Aspergrass

Does anybody else’s family purposely say certain words incorrectly because at some point (possibly many years ago) a child in the family mispronounced something and everybody else thought it was hilarious? Well, that’s why when I see this vegetable…

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…I think “aspergrass”. It’s also why I often call cucumbers “cumberdubs” and occasionally refer to our President as “O-rock Bahama”.

Anyway, it’s almost spring, and almost spring means we’re approaching asparagus season! (I’ll use the correct word for the remainder of this post, I guess.) To help you celebrate this delightful veggie, I present an easy asparagus tart that uses store-bought puff pastry and features a tasty white-bean hummus filling.

Do not fear the entire head of garlic in the hummus–roasting garlic mellows out the flavor and makes it almost sweet. Once you’ve roasted it, the cloves should easily slide out of the papery skin.

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You’ll only need about half of the hummus to cover the tart, so you’ll have plenty left over for dipping and sandwich making. Bonus!

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Notes on dealing with the puff pastry: You’ll need one sheet from a standard-sized package. (I had one leftover from my parents’ anniversary brunch.) Defrost it overnight in the refrigerator, or on the counter for awhile if you don’t have all night. I dusted the counter with flour and rolled it out a bit, and then trimmed the edges to make a nice, tidy rectangle. Then I cut a border around the edge (not all the way through, just score it) so it looked like a picture frame, and poked the inside of the “frame” with a fork about every half-inch. This is so the border will puff up more than the inside, where you’ll be putting the hummus and asparagus.

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This makes a nice appetizer if you cut it into small pieces, or you could add a salad and make a lunch or dinner of it. I’ll leave you with the full recipe, and wish you a sunny start to spring. Until next time, fair friends!

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Asparagus and White Bean Hummus Tart (inspired by Martha and VeganYumYum)

  • one head of garlic
  • 1 15-oz. can cannellini beans (aka white kidney beans), drained and rinsed
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • about 1 lb. asparagus
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • chopped chives, for garnish (other options: chopped scallion, fresh grated parmesan)

To roast the garlic: cut the entire head of garlic in half cross-wise, exposing all the cloves. Drizzle both halves with olive oil and wrap them in aluminum foil. Place the foil packet in a 400 degree oven, and roast for 30 minutes.

To make the hummus, squeeze the cooled, roasted garlic cloves out of the papery skin into the bowl of a food processor. Add the cannellini beans, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil, and process until smooth. (Taste and adjust seasoning of the hummus to suit your fancy.)

If you turned the oven off after roasting the garlic, preheat to 400 degrees once again. Lightly flour your work surface, and roll out the sheet of puff pastry until you have a rectangle that’s approximately 10×16″. Trim the edges if they’re uneven, and transfer the pastry to a baking sheet. Score the pastry around the edge of the rectangle, creating about a 1″ border. Then poke the pastry inside this border with a fork, about every half-inch. Cut the woody ends off the asparagus, and place the spears in a roasting pan. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the puff pastry and the asparagus both in the oven, and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and lightly browned and the asparagus is tender. Let both items cool enough to handle.

Wait to assemble the tart until shortly before you plan to serve. Spread the puff pastry with a layer of the white bean hummus, and then line up the asparagus spears on top. Sprinkle with chopped chives, if you’d like.

The original TomKat

Today my parents celebrated 40 years of wedded bliss! They were high school sweethearts in Jefferson, IA.

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In 1972, they tied the knot and moved into a tin house that rented for $40 a month.

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They raised three charming children….

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….and they’re still going strong! I will tell you the secret to TomKat’s lasting union: they go on two romantic dates every weekend. The first is on Saturday morning, to HyVee for grocery shopping. The second is on Sunday morning, to Panera for breakfast and a very thorough reading of the newspaper. Today, in honor of the occasion, I made them skip their Panera date and come to my apartment for breakfast.

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The first item on the menu was a cinnamon roll coffee cake, using this recipe with the following changes:

  • I cut all of the measurements for the cake in half, and baked in an 8×8 pan instead of a 9×13, cutting about 5 minutes off the baking time.
  • I did not make the glaze. (I try to avoid confectioner’s sugar at least until noon.)

Second, I made mini quiches that were meant to be knock-offs of the little spinach-artichoke quiches they sell at Panera. These were a lot of fun to make, and there are all kinds of possibilities for variation.

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Once again, here’s the link to the recipe I used, and here are my changes (notice how I’m being lazy today–I love it when I don’t actually have to type out an entire recipe):

  • I used puff pastry instead of crescent roll dough. If you do the same, you’ll need one of the sheets from a 17-oz. box. I defrosted it in the fridge overnight.
  • I used all monterey jack cheese, instead of the three different kinds used in the recipe.
  • I added a few dashes of hot sauce.
  • As you can see above, I used tartlet pans instead of ramekins. This was for purely aesthetic reasons. (Tartlet pans are just so charming.)

These were very well-received, and I was mostly happy with the final product, but next time I may make some more adjustments because I thought there was a little too much pastry and not enough filling.

This is unrelated to breakfast, but I also made a champagne cake today and it was so pretty that I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t include a couple of glamour shots:

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That recipe was courtesy of this cookbook.

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead! I have to go wash dishes.