Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Grilled Asparagus with Pistachio Aillade

All this glorious early summer sunshine is going to my head.

I tell you it's just peachy keen!

Trouble is, it has me forgetting lots of stuff too.

Like, to post recipes.


My shoulders are tanned, the garden is growing and my days are full with good friends and whimsical cocktails. This is just the richest, most soul satisfying business.

And now, for you, my glamorous readers, I am reprinting (with not so many words changed) a recipe from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Why?

Because kids, this little bit of knowledge is just far beyond a recipe, it strikes me as prose.


Read this recipe. Then, if you have a - oh, I don't know - Gordon Ramsay or some other hyper-masculine chef's cookbook at home, compare them.

It's easy to see.

This is so obviously written by a real woman. A woman with a gentle appreciation of her craft and a respect for her product. (Reminds me a lot of the beautiful writing by one of one of my favorite bloggers - Lucy at Nourish Me) It is a simple recipe with elegantly beautiful results.

Such a lovely thing to find in a world full of kitchen-intensity. I had to share.

It has such a wonderful layering of flavors and unexpected delights.

So try it my dears, and please do taste the joy.

1/2 cup pistachios
1 small garlic clove
1/4 cup olive oil
Zest of a tangerine or mandarin
Brandy or grappa (I actually used cognac)
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed

Turn the oven to 350F.

Go through the pistachios and discard any that are shrunken or brown.

Spread on a baking sheet and heat the pistachios until warm to the touch, about 3 minutes, long enough to heighten their flavor without burning their fragile oil. Coarsely chop.

Coarsely chop the garlic then pound in a mortar (or pulse in a food processor), scoop out and set aside.

Transfer the pistachios to the mortar (or, again, food processor) and pound to a dry paste. Blend in the pounded garlic to taste. Pound or grind in about half the oil to bind with the nuts, then stir in the remainder.

With a few strokes of a zester, carve a teaspoon of fragrant orange filaments. Chop, then stir them into the paste. Add the brandy or grappa and salt to taste.

The finished aillade will be a dense, heavy paste. Set aside to mellow. As it sits the crushed nuts will settle out of the oil, but a few stirs will reamalgamate the paste.

Prepare your grill.

For the asparagus break off the woody ends, then peel away the toughest skin. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and salt lightly. Blanch the asparagus for about one minute. Drain. Cool in lightly salted ice water, drain and pat dry. (Skip the blanching if your asparagus is pencil thin). Oil and arrange in a single layer on the grill.

Grill until hot through and emblazoned with pretty char marks, about 1-2 minutes per side.

Serve with the aillade.

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking


© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at is guilty of infringing upon terms of copyright.

MIAMI (AP) -- South Florida schools are having to back away from goals to offer more nutritious meals because of rising food costs. Switching from fresh fruit to canned saves money and maintains the same level of nutrition. Schools have also cut some whole grain breads, replacing it with white bread. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach schools are all looking to increase the price of their school lunches. Besides food costs going up, another problem is that the money school districts get from the federal government for each meal has not changed since last year.

Aillade is the name used in southern France for two different garlic-based condiments. In Provence, it is a garlic-flavored vinaigrette, while in some other areas, it is a form of garlic-flavored mayonnaise. In the latter meaning, it is a synonym for aioli. - Wikipedia

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Sounds fabulous! My Costco just started carrying shelled pistachios.
Argh!! That information about school meals enrages me!! How can they possibly think that something with a HIGHER sugar content, such as canned fruit, can have the SAME nutritional value as something fresh, such as fresh fruit!!

Cutting whole grain breads to GLUE? Essentially, as there is NO nutritional value in it. It's almost like they are setting them up for the healthcare system - a vicious cycle. But that's my conspiracy theories going wild. Truly, it's more ignorance than anything. Somebody asked me the other day when I decided to get into 'organic and healthy' food. I told them in Cali people are WAY more aware, and mentioned pesticides on non organic fruit and veggies. Then she proceeded to ask me what pesticides are... d'oh!!
oh yes! It's amazing what pistachios can do to a veg. One of my favourite vegetable dishes is poached broccoli mixed with butter and ground pistachios. Utterly delicious!

I'm sure I'd love this one!

(and I totally see your blogging problem - I'm tanning more these days than writing recipes down too!)
It's official.

Season envy has set in.

Prosaic method, indeed.

Rachel, you are just so gorgeous.

Right back at ya...
Rachael, what a simple, divine and beautiful dish! I would totally forget my manners and lick the plate. ;)
It does sound perfect! And that color coordination could only come from a woman of impeccable taste.
That really does look good! Cool to randomly find a new food blog to whack into my reader! And congratulations for winning the prize for most random visitor to my blog. Icelandic guys in pub -> sigur ros -> google -> mum -> google -> wtsm... Nice one!

Ps. Mum and Sigur Ros are fantastic, give them a shot sometime if you haven't before! And send over some of that sun!
Kalyn - Ooh that is so fab!
PSD - I post those bits without my own comments so as not to be political...but of course I am being political - and you couldnt have summed up my thoughts any better. Shameful of them. Simply shameful. Lets hope the parents of those school children are making a stink. And bagged lunches.

Evelin - That sounds REALLY good to me! I will have to try to remember to make it! Thanks!

Lucy - You really are the best!

Patricia - Please do! (I used my fingers and licked them...LOL)

Macca - I actually love both of those bands...and am super excited to have found your charming site too...even if by such a long string of thoughts...
I have been posting asparagus and/or rhubarb recipes since the beginning of our asparagus season here (Canada) and am delighted to find a new one. Looks delicious.

Jamie Oliver did a lot regarding British school lunches which were appalling, but spending money on children doesn't seem a priority for governments these days, they would rather spend it on wars.
Love that mortal/pestle!
wow, that recipe really was written by a feminine entity. the words are so poetic, so lovely. :)

i'm going to shell myself some pistachios!!! :D
Megan Boris-

Where can you find a good mortal/pestle. Or is there another kitchen tool that can provide the same result?
Megan, I have two. One I got at Sur La Table and the other at a Mexican grocery store. If you want you can totally do the whole thing by hand - my friend The Hostess did two nights ago and it worked out great...

good luck!
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