Spring Veggies

Spring has finally sprung in D.C.  For me that means I get down to the farmer’s market as quickly as possible to see what’s growing.  After suffering the laughable produce in grocery stores all winter I was ready to see fresh spring produce.  Unfortunately, the H Street Farmer’s Market was still pretty bare last weekend but I am sure over the next couple of weeks there will be more selection. However, a beautiful bunch of asparagus and some lovely spring onions caught my eye.  DSC04516I didn’t have a plan for them, in fact I had a week’s worth of menus already planned that didn’t include either but that’s the joy of the farmer’s market.  Grab whatever looks best and make it work.  I decided I wanted to cook them together, both being so green and springy.  Usually with asparagus I just roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper at a high heat but that would kill the flavor of the spring onions.  Instead I opted for a method my mom and I experienced at a restaurant in Chicago – asparagus coins.  I believe Thomas Keller does this as well so if its good enough for him, good enough for me. Basically you cut the asparagus in small bites and saute – I experimented with adding the spring onions and braising them in a little white wine.  It got the husband thumbs up and was deemed blog worthy.

Vegetables are a great place to start experimenting if you are nervous about not using a recipe.  No one ever died from an undercooked broccoli stalk (to my knowledge) and overcooked veggies aren’t great but edible.  Think about the vegetable you are using and what flavors would work well with it.  Start easy with the most established produce relationships – tomato and basil, green beans and ginger, spinach and garlic, squash and pie spices.  Then keep adjusting until you have something just how you like it and voila – an easy side you can make any time that doesn’t send you running to a cookbook.  If I make these coins again I would probably add a little garlic, or maybe some grated parmesan on top when its done.

Asparagus Coins with Spring Onion (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration: Spring!

Special Equipment: none

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • salt and pepper

Take the asparagus and snap off the woody part at the bottom.  If this isn’t something you have done before you basically grab the spear at either end and bend it until it breaks.  That is where the tender part meets the woody part.  It’s a shame to get rid of those ends – if you want to get some use out of them then asparagus soup would be a good place for them to go. DSC04518Cut the asparagus into “coins” – basically cutting the spears in quarter inch intervals.  Don’t worry too much about perfection here, just cut them into little bite size pieces.  Do the same with the spring onions – white part only.

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Put a skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add spring onion coins and season with salt and pepper.  Saute for 5 minutes until softened.

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Add asparagus and cook for 3 more minutes.  Add the white wine and turn up the heat to medium high.  The wine will cook off and finish cooking the asparagus, about 3 minutes.  When there is only a little bit of liquid left add 1 tablespoon of butter and stir in.

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Serve with lemon wedges and enjoy!

Asparagus Coins with Spring Onion

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Print

Special Equipment: none

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • salt and pepper

Take the asparagus and snap off the woody part at the bottom. If this isn’t something you have done before grab the spear at either end and bend it until it breaks. Then cut the asparagus into “coins” basically cutting the spears in quarter inch intervals. Don’t worry too much about perfection here, just cut them into little bite size pieces. Do the same with the white part of the spring onions.  Put a skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add spring onion coins and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes until softened. Add asparagus and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the white wine and turn up the heat to medium high. The wine will cook off and finish cooking the asparagus, about 3 minutes. When there is only a little bit of liquid left add 1 tablespoon of butter and stir in.  Serve with lemon wedges and enjoy!

Welcome to a Capitol Contessa! Grab a margarita

I am so excited to get this thing going – what started as a slightly boozy idea at the Fainting Goat on New Years Day, is finally a published product.  The minute I mentioned I was thinking about doing a blog my husband Patrick told me to take 60 days to conceptualize and 60 days to execute which roughly takes us to today.  I would not have even imagined starting this journey without him and his incredible support.  He will always be my number one guinea pig but I am glad that this forum will give me the opportunity to try out new ideas and recipes on a larger universe. My friend Ben brilliantly pointed out that if one is launching an entertainment blog there should be a party involved!  With Cinco de Mayo right around the corner we decided a fiesta with plenty of margaritas were in order.  I was so glad to have my friends and family to celebrate with me. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I tried to keep it pretty simple by grilling tacos and we got super lucky to have a beautiful D.C. spring day.  The cookies, margarita mix, and most of the taco fillings were prepped in advance so all I had to do day of was make the cornbread, guacamole and guacamole salad and have Patrick grill the steak and chicken for tacos.  This kind of party is great for a crowd because everyone can find something they like.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Menu

Cornbread by Martha Stewart

Guacamole Salad  by the Barefoot Contessa

Steak and Chicken Soft Tacos

Homemade Guacamole and store-bought salsa

Alfajores Cookies by Fine Cooking

Grate some cheese, chop some onion and plop sour cream into bowls and you officially have a taco bar.  Aided by the dozen or so hot sauces Patrick keeps on hand we had quite the spread and plenty of leftovers for Sunday.

DSC04510 It’s not a party without a cocktail and for this one we went with a household favorite – Spicy Margaritas with Salt Air.  If you have ever been lucky enough to go to Oyamel in D.C. you will be familiar with Jose Andres’ amazing salt air – it’s the perfect solution to getting a salty little touch with each sip of your margarita without ending up with salt crystals all over the front of your shirt.  I was so happy to learn you don’t have to be a gastronomic genius to figure this out – thank you Washingtonian Mag for sharing this with the masses.  I also gave out the tequilla as a favor because you never get too old for goodie bags right?  People just love getting to take a bit of the party back home with them. DSC04513 Spicy Margaritas with Salt Air (printable version at the end of the post) Inspiration:  Salt Air from Washingtonian – margarita recipe is my own Special Equipment: citrus juicer (not necessary but man will it make life easier), immersion blender – 1 habanero pepper, stemmed and cut in half – 2 cups silver tequila (or the whole bottle if you want to infuse it all) – 3 cups freshly squeezed lime juice, divided – 4 cups water, divided – 1 tablespoon kosher salt – 1/2 teaspoon soy lecithin powder (get this at a nutrition store or online, I got mine on amazon) – 2 cups sugar – 1 cup triple sec or Grand Marnier (which I prefer) First you want to infuse the tequila – I suggest go ahead and do the whole bottle as it lasts forever in the fridge and is great to have on hand. If you don’t want to go whole hog just pour out 2 cups which is what you will need for 8 margaritas. Place the cut habanero in the tequila carefully as these little peppers are HOT. I use disposable gloves whenever handling hot peppers so taking out my contacts later doesn’t become a painful event. Let the pepper infuse into the tequila for 3 hours or more depending on how much heat you want (if you want less you could also use a jalapeno instead). At this point you toss the pepper and keep the tequila in the fridge indefinitely for when you want to use it.  Usually I would post pics here but honestly its really just a cut piece of pepper in a bottle so figure you don’t need a visual! For the margaritas first make a simple syrup by combining 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer and stir until all of the sugar has dissolved. Let cool (this is a good thing to make in advance as well as it lasts forever in the fridge and simple syrup is great in lots of cocktails and iced coffee). Combine the simple syrup, 2 cups of the lime juice, 2 cups of the spicy tequila, and the Grand Marnier in a large pitcher. Stir and taste – if it’s too hot you can add lime juice or water to dilute. DSC04504 To make the salt air combine 1 cup of the lime juice, 2 cups of the water, the salt and the soy lecithin in a large bowl. Tilt the bowl so the liquid is at the bottom away from you and use an immersion blender until you create a good layer of foam. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Pour the margaritas into chilled glasses and top with a scoop of foam. If you run out of foam no worries, just blend again to create more. Enjoy! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Spicy Margaritas with Salt Air

Special Equipment: citrus juicer (not necessary but man will it make life easier), immersion blender

  • 1 habanero pepper, stemmed and cut in half
  • 2 cups silver tequila (or the whole bottle if you want to infuse it all)
  • 3 cups freshly squeezed lime juice, divided
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy lecithin (got mine at GNC but it’s also sold online)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup triple sec or Grand Marnier (which I prefer)

First you want to infuse the tequila – infuse the whole bottle or just pour out 2 cups.  Place the cut habanero in the tequila carefully.  Let the pepper infuse into the tequila for 3 hours or more depending on how much heat you want (if you want less you could also use a jalapeno instead).  At this point you toss the pepper and keep the tequila in the fridge indefinitely for when you want to use it. For the margaritas first make a simple syrup by combining 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.  Bring it to a simmer and stir until all of the sugar has dissolved.  Let cool. Combine the simple syrup, 2 cups of the lime juice, 2 cups of the spicy tequila, and the Grand Marnier in a large pitcher.  Stir and taste – if it’s too hot you can add lime juice or water to dilute. To make the salt air combine 1 cup of the lime juice, 2 cups of the water, the salt and the soy lecithin in a large bowl.  Tilt the bowl so the liquid is at the bottom away from you and use an immersion blender until you create a good layer of foam.  Pour the margaritas into chilled glasses and top with a scoop of foam.  If you run out of foam no worries, just blend again to create more.

Sources:  Serapes as tablecloths from Party Swizzle; Mini pinatas from Oriental Trading; Banner from Party City

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