Hi, I'm Jaden, a professional recipe developer, food columnist and food photographer specializing in fast, fresh and easy recipes for the home cook. Most of my recipes are modern Asian! About meFast, fresh & easy recipes for the home cook.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
(slideshow of 10 step-by-step photos that led up to the money-shot of the Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Soy Browned Butter)
My inbox is filled with emails from supporters of the “eating local” movement, urging people to consume food that is grown and produced in their local area. The movement is nothing new, for the past few years I’ve been reading about it in national newspapers, popular food magazines and countless websites. Many of my friends are participating in the challenge of consuming only locally grown foods for the entire month of October. I myself am a big fan of eating local to support our local economy, for a better quality of produce and for taking care of our environment. How many planes, trains and automobiles did that cantaloupe have to hitch a ride on before arriving in my breakfast bowl?
We regularly visit the farmer’s market, the local produce stand and even grow our own vegetables and herbs in the backyard (Don’t be fooled to think that I have a green thumb. I don’t. Growing your own food is easier than you think, but that’s for another column.)
But, sigh. Some days I just don’t have the energy, budget, nor the willpower to be a responsible member of this planet that we live on. Especially when it’s 5:15pm, my kids are hungry, it’s two days until payday and I’m rushing to the supermarket. Oh the drama that plays out in the backseat of the minivan, “MOOOOOMM…we’re staaarrrrvvvvinngg…we need cooooookies and cheese puffs for dinner….MAAMMMMAAAA…puleeeeeeze??”
Quick. Asparagus is on sale. They only take 15 minutes to cook. Will make Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Soy Browned Butter. Kids will eat ‘em if I smother enough butter on ‘em. But they are from Peru. The little sticker says so. Ahh, crap, who cares. The package goes in the cart and it’s what’s for dinner with a rotisserie chicken.
Well at least the supermarket was kind enough to tell me where my food is coming from. Okay, so I didn’t choose the mushrooms from Myakka, a farming area 20 minutes from me. But to ease my guilt, I imagined feeding a poor little starving child of an asparagus farmer in Peru. The child looks up at me with those cute, gigantic eyes. The widowed farmer smiles at me gratefully and whispers, “Thank you, Jaden for buying my asparagus.” I get a warm, cozy flutter in my heart.
Quickly, I stuff my tiara, cape and halo back into my handbag. Angelina Jolie is like totally my BFF.
YEAH, DO YOU SEE WHERE MY KIDS GET THE DRAMA THING FROM????
I have a feeling I’m going to get some complaint emails from environmentalists, pro eating local people and the mushroom farmer from Myakka that neglected to feed. I welcome and embrace all feedback. But instead of sending me an email, I would like to invite you over to my home, specifically at 5:15pm to babysit my tots while I run out to source my locally grown ingredients. You can lecture me about being a responsible human being all you want.
Could you also run a load of laundry while I cook dinner too?
The recipe for Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Soy Browned Butter is from the Cooking Light The Complete Cookbook, a MASSIVE book weighing in at 4.4lbs with 1,200 recipes, 630 color photographs and a companion DVD. It’s an awesome book that I reach for when I don’t know what to cook. Totally worth every penny.
So I’ve given you the recipe below, straight from the book — but I did make a few changes to the recipe so I’ve highlighted my changes to the recipe in the paragraph below. This way you have both versions.
Recipe from Cooking Light The Complete Cookbook
Here are the changes that I made to the recipe: Instead of roasting the asparagus in the oven at 400F, I broiled them instead as it saves me time from pre-heating the oven, saves energy and doesn’t get the house all hot. Place the oven rack about 8 inches from the heating element. Toss the asparagus with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil instead of cooking spray as directed in the recipe. Turn on the broiler and broil the asparagus 4 minutes. Rotate the asparagus by shaking the pan or using a spatula. Continue broiling until the asparagus are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Continue on with the recipe and top the asparagus with a handful of almonds.
2 pounds asparagus spears, trimmed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 400F. Arrange asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet; coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 12 minutes or until tender.
Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned, shaking pan occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in soy sauce and vinegar. Drizzle over asparagus, tossing well to coat.