Tag: Parmesan

Shaved Asparagus Salad

Shaved Asparagus Salad // Serious Crust

Sometimes,  you make a meal, thinking one dish will be the star. Especially when you lay down a hefty chunk of change on a cut of meat. But things happen – you run out of time and you don’t season the meat properly or sear it the way you’d like, and then maybe you leave it in the slow cooker a little bit longer than you should have. And when that happens, there are side dishes that sneak up and surprise you. Like this shaved asparagus salad did.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew this salad would be good. I love asparagus, and there are seemingly a million shaved asparagus salad recipes out there (like this one, and this one, and this one). And yeah, they’re all relatively the same. But man, something about the freshness of this salad – crunchy, sour, salty – just got me. It was exactly what I needed after a long day of work. And it certainly was better than an underseasoned, overcooked (only slightly) piece of meat.

Shaved Asparagus Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 bunch of asparagus
juice from half of a lemon
olive oil
salt (course is good, if you’ve got it)
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup, roughly, of toasted pine nuts, sliced and toasted almonds, or shelled pistachios
parmesan cheese, though crumbled feta would work nicely too

Instructions

Don’t snap the tough ends off your asparagus just yet! Leave them on and use them as a handle. Lay the asparagus on a cutting board, and use a peeler to shave off wide strips, shaving away from you. You’ll have some thick pieces at the end, but do the best you can. Apparently the consensus is that y-shaped peelers are better for this, but I don’t have one of those. Make do with what you’ve got. Discard the woody ends. Put the peeled pieces into a bowl or on a platter or whatever you’re planning on serving on/in. Pour the lemon juice over top of the asparagus, and drizzle with olive oil. I can’t tell you how much olive oil, because I didn’t measure. A good glug should suffice. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the top, as well as the toasted nuts. Rinse your peeler and use it to shave some thin pieces of parmesan to top the salad (or use a fork and crumble the feta over top). We’re big cheese fans, so we did more cheese instead of less.

Enjoy on a spring or summer day, preferably with a glass of refreshing white or rosé wine. I think this salad would be perfect alongside some grilled fish or chicken for a summer soirée.

Kale Stem Pesto

Kale Stem Pesto // Serious Crust by Annie FasslerKale Stem Pesto // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I often find myself frustrated with how much stuff I put in my compost. I guess I should stop right there and say, at least I have a compost, right? The beautiful city of Portland has roadside pickup every week, making it so wonderfully easy to make more environmentally conscious choices. There aren’t a lot of cities that do that. Anyway, I know I could save some bones and carrot tops and onion tops and parsley stems for stock… But I just don’t do it. I mean, I do sometimes… But not as often as I should. And there’s one thing lately that I have always felt guilty after putting it in the compost: kale stems. Jonah and I eat a fair amount of kale – usually sautéed with butter and garlic or something like that, sometimes in a salad. But I always am frustrated at the toughness of the stems, and wish I could do more with them.

After a little research and looking around, I mostly found that people who do use their kale stems either sauté them with their kale, simply adding the stems first so they cook for longer, or put them in smoothies. I wasn’t really into either of these options, so I made myself a third one. With the all-in pesto in mind, and a container of pine nuts whining from my pantry, I got to work making some kale stem pesto. I wasn’t planning on sharing this pesto here, since the recipe is really improvised, but I got so many comments and questions about what it was when I posted pictures on my Instagram and Facebook, that I thought, why not? This pesto is certainly a product of whatever you’ve got around, which is generally my theory about pesto. Herbs are good, parmesan is good, and other than that, you can kind of go crazy. Nearly any kind of nut will work, any greens, and you can really play until you find some flavors that you like. I didn’t do any measuring here – mostly just throwing in handfuls of this or that – but below is an approximation of what I used.

The beautiful thing about pesto is that it can be a complete reflection of your kitchen: if you just went to the market and have some radish greens, use them. If you don’t have any pine nuts but plenty of pistachios or walnuts, use them. If it’s raining and you want something heartier, add more cheese.

We tossed our kale stem pesto with fresh spaghetti (you can find a recipe here) and topped it with sliced grape tomatoes, which added a really nice juicy brightness. I also like to make a thick piece of toast and slather it with fresh pesto.

Kale Stem Pesto

Ingredients

1 bunch of kale stems, plus probably the equivalent of 1 leaf of kale
1 cup spinach
1/4 cup parsley
~ 3/4 cup pine nuts
Parmesan cheese
Garlic
Olive oil
Salt

Instructions

Fill a small pot halfway with water, salt well, and bring to a boil. Roughly chop kale stems into about 1/2 – 1 inch pieces. Add to boiling water, and cook until stems are easily pierced with a knife. Drain and cool.

In the bowl of a food processor (or blender), combine kale stems, a few small chunks of parmesan, about half the pine nuts, 2 cloves of peeled garlic, and a few glugs of olive oil. Pulse to combine. Add spinach, some parsley, and a hefty sprinkling of salt. The key here is to taste and add. If you want a little more spice, add another clove or two of garlic. If you want it creamier, more nuts, and olive oil. If you want it greener, add more spinach and parsley, or some fresh basil or chard if you’ve got some around.

Gougères

Gougères // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Gougères // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Gougères // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Gougères // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I recently had a serious gougères craving. Which is not a normal craving. Normal people crave… I don’t know what. But my guess is not cheesy little dough puffs. Right?

Also, I’ve discovered I have a lot of cookbooks. I knew this. But when I was looking for a recipe to use for these gougères, I realized I have a few cookbooks that I have never even opened. Mostly these are ones I got for free. For example, I have about 5 old James Beard cookbooks. How many different recipes for one thing can the man really have? I think I need to do a little research and then pick one or two to keep. Because also, my cookbook bookshelf is officially overflowing. Books are starting to get piled on top of books, so you can’t see what they are, and everything falls out when you pull out your selection. Not good.

I also decided that I want to be the kind of person that writes notes in my cookbooks. In pencil. But still. Rather than attempting to remember what I liked about a recipe or what I did differently or what didn’t work, I should just write myself little notes in the margins. Or be like my Aunt Elise, who has layers of post-its all over her favorite recipes.

So, my February resolutions: clear out some cookbooks, or at least USE the ones I haven’t used yet and if I don’t like them, think about getting rid of them; and make notes in the margins. Totally doable, I think.

Gougères

Ingredients

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese OR 1 cup grated gruyère and ~1/2 cup grated Parmesan
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp of dry mustard (optional – I didn’t add this, but wished I had afterwards, as my gougères were missing a bit of bite to them)

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine water, milk, butter, salt, and pepper; Cook until the butter melts. Add the flour in one batch, and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula. The mixture will become this strange, shiny, kind of gelatinous mixture, and will pull away from the sides of the saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition. It will seem, for a short while after you add each egg, that it won’t incorporate. I promise it will. There will be a magical moment where all of a sudden, the egg and the flour decide they like each other and want to be the best of friends. After adding all of the eggs, the dough should be nice and glossy. Add 1 cup of the grated Gruyère, dry mustard if you are using, and cayenne, and combine thoroughly.

Butter a baking sheet or line it with parchment or silpat, and drop the batter on by tablespoon. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining grated Gruyère or Parmesan. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until puffed up and golden brown. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before indulging, as they’re full of steam and can be very hot.

Risotto with Fava Beans and Corn

Fresh corn and fava beans ready to go into the risotto // Serious Crust by Annie FasslerRisotto with Fava Beans and Corn // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Wowee! What a whirlwind it has been lately. A few weeks ago, Jonah and I were in Chicago for the 4th of July holiday, and it seems like from there, things got crazy. The night we left for Chicago, we applied to rent a house, and the night we got back we found out we got it! We are now living in NE Portland, within walking distance to Porque No?, Tasty n’ Sons, and countless other places. Mississippi and Alberta neighborhoods are a stone’s throw away, and I’m discovering a part of the city of which I had only scratched the surface. It’s pretty sweet. Be on the lookout for reviews of some spots in our new hood.

It has been a while since I gave you guys a recipe. This is one I made a while back, but it is just as perfect for right now. This past weekend, we went out to Sauvie Island to go berry picking – we have blueberries coming out of our ears! As well as raspberries, peaches, and a few ears of corn. The corn reminded me that I STILL hadn’t posted this risotto recipe! I’ve discovered that risotto is such an easy meal to make and you can really throw in anything you have around. Saffron? Sure. Squash? Yup. Mushrooms? Why not. But this was a great spring & summer risotto with fava beans and fresh corn.

Risotto with Fava Beans and Corn

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs of fava beans, shelled and shelled again (to learn more about shelling favas, go here)
2-3 ears of sweet corn, the kernels cut from the cob
~4 cups of chicken broth (can easily be replaced with vegetable broth to be made a vegetarian dish)
1/2 cup white wine (Alice Waters told me (in her book) that if you don’t have any white wine, you can also use a light beer – I didn’t have any wine or nice beer around, so I used PBR… it worked just fine)
2 Tbl olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Instructions

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the broth to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low.

In a separate saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil, then add the onion, garlic, and salt. Cook them until the onions are soft but not browned, about three minutes. Add the arborio rice and stir to coat it in olive oil. Add the wine (or in my case, beer, because I’m classy like that) and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and evaporated, stirring constantly.

Now add the broth, one cup at a time (or one ladle full at a time). Stir the rice frequently after each addition, and only add more broth when the previous broth has been absorbed. When you have added half the broth (after about 15 minutes), add the fava beans and corn. Continue adding broth and letting the rice cook and absorb, until the rice is tender but still has some bite to it. You may not need all of the broth. When the texture seems good to you, add about 1/4 cup of broth, remove the pot from the heat, and stir in the parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!