics. But, I was craving it. It looked amazing, not like the asparagus you usually see this time of year in the grocery store. At first, I thought it came from a local grower. The ends were fresh looking, the stalks were snappy and of a good size, the heads sere still closed…my barriers came down.

Asparagus

Asparagus

In my book the two best ways to cook asparagus are roasting in a hot oven. and grilling them. For grilling either a BBQ or stove top grill pan works well. Of course you can also stir fry them with other ingredients (also excellent), but I am writing today about the way to bring out the very best asparagus flavor which is uncluttered by other ingredients.

Roast Asparagus

  • 1 – 2 bunches of fresh asparagus, tops closed, snappy and medium thickness
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 lemon (to grate the rind)
  • freshly grated parmesan
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F
  2. Wash the asparagus by swishing the stalks in a pan of water
  3. Snap off the bottom woody part, this should happen naturally if you bend the stalk
  4. Line a baking pan with parchment paper
  5. Lay the asparagus in the pan in one layer, drizzle with olive oil and turn to coat, sprinkle the stalks with salt
  6. Bake for 15 minutes until done to your liking (start checking at 12 minutes), we like ours still crisp but beginning to char and soften at the tops.
  7. Remove from the oven and grate the rind of a lemon over the asparagus, sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan.
Baked Asparagus

Baked Asparagus with lemon rind and parmesan