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Risotto with Fresh Asparagus & Peas

Fresh asparagus has been popping up at tons of places we have been shopping this last week. I grabbed the best looking bundle from the Hawthorne Valley Farm Store the other day, as a hankering for risotto had set in. Little did I know that the day I was going to make It world be close to 90 degrees. The process of stirring was a bit like being in a sauna, but by the time the sun set, the back screened porch had started to cool down and we enjoyed our meal out there while the crickets serenaded us. Was not finding fresh peas yet, so went with my old stand-by of a really high quality frozen bag. Opt for the larger, non-petit size. They really work pretty wonderfully in risotto. If you can find fresh, by all means use them. For the asparagus, chose the thicker the better. They hold up nicely when mixed into the hot rice. I cut them up first and roasted on a sheet pan at 400 degrees mixed with extra virgin olive oil and salt. Pull out while still a bit firm, as they will continue to cook later in the risotto. I took out all the tops and reserved in a separate bowl, as they look nice on top of the individual risotto servings at the very end.

Heat up the 8 cups of stock to not quite a boil, then turn down the heat a bit, but the stock should remain hot thru the entire risotto cooking process. Next, and here is where I like to use a good sized Le Creuset pot for cooking the risotto in, add a liberal dose of butter and cook a diced onion and shallot till they are not quite brown. Then add a good amount of olive oil to that, along with 2 cups of Arborio rice. Coat the rice with the butter and oil mixture, and sauté for a minute or two to cook through, but don’t brown the rice. All of the above is done over medium heat, but stove tops vary greatly, so adjust accordingly.

Now the liquids begin. Add one cup of white wine to the mixture. I like to use a white that we will be serving with the meal. Stir rice till the wine is absorbed. The depth of flavor the wine adds to the finished product is really noticeable.

Now the waiting hot stock takes center stage. Add one cup of stock to the mixture, stirring till the stock is fully absorbed. What holds many folks back about making risotto is there is a good amount of stirring involved. A constant stir is not necessary, but pretty close. This is where the white wine you opened comes in quite nicely. Sipping a little white wine during the risotto making process is a personal favorite–it is my break from stirring. Continue adding the hot stock one cup at a time, and the rice will become creamier as you go, as it releases the natural starches. Add the 7th cup of stock. At this point, you will be about 20 to 25 minutes into the rice cooking process. You are almost there.

Now add the bag of peas. It does not need to be completely unfrozen as the peas will defrost the moment they hit the hot rice. Stir. Now add the waiting asparagus pieces on the waiting sheet pan. Add a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Stir. Turn off the heat. Add another cup of stock. Stir. Add a dusting of salt & fresh ground black pepper. Stir. Put on the lid. Let sit for 5 minutes, have another sip of your white wine, as we are almost done. Once that 5 minutes has passed, give it one last stir, adding a bit more stock so it is nice and creamy. In a bowl add the risotto mixture, then add the asparagus tops to each bowl and finally a few sprinkles of the grated Parmesan. A bit of work, but that will all fade away when you have your first bite.



 

 

Shaved Asparagus with Irish Butter & Parmesan 

Our dinner last week at Prune, they peeled/shaved the asparagus. This is not a technique I have ever employed. Then I remembered something I had seen about the Canal House folks and that is how they prepared it for a certain dish. So, from memory of both taste and from reading, I thought I would give it a go. Turned out pretty darn tasty and will do again, for sure.

This is the time to use really thick asparagus. With a vegetable peeler, shave/peel about two-thirds of the skin off the stem. This will leave them a little naked looking, but that is what you are going for. Roast in a 400 degree oven on a sheet pan after liberally rubbing each stalk with extra virgin olive oil. Lightly sprinkle over salt to the evoo bathed asparagus. Watch ever so diligently in the oven as not to over-cook, shacking the pan several times to move things around. Take out of oven. Place now cooked asparagus on a plate, add a dollop of Irish butter, and then shower with shaved Parmesan. Yum.



 

 

Put An Egg On It

The beautifully glorious simplicity of the egg. If you have some at the ready in the fridge, a meal is but a few simple steps away. Poach it, fry it, prepare it however you see fit–then set it atop asparagus, pasta, or a sandwich for a truly satisfying meal any time of day.



 

 

Summmaaaa Pasta

20160620-083538.jpg With a nod to Summer officially beginning this evening, I thought I would share a super simple Summmaaa pasta dish with you. Easy to whip up with all the variety of great veg out now or coming our way in the next few months. Whatever vegetables you decide to put into this is up to you. Use what you like, and use what looks freshest at the moment.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees, my magical number when cooking, so the oven is nice and hot for when you are finished cutting up the vegetables. Cut up an entire head of cauliflower, making sure the pieces are quite small. The idea is all the pieces of everything you add to this is close to bite sized. Put the cauliflower pieces onto a sheet pan, drizzle all with extra virgin olive oil, then salt & pepper liberally. Then cut up a large bunch of asparagus, spreading out on its own sheet pan and getting the same oil treatment. You want each veg on its own pan as things cook differently, so that way you can pull them out individually when done. Put both in the hot oven and cook until things get nice and golden. Stir along the way. Once done, add all to a large pasta bowl.

Now get the pasta water ready to boil. When boiling add a few ears of corn, take out when done. Cut the corn off the husks when cool enough to handle and add to the bowl. Salt the corn. Sorry, I forgot to add the corn to the above bowl before I snapped the picture. Bring the water back up to a boil and add the pasta and cook to desired doneness from the instructions on the box. I am a fan of Cavatappi pasta, but truly, use whatever shape pasta you like best. Salt the water liberally and add a few splashes of olive oil. While the pasta is cooking away in the hot water bath, shell sugar snap peas and add them to the pasta bowl with the other veg. I love using raw for this as the heat of the pasta will cook them ever so slightly when tossed in, but they will have the slightest crunch which I really quite like. Then grate a good amount of fresh Parmesan cheese and add to the bowl. Stand back and admire just how pretty that all is…

When the pasta is done, take a measuring cup and fill it with the corn/pasta water. Set aside and then drain the pasta well. Add the hot pasta to the beautiful awaiting bowl. Mix in as much of the pasta as you think works well with the amount of veg you have. FYI, you might not use all of the pasta, and that is ok. Then add a bit of the pasta water to the lot. Mix around again. Salt and pepper all. Have a taste. You might want to add more cheese. You might want to add a little more of the pasta water. You might want to add a little more salt and pepper. Or not. It might just be perfect. You decide. Now enjoy it just as it is. Or serve it alongside a piece of chicken or fish. Or crumble chicken, Italian sausage or salmon into the pasta for a truly one bowl meal. As said above, this can all be changed up by what vegetables look best this Summer. Roasting them in the oven caramelizes them a bit and really brings out the flavor which adds so much to this pasta dish. Enjoy!

20160620-092328.jpg And a happy start to Summmmmaaaaaa!!!



 

 

Asparagus from Seattle Pickle Co.

20160601-090336.jpg Just In, crazy good asparagus from Seattle Pickle Co. Picked and pickled at the height of freshness, these asparagus are sublime eaten right out of the jar, or added to a Bloody Mary. I like putting the jar on an app tray for a healthy & easy addition. My afternoon Sunday Bloody Mary before my outdoor shower was a hit with a few asparagus added. Pickled vegetables are such a handy thing to have on hand in the fridge for many uses. The jars also make lovely host/hostess gifts.



 

 

Asparagus & Gruyere Tart

We arrived Sunday eve to Hawthorne. Our ‘to-do’ list quite long this stay, while still trying to squeeze in a bit of relaxation. Don’t worry, I promise we will. Mainly all fun things on the list, mostly all centered on being at the house or the Hudson Valley. A quick trip into the city next week for the National Stationery Show, where I will spend most of my time laughing myself silly at all the gloriously funny/clever cards I am reading/ordering for WK. It is a tough job but someone has to do it. Smiling quite large as I type this. I digress, this yummy yummy asparagus & gruyere tart is at hand. It tend to try new cookery things when we are here or out at WestWard. Something about being super relaxed gets my creativity flowing. I have seen reference to this type of tart on cooking shows, magazine articles and IG feeds. It truly could not be easier. But man is it good! Don’t blink or you will miss how simple this is. Perfect to serve at a cocktail party. Last night I made halibut along with corn on the cob, and the tart was a divine addition.

Preheat oven to 400. Use a puff pastry sheet you find in the freezer section at the grocery store. Pepperidge Farms makes my favorite, and we always have a few on-hand in the freezer. Thaw a sheet on a parchment lined baking sheet. Take a knife and make a 1 inch border around the entire piece, making sure not to cut all the way through the pastry. Then take a fork and prick holes in the inside of the border. Bake for 15 minutes in the now hot oven. Take out.

20160510-111408.jpg It should look something like this. Now brush the entire thing with extra virgin olive oil. Then lay thin asparagus within the border.

20160510-111549.jpg Now salt and pepper liberally over the asparagus. Then large grate a good amount of Gruyere over all of the asparagus. A heavy hand with the cheese will make you happy later, trust me on this.

20160510-111800.jpg Then put back into the 400 degree oven for another 20 minutes. I mean seriously, how quick and simple was that?

20160510-111944.jpg Done. So good. Cut into whatever sizes you would like. I cut it into quarters last night. Enjoy!

As always, thank you so much for following along. Two big weeks ahead–I am shooting a story for Pottery Barn at the house, we are hosting a 60th birthday party for Ted’s brothers who are twins, which will be so special as they have old friends coming from all over. I am attending that cool Bunny William’s event in CT again this year, and a variety of visiting guests and dinners will take place–lots of new things to try out on the cooking front. And the blog (much more on this later next week) turns 5! I say this so often, but time flies. How did 5 years pass since this all began? Merci for being part of it, whether from the very beginning or if you just started reading posts yesterday.
From the Hawthorne Valley,
TKW



 

 

Spring Has Sprung!

Ahhhhh, it has arrived! Officially today. Spring has sprung. The air starts feeling different. You hear the birds singing. You even sometimes hear folks let out a little song in Spring glee.

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Ted’s Tip No. 8

20140804-080839.jpg This abundant produce time of year, think of using it in place of flowers. A big bunch of kale looks swell in the center of a table. Asparagus standing up to be enjoyed visually before cooked for a meal. A handful of parsley in a simple clear glass that you can pull from as you cook but just looks great all along the way. Bunches or pots of basil a nod to the sunny season.

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Glorious, Glorious Green

20130610-083638.jpg It has been a fun month of travel and store busy-ness. It is always interesting to look back at the photos I have taken and see if there is any common theme. The color green is a prevailing theme I am seeing over and over. For those of you who have been to my shops, you know the color green holds a very special place in my heart. The varying shades just seem so energetic and calming all at the same time. Here is what caught my eye on this Monday morning. The above asparagus dish from Tilth in Seattle was a small work of art.

20130610-084125.jpg The huge 2 dollar bundle of mint from the Market on Saturday was pretty enough to stand alone and make quite a statement.

20130610-084252.jpg The packaging and font variety on this new arrival at WK just made me swoon. Plus the shade of green is just spectacular.

20130610-084427.jpg My green socks I wore to the shop on Saturday. I have had green on the brain for the last few days.

20130610-084550.jpg The cool planters in the backyard of the home of friends Kate, Kevin & Aubin.

20130610-084827.jpg Salal that TPS cut out at WestWard and made a little arrangement for the dining table.

20130610-085027.jpg Sweet blooms at Kips Bay last month. No detail was overlooked.

20130610-085148.jpg The lavender has just grown and grown in the vintage buckets out on the island.

20130610-085305.jpg The vibrant green of the HGTV magazine bag welcoming us to the Hearst building.

20130610-085429.jpg The richness of this Thom Filicia fabric made by the fabulous Kravet company.

20130610-085556.jpg Still completely digging this idea from the cocktail party at the swanky Newel antique emporium in NYC. What a cool way to jazz up what is usually a quite boring veg tray.

20130610-085759.jpg This interior courtyard at Kips Bay still makes my heart sing.

20130610-085925.jpg A table full of varying shades of green glassybaby is always a good thing. Always.

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20130610-090114.jpg These became these. I know lots of folks don’t care for these, but we have them contained to a certain area on our property on Vashon, and we have decided to embrace the beauty of them.

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20130610-090506.jpg Be looking everywhere for beauty.

20130610-090610.jpg Asparagus as an abundant arrangement.

20130610-090804.jpg And lastly, this stunning poppy the day before it burst open.

All glorious, glorious green in many shapes and sizes.



 

 

Asparagus as Flowers

20130429-075936.jpg Spring brings such a profusion of flowers, so it is easy to pick & choose to create a special table setting. But for those times that you are coming up dry finding a bloom that speaks to you, also look to the produce aisle. Vegetables can offer clever alternatives to flowers. In both these cases, asparagus just seemed to go the trick for each table being set. The above needed another little something along with the white tulips for the table in town. The below being the only centerpiece on the long zinc table at the beach. Extra added bonus, you get to cook up the display at a later date. The asparagus became a lovely addition with a piece of fish last night, roasted in the oven, for dinner.

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