I know I mentioned asparagus this time last year but as the temperature warms, the hoopoes are back, the garden is awash with spring colours – so I’m going to mention it again. Asparagus! I adore this tender green shoot and luckily for me our market stalls are bulging with it as we have enjoyed a warm dry spring. I no longer buy Spanish look-a-likes with withered stalks, but plump for our locally grown luscious stems of gorgeousness. J. and I debate how we should eat it and, as we have both been successful with weight loss this spring (so far) buttery hollandaise is out of the question. (Sad face!). Try this idea for a tasty starter:
Prepare green asparagus in the way you prefer (white asparagus may have it’s place in the culinary chain but not in my house…), allowing about 8 to 10 stalks per person. Place on a roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil or, if you are calorie counting, use a brush dipped in the oil. Add about six cherry tomatoes on their stem and two cloves of unpeeled garlic per person. Scatter with approximately 24 black olives if you are catering for 6 (the shrivelled Greek black ones are the best as the saltiness goes well with the sweetness of the tomatoes and garlic) and then roast in the oven (190*) for about 15 to 20 minutes. When cooked to your taste (al dente is best) lightly sprinkle with a good balsamic and a grind of sea salt and black pepper. Serve with thick crusty bread spread with the soft, roasted garlic! Enjoy!
Figeac, our nearest large town, has a large Saturday market which is a delight but we try not to go too often as we find we spend too much. The displays, colours and produce are all too tempting. However I am often confused by French cuisine. Whenever we dine with friends or at restaurants we rarely get a vegetable to accompany the main meal. Why then, at the food market, do the stalls brim with every conceivable seasonal vegetable, including mountains of varying types of salad? Our guests sometimes remark we are giving them too much and when we ask from what point of view, they say there are too many vegetables!
I have a new food discovery. I call it exploded beetroot (beetroot is the latest food trend it would seem, according to Masterchef, where everybody is using it in different ways, shapes, forms and colours) and my new food lust is the purple variety, baked in a fire until the skin explodes and you are left with delicious, smoked, earthy flesh to do what you want with. Divine.
I will leave you with a little story I read via another blogger in France. She was in the market a couple of years ago in Cahors, the capital of the Lot and an hour south from us, discussing what to buy from her enthusiastic stall holder. “Madame”, he declared ” I am jus’ speaking wiz your famuus Eeenglish chef ‘oo iz filming ‘is new cooking!” “Which one?” she asked “there seem to be many in England now”. “Ah, ze cheeky chappie, Jammie Liver”. Pukka.