Cooking With the Kirschner Collection: Asparagus & Pancakes


asparagus It's asparagus season in Minnesota! I bought two big bunches of it at the farmer's market last weekend and then went to the Kirschner collection for some recipe inspiration, which I successfully found in Deborah Madison's cookbook, Local Flavors (2002). This book focuses on seasonal, fresh foods featuring recipes with ingredients like lovage and fennel that you won't find all year round at your grocery store. I picked two recipes -- Roasted Asparagus with Citrus Butter and Apple-Oat Pancakes with Cheddar Cheese -- from this book to create a fancy breakfast for dinner meal, and both were absolutely delicious. In fact, I think I've found a new favorite pancake recipe.

Roasted Asparagus With Citrus Butter
From Local Flavors by Deborah Madison
1 1/2 punds asparagus
1 teaspoon olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup fresh citrus juice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped into chunks
1 teaspoon grated citrus zest

If the asparagus is thin, snap off the tough parts of the stalks where they break naturally. If thick, slice off the tough ends with a knife -- you can usually see a change in color where the stalks turn tender -- then peel them up to the tips.

Soak the asparagus in cold water while you preheat the oven to 425°F, then drain and put them in a gratin dish. (They needn't be dry.) Toss with the oil and season with salt. Bake until the stalks are tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 20 to 40 minutes, depending on their thickness.

Boil the juice in a small skillet until it has reduced to about 1 1/2 tablespoons. Remove from the heat, whisk in the butter, then add the zest, a pinch of salt, and some pepper. When the asparagus is done, remove it to a platter and spoon the sauce over it.

Apple-Oat Pancakes With Cheddar Cheese
From Local Flavors by Deborah Madison
2 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking spices or ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 large apple
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

Beat the egg yolks with the vanilla, buttermilk, and oil. Stir in the rolled oats. Mix the flour, soda, spices, and salt together. Grate the apple and the cheese. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Add the grated apple and fold in the whites.

Melt a little butter in a nonstick pan. When hot, drop in the batter, about 1/3 cup at a time. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the cheese on top. Cook over medium heat until the bottom is golden, then turn and cook the second side without patting it down. Serve with maple syrup or boiled apple cider.

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