I have a cookbook recommendation for you: Rose Water and Orange Blossoms, by Maureen Abood, who runs a gorgeous food blog I’ve been following for a while. As I browsed through my Kindle version, I was surprised by the number of recipes I bookmarked, a feature I love in the Kindle reader, actually. Makes it so easy to go back to favorites. So I did that A LOT. I also love when a cookbook mixes just the right amount of prose. Don’t make each recipe a reason to pour your soul out and tell me all about your childhood and that of your close friends, but give me enough to dream about, to make me understand why that recipe is special for you, special enough that you chose to include in your cookbook. Maureen does just that. The first recipe I made from her cookbook is simple yet very elegant. Poached white asparagus with pistachios. She used pistachio oil to drizzle the dish, I decided to go with my recent acquisition, a blood orange-infused olive oil. I am quite fond of its color, a soft reddish tone, and I think the taste matched the white asparagus very well.
POACHED WHITE ASPARAGUS WITH LEMON AND PISTACHIO OIL
(from the cookbook Rose Water and Orange Blossoms)
reprinted with permission from Maureen Abood
Makes 4 servings
1 pound / 450 g white asparagus
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons shelled roasted, salted pistachios
4 teaspoons pistachio oil (I used blood orange infused olive oil)
Fine sea salt, to finish
Trim the asparagus by snapping the ends off at their natural break. Peel them from just beneath the tip to the end with a vegetable peeler. Cover the asparagus with water in a large sauté pan. Squeeze the lemon into the pan and add the teaspoon of salt.
Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until a spear can be easily cut with a knife and fork. Drain and set the asparagus aside to cool. Remove the thin papery skin on each pistachio to reveal the bright green nut underneath by rubbing the skin off of each nut between your fingers and thumb. Coarsely chop the pistachios.
Divide the asparagus among four individual salad plates, or pile them, all facing the same direction, on a platter. Sprinkle the pistachios across the center of the asparagus crosswise, forming a line. Drizzle everything with pistachio oil, and finish with the sea salt.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: White asparagus will always make me think of a trip to Germany many years ago. We were living in Paris at the time, and went for a little scientific mission to a couple of cities in Germany. We arrived at the peak of asparagus season and one restaurant in particular had pretty much all dishes centered on them. I still remember a gratin of white asparagus and ham that blew my mind, it was superb! Until I got Maureen’s book, I confess to butchering my share of white asparagus when trying to cook them at home. It never occurred to me that these pale white creatures need to be treated differently from their siblings, the ones allowed to grow under full sun. Maureen gives two simple tips for success: peel them all the way from the bottom to the region right below the tips. And cook them gently but for a longer time. I was amazed at the difference these two little modifications brought to my culinary life.
Now, back to Maureen’s book. So many dishes I want to cook from it, it’s not even funny… Doesn’t “Flower Water Syrup” make you go in a dreamy daze? Many of her recipes are simple but join unexpected flavors, leaving you with that feeling of “why didn’t I think of that?” For instance, Warm Dates with Almonds and Lime Zest… I just know it will be an amazing recipe. Or… Tahini Avocado? Za’atar Roasted Tomatoes? It all sounds perfect. And to me, nothing is better than a great kibbeh, I love it. She shares her classic version of Baked Kibbeh, and one particular recipe I had a few times in Brazil and find spectacular: Yoghurt-Poached Kibbeh. You may think it is strange, but trust me, it is the best kind. I guess I was lucky to grow up in São Paulo where we have many great Lebanese restaurants, some pretty close to the university where I studied. Still on the kibbeh front, Maureen offers several variations that were unknown to me: Fried Kibbeh with Mint Butter, Vegan Tomato Kibbeh, and Potato & Spinach Kibbeh. But I will tell you what will be my next recipe for sure: Whipped Hummus with Minced Lamb. One little tip she gives in that recipe is worth my weight in chickpeas. But I share no more. You will have to invite her book to join your collection, and that will be a very wise move. Go for it with a simple click here.
Maureen, thank you for allowing me to publish your recipe, and best of luck with your cookbook!
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