Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What I'm Reading Today

Still recovering from yesterday's Star Wars Cookies.  The force was definitely not with me...may it be back today.

I saw this recipe in the Sunday New York Times magazine and knew it was a keeper.  I've probably been overloading you with asparagus recipes these past weeks but when something this good is in season right here and now, I love finding new ways to cook it.  Amanda Hesser does her recipe redux on Mimi Sheraton's 1977 recipe for Asparagus alla Fontina.  The original recipe, while titled "alla Fontina" actually called for Gruyere instead-too funny (although Fontina would be great here).  It's essentially a frittata-baked eggs with asparagus and cheese.  The recipe has you pre-cook the spears but I prefer Amanda's idea of letting them cook with the eggs for a more al dente texture.  I think this would be a fun brunch dish or each vegetarian supper (sans the prosciutto) with a simple mixed salad.  For the modern redux, she asked Carlo Mirarchi (of Roberta’s in Brooklyn) to modernize the dish.  He created a simple yet equally as elegant (maybe even more so) plate by spooning softly scrambled eggs over spears of asparagus and slices of prosciutto.  Remember, like meat, scrambled eggs keep cooking after you take them off the heat so if you tackle this dish and like your eggs nice and tender, don't cook them too long.  

I hate to diss the good ol' fashioned BLT.  You know the one, toasted white bread, a slather of mayo, unripe tomatoes, iceberg, and a couple flimsy slices of bacon.  It has its place (maybe in diner history) but when I saw this recipe in today's Washington Post I knew the BLT had grown up, in Italy none the less.  Hello dinner!!  Italian country bread (look for Pugliese) is grilled or toasted and topped with a lightly dressed arugula and tomato salad.  The acidity in the dressing balances some of the richness from the pancetta and cheese, nice idea.  Grilled (or broiled) pancetta covers the greens and it's all topped with melting mozzarella.  Oh my...I'm not sure what else to say.  I think I need a moment.

In addition to being asparagus crazy, spring makes me rhubarb crazy too.  I happen to love the stuff and all its stringy goodness.  It goes back to my grandparents-my grandpa used to grow rhubarb is his urban Seattle "pea patch" and he'd bring it home to my grandma who'd transform it into the best strawberry rhubarb compote that we'd inhale by the bowl full.  The leaves of a rhubarb plant are toxic (hence they're often detached when you buy the stalks at the market).  The stalks themselves can be tart, which makes them a great for balancing ingredients like sweet berries or desserts.  Believe it or not I've even shaved it paper thin and put it, raw, in a salad.  The Rhubarb Crumble Cake in today's Boston Globe caught my eye for a few reasons.  I adore anything with the word "crumble" in it and I love cakes baked with a layer of fruit because they say incredibly moist.  Serve this for breakfast as a coffee cake or after dinner as dessert.  Better yet, serve it both times!   

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking! 

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