charcuterie wrapped asparagus

April 11, 2014 § 85 Comments

Funny how you think about a certain food and next thing you know you are at the market gathering your ingredients then in your kitchen preparing it.  This happened to me yesterday.  Out of the blue I thought about proscuitto wrapped asparagus.  I have only had this delicacy once and it was quite a few years ago.  All I remember is the effort it took cooking a few dozen of them in a skillet.  A laborious task for my style of cooking, so I never prepared them again.

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Until now.  Now I realize your don’t have to toss them around in a hot skillet and watch them unravel.   Simply roast them in the oven until the asparagus are tender and the cured meat is crispy.   I like simple foods and I like simple ingredients.  Salty pork wrapped around fresh spring asparagus and roasted in the oven until crisp is not complicated.  And serving a warm soft boiled egg to dunk your asparagus into is perfection itself.

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This idea is not original, you can find many versions of these little delights also known as “asparagus soldiers” online.  Rather than proscuitto I chose a mixture of  salchichon (a Spanish salame),  Jamón Serrano (dry cured ham) and chorizo cantimpalo.

 I n g r e d i e n t s

  • one dozen fat asparagus stalks
  • 12 slices of proscuitto or other type of thinly sliced cured meat
  • 4 eggs
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 450° F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Slice off the woody ends of each asparagus and discard. Wrap the asparagus stalks in charcuterie. Place the asparagus onto the baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast for about 15 minutes, or until the meat is crispy. While the asparagus is roasting, soft boil your eggs. Fill a saucepan about halfway with water and bring it to a boil.  Decrease the temperature so that the water reduces to a rapid simmer and gently lower the eggs into the water one at a time.  Cook the eggs for 5-7 minutes: 5 minutes for a yolk that is still runny and 7 minutes for a yolk that is barely set.  Drain the eggs and run them under cold tap water for 30-60 seconds.  Use a knife or egg-cutter to take the cap off the tip of the egg and serve right away in either an egg cup or use a portion of your egg carton.

crispy roasted chickpeas

February 26, 2014 § 86 Comments

There is a friendly little wine bar close to our house we like to visit on occasion.   They serve wine on tap.  Apparently, this not only means no waste, but it means taking less of a toll on the environment; less transportation and manufacturing costs, less fuel emissions and no glass and corks heading to the landfill.  Seattle is a very environmentally friendly city and needless to say wine on tap is a fair concept for most of us.  Well, I prefer wine from an oak barrel.  But then,  I don’t go along for the wine, it’s the ambiance of the place and more importantly…the crispy roasted chickpeas they serve as an appetizer.

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Crispy roasted chickpeas is not a new idea, but a revisited idea.  If you haven’t made them, do.  If you have made them and it’s been awhile, do it again.

I found a chickpea brand and was pleasantly surprised when I opened the can and found the skins were already taken off of them.  Otherwise, to easily remove the skin rub the chickpeas with your fingers in a bowl filled with water. The chickpea skins will float to the top, and you can pour them off to drain.  You may use any spice you would like.  Experiment!  The first time I made these I used sweet smoked paprika and haven’t even considered using anything else.

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Here’s the recipe and be warned, you will not stop eating them once your start.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt
  • choice of spices, I used sweet smoked paprika

M e t h o d

Preheat the oven to 400° F.   If you open your cans and find the skins on the chickpeas, place the chickpeas in a large bowl and fill with water. Rub the chickpeas with your fingers gently to remove the skins. The skins will float to the surface of the water, pour them off the side of the bowl. Drain the chickpeas and dry well with paper towels. Toss to coat the chickpeas with the olive oil, spices, and sea salt.  Spread the chickpeas in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through, until golden and crispy. Enjoy right away while they are warm and crispy!

Serves 4, as an appetizer.

fresh made tortilla chips and tomatillo salsa

July 26, 2013 § 45 Comments

I learned how to make tomatillo salsa when I was a community supported agriculture  (CSA) member and receiving weekly boxes of fresh fruits and vegetable from a local farm here in the Pacific Northwest.  I remember discovering a large bag of tomatillos in my box and not knowing what to do with them.   I was familiar with salsa verde and set out to find a recipe.   By definition a tomatillo is a small green fruit, similar to a tomato, with a paper-like husk.  They are very tart in flavor and aside from salsa verde I have not experimented with them.  This is a wonderful salsa served warm with freshly made tortilla chips.

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I n g r e d i e n t s 

  • 10 tomatillos, papery skins removed and washed
  • 2 shallots, roughly chopped
  • two large jalapeños, split and seed removed
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • large bunch cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
  • sea salt

M e t h o d

Remove the papery skins off of a pound of tomatillo (roughly 10 tomatillos).  Place them (whole) in a saucepan and cover with water.  Add one roughly chopped shallot, two large jalapeños (depending on your machismo) and five whole cloves of garlic.

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Boil until very tender, about 7-10 minutes.  Drain out all but one cup of water and return to the pan.  Blend into a salsa consistency using a hand blender.  You may use a blender if you do not have a hand blender.  If you are using a blender start slow so the hot liquid does not splash on you.  Puree until mostly smooth.  Add a handful of cilantro and a pinch of sea salt.  Transfer to a serving bowl.  Finely chop another shallot and add to the bowl of salsa.  Stir to incorporate.

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We like to eat this salsa warm, but it also keeps in the fridge.  Served with fresh homemade tortilla chips.

Tortilla Chips

  • 1 dozen good quality corn tortillas
  • at least 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt

Heat a good amount of olive oil in a non stick skillet over medium high.  Cut your tortilla’s into desired shape, fry until crisp, using tongs to turn.  Remove to paper towel, salt and let them cool.  Transfer to your serving basket or bowl.

Serves several as an appetizer.

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