culinary school  March 2009
   

Spring is in the air: three great springtime recipes found in the Academia Barilla Gastronomic Library

Spring is in the air (and on our plates!) A look at [...]

Spring is in the air (and on our plates!) A look at three great springtime recipes found in the Academia Barilla Gastronomic Library.

Market

Spring has sprung here in Italy, and it is no more evident than at the market. The stalls of radicchio and other bitter, winter greens are slowly disappearing, making way for next season’s fashions. What joy can be found in the arrival of tiny, tender fava beans, crisp radishes, spring onions and strong fragrance of fresh garlic.

The change of season has inspired all of us here at Academia Barilla to do a little spring-cleaning. As you may have noticed, we have shed the wintery design of our Italian Food Lover’s Blog and have selected bright, cheerful colors and images to carry us through the next couple of months.

We have also spent sometime dusting off the bookshelves of the Academia Barilla Gastronomic Library. We are all happy to have rediscovered a number of seasonal cookbooks and spring time recipes that are certain to bring new life to our tables.

The four seasons cookbook

One book that really caught our attention was the The Four Seasons Cookbook written by Charlotte Adams. The book contains a beautiful collection of recipes from New York City’s legendary The Four Seasons restaurant. The restaurant opened its doors with much acclaim exactly 50 years ago. Since then Julian Niccolini and Alex Von Bidder, the restaurant’s owners, have continuously served fashionable Manhattanites some of the city’s best seasonal cuisine – often inspired by Italian dishes.

The four seasons cookbookAs Charlotte points out in her book, “for the city dweller, the first glimpse of spring may well be the arrival of tightly pointed, perfectly matched bunches of green or white asparagus in the markets.” We couldn’t agree more.

To celebrate the new season, we present Charlotte’s directions for preparing the perfect asparagus – all taken from the chefs at The Four Seasons.

Asparagus
4 POUNDS ASPARAGUS
BOILING, SALTED WATER TO COVER
Serves 6.

Cut the woody ends off the asparagus and, with a vegetable peeler, peel off the skin from the bottom of the stalks up to the tender heads. Wash. Tie into bundles with white kitchen string. Cook bundles in a large pot full of boiling, salted water for 10-15 minutes, or until done to your taste. The spears should be tender, but still crisp. Run cold water over the asparagus. (This is called “refreshing” and is done to stop the cooking and set the color.) Drain well.

Serve with the sauce you prefer: clarified butter, lemon butter, Sauce Mornay, Parmesan or Polonaise

Asparagus Mornay
4 POUNDS ASPARAGUS,
COOKED AS ABOVE/
1 CUP SAUCE MORNAY (SEE SAUCES)
6 TABLESPOONS GRATED SWISS CHEESE
Arrange the asparagus on a buttered flame-proof dish. Pour the sauce Mornay over the tips. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and run under the broiler to brown lightly.

Asparagus Parmesan
4 POUNDS ASPARAGUS,
COOKED AS ABOVE/
14 CUP GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE
2 CUP CLARIFIED BUTTER (SEE SAUCES)
Arrange asparagus on a buttered, flame-proof dish. Sprinkle the cheese over the tips. Pour butter over. Run under the broiler to brown.

Asparagus Polonaise
4 POUNDS ASPARAGUS,
COOKED AS ABOVE/
1/2 CUP CLARIFIED BUTTER
(SEE SAUCES)/
3 TABLESPOONS FRESHLY GRATED
BREAD CRUMBS/
3 TABLESPOONS GRATED
HARD-COOKED EGG YOLK/
3 TABLESPOONS GRATED
HARD-COOKED EGG WHITE/ 3 TABLESPOONS MINCED PARSLEY
Arrange asparagus on a buttered flame-proof dish. Heat butter in a skillet. Mix remaining ingredients and add to butter. Saute for a few minutes. Sprinkle over the tips of the asparagus. Run under the broiler for a few minutes, being careful not to burn.

(Source: Adams, Charlotte. The Four Seasons Cookbook. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971.)

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