Asparagus Red Onion Pasta

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Asparagus, Red Onion Pasta with Parmesan

Another perennial favorite, especially when the asparagus are at their best which is pretty much now. I like my asparagus about #2 pencil thin, they could be thicker, but for me that’s ideal. Once again another recipe that I have no idea where is started, but it did start when I was a vegetarian – All those years ago. But it does stand the test of time and come April/May I just have to make it. I think the non-vegetarians will like this – I have proof. You can make it other times of the year if the asparagus look right to you. It’s stupidly simple and no – I don’t have any real measurements anymore. I guess that’s what happens when you make a recipe so often that it becomes a bit of a thing that you like that much. You don’t have to think, you just put the pieces parts together and it works. I especially like that you cook the asparagus and pasta in the same water. There are only two pots (or pans as it were) to do this and a good bit of butter and Parmesan are involved – two of my favorite things.

So take a deep breath, like I said it’s simple, but don’t get too hung up on the particulars – taste and adjust – I still do that. I think that’s a pretty good cooking rule to live by.

  • A bunch of asparagus, snapped and chopped into about 1 inch pieces
  • medium red onion, peeled, halved, and sliced
  • half a pound of farfalle pasta
  • splash of dry white wine, if you have it
  • orange juice
  • unsalted butter
  • Parmesan
  • olive oil

So heat the olive oil and start sautéing the red onion. At the same time, heat a big pot of very salted (like the ocean) water. Drop the asparagus into the salted water (did we get that salted is a key thing here?) and let them return to the surface and be bright green and crisp-tender. Remove with a spider or slotted spoon and let cool. You could do an ice bath, but I never have.

Meanwhile, after the onions are soft and the pan is a little on the dry side, you can hit them with a splash of white wine or if you don’t have that, or are not inclined, just add about half a cup of orange juice (real stuff please). Add the pasta to the still bubbling asparagus water and cook till al dente. When the oj/wine has reduced a bit, add the asparagus and then the pasta when it is ready. Add another splash of oj and then add about 3 Tbs unsalted butter to make a great sauce. And then – taste and adjust. Does it need more butter, more oj, a little more time to sort of meld together as a dish.

I like the sauce to thicken a bit here and if you want to add some pasta water with its starch, but not too much – thickening is the goal. You can add Parmesan now – which I do – and then serve it with more for topping. Sorry there is never too much Parmesan in a pasta dish if you ask me.

Parmesan, Rosemary, and Walnut Shortbread

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Rosemary Parmesan Walnut Shortbread

I don’t really know how I started this cheese cracker thing but I’m glad I did. I mean, when  you have an entire binder for crackers, that may just be a little, well, nuts. I did set up some of my favorites in a competition of sorts in 2012 and judged on the following:

  • Time to Mix / Log or Rolled out
  • Dough Handling / Time to Chill
  • Spicy / Nuts
  • Flavor
  • Crispy
  • $
  • All Around

These are by far my favorite cheese crackers. The taste is divine, texture excellent, and they keep quite well. Hence winner of the cracker challenge of 2012.  I honestly wonder why I make any others, but I enjoy experimenting. I have collected other recipes since then and need to stage the competition again –  perhaps this year.

8 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ozs freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbs fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted at 350 for 10 minutes, chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper

Cream butter, add Parmesan and mix well. Stir in flour, rosemary, walnuts, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Form the mixture into 1″ logs, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an half an hour or up to three days.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Cut logs into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place slices on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden at the edges. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 30. Source: Epicurious

14 May 2006 – Mom’s Day
1 July 2012 – Winner of the Cracker Challenge 2012
23 December 2013 -Christmas Eve
2 March 2015
7 March 2015 – just because I wanted more.

Now my goal is to create one of my own and I know it will include cheddar cheese, and perhaps some Parmesan, nuts – walnuts likely, cayenne, and rosemary.

Parmesan Shortbread – Nigella

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Parmesan Shortbread

Parmesan Shortbread
Commentary: I just can’t help it. I love the way Nigella Lawson writes her recipes, “as uniform as possible without stressing over it…” That’s my idea of how to make things. It’s food. It should just be fun to do – if not, why are you bothering with it. I know it’s a cliche, but just keep it simple, really. Do love the use of the word cling film (is it a single word or not?).

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan
  • 7 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg yolk

Mix all the ingredients together – using bowl and spoon, electric mixer or food processor as wished – until a golden dough begins to form a clump.

Turn it out onto a surface and knead for about 30 seconds until smooth, then divide into two.

Take the first half and, using your hands, roll it into a cylinder, as uniform as possible without stressing over it, about 3cm / 1¼ inches in diameter. Make sure the ends are flat, too, so that the cylinder resembles a roll of coins. Now roll this up in a piece of clingfilm, twisting the clingfilm at the ends, like a Christmas cracker, and put the roll in the fridge, then proceed in the same way with the remaining half of the dough.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF while the wrapped cylinders of dough rest in the fridge for about 45 minutes, by which time you should be able to cut them into thick slices easily: aim for about

1 cm / ½ inch thick.

Arrange on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment, and put in the oven for 15–20 minutes, when they should be just beginning to turn a pale gold at the edges.

source: Nigella

Notes: I think this recipe needed a little salt, perhaps just before the go in the oven – a little Maldon wouldn’t be misplaced. I’m a bit of a cheese cracker nut and did a total nerdy “cracker challenge” in 2012 and discovered that I like some nuts in my cheese crackers, so I put a bit of pecan on these. I think it made them a bit “prettier” or something like that. When I do them again, some cayenne will be involved.

That said, they went over very well as I made them. And they looked pretty damn good.