Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Asparagus Tart

If you read some of my past posts, you may remember that I recently butchered a cookbook my grandmother gave me. I cut out the stuff I could see myself making and threw out the rest, about half the book. This tart is my version of one of those recipes, and it's a keeper. Trust me, this thing is melt-in-your-mouth fabulous, and it's super easy! If you're looking for an appetizer that's a bit outside the box, try this. My friend Forest made it with me, and we both agreed that, yes, this is awesomely good and able to change lives if given the chance.

Asparagus Tart

15 asparagus spears, trimmed
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1/2 pound sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 400

In a large skillet, bring 1 inch of water to a boil; add asparagus. Cover and cook 3-5 minutes or just until crisp-tender; drain.

Roll out puff pastry on stoneware, and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups cheese over pastry. Arrange the asparagus on top, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, lemon peel, salt, and pepper, and sprinkle over the top.

Bake 10-15 minutes or until the asparagus is tender, and the cheese is melted. Slice, and serve warm.

Forest was the main pastry artist, and he began by rolling the dough on the Rectangle Stone using the Baker's Roller. Notice the beautiful seasoning around the edges of the Stone!
(If you've never worked with puff pastry, it's in the freezer section around pie crusts.)

This is my stuff-to-go-on-top-of-the-pastry station. It's also where I cut my pinky finger for the first time ever. Note: Never reach across your body to get something when you're holding a sharp knife that happens to be in the path of your reach. You might run into it with your finger. The good news is that mine was a clean cut requiring no more more than a quick wash and small band-aid.

Ok, enough about that... I shredded the cheddar with the new Microplane Adjustable Coarse Grater, one of my favorite products. This thing is so efficient, and it stores easily. I'm using the 5" Utility Knife from the Forged Cutlery Collection for the lemon and the Easy Read Mini Measuring Cup for measuring juice. All of this is on the Cutting Board, a perfect work surface.

Forest is demonstrating the proper technique for snapping asparagus. Bend towards the bottom, and break it where it snaps easily. When you're shopping for asparagus, look for bunches with mostly green bottoms. If they're white most of the way up, you're paying by the pound for a lot of waste. Notice how the Large Cutting Board is resting over the sink to create extra space.

Ah, so pleased with this easy method for veggie prep!

What's fun after getting a tiny cut on your finger? Working with lemons, that's what! Fortunately, I have the Citrus Press, and that means I don't have to get juice all over myself. you can see exactly two tablespoons in the Easy Read Mini Measuring Cup, and that's what the original recipe called for. Once we put everything together, Forest and I decided there was too much lemon mixture, so this version of the recipe cuts it down. Tip: A standard lemon will yield right at two tablespoons of juice if squeezed properly, like with a Pampered Chef Citrus Press or Juicer.

My lemon juice, rind, and olive oil are in a Prep Bowl, and now I'm adding a dash of Salt with the Bamboo Grinder. I'm in love with the entire Bamboo Collection, but these Grinders are my favorite pieces.

It's time for a confession: I thought the Scoop 'N Drain was the lamest thing the Pampered Chef had ever released when I first saw it. A friend of mine quickly pointed out that it looked like a litter scoop, and that's all I could think from that point on. Until I used it. Then I was sold on the fact that this thing is awesome! It's perfect for lifting pasta, etc. out of boiling water, but it's also ideal for lowering it in. Forest is putting the asparagus in the 10" Executive Skillet, and he doesn't have to worry about scalding water splashing him since he has this handy tool. I'm sure he was thankful, but I forgot to ask. If I'd thought of it, the conversation would have gone something like this: "Forest, are you thankful for the Scoop 'N Drain and its ability to keep you from harm's way?" "You don't even know, Jenny... You don't even know!"

The V-Shaped Cutter isn't just for cutting up a fancy-pants watermelon or cantaloupe. No, it's also great for drizzling liquids... chocolate... glaze... lemon juice mixed with olive oil... At this point, Forest and I knew we had a winner on our hands, but I can't quite describe what happened when we pulled out of the oven, sliced it up, and tried it for the first time. Ridiculously good! P.S. That's the Microplane Zester in the background.

Dear Puff Pastry,
I think you and I have a future together. A long, buttery future. I love you.

Like the products you saw used?
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