White Asparagus, Shaved Avocado, Tarragon Mayonnaise

Peruvian White Asparagus
Shaved Californian Avocado
Tarragon Mayonnaise
I was shopping at Whole Foods Market today for meat to make a very Autumn-Style dish for a big party this weekend: Stout Braised Short Ribs, a two-day process which we will be starting tomorrow morning.
Walking into the produce section, I noticed this big display of asparagus, the quintessential Spring vegetable, right? Turns out this asparagus was from Peru. Where Spring has sprung! In solidarity with my Southern Hemisphere Cooking Compadres, I picked up some asparagus to serve along side a Whole Foods pre-cooked smoked chicken tonight. Their smoked chicken is really good.
White Asparagus

Trim off the end of the asparagus, then shave the entire stalk with a vegetable peeler.

Place shaved asparagus stalks in salted simmering water with a bay leaf. Cook until tender, taste for doneness. This was about 8 minutes. When tender, place asparagus in an ice bath to stop the cooking, then dry on paper towels.

Mix mayonnaise with finely chopped fresh tarragon, salt and pepper, and a splash of tarragon vinegar. Tonight’s dinner had to be effortless, considering the upcoming party and all the cooking involved. But…
Mayonnaise aficionados might appreciate an “almost effortless” homemade version, compliments of Julia Child, that I paired with fresh swordfish here.

“Mayonnaise is one of the finest and most important sauces in classic cuisine. The shame is that few of us ever taste the kind of fresh handmade mayonnaise that deserves such culinary status – and even dedicated home cooks don’t realize that making their own is a simple process that takes only minutes and, if you use a food processor, almost no effort at all.” Julia Child

Shave a slightly under-ripe avocado into strips with the vegetable peeler. Season asparagus with salt and pepper, ladle tarragon mayonnaise over the center, top with shaved avocado ribbons. Add a tarragon sprig for garnish. This side dish was really simple and quite lovely.
Happy Spring to My Blogger Friends in the Southern Hemisphere!


For more information on Peruvian White Asparagus, please visit Gourmet Trading Company here.

Etorki – Cheese of the Month

shaved etorki cheese
grilled sunburst and pattypan squash
wild baby arugula
toasted tamari almonds
 roasted almond oil & late harvest riesling vinaigrette
First brush sunburst and pattypan squash with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper then grill.

Cline Cellars Late Harvest Riesling Vinegar

La Tourangelle Roasted Almond Oil
Vinaigrette: Steep minced shallot in late harvest riesling vinegar, then season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and whisk in La Tourangelle roasted almond oil in a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar. The riesling vinegar and this almond oil are a match made in heaven; delightfully sweet, bright, nutty, toasty. Very elegant.


Plate wild baby arugula with warm grilled squash and toasted tamari almonds. Then spoon vinaigrette over. Top with shaved Etorki cheese.

Etorki is a sheep’s milk cheese produced in the French Basque Country. Etorki has a smooth, velvety texture and rich, hazelnut (almost burnt caramel-like) flavor. Its aroma is sweet and buttery, and the cheese is voluptuous on the tongue. Because of its supple texture, you can bend it a bit without breaking so it is great for shaving with a vegetable peeler.

Etorki, which means “origin” in Basque, is a pasteurized sheep’s milk cheese that has been produced in the heart of the Basque region of southwestern France for over 4000 years. 
The cheese is made from local sheep’s milk in Mauléon, in the Atlantic Pyrenees. More specifically, Etorki is made from the milk of black- or red-faced Manech ewes. The ewes’ milk is exceptional, but there is only a scant supply; it takes 22 ewes to provide the same amount of milk obtained by the milking of a single cow. 
The scarcity of ewes’ milk and the limited milking season – December to July – offer a partial explanation for the higher price of cheese made from sheep’s milk in comparison to that made from cow’s milk. And Etorki is composed of over 98% ewes’ milk. For more on delicious Etorki, please visit the Ile de France website here.
My Cousin Vicki’s Wedding 
October 2008

What does Vicki & Jonah’s Wine Country Wedding at Cline Cellars in Sonoma, California last year have to do with the Cheese of the Month post?

Wedding Favors!

They chose to give an assortment of hand-crafted oils and vinegars as gifts. Great idea! Mine was the Late Harvest Riesling Vinegar. There was also Blood Orange Vinegar, Pomegranate Vinegar, and White Truffle Oil among others. Perfect wedding favors for foodies like us! Thanks V & J!

Dear Vicki & Jonah:
 Congratulations and blessings on your first anniversary!
Best wishes for many many more happy years together.
Love, Cousin Lori Lynn

Saint Agur – Cheese of the Month

Saint Agur
Steamed Baby Beets
Candied Walnuts
Frisée and Garlicky Red Wine Vinaigrette
Serve with Crusty Baguette
This delightful salade composée has a wide variety and balance of colors, flavors, and textures. Yet it was very simple and fast to compose! The earthy baby beets and sweet crunchy walnuts were purchased ready to serve. The tangy vinaigrette is made in a jar with minced garlic and shallot, premium red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Just shake well and pour the vinaigrette over the beets and frisée. Slice a piece of creamy, buttery St. Agur and serve with crusty French bread. Voilà!

Melissa’s brand peeled baby red beets are grown in France. They are trimmed, peeled, steamed and ready to serve from the vacuum sealed package. For full flavor I like them at room temperature.

St. Agur (pronounced Sant ah-GOOR) is made from pasteurized cow’s milk in the French village of Monts du Velay. It is very buttery, delicately sharp, and not too salty in comparison to other blues. Due to its creaminess, it seems to melt away in the mouth. A very well-balanced cheese, St. Agur is sowed with the penicillium roqueforti, and one, I think, even those who are not bigs fans of blue could enjoy. For more about St. Agur, please visit the Ile de France website here.

Cheese of the Month
Cheese Quote

“How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?”
“Comment voulez-vous gouverner un pays qui a deux cent quarante-six variétés de fromage?”
Charles de Gaulle
1962
Do you have a favorite cheese?

heirloom tomato with truffle carpaccio

heirloom tomato
truffle carpaccio
parmigiano-reggiano
toasted buttered baguette

Truffle Carpaccio
la BOUTIQUE de la truffe

It would be dream-come-true to always have fresh truffles in my kitchen. Preserved truffles are the next best thing. Truffle Carpaccio is a preserved truffle product from Italy. It is made with summer truffles (tuber aestivum vitt), olive oil, and salt. It can be served on toast, tossed with olive oil and pasta, or for an intense flavor combination try a teaspoonful on top of a grilled rib-eye steak.


This makes a delightful first course:  Slice heirloom tomatoes (blot excess moisture), place on a baking sheet, top with a little sea salt and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Place until the broiler until the cheese bubbles. Top each tomato with a teaspoon of truffle carpaccio. Serve with toasted buttered baguette, garnish with chives.
tomato & truffle carpaccio bruschetta

Toasted baguette rubbed with garlic, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with Parmigiano-Reggiano, and topped with chopped heirloom tomatoes tossed with truffle carpaccio and a little salt.

The truffle aroma is heavenly.
Gourmet Attitude in Manhattan is an importer of fresh truffles. They recently launched this line of truffle delicacies called “la BOUTIQUE  de la truffe” which includes the Truffle Carpaccio, Truffle Honey, and White Truffle Cream. We paired the Truffle Honey with panko-crusted chicken breast and paired the White Truffle Cream with angel hair pasta. Truffle heaven!

Kristy’s Chèvre Chaud Salad

Chèvre Chaud
Mixed Baby Lettuces, Teardrop Tomatoes
Chopped Hard Boiled Egg, Toasted Pinenuts
Dijon Vinaigrette

Kristy’s Table Setting
Last May we traveled to Paris to celebrate my sister-in-law’s 40th birthday. And recently I went to visit my family in Chicago. Of course we had to get together and have a dinner party with “the gang who went to Paris for Kristy’s birthday weekend.” And I was more than happy to be the chef.

PARIS REUNION
Le Menu

Pommery Brut Champagne
Starter
parmigiano-reggiano
toasted buttered baguette
Salade
“Kristy’s Salad”
chevre chaud, mixed lettuces, toasted pinenuts, 
hard cooked egg, teardrop tomatoes
dijon vinaigrette
Puligny Montrachet 2006 Domaine Carillon 
Plat Principal
wild mushroom agnolotti
pinor nior veal stock reduction
fried sage
Domaine Serene “Evenstad Reserve” 2006 Pinot Noir
Le Dessert

a drizzle of honey
whipped crème fraîche

Kristy’s  Chèvre Chaud Salad

Form goat cheese into medallions and refrigerate. Dip chilled goat cheese medallion in a beaten egg, then in panko breadcrumbs. Fry in hot peanut oil turning once. When the breadcrumbs are golden, transfer to paper towel. Season with sea salt.

My favored Dijon Vinaigrette comes from Jacques Pepin:

  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 3 Tbs Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 c red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 c extra virgin olive oil
I also a 2 tsp minced shallot.
Put all ingredients in a jar, screw on the lid, and shake very well.

This salad is named for my sister-in-law Kristy. Several years ago I made this salad for her and it became one of her favorites. Now, like enjoying a Chicago-style hot dog or having lunch at Joe’s Stone Crab, this salad is also one of our culinary traditions. I make it every time I come to town.

Haricots Verts with Goat Butter, Sublime!

Steamed Haricots Verts
Melting Goat Butter
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Toss and serve.
This ain’t your ordinary “green beans with butter.”
A couple years ago we had a magnificent dinner at Alinea, the amazing cutting-edge restaurant of Chef Grant Achatz in Chicago. In addition to all the mind-blowing courses, one small but totally memorable attention to detail stood out, the butter. Goat Butter. And I have been searching for it ever since. Pure white. Softer than cow’s butter at room temperature. Very subtle yet intriguing chèvre flavors. Recently I was ecstatic to find Cabrima Goat Butter at Whole Foods Market!
From the Netherlands,
Cabrima goat butter is made from fresh Dutch goat milk.

Produced by churning the fresh, pasteurized goat cream. The composition of goat butter has a lower melting point than regular butter, making it easy spreadable. Goat butter does not contain carotene, so the product possesses a clear, white color. (from Cabrima website here)
Goat cheese lovers, you will be in heaven!