A NICE WAY OF COOKING ASPARAGUS
Take the asparagus as nearly of a size as possible, wash it, and cut off the stalks very short, leaving them not more than half an inch in length.
Two quarts of water will be sufficient to boil one quart of asparagus tops. Allow a teaspoonful of salt to this quantity of water, and set it over the fire to boil. When the water is boiling hard, put in the asparagus and boil it fast for at least half an hour. While it is boiling, prepare two slices of bread cut half an inch thick, and (having removed the crust) toast the bread brown on both sides. Have ready a large jill* of melted fresh butter.
To see if the asparagus is done, take up two or three of the largest pieces and taste them. If done, take it up with a perforated skimmer, and lay it on a sieve to drain. Dip the slices of toast (one at a time) first in the hot asparagus liquor, and then in the melted butter. Lay the slices, side by side, in a deep dish and cover it with the asparagus, laid evenly over and round the toast. Then add the remainder of the melted butter, and send the asparagus to table hot in a covered dish.
This is a much nicer way than that of boiling and serving it up with the long stalks left on.
* jill or gill — a liquid measurement; four ounces in the U.S. and five ounces in the U.K.
Having scraped the stalks of three bundles of fine, large asparagus, (laying it, as you proceed, in a pan of cold water,) tie it up again in bunches, put them into a pot with a great deal of boiling water and a little salt and boil them about twenty minutes, or till quite tender. Then take out the asparagus and drain it. Cut off the green tops of two-thirds of the asparagus, and on the remainder, leave about two inches of the white stalk. This remaining asparagus must be kept warm. Put the tops into a stew-pan with a pint of cream or rich milk, sufficient to cover them well. Add three tablespoonfuls of fresh butter, rolled in flour, half a grated nutmeg, and the well-beaten yolks of three eggs. Set the stew-pan over hot coals, and stir the mixture till it comes to a boil, then immediately remove it.
Have ready some tall fresh rolls. Cut the tops carefully off in a nice circular or oval piece, scoop out the inside of the rolls, and fill them with the stewed asparagus while it is hot. Make small holes very nicely in the tops or lids. Fit the lids again on the rolls, and stick in the holes the remaining asparagus, that has had the bit of stalk left on for this purpose. Send them to the table warm, as side-dishes.
Cut some asparagus and lay it in an earthen pot. Make a brine of salt and water, strong enough to bear an egg*. Pour it hot on the asparagus, and let it be closely covered. When it is to be used, lay it for two hours in cold water. Boil and serve it up on a toast with melted butter over it. If to be used as a pickle, boil it as it comes out of the brine, and lay it in vinegar.
*to bear an egg — the egg will float to the top of the water with a little bit exposed to the air
Take two bunches of the largest and finest asparagus. Put them into a pot of boiling water with a teaspoonful of salt, and boil it about twenty-five minutes or till perfectly tender. Then drain and chop small all the green part. Beat four eggs very light, and add to them a wine-glass of cream. Mix the chopped asparagus thoroughly with the egg and cream, adding a saltspoon of salt, and a very little cayenne. Melt a large slice of fresh butter in a frying-pan over the fire and when it has boiled and the bubbling has ceased, put in the mixture. Fry it till light and firm, then slip it from the frying-pan to a hot dish and fold it over.
For a soft omelet, put the mixture into a skillet with a piece of fresh butter. Let it stew slowly for ten minutes. Lay a thin slice of buttered toast in the bottom of a hot dish, cut the toast into small squares, but let them remain close together. With a spoon, heap the soft omelet upon the toast, and serve it up.
Any omelet mixture may be kept soft by stewing instead of frying it, and it will be found far more wholesome.
Asparagus soup may be made in a similar manner to that of green peas. You must have four or five bunches of asparagus. Cut off the green tops and put half of them into the soup after the meat has been boiled to pieces and strained out. The asparagus must be boiled till quite dissolved and till it has given a green color to the soup. Then take the remainder of the asparagus tops (which must all this time have been lying in cold water), put them into the soup, and let them boil about twenty minutes. Serve it up with small squares of toast in the tureen.
You may heighten the green of this soup by adding the juice of a handful of spinach, pounded in a mortar and strained. Or you may color it with the juice of boiled spinach squeezed through a cloth. The spinach juice should be put in ten minutes before you take up the soup, as a short boiling in it will take off the peculiar taste.
I hate to admit I’ve never cooked fresh asparagus. I guess it’s time to give it a try. Do you cook asparagus? Leave a comment below.