27 April 2011

Bait and switch

I have pictures, and I have a recipe ... unfortunately, they don't match.

pistachio, lemon, and strawberry macarons

I went to an Easter party on Sunday: just a small get together of (mostly) family. A turkey was dragged out of the freezer and deep-fried, ribs duly oven roasted, macaroni and cheese baked (smoking oven optional). I was asked to bring vegetables—never a problem when spring has sprung—and also "those pretty meringue cookies that you brought to the Super Bowl party."

strawberry macarons

That's right. I brought macarons to a Super Bowl party. They were a big hit, and each time I make a batch of these elegant-yet-adorable cookies, they turn out a little more even in size, a little more evenly-baked, a little less likely to stick to the parchment. I use the basic recipe from the inimitable Tartelette (including this one for the strawberry macarons), baking at 300ºF instead of 280.

six of one...

I don't have much to add to the almost endless macaron-making resources ... so let's talk asparagus.

I went to the farmer's market on Saturday with no idea what I wanted to make for the party. I wandered the stalls to see what was available before settling for six bunches of beautiful skinny asparagus and two big bags of unshelled fava beans.

For several years—in fact, ever since I discovered the wonderful vegetable—I have specialized, if you will, in asparagus with olive oil and Parmigiano. Lightly dressed with olive oil, either grilled or broiled until tender and browned at the edges, then liberally sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan cheese, I could eat a full bunch of asparagus without complaint.

I wanted to do something a little bit different, but I wanted it to be simple—a good thing, because my timeline was shorter than expected and I spent the first half hour of the party rushing around the kitchen.

Grilled Asparagus with Fresh Herb Vinaigrette and Parmigiano-Reggiano
As with many other asparagus recipes, if you are using thicker asparagus (anything much bigger than a pencil), you will have the best results by blanching them for 1-2 minutes in boiling water, then shocking in ice water and draining.

3 bunches asparagus
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced assorted fresh herbs, such as thyme, oregano, parsley, and tarragon
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or lemon juice
salt and pepper
2-3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus more as needed
½ ounce parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Snap the ends of the asparagus (save the ends for soup, if you like). If you are using thick asparagus, blanch as described above. Heat a grill or grill pan (alternatively, place a rack at the top of your oven and preheat the broiler).

Mince the garlic and herbs and place in a medium bowl with the vinegar or lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and whisk well to combine. Whisking constantly, slowly pour in the olive oil until the vinaigrette is well-combined and slightly emulsified; set aside.

Toss the asparagus in a little bit of olive oil and put it on the grill. Cook, tossing with tongs from time to time, until bright green and tender, about 2-4 minutes. Spread out on a platter to cool slightly; add the vinaigrette and toss well to combine. Grate some cheese onto the asparagus and toss well to combine; grate the remaining cheese over the top of the asparagus. Serve hot or warm.

Serves 6-8


  1. How timely. I just (pan) grilled some asparagus for tonight!

    i've never made macarons! I know they are all the rage. One day I will, who knows when, so for now i'll just admire yours.
    Brava for bringing them to a Super Bowl party!!

  2. Nicole - Macarons take a bit of practice, but once you get the technique down they're awfully fun to make. I do recommend Tartelette's recipes as a great starting point.