I never saw any thing equal to the comfort and style…The baked apples and biscuits, excellent in their way, you know; but there was a delicate fricassee of sweetbread and some asparagus brought in at first, and good Mr Woodhouse, not thinking the asparagus quite boiled enough, sent it all out again.
Now there is nothing grandmama loves better than sweetbread and asparagus — so she was rather disappointed, but we agreed we would not speak of it to any body, for fear of its getting round to dear Miss Woodhouse, who would be so very much concerned!
Asparagus has been used from very early times as a vegetable and medicine, owing to its delicate flavour and diuretic properties. It was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, who ate it fresh when in season and dried the vegetable for use in winter. It lost its popularity in the Middle Ages but returned to favour in the seventeenth century.
Only the young shoots of asparagus are eaten. Asparagus is low in calories, contains no fat or cholesterol, and is very low in sodium. It is a good source of folic acid, potassium, dietary fiber, and rutin. The amino acid, asparagine, gets its name from asparagus, the asparagus plant being rich in this compound.
The shoots can be prepared and served in a number of ways, and are often boiled or steamed and served with hollandaise sauce, melted butter or olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Tall asparagus cooking pots allow the shoots to be steamed gently. The best asparagus tends to be early growth (first of the season) and is often simply steamed and served with melted butter.
- 1 saucepan
- 1 bowl of iced water
- 1 tray, lined with paper towel
- 1 set of tongs
- 1 slotted spoon
- 1 small knife
- 1 pound fresh asparagus, washed and trimmed
- Olive oil or melted butter to taste
- Heat the water
Blanching is a quick way of cooking vegetables while retaining their nutritional values and this technique is especially good for green vegetables. Begin by placing the saucepan on a high heat and fill it with about with 2 litres of water. Now add the salt and bring it to a strong rapid boil. Use 30 grams / 1 oz of salt for every litre / 1.5 pt of water. The salt creates a barrier on the surface of the vegetables and also raises the temperature of the water, sealing in the nutrients.
- Blanch the asparagus
Now place the bowl of iced water next to the pan in preparation for ‘shocking’, the vegetables, later on. Then add the asparagus into the boiling water. Allow the water to come back to the boil then prick them with a small knife to check for readiness. The asparagus should be soft but firm at the same time. Blanching the asparagus for roughly 30-60 seconds is enough for it to be perfectly cooked.
- Shock the asparagus in ice water
Remove the asparagus with your slotted spoon. Place it into the bowl of ice water, to shock the asparagus, for 30 seconds, or until cold. This will immediately stop the cooking process as well as preserve colour, and crispiness. Once removed from the ice, set them aside on the tray lined with paper towel. Keeping them in a cold place will also help to maintain colour and freshness.
- Season and serve
Transfer all your blanched and steamed vegetables onto a serving platter. Season to taste with olive oil, salt and pepper. Your vegetables are now ready to serve. They go wonderfully with any type of meat, can be served with a cheese or herb sauce, or even just as they are.
Reprinted from Wikihow.
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