Spring is here! …And with it, all the pollen. It might be the new neighborhood that we moved to, but the allergies are out of control. Tissue boxes are everywhere and I had my first dose of non-drowsy allergy medicine that made me foggy headed all day. So I’m soldiering on, no pills, just eye drops and nasal spray to keep the itching away.
As much as I am suffering, springtime also brings fresher produce and we can finally move on from the comforting and hearty roasts and stews that kept our bodies and bellies warm over this winter. Asparagus is a welcome change and it stays crisp and fresh if you blanch it! (Blanch = quick cook in boiling water). It’s also super cheap this time of the year, and as I am a sucker for deals, I tend to over buy good looking, affordable produce. So what to do with all the asparagus? Make asparagus toast!
We happened to have some roasted garlic hummus in the fridge from our attempt to have healthier snacks, (dieting is going terribly btw) and it made the perfect canvas for the asparagus and the soft boiled egg. Then it’s topped with Hollandaise sauce which is made in the microwave (I know, I didn’t know it could be done either), and is the perfect velvety, rich and tangy touch to the healthy toast. Spring is served.
Asparagus Smashed Egg Toast Makes 2 toasts
Ingredients: 2 slices of bread, toasted (I used Ezekiel Bread) garlic hummus (whichever brand or hummus you like) 8-10 stalks of asparagus, pending on thickness extra virgin olive oil 2 large eggs quick microwave hollandaise sauce (recipe below) parsley, for garnish salt and pepper, to taste
Fill a medium bowl with ice water and set it aside.
Trim your asparagus about 1-2 inches from the bottom, removing the tough ends.
Boil a pot of water and bring it to a simmer, add your asparagus for about 1-2 minutes until crisp-tender.
Remove asparagus and place into the ice water until cool.
Rub extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt on the asparagus and set aside.
Bring the same pot of water to boil and once it does, lower the heat to a bare simmer and submerge your eggs carefully into the water with a spoon.
Cook the eggs for 7 minutes and move into an ice bath.
Once cool enough to handle, crack and peel eggs.
On your toasted bread, spread garlic hummus. Remember to spread it to the edges.
Neatly arrange your cooked asparagus in a diagonal, giving it a push to secure it to the hummus.
Place an egg on each toast, and smash it with a fork.
Drizzle on the hollandaise sauce.
Sprinkle on salt and pepper, if desired and garnish with parsley
Quick Microwave Hollandaise
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted 2 egg yolks (from a large egg) 1-2 tbsp lemon juice 1 tbsp. milk Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk egg yolks, lemon juice (start with 1 tablespoon and add more later if needed), milk and a pinch of salt and pepper together in a microwave safe bowl.
Drizzle in the melted butter while whisking the egg yolk mixture until smooth.
Microwave the sauce in 15 second intervals for one minute, whisking in between every interval until the sauce is hot and thick.
I’m feeling the post-holiday blues. I can’t motivate myself to go to the gym. I don’t want to leave the house and face the cold. Now that I finally put the Christmas tree away, there is a sizeable vacant spot in my apartment. The cats loved to spend time on the tree skirt and when it was gone, they sat on the bare floor with a confused look wondering why their butts were so cold. In my heart, I know that this is just one step towards warmer weather and one month closer to Disney World/Universal. (I’m going in May! I’ve never been! I’m excited to wear the Minnie headband, eat a dole whip, take a photo in front of the castle, have all the butterbeer, and visit Hogwarts.) But that seems forever away. Bah humbug. There is something about the bright hues of citruses that lifts the spirits. Are there any types of fruit that are more refreshing? I think it’s ironic that they are at their peak season when the weather is so cold. I crave citrus fruits the most in the summer when the weather is hot and humid. The sharp acidity and mellow sweetness is the perfect answer to beat the weather. But I can’t argue that they’re the juiciest during the winter and I wanted to make the most of it when I saw the recipe for a grapefruit mousse in a magazine. The truth is whipped cream and any type of fruit will guarantee you a win and this recipe doesn’t disappoint. The lightly sweetened whipped cream goes well with the tart juiciness of the grapefruit. I love the contrast of the dark pink against the white. As for the meringues, I took a cue from use real butter, and boiled down the grapefruit juice until it became syrupy. Then I brushed the syrup onto the baked meringues and let them sit in warm oven until completely dry. This way you get sparks of citrusy tartness with each bite of the sweet meringue. It’s delightful. Looking back on the pictures makes my heart a little lighter. After all, how can we enjoy the warmth without having braved the cold? (Meh. In hindsight, I still think I could go without the cold, but I definitely appreciate it more after winter.)
Grapefruit Pavlova with Grapefruit Mousse
Makes about 6-8 mini pavlovas
For the Grapefruit Pavlova:
300 g. superfine sugar
150 g. egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch cream of tartar
3 large grapefruit
1 tbsp. sugar
mint, for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 400˚F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread sugar in an even layer over parchment.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and the cream of tartar.
Place sugar into the oven and bake until the edges of the sugar begins to melt but not brown, about 5 minutes.
Once the sugar begins to melt, turn the mixer onto high.
Remove baking sheet from the oven and the eggs whites should be foamy.
Turn the mixer to medium high and slowly pour the hot sugar from the parchment paper into egg whites.
Once all the sugar is added, turn the mixer onto high and mix until stiff, shiny peaks form.
Reduce oven to lowest setting 140˚F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With a pencil, draw 4 inch circles on the parchment paper, leaving a 1 inch border on each side. Flip the parchment paper over. The circles will be your guide lines for the meringues.
Fit a medium open star piping tip into a piping bag and pipe little meringue cups starting from the center onto the edge of the circle. Once you get to the edge of the drawn circle, pipe one more layer of meringue on the outer edge, forming a bowl shape.
Once you piped all the meringues, take a spoon and make an indentation in the center of each circle, deepening the bow.
Bake the baking sheet with the 4-inch circles for 1- 1.5 hours until they are crisp and sound hollow when tapped.
While the meringue is baking, peel and section the grapefruit.
Reserve the sectioned grapefruit for the grapefruit mousse.
Squeeze the juice of the remaining grapefruit husk to get approximately 1 cup of grapefruit juice.
In a small pot on medium heat, simmer the grapefruit juice until about ¼ cup of the grapefruit juice remains. Set aside.
Remove the baked meringues from the oven and using a basting brush, brush specks of grapefruit concentrate all over the meringues making sure not to over saturate the meringues (as in, do not paint it too generously or you it will lose its crispness).
Place the meringues back into the oven.
Turn off the oven and let it dry out for about an hour until the grapefruit concentrate is dried onto the meringue.
If you are not yet ready to decorate the meringues, places the meringues into a zip lock bag until ready for use.
If you are ready to fill the meringues, use a medium or large disher to scoop out round mounds of the grapefruit mousse into the meringue cups.
Garnish with the smallest mint leaves if desired.
Sectioned grapefruit reserved from the grapefruit pavlova (above)
3 tbsp. turbinado sugar
1 c. cold heavy cream
1 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Line the sectioned grapefruit on the parchment paper in rows.
Take a paper towel and dab the grapefruit to get rid of excess juices.
Sprinkle turbinado sugar on the grapefruit.
Take a kitchen torch and caramelize the sugar on each grapefruit section. (Alternatively, you can broil the grapefruit for 5 minutes in the oven.)
Whip the heavy cream and sugar together until you reach firm peaks.