Tag Archives: Asparagus

Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market Feature: A-Picklin’ Bonanza

3 Jun


Well well well, guess who’s featured on the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market blog again? Obviously it’s me because why would I non self-promote (I’m looking’ out for #1).

Pickled Market Veggies with Whitefish Spread – Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market

We have a new season full of fresh new veggies, and I thought “let’s brine ’em”, and brine ’em I did. I picked up some AMAZING Whitefish Spread from Bay Port Fish and decided to create a board around that (I was also fresh off my Charcuterie Board high). I was going to do asparagus, radishes, and swiss chard stems, but only ended up doing the first two because I wanted to make sure the brines were different enough for each type.

Once you start making fresh refrigerator pickles…there’s no stopping you.

  • Make a mixture of vinegar and water
  • Add some salt, sugar, and spices
  • Bring to a boil
  • Pour over desired vegetables
  • Let cool to room temperature
  • Pop in fridge for 48(ish) hours
  • Say “oh THESE pickled [vegetable name], no, they’re HOMEmade, I’m what you’d call a purist” while enjoying with an unsuspecting guest (however, don’t expect them to want to hang out with you again, this pickling knowledge has gone to your head!)

You can really play with the brine by selecting different types of vinegar (apple cider vinegar will give it a sweetness, while red wine vinegar will give it nice tang), and the herbs/spices you put in will also give great influence (you can go for classic dill, or maybe pair some cilantro and rice vinegar for an Asiany flair). And don’t forget, a pinch (or fistful) of crushed red pepper is always a nice addition for those who are into the spicy arts.



To get the full recipes, check it out, and if you find yourself at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market, grab some of that Whitefish Spread because day-um, it was soooooo good.


Asparagus and Arugula Pasta with Almond Butter Crisp

29 May


’twas a rainy [Memorial Day] Monday, and I had done a bit too much “celebrating” over the weekend. I needed something that was hearty, appetizing, and didn’t involve too much effort because man was I tired. Extra points for including asparagus. I went back and forth between 2 pasta dishes: one had a pork and apple ragu, one had an asparagus and an almond crisp. After what seemed like months of deliberation, I settled on the asparagus.

{ Asparagus and Arugula Pasta with Almond Butter Crisp – Girl in the Kitchen by Stephanie Izzard }

Why did I make that decision? Well it involved a topping that was made up of butter, toasted almonds, roasted garlic, and parmesan. Wowza, I think that’s what I want my tombstone to read (“Here lays Erica, she was a big fan of the following products: butter, toasted almonds, roasted garlic, and parmesan”…but then again “Here lays Erica: Breakin’ necks and Cashin’ checks since 1987” has a nice ring to is as well, just rolls off the tongue really). 

So the first thing to tackle was the whole head of roasted garlic (I get chills every time I write/think/say that). The one time I’ve tried to make a whole head of roasted garlic I put it in the microwave with some type of garlic roasting apparatei, and the whole thing started smoking and I was upset because my entire head of garlic was ruined, the kitchen smelled like weird smoke for 3 days, and I was out $0.75. I was determined to turn things around. I followed instructions.

Take your head of garlic and slice off the top 1/4 exposing the cloves

GarlicPlace on tinfoil, and drizzle with olive oil and salt

GarlicDrixxleWrap tinfoil into a Hershey’s Kiss-like teardrop around the garlic, and roast at 400F for about 40 minutes (feel free to pop in some almond slices for the last 5 minutes of roasting to get them a nice toast)

Now combine room temperature butter, the whole head of roasted garlic (no skins, please), bread crumbs, some chili paste, parmesan cheese, and the newly toasted almonds (be careful, don’t you crack those almonds)

AlmondMixIt’s okay to sneak a taste of this, because sweet jesus I would eat this out of the garbage. I will now find excuses to make this as a “garnish” for upcoming dishes

AlmondCrispPop this in the fridge to harden up. Oh, it’s hard now? Throw it in a pan over med-high heat and let’s crisp this sucka (and yes, it smelled JUST as good as you’re imagining)

AlmondCrispCookNow: Asparagus Time.

AsparagusCookSaute for a good 3-4 minutes to get a nice vibrant green color (think a cartoon character getting sea sick), and add some chicken stock, soy sauce, and water. Hell, let’s throw in some more chili paste because I just can’t get enough

AsparagusStirLet the liquid cook down to about half and add some fresh peppery arugula

ArugulaGive it a good stir to wilt, top with some cooked linguine (I opt for whole grain because it’s good for you you guys), fresh lemon zest and the glorious almond butter crisp

MixDig in.

ForkTwirlJust. Delightful. And hey, one more for the road: whole head of roasted garlic.


Adapted from { Asparagus and Arugula Pasta with Almond Butter Crisp – Girl in the Kitchen by Stephanie Izzard }

  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 Tbs butter, warmed to room temperature
  • 1/4 c. bread crumbs (I went with panko)
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs Sambal or other Chili paste
  • 1 C. sliced almonds
  • 1 box linguine (1 lb)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 lb asparagus, sliced in diagonal 1-in pieces
  • 1/2 C. chicken broth
  • 1.5 Tbs soy sauce
  • handful of baby arugula
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  1. Place butter out on the counter to come to room temperature. Just forget about it now and be surprised when you stumble upon it later in the recipe when you need it.
  2. Roast your garlic. Slice off the top 1/4 of the garlic head to expose cloves and place on tinfoil. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and fold up tinfoil edges to a point. Roast for 40 minutes at 400F. Mince the garlic pieces that you cut off and set aside. Pop in the almonds during the last 5 minutes of roasting to toast.
  3. Mix you almost-forgotten-about room temperature butter, bread crumbs, 1 Tbs of the Sambal, and parmesan together to form a paste. Gently (gently!) fold in your almonds. Pop in the fridge to harden.
  4. Cook pasta in salted water and reverse 1/2 C of the cooking liquid.
  5. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add asparagus and reserved garlic mince. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Add chicken broth, pasta cooking water, remaining 1 Tbs Sambal, and soy sauce to asparagus and simmer until cooked down(town) to about half.
  6. Add arugula and lemon zest to asparagus mixture and mix to wilt. Toss with pasta.
  7. Serve this as a Choose-your-own-adventure: mix the almond butter crisp right in with the pasta (like I did), or serve the crisp on top of the pasta (which gives more of a “wow” factor)






Chicken and Asparagus with Green Goddess Dressing

15 May

The first time I had Green Goddess dressing it was a vinaigrette with an olive oil base. Seeing as this was the first time I was trying it, I assumed no further investigation needed to take place as far as how authentic what I was putting into my mouth was. I noticed items adorned with Green Goddess dressing a few times after with a creamy version of this herby sauce. Well I guess that’s a way you can present it, if you want to muddy the waters I thought. After a few years of seeing this repeated offense, and coming across a tasty-looking recipe for a Green Goddess Chicken and Asparagus Salad this past weekend, a thought creeped into my head that stopped me dead in my tracks: what if I was the one who was wrong, and not society. It couldn’t be. Finally, after exhaustive research (read: a quick trip to wikipedia) I was hit with the harsh truth: Green Goddess Dressing is a cream-based sauce. I was operating under false pretenses for years. I had no choice but to man up, and follow the crowd.

[ That was a Dramatic Reenactment for entertainment purposes, certain liberties were taken for exciting embellishment ]


So guess what? It’s asparagus season! I was about to barrel into a story about how I don’t smell Asparagus pee, but guess what, I’ve already talked about it. I am charming. This time of year I try to eat AT LEAST a solid pound of Asparagus a week because it’s delicious, it’s fresh, and the price is right. See that picture above? I took that at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market and all I wanted to do was get on that vendor table and start rolling around. But I digress…. I was flipping through some handy books of cooking, and came across a recipe that not only utilized my favorite speary Spring vegetable, but also was heavy handed with my favorite herb: Dill (…I feel a Dill post coming on soon…)

{ Green Goddess Dressing with Chicken and Asparagus – Simply Organic by Jesse Ziff Cool }


Here’s the jist: Take some asparagus and blanche it for 2-3 minutes (I like mine with a little snap left in it), take some chicken (I opted for a grocery store rotisserie chicken, de-skinned and shredded), put them together to await saucing.


Take yer greens (parsley, dill, garlic, green onions) and whizz them around in a food processor



Got some Basil or spinach or anything else fresh? Go ahead and toss it in. Everybody in the pool! Now add and mixture of sour cream/buttermilk/yogurt and some salt and pepper. Give it another whizzing.


Now coat those your Chicken and Asparagus, and serve over some chopped greens (for me: Red leaf lettuce).


Since there is raw garlic and raw green onion in the dressing get ready for a blast of fire with your first (and subsequent) bites. Oh boy, just delightful. The perfect fresh, Springy, filling-yet-light meal I could have hoped for.

While I won’t post the exact recipe here, I found a recipe adapted from the original here.


Happy Asparagusing!


Sweet Potato Hash with Apple and Sage Sausage, Roasted Asparagus, and a Poached Egg

29 Mar


My parents came into town a few weekends ago to celebrate my birthday (hello last year of mid-twenties). How did we celebrate? By going to Detroit’s Eastern Market, of course. I like to think of it as the Brooklyn of Detroit (however don’t take my word on it, I am in no way a connoisseur of Detroit-ings, I’m just a fan).

While there I got special birthday $1 bundles of veggies (we got there pretty late in the day) such as asparagus, PURPLE cauliflower (which I’ll go into for another post), tomatoes, brussels sprouts, squash, and (non veggie) blueberries. I also got a nice package of Pork, Sage, and Apple sausages from Corridor Sausage Co. Holy Christ. Delicious. We all left Eastern Market that day full of sausage samples from various vendors, and the knowledge of what time to get there for the discounted merchandise. It was a birthday event not to be forgotten.

While I’ve been utilizing my veggies for most of the week, I had to make a decision: use the sausage, or pop into the freezer. I came across this recipe and was inspired:

{ Food52 – Merguez and Sweet Potato Hash }

I saved one sausage to utilize for this dish, and put the rest in the freezer. While I’m a big lover of the cured and spiced meats, I’ve realized that with good product, you don’t need to over power the dish with too much of a good thing (and the same goes for cheese). So I paired one sausage with one LARGE sweet potato and created a meal fit for a grad student and amateur home chef (i.e. John and I).

First thing’s first, let’s use this delicious $1 Asparagus and pop it in the oven while we prepare the hash in question

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Place asparagus on tinfoil-lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
  • Roast for 15 minutes (check them around 10 minutes, I like mine a little al dente). Take out and set aside.


While your apartment (or house, for those of you who are “real” adults) fills with the sweet smells of slowly caramelizing asparagus, let’s brown up that sausage.


Which will yield us this



Yes, it doesn’t look like much, but trust me, it’s just the right amount. Now, potato time



Give these Amber beauties a chop, and sauté them with some onions in the delicious sausage drippings.PotatoOnion



Let’s get a little crazy, let’s add spices! I choose a hodgepodge of cumin, fennel, and corriander.



Oh yeah, my coffee is going to taste savory this weekend! I didn’t add much though, I’d say 1.5 teaspoons of spice in total



Now here’s the tricky part (for those of you who are impatient like me). You want to get a nice browning on the potatoes, so you give it a stir, and let it sit, then give it another stir, and let it sit. All I want to to is keep stirring! You also have to be careful not to break up your now-soft potatoes while doing said stirring. But with the right touch, you’ll be in sweet potato-browning country. Once you’ve achieved this, stir back in the sausage until it’s all warmed through



Do a quick Poached Egg, arrange the asparagus on the bottom, pile on the hash, and top with that ooey-gooey egg.



And now for some porn:



Sweet Potato and Sausage Hash

  • 1tsp oil
  • 1 Tasty Sausage, casing removed
  • 1 Large Sweet Potato, diced
  • 1 Medium/Large Sweet Onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin, ground
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander, ground
  • 1/2 tsp Fennel, ground

Heat cast iron skillet over medium hight heat. Add 1 tbs oil and brown your sausage (about 5 minutes)

Remove sausage with slotted spoon. Add sweet potato, onions, and spices to pan

Cook, stirring in frequently, until potato is soft and browned on the edges (about 15 minutes)

Add sausage back to pan, cook until heated through

Fancy Family Dinner: Scallops, Ricotta Gnocchi, Onion Mushroom Tarts, and Pumpkin Bread Pudding

21 Nov

Did I just peak? Is it all down hill from here? Should I just leave on a high note (a la George Costanza)? Is this is the end of Nowenteringflavorcountry as we know it?! All that and more will be answered….right now. [Yes. Probably. Probably. No, I’d be too bored.]

Well my friend Lindsey came this past weekend, and we made “Fancy Dinner” to a standing ovation. This is literally the best meal I’ve ever made before. It took 2 people, 4 hours, 2 grocery stores, the soundtracks of Les Miserables, Book of Mormon, and West Side Story…and more money than I’d care to admit (I’ll explain shortly). Worth it. Worth every crumb.

But for a monumental meal like this, how do we select the recipes? Beef? Pasta? Seafood? It was a long and difficult decision, but we decided on 4 tasty components to this meal:

Scallops from Stephanie Izzard’s Girl in the Kitchen (scallops, goat cheese, and asparagus…what’s not to like?)

Pumpkin Bread Pudding – Martha Stewart

Caramelized Onion, Mushroom, Apple, and Gruyere Bites – Table for Two

Grandma DiLaura’s Italian Ricotta Gnocchi – Food52

Armed with our new recipes and a fool-proof grocery list, we hit the road and landed at Plum Market, where we were to buy the “fancier” items, such as scallops, sorrel, and wine. Now, I’ve never bought scallops before, so I assumed they weren’t available at most stores because I just made it up in my head, so of course it was true. The scallops at Plum Market were….$25/lb. Yikes. The bay scallops were $14.99/lb, but who likes bay scallops?! Lindsey took me aside and the following conversation took place:

Lindsey: isn’t there another place we can buy scallops? (meaning “anywhere, absolutely anywhere else, let’s not pay $25/lb for these scallops”)

Erica: this is the place to get seafood (meaning “to my knowledge this is the ONLY place to get seafood”)

Apparently she thought my decision was a testament to my elevated preference in seafood quality, when really it was my ignorance in the scallop marketplace. Lindsey, you know I value my sweet sweet money over any quality of anything ever. So rather than getting the 12 Scallops which the recipe called for, we asked for 8 to be thrifty. Well, guess how much those 8 scallops weighed: 0.94lbs. Goodbye $25…

Once we were at Kroger (to get the cheaper staples like onions, puff pasty…etc), she pointed at the seafood counter at the $15/lb scallops they had

Erica: they sell scallops?! (meaning: “they sell scallops?!”)

Lindsey: yeah, every place sells scallops, that’s why I asked (meaning: “god dammit Erica”)

In my defense, the ones we got are the largest Scallops ever. We called them baby fists all night (and will continue to do so until it’s not funny anymore, which I don’t see happening anytime soon). So after trying to FORGET THE EVIL that just occurred to my wallet, we popped open a delicious Famega

…I’m better when I’ve had a few…

Started prepping the vinaigrette

That happy drip is a steady flow of honey into the all-mighty food processor

…and got down to culinary business. What’s cool about having 2 people cooking? Someone to stage shots, and someone to shoot them! (see the photo above, I’m sure you were thinking “someone is pouring the sweet sweet honey into the food processor AND taking the picture? Witchcraft!” You’re wrong, it was just 2 sets of hands). So rather than making our tasty onion-mushroom-apple-gruyere tarts first to use them as an actual appetizer, we just made EVERYTHING at once (except the bread pudding…that we did wait till the end, but it took about 30 seconds of effort, so it doesn’t really count). One of the more time consuming items was definitely the Gnocchi. We took turns working on that throughout the cooking

Be warned: Steps 3 and 4 take MUCH longer than you’d expect

While these little pillow-y darlings were being made, we began the Mushroom, Onion, Apple, and Gruyere Tarts (is it possible to hear that without drooling?). I love this recipe because it’s one of those “hmmm, I could have come up with this, but I never would”. Basically you just sauté everything (add a little sugar and butter for the apples), and mix it with the grated gruyere. Meanwhile, cut up the puff pastry into squares, wash with egg, and top with your sauté mixture. Bake. Cool. Destroy.

We had tons of these leftover since we served them right alongside the rest of the meal. They made for tasty cold snacks all the next day.

And now, on to the main event. We have the vinaigrette nice and emulsified, so it’s time to get down to business: goat cheese-potato puree, seared scallops, toasted almonds, and asparagus bacon “hash”. Sidenote: As a restaurant server, Lindsey has encountered many a funny story (as have we all), but one sticks out most in recent memory, mainly because it has to do with goat cheese. The woman at her particular table was asking about an appetizer, and said the words “oh GHOST cheese! I love GHOST cheese!” to which a mortified Lindsey had to make the ultimate decision: to correct her, or say GHOST cheese the rest of the meal. She chose the latter. Now, just try to say ghost cheese. It does NOT roll off the tongue. So clearly, that’s what we call it now. All the time. Especially during the making of this meal. But let me break it down per item:

Toasted Almonds: put in oven for about 5 minutes, boom toasted. I left them in for about 7 minutes, so they were veeeery toasted (as you’ll see in the big reveal photo).

Goat Cheese-Potato Puree: peel and cube potatoes. Boil until fork-tender then mash. Meanwhile, over low heat combine goat cheese and heavy cream until they are melted into one another. Mix potatoes and cream/goat cheese together and season with salt and pepper. Decadent.

Asparagus and Bacon “Hash”: We used regular old bacon for this rather than ham hocks, because it’s easier/cheaper/less intimidating/cheaper. Cut asparagus into 1/3 in pieces, throw bacon and asparagus into pan and sauté up. Delicious.

Fun Fact: I was the only person at Fancy Family Dinner not to have the gene where you smell asparagus pee. So everyone was in for a world of hurt…but me.

Scallops: RIDICULOUSLY easy! Heat olive oil in pan over high heat. Season scallops with salt and pepper, and sear on one side for 1 minute. Turn heat to medium and turn scallops over and sear on other side for 2-3 minutes. Done.

Good Gravy those look tasty!

To assemble, place puree on bottom of dish. Top with 2 scallops. Top with bacon-aspargus hash. Drizzle sorrel vinaigrette over plate. Top with (over) toasted almonds. Try to set aside 90 seconds to take a photo. Be amazed at the pure awesomeness that’s in your mouth.

No photographic evidence will ever do this dish justice. Just…delicious.

Now that all the components are in place it is time to feast. Imagine a Dothraki wedding, but with more carnage…and sex. But mainly just the shoveling of food and wine into mouthes.

These were the 3 chosen images from the 50 or so we took. And by “we” I mean me. It was all me. With that remote control for the camera. Just hours of entertainment.

While we were enjoying ourselves, the pumpkin bread pudding was in the oven, baking to perfection (and by perfection, I mean a tasty but dry consistency…not enough liquid, but add enough caramel sauce and you’re right as rain…and coincidentally making it rain).

I made my first .gif! So exciting!

And thanks to my sweet and beautiful dishwasher, there wasn’t even too much cleanup to be had when we were done. Just very uncomfortable stretching of the insides. How will I top this? Perhaps Thanksgiving will be my gimme…

A good time had by all. Except for the 2 hours following this photograph, as we were all uncomfortably full. Satisfied, but uncomfortable.


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