It’s finally starting to feel like spring! I was out in my garden this weekend cleaning up the mess that winter left behind and it felt so good to see all the green heads poking out through the soil. My son’s strawberry plants are coming to life and the rhubarb seemed to be growing as I watched. That got me thinking about what kind of tomatoes and other veggies I’ll grow this year and all the yummy summer meals ahead.
Another sure sign of spring is the arrival of the first provincial produce in the markets and stores. Look out for asparagus mid-May and enjoy it while you can – it beats the pants off the tasteless imported stuff that’s been shipped for thousands of miles... When choosing asparagus, make sure the heads are compact and closed. It’s a matter of personal taste whether you pick thin or thick spears, just make sure that when you prepare them, they are similar in thickness. Snap the woody bottom parts of the stems off, give them a good rinse to get rid of any sand – then steam or grill them just until tender! Here are a couple of recipes to celebrate spring in Canada.
ROASTED ASPARAGUS AND MUSHROOM FRICASSEE
- 1 lb asparagus, tough ends removedi
- 2 tsp + 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 12 oz shitake (or mixture of mushrooms), sliced
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Arrange asparagus on baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tsp olive oil and turn to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 10-12 minutes or just until tender.
Meanwhile, in skillet, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, 1 minute. Add mushrooms; cook until soft and golden, about 5-7 minutes. Add lemon juice, then pour in wine and cook until wine is absorbed, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide asparagus among 4 plates. Top with mushrooms. Makes 4 appetizer servings.
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 2 cups chopped rhubarb
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 tbsp icing sugar + more for dusting finished cake
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Grease a 17 1/2" x 11 1/2 " jelly roll pan and line with parchment paper. Grease paper and lightly dust with flour.
In mixing bowl, beat egg yolks with water until fluffy. Beat in 1/4 cup sugar until pale and thickened. Blend in vanilla.
In another bowl, mix together flour, cornstarch and baking powder; set aside.
In separate bowl, beat egg whites with salt until foamy. Beat in remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold into egg yolk mixture. Gently fold in flour mixture, making sure flour is fully incorporated.
Spread batter evenly in prepared pan and bake in middle of oven for 10–12 minutes or until puffed, golden brown and firm to touch. Loosen edges with knife; allow to cool in pan on rack 5 minutes. Invert onto tea towel: peel off paper.
While cake is baking, in nonstick pan over medium-high heat, cook rhubarb with sugar and maple syrup, stirring, for 8–10 minutes or until softened and thick. Spread filling on a plate and chill 5 minutes.
In mixing bowl, beat whipping cream and icing sugar until thick and spreadable. Do not overbeat or cream will go lumpy.
Spread rhubarb filling evenly over cake, leaving a 1" border on each short side. Put a platter at far end of cake. Beginning with short side and using parchment paper as an aid, roll up cake jelly-roll style. Carefully transfer roll, seam-side down, to platter. Sift with icing sugar just before serving.
©2007 SayItCornell.com / SayItCanada.ca. All rights reserved.
Laura Buckley is a chef and recipe consultant. She trained at the Stratford Chefs School and has worked in the kitchens of some of the top restaurants in Toronto. She also ran a catering company, called Eats of Eden, cooking for rock stars to royalty. She develops and tests recipes for cookbooks and magazines, teaches cooking classes, and is co-editor of All Stirred Up (Random House, 2003) and recipe developer for The G.I. Diet Cookbook (Random House, 2006). Laura is on the board of directors of the Women’s Culinary Network and a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier and Slow Food. She lives in Markham, Ontario with her husband and adolescent twins.