Because of the diverse nature of the many different restaurants and chefs Brian Henry has worked under he is highly proficient at a wide range of cuisines.

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Posts Tagged ‘asparagus’

Gastronomically yours,

June 6th, 2016

The smell of spring or why your piss stinks!

 

I love the aromas produced by foods being prepared in a kitchen. One of these favorite culinary induced aromas I can only smell in the bathroom. It is the smell of metabolized compounds found in asparagus. These sulphur based compounds give our urine a distinct perfume within 20 minutes of ingesting this member of the daffodil family.

Asparagus!

Asparagus!

The effect of eating asparagus on our urine has been of curiosity and study since the 1700’s. Most recently a study published in 2010 found that while almost everyone who eats asparagus produces the aromatic asparagus-urine only 22% of the population has the autosomal genes required to smell them. This trait is unique to asparagus as these compounds originate in asparagusic. The aromatic producing elements of asparagus are more concentrated in young asparagus are more present in young asparagus, with the observation that the smell is more pronounced after eating young asparagus.

Another food study in the 1700’s saw the cross breeding of Fragaria virginiana and Fragaria chiloensis which lead to the creation of the cultivar more commonly known as the common garden strawberry.

These naturally sweet aromatic orbs are related to the rose family and have been used for centuries in the kitchen but also in cosmetic applications and of course the perfume industry. The strawberry is the first fruit to ripen and be harvested in the Kawartha’s. Their flavor can be influenced by weather and this year’s hot dry spring should produce exceptionally sweeter fruits than usual.

Asparagus and strawberries have a number of similar traits. They are both related to flowers; make great companion plants, they require human hands to harvest them, and are only available locally in season for a short period of time. Pick up both of these ingredients at farmers markets and grocery stores throughout our region while still in season and try them together in this week’s recipe that will welcome the delicious aromas of summer into our homes. The many textures and flavors of this salad are best served with barbecued chicken to making it a satisfying meal.

Asparagus and Strawberry Salad

Ingredients:

2 cups asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

2 tbsp. lemon juice

4 cups arugula

1 tbsp.  Honey

3 tbsp.  Balsamic vinegar

 

Method:

In a medium sized bowl combine the asparagus and half of the olive oil together and toss it until the asparagus is evenly coated with the oil. Cook the asparagus for 2-3 minutes in either a preheated oven or barbeque at around 400 °f. Once cooked remove asparagus from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.

Place about a cup of arugula onto four dinner plates. Top the arugula with the strawberries and asparagus.  Lightly drizzle each salad with the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

 

20160603_191542-1

Grilled asparagus dusted with The Spice Co.’s Italian Scallion and crumbled feta cheese!

order online at www.chefbrianhenry.com

order online at www.chefbrianhenry.com

Asparagus Flowers

Freshly harvested asparagus is truly a thing of beauty with contrasting hues of purple and blue that look like frosting on the tips of the plants rich green stems is spectacular.  I prefer the new crops of asparagus that provide stalks that are about the size of your baby finger which in my opinion is the best size to work with as they are quite firm but not too woody like the larger stalks tend to be. Asparagus is a perennial member of the lily family is relatively expensive compared to other vegetables as it can only be harvested by hand. Early harvested asparagus is sweet and juicy and can contain up to 4% sugar. This natural sugar content is most noticeable within the first 24 hours after the stems have been harvested. After that asparagus like other vegetables will begin to consume this sugar for its continued growth and survival. If stored for too long or exposed to light and warm temperatures the asparagus will start to loose its moisture and sweetness. Prolonged storage will see the entire stem grow more fibrous as the plant will consume itself for survival. Some of the effects of storing asparagus can be minimized by simply treating the asparagus like fresh cut flowers. By simply cutting an inch off of  the bottom of  your asparagus and standing them in sugar water your asparagus will hold well in the refrigerator for a few days if need be.

The formation of lignin or the woody fibrous texture found in the lower portion of asparagus has been dealt with in the same manner for centuries by cooks who simply bend the asparagus stalk end to end. This stress causes the asparagus to snap on the border between the tough and tender parts of the stalk.

Asparagus  contains asparagusic acid which is a substance high in sulphur and is classified as a relative of methanethiol. Methanethiol is one of the active ingredients in skunk spray. Within half an hour of eating asparagus our digestive system turns the sulphur into methanethiol. This derivative of asparagusic acid ends up in our urine releasing an aromatic odor. Almost all individuals produce this odorous compound after eating asparagus, but oddly enough only about 40% of us have the autosomal genes required to smell it.

As with most things in life I like to keep my food simple and allow for the natural flavours to come forward and speak for themselves. This is why I chose to simply sauté my asparagus for this week’s recipe.

 

Sautéed Asparagus

Ingredients:

1 pound of asparagus cleaned

One quarter pound shiitake mushrooms

2-3 tbsp. butter at room temperature

Juice of one lemon or a splash white wine

Salt and pepper

Method:

Over medium-high heat, pre-heat a sauté pan. Add the butter and swirl it around the pan. Add the asparagus and shiitakes. Keep your sauté pan moving constantly. Sauté means to jump so keep things hopping. After two to three minutes has passed remove the pan from the heat. Add the lemon juice and let it simmer for about a minute. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Gastronomically yours,

April 23rd, 2014

When spring is in the air

I love the aromas produced by foods being prepared in a kitchen. One of these favorite culinary induced aromas I can only smell in the bathroom. It is the smell of metabolized compounds found in asparagus. These sulphur based compounds give our urine a distinct perfume within 20 minutes of ingesting this member of the daffodil family.

gardenofeaden.blogspot.com

gardenofeaden.blogspot.com

The effect of eating asparagus on our urine has been of curiosity and study since the 1700’s. Most recently a study published in 2010 found that while almost everyone who eats asparagus produces the aromatic asparagus-urine only 40% of the population has the autosomal genes required to smell them. This trait is unique to asparagus as these compounds originate in asparagusic. The aromatic producing elements of asparagus are more concentrated in young asparagus are more present in young asparagus, with the observation that the smell is more pronounced after eating young asparagus.

Another food study in the 1700’s saw the cross breeding of Fragaria virginiana and Fragaria chiloensis which lead to the creation of the cultivar more commonly known as the common garden strawberry.

These naturally sweet aromatic orbs are related to the rose family and have been used for centuries in the kitchen but also in cosmetic applications and of course the perfume industry. The strawberry is the first fruit to ripen and be harvested in the Kawartha’s. Their flavor can be influenced by weather and this year’s hot dry spring should produce exceptionally sweeter fruits than usual.

Asparagus and strawberries have a number of similar traits. They are both related to flowers; make great companion plants, they require human hands to harvest them, and are only available locally in season for a short period of time. Pick up both of these ingredients at farmers markets and grocery stores throughout our region while still in season and try them together in this week’s recipe that will welcome the delicious aromas of summer into our homes. The many textures and flavors of this salad are best served with barbecued chicken to making it a satisfying meal.

Asparagus and Strawberry Salad

Ingredients:

2 cups asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

2 tbsp. lemon juice

4 cups arugula

1 tbsp.  Honey

3 tbsp.  Balsamic vinegar

 

Method:

In a medium sized bowl combine the asparagus and half of the olive oil together and toss it until the asparagus is evenly coated with the oil. Cook the asparagus for 2-3 minutes in either a preheated oven or barbeque at around 400 °f. Once cooked remove asparagus from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.

Place about a cup of arugula onto four dinner plates. Top the arugula with the strawberries and asparagus.  Lightly drizzle each salad with the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

 

andreaskeller.squarespace.com

andreaskeller.squarespace.com

April showers bring May flowers including tasty edible ones; my favourite being Asparagus. The Ontario asparagus harvest has begun, with the first crops appearing in Niagara and Prince Edward Counties.

This member of the lily family is a perennial that grows from its rhizomes hidden within the soil.  When Ontario asparagus arrives in the marketplace one can see it as the materialization of spring and that our local fields are warming up.

The natural artistic beauty of freshly harvested asparagus with its purplish blue tips contrasted by the rich green stems is a portrait of still life in itself and in need of a suitable canvas of fine bone china. You may sense some rapture and delight in these words but nothing compares to fresh asparagus which has an ephemeral existence with a shortened growing season here.

asp tip

First it must be harvested by hand, travel to market and be consumed within 24 hours. After that asparagus with up to 4% sugar content like other vegetables will begin to consume this sugar for its continued growth and survival. If stored for too long or exposed to light and warm temperatures the asparagus will start to loose its moisture and sweetness. Prolonged storage will see the entire stem grow more fibrous as the plant consume more of it’s self for survival. Some of the effects of storing asparagus can be minimized by simply treating the asparagus like fresh cut flowers. By simply cutting an inch off of  the bottom of  your asparagus and standing them in sugar water your asparagus will hold well in the refrigerator for a few days if need be.

The formation of lignin or the woody fibrous texture found in the lower portion of the stalk asparagus has been dealt with in the same manner for centuries by cooks who simply bend the asparagus stalk end to end. This stress causes the asparagus to snap on the border between the tough and tender parts of the stalk.

Asparagus contains asparagusic acid which is a substance high in sulphur and is classified as a relative of methanethiol; an active ingredient in skunk spray. Within half an hour of eating asparagus our digestive system turns the sulphur into methanethiol. This derivative of asparagusic acid ends up in our urine releasing an aromatic odor. Almost all individuals produce this odorous compound after eating asparagus, but oddly enough only about 40% of us have the autosomal genes required to smell it.

Asparagus is delicious eaten raw but its flavours can be accented by preparing it in a number of ways. A personal favourite is to wrap small bundles of asparagus with bacon and bake it in the oven. Other alternatives include pickling asparagus, brushed with olive oil and cooked on the bbq or blanching them and quickly cooling them under running water for a salad served with toasted almonds.

www.chow.com

www.chow.com

 

Sautéed Asparagus 

1 pound of asparagus cleaned

One quarter pound shiitake mushrooms (optional)

2-3 tbsp. butter at room temperature

Juice of one lemon or one-eighth cup white wine

Salt and pepper

Over medium-high heat, pre-heat a sauté pan. Add the butter and swirl it around the pan. Add the asparagus and shiitakes. Please keep your sauté pans moving constantly as sauté means to jump. After two to three minutes has passed remove the pan from the heat. Add the lemon juice and let it simmer for about a minute. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Serves 2-4 people.

Personally I prefer to serve my asparagus raw or chilled as this helps to avoid cooking it into a soggy camouflage coloured mass.

To serve asparagus as a hearty yet refreshing salad I like to use the following recipe.

]The combination of astringent and sour flavours of the asparagus and Goats cheese is balanced out by the natural sweetness of berries.

Raspberries or strawberries work best.

 

Chilled Asparagus Salad

Ingredients:

1 bunch of asparagus cleaned

3 strawberries

½ cup Goats cheese

¼ cup toasted Pine Nuts

1 tbsp. lemon or orange zest

Kosher salt and cracked pepper

Method:

Blanch the asparagus in salted boiling water. Quickly cool it under cold water or in an ice bath. On salad plates arrange asparagus into equal sized log piles. Place sliced strawberries on the asparagus, top this with crumbled goats cheese, pine nuts and lemon zest. Sprinkle salad with Kosher salt and pepper. Serves 4

Gastronomically yours,

June 27th, 2013

Roasted Asparagus with Rhubarb Vinaigrette

 

Earlier this spring Nourishing Ontario prepared a report for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.  Their report emphasized the central role that farmers’ markets, co-ops, and other local food systems play on our economic and collective prosperity.

With a report like that how can you not want to get out and tour the best our area artisans and food producers have to offer? I find that getting out and touring all of the reawakened Farmers Markets throughout the region has me feel like I’m coming out of hibernation along with many other people who I haven’t seen since autumn.

As May comes to a close it is without a doubt that Asparagus and rhubarb are available in great abundance. Right now early harvested asparagus is at its peak of sweetness. Its sugar content can exceed that of maple sap which is approximately 4% sugar. Asparagus is best when prepared the day it was harvested as its sweetness quickly deteriorates after it is picked as the plant begins to consume itself to survive and it can readily use its own sugar.

Rhubarb on the other hand was known as the vegetable of barbarians by the Ancient Greeks and understandably so with its blood red, celery like stalks and its strong astringent flavour peppered with the toxic oxalic acid which can make you feel like your mouth has been pulled inside out when eaten raw.

The contrasting flavours of these two vegetable makes them a natural pair for the following recipe of roasted asparagus with rhubarb vinaigrette which can be served hot or cold and pairs well with barbecued beef or chicken.

 

 

 

Roasted Asparagus with Rhubarb Vinaigrette

 

Ingredients:

2 bunches fresh asparagus, about 2 pounds

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 green onion or garlic scape, minced

½ cup diced rhubarb

1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar

Brown sugar to taste

Salt and pepper

 

Method:

Heat half of the olive oil in a medium sized, stainless steel saucepan over medium heat. Add the green onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Gently stir in the rhubarb and cook it in the oil for an additional 2 minutes. Reduce the heat and cautiously stir in the vinegar as it may splatter a bit in the oil. Let the rhubarb mixture simmer until the rhubarb is begins to breakdown but does not become mushy this will take about 10 minutes.     Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat and simmer until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Adjust the sweetness of the rhubarb mixture as desired with brown sugar if needed. Reserve sauce.

 

Clean and trim the asparagus. Place the asparagus in a medium sized bowl and drizzle with the remaining half of the olive oil. Gently toss the asparagus to get it evenly coated with the oil. Sprinkle the asparagus with a generous pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper and toss the asparagus a couple of more times. Transfer the oiled and seasoned asparagus to a parchment lined baking sheet, be sure not arrange the asparagus in a single layer.  Roast the asparagus in a preheated oven at 400f until they turn an intensely deep green colour, which will take about 10-15 minutes. Be sure to give the pan of asparagus a gentle shake every so often while they are cooking so that they do not become overcooked on one side. Once the asparagus reaches desired doneness, remove it from the oven. If serving this dish hot, plate the asparagus immediately, drizzle it with the rhubarb sauce and serve. If you choose to serve this chilled, allow the asparagus and rhubarb sauce to cool down. Plate and serve when desired.

Gastronomically yours,

April 26th, 2013


The smell of Spring

 

I love the aromas produced by foods being prepared in a kitchen. One of these favorite culinary induced aromas I can only smell in the bathroom. It is the smell of metabolized compounds found in asparagus. These sulphur based compounds give our urine a distinct perfume within 20 minutes of ingesting this member of the daffodil family.

The effect of eating asparagus on our urine has been of curiosity and study since the 1700’s. Most recently a study published in 2010 found that while almost everyone who eats asparagus produces the aromatic asparagus-urine only 22% of the population has the autosomal genes required to smell them. This trait is unique to asparagus as these compounds originate in asparagusic. The aromatic producing elements of asparagus are more concentrated in young asparagus are more present in young asparagus, with the observation that the smell is more pronounced after eating young asparagus.

Another food study in the 1700’s saw the cross breeding of Fragaria virginiana and Fragaria chiloensis which lead to the creation of the cultivar more commonly known as the common garden strawberry.

These naturally sweet aromatic orbs are related to the rose family and have been used for centuries in the kitchen but also in cosmetic applications and of course the perfume industry. The strawberry is the first fruit to ripen and be harvested in the Kawartha’s. Their flavor can be influenced by weather and this year’s hot dry spring should produce exceptionally sweeter fruits than usual.

Asparagus and strawberries have a number of similar traits. They are both related to flowers; make great companion plants, they require human hands to harvest them, and are only available locally in season for a short period of time. Pick up both of these ingredients at farmers markets and grocery stores throughout our region while still in season and try them together in this week’s recipe that will welcome the delicious aromas of summer into our homes. The many textures and flavors of this salad are best served with barbecued chicken to making it a satisfying meal.

Asparagus and Strawberry Salad

Ingredients:

2 cups asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

2 tbsp. lemon juice

4 cups arugula

1 tbsp.  Honey

3 tbsp.  Balsamic vinegar

 

Method:

In a medium sized bowl combine the asparagus and half of the olive oil together and toss it until the asparagus is evenly coated with the oil. Cook the asparagus for 2-3 minutes in either a preheated oven or barbeque at around 400 °f. Once cooked remove asparagus from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.

Place about a cup of arugula onto four dinner plates. Top the arugula with the strawberries and asparagus.  Lightly drizzle each salad with the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

 

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