The kitchen is open-
Spring is white asparagus season (Spargelzeit) in the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg, and also the time when we can find the prized "white gold" in US food markets. The KT kitchen made its way to Schwetzingen, one of the most well-known stops on the asparagus road (Spargelstrasse), to celebrate Spargelfest. We prepared a comforting soup, and used chopped stalks as the foundation for a salad drizzled with a creamy vinaigrette. A common way to enjoy the luxurious vegetable in its purest form is simply to gently poach or steam and serve alongside potatoes and ham. Because I am always interested in how neighboring countries influence each other's cuisine, we tapped the Netherlands to the north and France to the west with a ladling of hollandaise and a sprinkling of fresh tarragon.
Spargel mit Hollädhischer und Schinken
2 pounds white asparagus
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 large leeks, whites plus ½ inch of light green part, chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and white pepper to taste
Prepare asparagus by washing, peeling and removing tough ends. Chop stalks and reserve tips. Cook leeks in 2 tablespoons of butter until translucent. Add asparagus stalks, broth and water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce, cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Purée soup in small batches, a cup or so at a time, in a powerful blender on high setting until completely smooth. Add all purée back to the pot and keep warm. Stir in cream and lemon juice, add about ½ teaspoon of ground white pepper and salt to your liking.
Pan fry asparagus tips in the remaining tablespoon of butter until they begin to brown slightly. Ladle soup into bowls with tips. Garnish with fresh herbs.
Serves 4 - 6
5 ounces white asparagus
1 ripe tomato, seeded and sliced into thin wedges
½ cup watercress leaves
1 tablespoon light olive oil
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 hardboiled egg, finely chopped
Peel asparagus, remove tough ends and slice into bite-sized pieces. Simmer in water, or steam, until tender, about 10 minutes.
Combine asparagus pieces, tomato and watercress in a bowl. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Whisk oil, vinegar and cream, and toss salad with half of the dressing. Add chopped hardboiled egg and drizzle with remaining dressing.
Gently peel white asparagus, from below the tips to ends, lying on a cutting board instead of holding in your hand. The delicate stalks will snap at the slightest wrong move!
Unlike green and purple varieties, white asparagus is carefully cultivated underground, shielding it from sunlight. After three years nestled below "hillings" of dirt, the crop is harvested just when tips begin to show.
Kitchen Traveler is the creative brainchild of Michele McMurry and husband Doug, who together recreate global flavors from their cozy galley kitchen in San Antonio, Texas.
Food and travel enthusiasts Michele and Doug McMurry journey to global destinations by way of their home kitchen in San Antonio, Texas.