Asparagus: Springtime Classic

Asparagus.
Springtime tradition.
A classic for special  spring occasions.
Perhaps a small plate asparagus menu at a special occasion Brunch?
The Menus Shoppe has it covered…trending tips for best occasions.
Chilled Asparagus Soup
White Asparagus Gratin
Asparagus Flan with Cheese Sauce
Chilled Asparagus Soup
3 pounds asparagus cut into 1/2″ pieces
6 thin asparagus spears, tips removed, stalks halved crosswise, thinly sliced lengthwise
8 ounces fresh spinach
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 8–10 minutes. Add 1/2″ asparagus pieces and season with salt and pepper. Cook until asparagus is bright green and tender, 4–5 minutes. Add broth, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until asparagus is tender, 8–10 minutes. Add spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Let mixture cool slightly. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl; set aside. Working in batches, purée soup in a blender until very smooth. Strain through prepared sieve. Stir remaining 2 tablespoons oil into soup; season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill until cold, at least 3 hours.
NOTE: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
Divide asparagus tips and thinly sliced stalks among bowls–pour chilled soup over.
Drizzle each with a few drops of oil.
Gratin of White Asparagus 
4 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
15 white asparagus spears
small bunch of lemon thyme, leaves only
generous 3/4 cup crème fraîche
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh white bread crumbs
3 1/2 ounces Parmesan, freshly grated
2 tbsp minced curly parsley
Preheat the oven to 450°F (convection oven to 425°F). Brush a copper or ceramic gratin dish with a little of the melted butter.  Trim the asparagus: you will find that white asparagus needs to be trimmed much higher—roughly halfway up the stalks, as a rule of thumb. Slice the spears in half lengthwise and lay them in the buttered gratin dish. Sprinkle with most of the lemon thyme leaves, saving a few for garnish.
Now put the crème fraîche and mustard into a heavy pan and place over medium heat. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer, then turn down the heat slightly and let bubble to reduce by about a quarter. Season the reduced mixture with salt and pepper to taste.  Meanwhile, put the bread crumbs in a bowl, add the Parmesan, parsley, and some pepper, and toss with your fingers to combine. Pour the mustardy crème fraîche over the asparagus, then scatter the crumb mixture on top, distributing it evenly. Drizzle over the rest of the melted butter. Bake the gratin on the middle shelf of the oven until the top is crisp and golden and the cream bubbles up around the sides of the dish, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining thyme leaves and serve.
Also elegant as amuse bouche
Asparagus Flan
For flan:
2 lb asparagus, trimmed
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste
For sauce:
1/4 lb Italian Fontina, rind discarded and cheese coarsely grated (or cut into 1/4-inch dice if too soft to grate)
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs yolks
1 tablespoon butter
Make flan:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325°F. Butter an 8- by 2-inch round cake pan and line bottom with a round of wax paper, then butter paper. 3Steam asparagus in a steamer set over boiling water, covered, until very tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Purée asparagus in a food processor until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. (This will equal about 2 cups purée.)
Whisk together eggs, milk, cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a bowl, then whisk in asparagus purée. Pour asparagus mixture into pan and bake in a hot water bath until flan is set and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer pan to a rack to cool slightly, 10 to 15 minutes.
Make sauce while flan cools:
Put all sauce ingredients in a metal bowl, then set bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Heat sauce, whisking until cheese and butter are melted, and then stirring with a wooden spoon, until sauce is slightly thickened and registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove bowl from pan. Run a thin knife around edge of flan to loosen, then invert a serving plate over pan and invert flan onto plate. Remove pan and discard paper. Cut flan into wedges and serve immediately with sauce.
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This entry was posted in appetizer, brunch, holiday, menus, seasonal, small plates, soups and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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