The first cookbook by one of America's top contemporary chefs, A Great American Cook by Jonathan Waxman, features recipes like Asparagus with Oranges and Hazelnuts; Sesame-Crusted Goat Cheese Cakes On Greens; and Sesame Grilled (or Broiled) Quail with Shoestring Potatoes.
6 to 8 servings
It wasn't until I arrived in Paris and someone told me that asparagus was not seen until early spring and sometimes not until late April that I realized that it is supposed to be a seasonal vegetable. And to my amazement, the big white or purple beauties that appeared then weren't at all like the bland asparagus to which I had been accustomed in California year-round. The European varieties boasted soft, rounded tips and thick, stalky bodies that required peeling, and they were the best that I had ever tasted. On returning to America, I found that we, too, grow wonderfully fat asparagus in certain areas. It's always best if you buy it from a local grower (or grow it yourself).
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Holding a spear of asparagus by its tip and its tail, bring the ends together: the bottom will snap off at the point where its bitterness ends. Trim the rest of the asparagus to approximately the same length.
Fill a large pot or deep skillet with salted water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, peel the oranges and cut them into slices. In a medium bowl, toss the orange slices with both oils.
Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the asparagus in the boiling water. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the asparagus, but start testing it 4 minutes after the water has returned to a boil. When the asparagus is crisp-tender, drain it well, then drain on a kitchen towel. Arrange the asparagus on plates.
Lightly crush the hazelnuts. Season the oranges with salt and pepper and toss with the hazelnuts. Spoon over the asparagus and serve immediately.
This page created January 2008
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