Purple Asparagus and Herbs in an Omelette {Recipe}

Ah, asparagus season. There are so many ways to eat them, yet I find the simplest recipes are the most flavorful. Cooking is really about letting the quality of the produce speak for itself, so there isn’t much technique involved. My friends and family think I am a great cook, but I attribute my skills to the high quality ingredients I get at the farmers market. And, I can’t think of much that is easier and tastier than asparagus and good quality eggs together. There are so many ways to combine them- grilled asparagus topped with poached eggs, roasted asparagus frittatasautéed vegetables with a soft-boiled egg.

asparagus eggs

Though, this  recipe is the prettiest. And pretty food is lovely to serve and eat. I make this on a weekday morning for just Satish, and I and over the weekend, when we have friends over. However, instead of making several individual omelettes, I just make one large omelette and put the pan in the middle of the table for friends to serve themselves. The prep and cook time is rather fast, with hardly a minute in between. When making individual omelettes, have two pans going at the same time, to get to the eating part faster. 

herbs

When I do not have spring onions on hand, I use sweet yellow onions. The herbs are arbitrary, as long as they are fresh, you can use whatever you already have or what you where able to find at the farmers market or grocery store. Use one herb or a combination of herbs. Thyme, basil, flat-leafed parsley, and chives work wonderful together and alone. I use chive flowers when I can find them at the market. Flavored salts work well too, but fine grain sea salt is just fine. I was able to find purple asparagus at the farmers market and thought they would make for pretty pictures. They also make for a great wow factor, but taste the same in flavor as green asparagus. Just use the thin ones for this recipe, because they are more tender and sweet. 

Simple Spring Omelette

Serves 2, cook time ~15 minutes

Ingredients
1 tablespoon chives, minced
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup spring onions, minced
12-14 spears of thin asparagus
1 teaspoon lavender salt
4 eggs

The vegetables. Mince the chives and parsley. In a small bowl, mix the herbs and black pepper. Set aside.

Heat up a large, heavy bottomed sauté pan on medium heat with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and a little butter. Mince the white part of the spring onion. Add the minced spring onions in the heated pan and stir. Cook until crispy and light brown, about 3-5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, wash asparagus under cool water. Cut off the woody ends and pat off excess water with a towel. Remove the crispy spring onions from pan and set aside. If they feel greasy, you can put them on a paper towel.

cutting board

Add 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil to the same pan let it heat up for 30 seconds. Add the asparagus to the pan. Make sure they do not overlap.  Stir a couple of times to cook all sides. Add more olive oil if needed. Sprinkle lavender salt over the spears. Cook for about 5-7 minutes. It really depends on how tender you like the spears. The purple asparagus will turn bright green from the heat. Transfer the asparagus to a cool plate once done cooking.

purple asparagus

The eggs. While asparagus are cooking, beat 2 eggs vigorously with a fork, until they are frothy and whites are incorporated with the yolks. Heat a 6″ nonstick pan with 2 teaspoons butter. Coat the entire pan with the butter by swirling it around the pan. Pour the eggs into pan and cook for 45-60 seconds. With a thin silicone spatula, carefully lift the cooked portions and tilt the pan to let the runny portions reach the bottom of pan. Do this again in 30 seconds, until most of the egg is set. 

Sprinkle 1/2 of the herb mixture over the omelette. You don’t need to add sea salt here, since the asparagus is already salted. Carefully slide onto serving plate. Repeat for the remaining omelette.

herb omelette

Now, carefully arrange asparagus spears on top of each omelette. Sprinkle the browned spring onions and herb flowers on top and serve.

asparagus eggs

What are your favorite ways to eat asparagus? Please share recipes!

Grilled Asparagus with Lavender Salt

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One of my favorite things about Spring is asparagus. Actually, I think I have already overdid it with the asparagus. I won 8 bunches of asparagus from a recipe contest on the Fort Mason’s Farmers Market Facebook page and I’ve really tried eating it all. Though, asparagus are relatively low-maintenance. I don’t need to do much with them and they cook rather fast. This is one of my most basic recipes for asparagus, that I probably make once a week. It’s fast. And, sometimes, I eat the whole bunch by myself. They are that good. Fresh asparagus, that haven’t been doused in pesticides or altered by biotech companies (want to have this discussion?), are healthy. I don’t question it.

Lavender is my secret ingredient. I discovered cooking with lavender when one of my college roommates brought home a bottle of Herbs de Provence (a mixture of dried herbs which include lavender). I was amazed that you could cook with lavender as I had always thought of it as a nice smelling flower. It turns out that lavender in food is magical and has many, many healing properties. It really is magical and most people cannot pinpoint what “that” flavor is, making you a culinary star. Like all other herbs, I only get organic lavender.

Often times, I eat the grilled asparagus with a fried egg for complete meal. It’s breakfast, lunch, brunch, or dinner. It’s also very satiating. Try it with a runny, pasture-raised egg. You will be amazed.

Ingredients
1 bunch thin asparagus
2 tablespoon olive oil or organic butter
lavender salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper (optional)
1-2 pasture-raised eggs (optional)

Method
Heat a cast iron pan on medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the oil or butter and coat the pan well. Add in the asparagus a handful at a time. You do not want to overcrowd the pan. Let the asparagus cook for a couple of minutes before turning them with a wooden spatula. Cook for a couple of minutes more or until they are tender. Sprinkle lavender salt over the asparagus and transfer to a plate. Repeat this procedure until all of the asparagus is cooked.

In the same pan or a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil or butter. Wash the eggs and crack one egg into the pan. Cook until the whites appear solid, about 3-4 minutes. Serve immediately over the bed of cooked asparagus.

You can use a cast-iron grill pan or a regular heavy bottomed pan to cook the asparagus. I like using this pan because it creates beautiful grill marks on the asparagus.

A regular (cast-iron) pan works just as well.

Asparagus are easy yet elegant enough for potlucks. I took this dish to a potluck brunch a couple of weeks ago.

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Cookies for a Cause: Bakesale for Japan

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The first time I attempted to bake cookies from scratch was when I was 10 years old. My two girlfriends (pictured above on the header) were my guinea pigs. They were really nice to me, but honestly the cookies were more like bricks. Since then, Rajita and Nafisah have endured many of my failed cookie attempts until I got it just right. Though, by the time I got it just right, I didn’t care about baking anymore. I found more satisfaction and restraint in just buying one serving size at a cafe and not worrying about over indulging.

Then, during this past holiday season, I got the baking itch. That may be because I have been hanging out (online and offline) with more food bloggers and bakers. Social influence. So at the 18 Reason’s DIY Desserts: Holiday Cookie Swap I baked cookies for the first time in over a decade. I was nervous and intimidated. I also didn’t have any of the fancy baking equipment, like a Kitchen Aid mixer. There were a ton of cookie recipes out there, too, which was overwhelming. I also wanted to make something healthy-ish and couldn’t find anything uncomplicated. So after anxiously debating if I really wanted to bake (the strong Vata in me), I remembered baking a cake using only almond flour years ago and it turned out fantastic. So I applied the same methodology and attempted to make cookies out of the pistachio flour I already had on hand. I was  pleasantly surprised that the cookies turned out pretty good. I took them to the cookie swap, and everyone seemed to really like them too. Also, my husband, who thinks he is an Iron Chef judge, told me he really liked them. So, I did the natural thing, and baked these cookies for every holiday party we had to go to for rest of the season.

Last Saturday I participated in Bakesale for Japan, which meant I spent Friday night baking. I had overambitious plans to make a multitude of desserts, but then when it came down to the wire, I only had the bandwidth and courage to make two types of cookies. My baked goods were going to be placed right next to professionals and pro-bakers like Tartine Bakery, Eat The Love, and Desserts First. So I baked my now infamous pistachio cookies and adapted a recipe from 101 Cookbooks. I accidentally came across the recipe and it looked so simple to make. Plus, I love and trust everything on 101 Cookbooks. I hope to post my adaptation of the recipe here soon enough.

It was really fun spending the evening baking. I opened a bottle of wine, that I randomly picked up from Whole Foods for $10, which turned out to be excellent. So with a glass of vino rojo in one hand and whisk in the other, I was baking away. Also, I would intermittently go on Twitter and follow the hashtag #bakesale4japan to chat with other bloggers who were doing the same thing I was (but probably without the bottle of wine). I  felt like I was apart of something really BIG. A few weeks ago, I felt so small and helpless when I was following the Twitter stream during the earthquakes and Fukushima meltdown.  Though, after seven dozen cookies had cooled and seeing a tweet about someone’s cute packaging, I went into panic mode. I hadn’t even thought about the packaging! Normally, I am on top of these things and have been coined the name Martha Stewart amongst my friends, but with all that has been going on, I just forgot about cute labels and packaging. And, I hate a missing an opportunity for DIY creative packaging. Then, the creative side kicked in, and managed to come up with something really unique and chic. I used leftover silk favor bags from my wedding to put the cookies in and used my adorable Moo business cards for the labeling. I didn’t even make the connection until I saw a few Japanese people really enamored by my cookies (err packaging). The silk bags were red and had gold flowers on them that looked like cherry blossoms. In the end, it always works out.

The turnout at the bakesale was incredible! I got to the Bi-Rite  Market location right at starting time, and managed to squeeze in my cookies on the very crowded table. That table was a sweet-lovers dream come true. I was tempted to buy everything. There were so many baked goods, graciously made by the blogging community, home-bakers, and professionals, that boxes had to be dispersed to a multitude of locations. At last count, together, we raised $120,254.38. The money will benefit Peace Winds Japan.

Since the community really came through at the Bi-Rite location of the bakesale, a lot of the baked goods had to be dispersed to other locations in San Francisco, Oakland, Marin, and San Jose.

Around the corner, 18 Reasons hosted an art sale where people made origami cranes.

Irvin (Eat the Love) and Anita (Desserts First) at 18 Reasons.

Someone bought my cookies!

I also stopped by the SPQR location in Pacific Heights to say hello to a few friends.

SPQR closed down the restaurant to host the bake sale. They also made paninis and crostini for the bakesale. Blue Bottle and Blue Bottle Sweets were also on site, serving their delicious coffee drinks and pastries. Nearby restaurants, Citizen Cake, Jane, and Out the Door, also pitched in with delicious desserts.

The clever ladies, Annelies and Laiko, dished out deals throughout the bakesale. I got there just in time for the 2-for-1 deal, and snatched up cupcakes to share with friends that afternoon. Let’s just say, I didn’t pay attention to my sugar intake that day.

I promise to post the recipe for the cardamon-rose pistachio cookies soon!

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Brunch for Lovers or Just You: Blood Orange Pancakes

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People either love or hate Valentine’s Day, with very few people oblivious to February 14th’s significance. I had a roller coaster of emotions when it came to V-Day. I loved it for what it stood for- hopeless, romantic, I will do anything for you, fairy-tail kind of love. Of course, V-Day never was that easy as a single girl. I’ve been through my fair share of relationships, but my husband was my first real Valentine. For the first 25 years of my existence, I never seemed to be in a relationship circa Feb 14th. Strange. I am a sucker for the commercialization of the whole thing, and I think a girl should be showered with pretty flowers, chocolates, and gifts. Equally, a man should receive the same thought and affection. I am all for fancy romantic dinners, but the prix-fix menus and price mark-ups annoy me. It also does not feel as special when you know you are in a dining room with 50 other couples who are there just because it’s Valentines Day. So it’s nice to cook a romantic, thoughtful meal at home. It’s also just as nice to cook a special meal for yourself!

Valentine’s Day or Single Awareness Day just so happens to fall on a weekday this year, so a pre-brunch is in order. Nothing is more luxe and seductive as blood oranges. Sure, strawberries are the fruit of love and seduction, but that’s only because no one has looked at blood oranges. Their season is fleeting between the months of January and February. Sometimes, they appear as early as December and last until March. They are mysterious, seductive, and one bite makes you want more. In my opinion, strawberries are played out (and not in season)!

Blood Orange Pancakes
serves 2
Ingredients
1 cup Almond meal
1 cup buckwheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
zest of one medium blood orange
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tbsp melted, unsalted butter or 1 tbsp blood orange olive oil
1 egg
1/2 cup whole milk
butter for coating
blood orange compote

1. Combine buckwheat flour, almond meal, baking soda, and salt together in a medium sized mixing bowl and mix well.  In another bowl, whisk together zest, ginger, melted butter, egg, and milk until well combined.

Zest of one blood orange

2.  Add dry ingredients slowly into the wet ingredients. Stir the batter gently as you add in the dry ingredient. The batter should be lumpy and slightly thick. Add a teaspoon of whole milk at a time if batter is too thick.

The batter should be lumpy.

3. Heat a  griddle or heavy bottomed pan to medium-hot, and place 1 tablespoon of butter into it. Let the butter melt before spooning the batter into the pan.

3. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot pan. Cook until bubbles break on surface, turn and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, until browned. Remove from the pan and smear a tiny bit of butter on top. Keep warm by placing the cooked pancakes in the oven, covered loosely with foil.

4. Serve warm with blood orange compote and blood orange juice.

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Traditional Meatless Greek Dolma (Recipe)

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Follow me on Twitter or Facebook. A friend, Carina Ost, made a new year’s resolution to learn how to make dolma and set up a learning session at Mezes Greek Kitchen. Carina invited a few other blogger friends, including myself, … Continue reading

Chana Chai Masala

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In my quest for eating mostly only seasonal and local produce, I have avoided making Indian food that requires a tomato based gravy this winter. Mainly because I have not seen any tomatoes at the Farmers Market in the last couple of months. Though, I was craving Indian food last week- in particular Chole Bathura. Chole Bathura is a dish that originates in the Northern Indian state  of Punjab. Punjab is known for their decadent dishes like Chicken Makhani, Saag Paneer, and Chole Bathura. Chole Bathura is an ultimate comfort food, perfect for a chilly, winter’s day. Chole are spicy chickpeas/garbanzo bean and bathura is deep fried bread. Since, I am not eating any fried food this month (Rule #3 of January Rules), I decided to make my own version of bread and garbanzo beans that would hit the spot. I also realized that I could make an exception and use canned tomatoes to substitute the fresh, ripe tomatoes. As long as the ingredient list of the canned tomatoes only reads tomatoes and no other processed ingredients.**

There were many firsts when I attempted to make this dish. It was my first time cooking with dried garbanzo beans and using canned tomatoes. After inquiring on Twitter and asking my mom on how to cook garbanzo beans, I decided that soaking and boiling them would probably produce the best results. This  cooking method is longer than opening a can of beans, but canned beans are slimy and often have added salt and preservatives. It also happens to be national tea month, so I added a little flavor of my own. I used a Masala Chai blend from Samovar, but you can easily make your own mix or use a Masala Chai tea bag. Carefully read the ingredients list on the tea bag, and avoid using tea that has added sugars or artificial flavors. Higher quality, fair-trade loose leaf tea will yield the best results.

Chana Chai Masala

Ingredients
Serves 4-6
1 cup dry Garbanzo beans
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking soda
plenty of water to soak and boil the beans
1 tablespoon Masala Chai mixture or 1 Chai tea bag
3/4 cup boiling hot water
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
2 teaspoon cumin, ground
1 tsp coriander, ground
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder, more or less for your tolerance
2 tsp ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces canned tomatoes**
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
One lemon, juiced and zested

Masala Chai Mixture
1 tablespoon black tea
1 stick cinnamon, broken into pieces
2-3 whole cloves
1-2 peppercorns, whole
2-3 cardamom pods, cracked open

1. Soak Garbanzo beans in plenty of water overnight (at least 8 hours). Rinse the soaked Garbanzo beans. Bring 3 cups of water in a large stock pot to a boil. Add the Garbanzo beans, baking soda, and let simmer for 20 minutes, until they are soft but not mushy.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large pan on medium heat. Once pan is heated add oil and let it heat up for 30 seconds. Add onions and saute them until translucent, about 7-10 minutes. Stir frequently. If the onions start to brown, add 1 tablespoon of water. Add spices and mix well. The spices will stick to the onion and become aromatic in about 45 seconds. Mix in the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.

3. While the onions are cooking, steep tea mixture in 3/4 cup boiling hot water in a cup and cover. The tea should steep for about 20 minutes.

3. Slowly add in the tomatoes with their liquid to the pan. Stir well to incorporate spice mixture. Add the salt. After 2 minutes, reduce temperature to low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Add in the Garbanzo beans. Strain tea leaves or remove tea bag from water, and pour the tea water into the pan. Mix well. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning. Turn off heat and mix in lemon juice and zest.

5. Garnish with cilantro or marigold petals. Serve with Basmati rice or roti.

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Farmer’s Market Find: Brussels Sprouts

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I debated going to the market today, since I have a fridge full of leftovers from Thanksgiving. Satish and I both want to keep our meals fairly light this week since we are still digesting our Thanksgiving dinner. I doubted the market would have been busy like last week, so opted on going and enjoying the quietness. There were less farmers today too; perhaps they were gone for rest of the season or just today. I bought a lot of Brussels sprouts. I never was a fan of Brussels sprouts or at least I thought I wasn’t. I actually never even encountered Brussels sprouts until my early 20’s, but I knew I didn’t like them because the kids on TV always hated them. So like broccoli, I thought it was another gross vegetable that no kid on the planet would want to eat. Then I saw just how cute they were at the farmer’s market a couple of years ago and started to cook with them. They are sooo good! I can’t understand why Brussels sprouts have such a bad rap. Anyway, they are super easy and quick to cook too. My favorite way to eat them is cutting them in half, cooking them on a skillet for 5 minutes, then tossing them with lemon juice, olive oil,  pecans, salt and pepper. I like to add shaved Parmesan cheese or dried cranberries when craving a heavier meal.  Cooking Brussels sprouts involve minimal patience and culinary skill. Brussels sprouts are related to the cabbage family and are best when in season. Try picking them in the same size so they cook at the same time. Smaller ones that are tightly closed are best. At the farmer’s markets and some grocery stores, you can buy them with their stalks still intact. This will keep them fresher longer, but storing loose Brussels sprouts in an air tight container will work too.

Brussels Sprouts on their stalk

Weekly Dinner Menu
Sunday: Stuffed Peppers (turkey and gravy), Arugula Salad (pomegranates, goat cheese, pine nuts)
Monday: Squash and Pistachio Quinoa, Kale Salad
Tuesday: Mixed Lentil Pilaf, Brussels Sprouts Salad, Roasted Beets and Persimmons
Wednesday: Turkey Tartine with Cranberry Sauce
Thursday: Sip, Snack and Shop on Chestnut Street
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Dinner at a friend’s place

How was your Thanksgiving?

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Farmer’s Market Find: The Thanksgiving Table

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The power was out in parts of the city last night due to a brief, yet tumultuous storm. I was thoroughly exhausted from organizing and hosting the Music and Pancake Benefit for Doctor’s Without Borders, Pakistan and just wanted to sleep for all of Sunday. Though, I woke up at 8AM this morning, temperatures were in the 40’s, and I really tried talking myself into staying under my covers. But, I knew if I did, it would be at the cost of my farmer’s market Thanksgiving menu. So I got up, finalized what I really wanted to make for our Thanksgiving dinner, put on my puffy down jacket and woolen hat, grabbed my reusable grocery bags, and headed out the door. I was so glad that the clouds were clearing and the sun was coming out stronger, because I had big plans to create a festive Thanksgiving table arrangement with Phantom Floranista and I did not want to fight the Lighting Gods.

I haven’t been to the Fort Mason farmer’s market in 3 weeks, so I was really curious to see all of the new additions and the familiar farmers.  Just saying hello every Sunday to these farmers and farmhands has become the equivalent of keeping in touch with friends (without social media channels). It’s very heartwarming and real.

I have to admit, today was the earliest I have been to this market in a long time and it was really quiet. However, by the time I made it to Rio de Parros Organics to buy their colorful carrots, they were all sold out! I am planning on making roasted carrots and potatoes, instead of mashed potatoes. I was  also really hoping to get fresh herbs from Hollie’s Homegrown, but she wasn’t there. I wonder if she is returning this year. My backup plan is to go the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Tuesday.

Olives were just harvested in Northern California and this really is the time to buy olive oil. Olive oil is the freshest and even more nutritious right at harvest, and the taste is just divine. I did a little olive oil tasting last weekend at Long Meadow Ranch and I was convinced that fresh olive oil is the way to go. California Olives and Olive Oils is at the Fort Mason Farmer’s market every Sunday, selling fresh olive oils, uncured olives, cured olives, and lemons. Today, I tasted olive oil that tasted just like the whole Piccholine olives. I don’t think I ever tasted an olive oil that tasted so close to form.

These Viking Potatoes would make a beautiful side dish.

I picked up tiny apples (Rainbow Orchards and Billy Bob’s Organics), mandarins (Ken’s Top Notch Produce) thinking they would make  simple appetizers or snacks,  a pomegranate (Hamas Farms) for a salad,  and a pumpkin (Swank Farms) for a side dish, but they all ended up as accents for my special Thanksgiving table arrangement.

I bought my first Fairy Tale Pumpkin. I’ve never cooked any type  of pumpkin, but this one just called my name. Also, the farmhand from Swank Farms explained the cooking process, which was no different than of a butternut squash. So I carried home my 8 pound Fairy Tale Pumpkin, eager to show Satish and make a home for it.

The mandarins, apples, and pomegranates became the accent pieces on my Thanksgiving table arrangement. The Fairy Tale pumpkin took center stage.

 

thanksgiving table

I got these little guys with the intention to use them for the table setting.

What are your Thanksgiving plans?

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Thanksgiving Side Dish: Potatoes Mashed or Not

Follow me on Twitter Mashed potatoes are delicious, but they do take some (messy) prep work  and time which may make you resort the the instant stuff for your side-dish. Instant potatoes have been an American staple for decades. They … Continue reading

Meatless Monday: Pistachio Quinoa and Butternut Squash

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Since Autumn has really hit San Francisco, I have fully embraced the seasonal vegetables. Pumpkin, squash, persimmons, carrots, potatoes, heirloom beans, grapes, pistachios, and pomegranates. Mondays are my favorite days to cook, because my … Continue reading