People ask me all the time what is it that I miss the most from being away from home. I generally say that Spartanburg is now my home, and that I really love being here, but if there is something I miss it would have to be French food, and the atmosphere and the ambience of French cities. I miss smelling the coffee brewing as you walk the streets in the morning, I miss smelling the breads and the croissants baking in the boulangeries. I miss sitting at the terrasse of French cafe, and looking at passer-by. I miss doing my grocery shopping at open air markets. Yes! What I miss the most is browsing at the displays of fresh produces at open farmer markets. I miss knowing what the fruit and the vegetable of the seasons are. In France, it was easy, as you walked by the various exposants, you could see what was in season, and you hurry to buy it because it was only fresh and only available for a few weeks. This was the case for strawberries, for cantaloupes, for grapes, and for the white asparagus. Today, all is so much different. All produces are available mostly all year long, even strawberry, even asparagus. Well, today as I walked in the Fresh Market, I was for a moment reminded of this happy time at the French Farmer markets. As I was browsing the store for my inspiration for tonite dinner, there I saw a new stand with fresh white asparagus. White asparagus can found all year long, but they come in season around this time. At this time, they should be sweet, not bitter, they should be crisp and not soft. And so I bought them…
In France, we normally eat white asparagus as an appetizer. We steamed them, and we eat them with a light red wine and mustard vinaigrette. But because my family does not care for it that way, I cooked them a German way: with potatoes, Wesfalien ham, scrambled eggs and hollandaise sauce.
Ingredients: 2 bundles of white asparagus, 8 whole eggs, 4 egg yolks, 1 Tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, 6 medium sized potatoes, 1/2 lb of Wesfalien ham, salt and pepper to taste.
First you will want to cook the potatoes and the white asparagus. Peel the potatoes, cut them in small cubes, place them in a saucepan, cover them with water, add 1 Tb of coarse salt, and bring them to boil. Cook the potatoes until they are soft. Drain the water and set aside.
While the potatoes are cooking, peel the white aspargus and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with the lemon juice until the mixture doubles in volume. Place the bowl over a saucepan with simmering water and continue stirring slowly incorporating the melted butter. You will need to whisk until the mixture thickens and doubles in volume. Be careful not to overcook or the eggs will scramble. When done, remove from the stove, cover to keep warm and set aside.
I normally blanche asparagus, but today I decided to use my new cookware. I place the asparagus in the circular mold, sprinkle salt, pepper and lemon juice over the asparagus, cover the mold with the octogonal silpat and microwave for 7 minutes.
While the asparagus are cooking, break the 8 eggs in a large bowl, sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic powder ( not necessary) to taste and whisk. Turn on the stove to medium high, melt 1 tsp of butter and throw in the egg mixture when the butter has melted and start to sizzle. Cook the eggs until they are cooked to your liking.
To serve, place on each plate a little bit of everything: potatoes, scrambled eggs, ham, asparagus and drizzle the sauce over it all.
NB: If you are concerned about your weight, you can skip this meal:), or you can do the following: skip the potatoes, use egg whites instead of whole eggs, and not have the sauce. If you really want to have sauce, you can use one of those premade recipe package such as Knorr. Instead of following the recipe, you will need to substitute the whole milk and the butter with 1 1/4 cup of skimmed milk. I hope that those suggestions will help:-)