Thursday, April 24, 2008

Canning Asparagus

Late April and May is the time to can green or white asparagus. See Canning Green or White Asparagus. It is very nice served with grilled or broiled salmon and a hollandaise or Bearnaise sauce.

We eat a ton of asparagus when it is in season. Canned asparagus can be served as a starter with a red wine and shallot vinaigrette. Fresh asparagus is nice roasted and served with a horseradish dip as an hors d’oeuvre – see roasted asparagus. You may also serve roasted asparagus as a starter with a mustard vinaigrette topping it with roasted red bell peppers and/or caramelized onions or shallots.

To make asparagus soup with fresh asparagus, saut̩ asparagus cut into 1/2 inch pieces in olive oil until tender, add chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste, and then simmer for 30 minutes. To augment the color of the soup, you may add 1/4 Р1/2 cup of cream for each quart of soup before serving.
If using canned asparagus do not sauté and add the canning liquid to the chicken stock.

An asparagus quiche may be made using canned asparagus by cutting the asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces and then substituting the canned asparagus for the roasted in our asparagus quiche recipe. You may do the same for an basic omelet.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I haven't been very diligent with this blog. I spent the winter working on the restoration of our house; refinishing floors, sanding plaster walls, cleaning up the dust, stripping wood, hauling trash to the dump, refinishing wood, getting my kitchen cabinets installed plus working in the garden. I've also been working on a concept for a new website, which I'll share later.

This evening, I am making lasagna. It's about the easiest thing to make, if you have the tomato sauce on hand. Tonight, I'm using Tomato Sauce with Mushrooms.

There are differing opinions about whether or not to cook the lasagna noodles before making lasagna. I have done it both ways, but can't tell the difference in the final product. However, I have found that precooking the noodles makes a tremendous difference in the preparation time so I don't do it. If not precooking the lasagna, you will want your tomato sauce to be a runny, so that the noodles have liquid to absorb while cooking.

When making lasagna for a family meal, I want clean-up to be as easy as possible. I line my baking dish with wax paper by cutting it larger than the baking dish and then folding the edges so that the wax paper comes up the sides.

To make lasagna, start with a bottom layer of lasagna noodles. Spoon over some cooked ground beef mixed with tomato sauce and then a little shredded cheese. If your tomato sauce already has salt and pepper, you may not want to add any additional. You may want to add some finely diced fresh sage, if you have it in the garden. Continue two to three layers of sauce and noodles, depending on the depth of your baking dish and finish off the top with additional tomato sauce, shredded cheese and a little shaved Parmesan.

To cook the lasagna, do so in a 350 degree oven (180 centigrade) for 45 – 50 minutes, until the cheese on top is lightly browned. Cooking time may be a little longer, if it’s a large lasagna.

Since there are already ample calories in the lasagna, I usually serve it with a simple green salad with balsamic vinaigrette. This should never be tossed until the last minute. Romaine lettuce goes very well with lasagna.

For company, I like to add Bechamel Sauce (low fat version). I layer this in after each layer of cheese and then over the top of the noodles (omitting the final layer of tomato sauce on top) before the final layer of cheese. If serving family style to company, you may not want to use the wax paper as it doesn't always make a nice presentation at the table.