New Asparagus Spears

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: New Asparagus Spears! Every once in awhile I have an “Ah-ha” moment when I come across fresh produce that I haven’t seen in awhile. This was one of those times. New asparagus smells clean and earthy. It also looks incredibly bright green with splashes of purple on the tips, which should be tightly closed. Make sure the stalks are firm and straight. If they seem to bend quite easily, they’ve already begun to wilt. Put them back. Personally, I prefer the thinner stalks simply because they cook much faster.

NEW ASPARAGUS SPEARS

Ingredients:

15-16 asparagus spears

1/2 red onion, sliced

1/2 cup caper berries, halved

2 tablespoons olive oil

Everything But Bagel seasoning, to taste

Fennel stalks, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Wash and trim asparagus spears. Place into an iron skillet. Arrange the red onion slices and caper berries. Brush generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until slightly charred. Remove from oven and garnish with fennel stalks. Serve immediately.

Chop Chop Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Chop Chop Salad! Stop your scrolling and check this out. Because in every single bite, it delivers. Sure, it takes a few extra minutes to chop things up…but it’s so worth it. Check out the delicate, spears of baby asparagus. Imagine that sweet nutty taste. Or what about the thin-as-paper radish slices? They provide a slight tickle of pepper spray. Did you notice the tiny shallot rings nestled between the romaine and radicchio? Their subtle oniony/garlic taste may surprise you. Without a doubt, the finishing touch reveals feathery fronds of dill that promise not to overpower. Together, Chop Chop Salad comes across as ineffably sublime.

CHOP CHOP SALAD

Ingredients for Vinaigrette:

1 shallot, sliced and chopped

1/8 teaspoon lemon citrus peel

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon garlic wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons agave nectar

Instructions for Vinaigrette:

Combine shallot pieces, lemon citrus peel, lemon juice, garlic wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and agave nectar. Whisk well. Set aside at room temperature.

Ingredients for Salad:

Kosher salt

1 cup snow peas

1/2 bunch baby asparagus

5-6 radishes, thinly sliced

1 romaine heart, sliced

1/4 head radicchio, chopped

1/2 cup dill fronds, snipped

Instructions for Salad:

Fill a large bowl with ice water. Add a handful of kosher salt. Stir. Submerge snow peas and asparagus in ice water for 10 minutes. This makes them very crisp. Drain well; pat dry. Chop into bite-size pieces. Mix together romaine lettuce, chopped radicchio, snow peas, baby asparagus, and radish slices. Pour vinaigrette over all. Toss to coat. Add dill fronds. Serve immediately.

Xavier Grilled Steak

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Xavier Grilled Steak! Just when you thought a juicy New York Strip steak couldn’t get any better, here you go. Grilled to taste, smothered in gooey Swiss cheese and crowned with fresh asparagus spears is a meal-in-one guaranteed to make anyone feel like royalty. For those who love onions, take it one step further. Sprinkle crispy French-fried onions over all before serving. Looks good, doesn’t it? Try not to stare.

XAVIER GRILLED STEAK

Ingredients:

2 New York Strip steaks, 1 1/2 inches thick

2 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

10 asparagus spears, ends trimmed

4 slices Swiss cheese

1/4 cup French-fried onions

Instructions:

Rub both sides of the New York Strip steak with olive oil. Season to taste with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place in a shallow dish. Marinate steak for 45 minutes in the refrigerator, turning once. Remove from refrigerator to allow meat to come to room temperature, approximately 15 minutes. Preheat outdoor grill. Cook steaks over medium heat 4-5 minutes until slightly charred. Turn the steaks over and grill 3 minutes longer for medium-rare, 5 minutes longer for medium, or 8 minutes longer for medium-well. Meanwhile to steam asparagus spears, bring water to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Place asparagus spears into the steamer basket. Cover and steam approximately 3-5 minutes until asparagus turns bright green, but is still tender. Remove from steamer. When steaks are cooked to perfection, place them on a platter to rest so the juices are absorbed. (This is the secret to juicy steak.) While the meat is resting, place two slices of Swiss cheese on each. Divide asparagus spears between them. Tent with foil. Let rest 5-7 minutes. Top with crispy French-fried onions before serving.

Yolk-Drenched Asparagus Spears

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Yolk-Drenched Asparagus Spears! Sometimes I am taken by surprise at the elegance of simplicity. Remember the slang term for K-I-S-S? Keep It Simple, Stupid! Well, that goes for preparing and photographing food as well. By eliminating fancy techniques and complex recipes, it allows anyone to feel like a master chef. I know I did. Words of Advice: Do your prep work so everything comes together like clockwork in mere minutes. The proof came when my husband clapped his hands and asked me to make it again…soon.

YOLK-DRENCHED ASPARAGUS SPEARS

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed

1/4 pound bacon, crispy but pliable

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

4 eggs

Sea salt, to taste

1/4 teaspoon dried parsley, for garnish

Toast, for serving

Instructions:

Cook the bacon until crispy but still bendable. Drain on paper towels. Set aside. Steam the asparagus until crisp-tender, 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Divide into servings. Wrap one piece of bacon around each asparagus bunch. Sprinkle with shredded parmesan cheese. In a saucepan, fill water enough to cover eggs, by sight. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat so the water is smooth. Gently crack eggs into the water, so as not to break the yolks. Leave plenty of space between eggs. Cover with a lid. Poach until the whites are set, but the yolks are runny, 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove each egg and set it on the asparagus bundle. Season with sea salt. Garnish with parsley. Serve with buttered toast.

Vegan Charcuterie Board

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Vegan Charcuterie Board! Here’s your solution to what to serve with grilled meats this summer. Choose popular garden veggies, distinct to the season. Arrange them on a charcuterie board with nuts and flavorful dips. Peruse the local farmers’ market or produce section of your nearest grocers. With a little effort, the Vegan Charcuterie Board can be the star attraction for holidays and picnic outings. Check it out!

VEGAN CHARCUTERIE BOARD

Ingredients:

Carrot sticks

Asparagus spears

Celery sticks

Cherry tomatoes

Mini cucumbers, sliced

Radishes, quartered

Yellow sweet peppers, sliced Green olives, stuffed

Kalamata olives, pitted

Pistachios in shell

Assorted crackers

Ingredients for Hummus:

15-ounce can chickpeas, drained

1/2 cup tahini paste

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon lemon olive oil

1 tablespoon capers

Using a food processor, pulse chickpeas until smooth. Add tahini paste, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, cumin powder, and sea salt. Process until mixed. Transfer hummus to a shallow bowl. Drizzle with lemon olive oil. Garnish with capers.

Ingredients for Dill Dip:

4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

1 tablespoon dill weed

1 teaspoon capers

1 tablespoon chives, chopped

Combine Neufchâtel cheese and prepared horseradish. Stir until smooth. Fold in dill weed, capers, and chives. Refrigerate one hour before serving.

Orange Sesame Asparagus

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Orange Sesame Asparagus! Produce can be a problem keeping fresh in the vegetable crisper. Especially if you buy it in season when it’s plentiful. Oftentimes that means serving the same thing several days in a row, so the trick is to jazz it up with sidekick options and seasoning. Color keeps food interesting the same way dressings and sauces do. You can either make an orange glaze sauce from scratch or open a bottle of Asian vinaigrette. You choose. I feel blessed to have sufficient ingredients in my kitchen that transform ordinary dishes into extraordinary cravings.

ORANGE SESAME ASPARAGUS

Ingredients:

1/2 bunch fresh asparagus, bottom ends trimmed

15-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained

2 tablespoons brown sugar

4 teaspoons cornstarch

1 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

Instructions:

Bring salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Place asparagus spears in water to blanch, about 3-4 minutes until tender. Remove asparagus with tongs; drain. Transfer asparagus to a platter. Arrange mandarin oranges around asparagus spears. In a skillet, combine brown sugar and cornstarch. Add orange juice and lemon juice. Stir to blend. Cook over medium heat, stirring until glaze boils, about 2 minutes. Pour orange glaze over asparagus spears. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Asparagus If You Peas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Asparagus If You Peas! When you’re looking for an appealing salad, think asparagus! You’re going to love the bright greens and vibrant red tones in this one. You may even “Kiss the Cook”. By blanching fresh asparagus, it keeps this popular vegetable tender while remaining crisp. The mild flavor reminds me of Springtime as a kid. I used to forage for wild asparagus along country roads, ditches, and abandoned railroad tracks. The natural pale-green spears standing sentinel made them easy to spot. Everyone had their “secret” places where they knew the plants returned year after year, as long as the stalks were snapped off at ground level leaving the roots intact.

ASPARAGUS IF YOU PEAS

Ingredients:

1/2 bunch fresh asparagus, bottom ends trimmed

1 cup frozen peas, thawed and rinsed

1 cup radishes, sliced thin

1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts

1/4 cup raw honey

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions:

Bring salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Place asparagus spears in water to blanch, about 3-4 minutes until tender. Remove asparagus with tongs and transfer to a colander in ice water for one minute. Drain. Arrange asparagus spears on a platter. Surround them with peas, sliced radishes, and alfalfa sprouts. Place in refrigerator to chill completely. Meanwhile, to make the dressing, combine raw honey, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, white vinegar, and cayenne pepper. Whisk until smooth and creamy. Drizzle over vegetables, as desired.

Orzo Shrimp Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Orzo Shrimp Salad! In case you did a double-take, this is not a rice dish. Orzo, for those who are new to its origin, is a rice-shaped pasta popular in Italy. Most often it is used in soups, chilled salads, and pasta recipes. It is not gluten-free, if that is important to you. Because of its unique texture, the flavor of orzo bonds wonderfully with olive oil or butter and fresh herbs. Make it early in the day or right before supper. Either way, the taste is incredible with garden fresh veggies and cocktail shrimp. A little orzo goes a long way.

ORZO SHRIMP SALAD

Ingredients:

1/4 cup lemon olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup uncooked orzo

1/2 pound precooked jumbo cocktail shrimp

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dill

1/2 teaspoon tarragon leaves, chopped

4 ounces asparagus, sliced into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed

1/2 cup frozen English peas, thawed

Lemon slices for garnish

Instructions:

For dressing, whisk together lemon olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, kosher salt, and black pepper. Set aside. Prepare orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Transfer to a platter and cool 10 minutes to room temperature. In a skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Remove shells from shrimp tails. Place shrimp in a single layer in the skillet. Sprinkle with dill and tarragon. Lightly brown, turning once. Reduce heat to keep from burning. Remove from stove. Let shrimp cool. Meanwhile, in a steamer basket, bring water to a boil. Add asparagus, sugar snap peas, and English peas. Cook 2 minutes until bright green and tender crisp. Immediately transfer vegetables to an ice bath. Drain. Toss together shrimp and vegetables with orzo. Drizzle with lemon dressing, to taste. Toss to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Garnish with lemon slices.

Omelet 101

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Omelet 101. You’re having a get-together and need an effortless, but impressive, breakfast. While everyone is huddling in the kitchen, because this is what people do, pour them a cuppa joe and get started. Making the perfect omelet will have you feeling like a gourmet chef. It’s pretty basic. Use an 8-inch sauté pan with slanted edges and plenty of butter. Fresh veggies and shredded cheese are always a good idea. If you’re nervous about the “flip”, simply do what I do. Put a lid on it.

OMELET 101

Ingredients: (per omelet)

2 eggs

Pinch sea salt

Pinch black pepper

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons smokey Swiss cheese, shredded

Sautéed asparagus tips

Sautéed mushrooms

Instructions:

In a mini chopper, combine eggs, sea salt, black pepper, and water. Beat until light yellow in color. Warm butter in pan over medium-low heat. Do not scorch butter. Pour egg mixture into pan. Do not stir. Swirl the pan so eggs cover the edge. Cook until bottom begins to set, about one minute. Tilt the pan to allow liquid to flow underneath. Slide a rubber spatula around the surface to loosen omelet. Arrange shredded cheese, asparagus tips, and sliced mushrooms across the center of the egg, forming a vertical line. Reduce heat to low. Cover pan with a lid to absorb liquid, about 30-45 seconds. The center will remain creamy. Remove lid. Fold one-third of omelet onto itself. Gently transfer omelet to a plate. Serve immediately.