Aunt Suzy Says

We are so lucky in the Twin Cities to have a thriving farmers’ market scene featuring wonderful local produce and other foodstuffs.  While some farmers offer a vast array of veggies and fruits, others specialize and focus on doing a few items really well.   One such grower who sells at the main Minneapolis Farmers’ Market is Russ and Trese Willenbring and their family of Cold Spring, Minnesota.   They produce the most delicious asparagus I have ever had!   (Look for their raspberries around Father’s Day.)

My sister-in-law, Cindy, and I had a conversation recently about which is better – thick or thin asparagus.  There are lots of different opinions out there about this, so I decided to ask the expert.  Instead of answering my question directly, Russ offered me a piece of raw thin asaparagus.  He then asked me to remember that taste and offered me a piece of thick.  What I experienced is that the thin had a sharp and strong taste, while the thick was juicier and sweet with a milder taste.   I think thick wins! 

As my guy, Randy Tatum, says . . . with asparagus this good, it doesn’t need to be “tarted up”.  He makes great oven roasted asparagus – scroll down to see his recipe.  We’ve steamed, grilled and oven roasted asparagus and we keep coming back to the oven roasted as our favorite.  Don’t forget our recent post on Asparagus and Chorizo Tortilla, and this recipe for Shaved Asparagus Pizza looks really good although I haven’t made it.  


Preheat oven to 425F. Line the bottom of a cookie sheet or bottom of a broiler pan with foil.  Lightly coat the foil with olive oil.  Place the asparagus on the foil and roll it around to coat with the oil.  A tip from Randy is that too much olive oil will make the asparagus steam rather than roast.  If you have different thicknesses of asparagus, place just the thick ones on the foil to start.  Roast these for about 4 minutes and then place the thin ones on the pan and roast for another 6-8 minutes until done.  They are done when a fork can pierce the stalk, but they still retain their green color.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste.  You can fancify this with some lemon zest, parsley or minced shallots, but the idea is to let the deliciousness of the asparagus shine through.  You can serve hot or at room temperature.

We used the asparagus on a platter salad, which included leftover chickpea salad combined with red quinoa along with grilled chicken served on a bed of butter lettuce and arugula.

Eggs for Dinner

May 16, 2010

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Margaux and I have been emailing back and forth lately about how we have noticed a focus on eggs for dinner in the food blogs we follow and the magazines we get. It’s been quite amazing how many things we’ve seen in the past couple of weeks, including a page on my Page-A-Day wine calendar about what wines pair well with dinner-style egg dishes! We both agree that we love eggs for dinner, so we took advantage of my visit to Chicago to make this delicious Spanish Tortilla. We also were trying to think of things we could make with Preserved Lemon when I remembered this great Moroccan tomato salad. It tasted really good with the tortilla!

Margaux says . . . Ironically, I’d been making eggs for lunch and dinner for a few weeks before we even started talking about it. Its really easy, and I know Desi will eat it.  So when we started going back and forth about it, I thought, “wow, everyone has eggs on the brain!”  It must be a seasonal favorite. 

Aunt Suzy says . . .

A note about the Chorizo: this recipe uses Spanish-style Chorizo which is smoked vs. Mexican-style Chorizo which is fresh. Since authentic Spanish Chorizo costs a pretty penny, I have always used the chicken Chorizo sold in places like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. This time we used TJ’s chicken Andouille, which is a good substitute.

Asparagus and Chorizo “Tortilla” (like a frittata)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

6 ounces thin asparagus, tough ends discarded, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 ounces Spanish chorizo, cut into ¼-inch dice

8 eggs

1 cup grated Manchego cheese

¼ cup chopped parsley, divided (optional)

Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a 10-inch skillet with sloping sides over medium high heat. (The best for this is either a non-stick or a cast iron like Le Creuset). When oil is hot, add asparagus and chorizo and cook, stirring, until asparagus pieces are just tender and chorizo is slightly browned, about 4-5 minutes. Remove asparagus and chorizo from the skillet and set aside. Remove skillet from heat, wipe with a paper towel and set aside.

Whisk eggs, ½ teaspoon salt, black pepper to taste and the cayenne pepper to blend. Stir in cheese and 2 tablespoons of parsley.

Place remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the skillet and set on medium high heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, pour half the egg mixture into the pan. Cook about a minute, tilting the pan and loosening the edges with a spatula. Sprinkle the asparagus and chorizo over the eggs and then pour in the remaining egg mixture. Reduce heat to medium and cook the eggs, continuously loosening the edges with a spatula and tilting the pan to let the uncooked egg mixture run under the cooked part. Cook until the underside is golden and set but the egg mixture on top is slightly liquid, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the skillet to the center rack of the oven. Bake until top is set, about 4-5 minutes. Watch carefully so it doesn’t overcook. If the eggs on top are not done at this point, you can turn the broiler on and broil the top for 2-3 minutes.

Remove skillet from the oven and let rest for a minute. Using a spatula, carefully loosen the tortilla from the pan and slide it onto a serving plate. (The tortilla will be half to ¾-inch thick.) Garnish with remaining parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature cut into wedges.

Moroccan Tomato Salad with Preserved Lemon


4-6 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or seeded and diced fresh tomatoes

½ medium red onion, diced

½ cup cilantro, stems removed and chopped

½ cup parsley, stems removed and chopped

½ preserved lemon, diced (pulp removed and discarded)


3 Tablespoons fruity olive oil

2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice

½ teaspoon ground cumin

Juice of one clove garlic (use garlic press to squeeze the juice and discard the pulp)

1 teaspoon paprika

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Mix all dressing ingredients thoroughly and pour over salad. Let marinate for 30 minutes. Serve as is or over a bed of lettuce on a platter.