Asparagus with Crispy Gingerroot
Snap the ends off some asparagus. If the stalks are fat, peel them. Slice them diagonally 1/4 inch thick, leaving the tips whole. Peel a knob of ginger and slice it 1/8 inch thick, and then into julienne. Over high heat, sauté the ginger for about 1 minute in clarified butter, until it is crisp and golden brown. Add the asparagus and sauté for about 2 minutes more, or until tender. Drain off any excess butter, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
Carrot and Cilantro Soup
1 white onion
3 tablespoons butter
bunch carrots (about 2 pounds)
2 or 3 potatoes (about 1/2 pound)
Salt and pepper
1 to 1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
bunch cilantro (about 1/4 pound)
1 small red onion
1 or 2 jalapeno peppers
Juice of 1 lime
Peel and slice the onion and put it on to stew in the butter over low heat, covered. Peel the carrots and potatoes and cut them in large chunks. Once the onions are fairly soft, add the carrots and potatoes, salt generously, and continue to stew, covered, for about 10 minutes more. Add chicken stock to cover, and simmer until the vegetables are entirely cooked. Take the pot off the heat.
Reserve a handful of cilantro leaves for salsa and throw the rest of the cilantro into the soup pot. Purée the soup in a blender or food processor (or pass through a food mill), and strain through a medium sieve. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Make a little salsa to your taste with the onion and jalapeno peppers, chopped; the lime juice; and the reserved coriander leaves, coarsely chopped. To serve the soup, bring back to a simmer, ladle into bowls, and garnish with the salsa.
Eggplant, Tomato and Onion Gratin
3 large, sweet white onions
3 cloves garlic
2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 or 3 sprigs thyme
Salt and pepper
3 medium Japanese eggplants
3 ripe tomatoes
Peel and chop the onions and garlic very fine. Stew them over a medium flame for about 5 minutes, until soft, in half the butter and olive oil, with the leaves of the thyme, the bay leaf, and salt and pepper.
Slice the eggplants into l/4-inch-thick rounds. Slice the tomatoes slightly thicker.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter a shallow gratin dish.
Remove the bay leaf from the onions and spread them over the bottom of the dish. Cover with overlapping rows of alternate tomato and eggplant slices. Each slice should cover two thirds of the preceding one. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, cover, and cook in the oven until the eggplant is soft enough to be cut with a spoon, about 45 minutes.
Uncover for the last 15 minutes or earlier if the tomatoes are giving up too much liquid. Brush or spoon the juices over the top
occasionally to prevent the top layer from drying out. This gratin should be moist but not watery. Serve with grilled or roasted lamb.
Serves 6 to 8.
Asparagus and Spring Onions with Buckwheat Linguine
1 pound asparagus
2 spring bulb onions (about 1/2 pound)
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
1 pound buckwheat linguine
3 cloves garlic
cup vegetable Stock (recipe in the book)
tablespoon chopped chervil
plus 20 sprigs chervil for garnish
1/2 pound ricotta salata cheese
Snap off the ends of the asparagus and peel if the stalks are thick. Slice diagonally 1/4 inch thick,
leaving the tips whole. Trim and peel the spring onions and slice them very thin. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
In a pan big enough for the vegetables to be sautéed, not steamed, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the asparagus and the spring onions, season with salt and pepper, and sauté over high heat for a few minutes, until the vegetables are slightly browned and caramelized. Cook the linguine.
When the vegetables are nearly done, add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. When the vegetables are ready, pour in the vegetable stock to deglaze the pan; add the rest of the butter off the heat, swirling the pan to thicken the sauce. Add the chopped chervil and a squeeze of lemon. Taste for salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and adjust if necessary. Drain the linguine, add to the vegetables, and toss. Serve immediately on warm plates, garnished with crumbled ricotta salata and the chervil sprigs.
Serves 4 to 6.
Marinated Roasted Peppers
Roast whole peppers over a very hot wood or charcoal fire (flaming is best), turning frequently to allow the skins to completely blacken and blister. When they are charred, remove them from the grill and let them steam in a container with a tight-fitting lid or on a plate put inside a plastic bag; steaming loosens the skins and makes the peppers easier to peel.
When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off their skins. Cut off the stem end and open the peppers up. Remove the core and seeds, Flatten out the pepper, and scrape off any remaining flecks of skin with the back of a paring knife. Cut the peppers in strips the size you want, season with salt and pepper, and marinate in a little olive oil with a few garlic cloves and basil leaves. These make delicious appetizers when served on a freshly grilled garlic crouton, with or without anchovy fillets.
Note: Alternatively, you can roast the peppers, lightly oiled, in a hot oven or under a broiler until the skins are browned and blistered; or put the peppers directly over a gas flame on the stove top to blacken the skins.