Archives for March 2011

Asparagus in Bed

Should you be so lucky to have the pleasure of actually eating asparagus in bed I might have to ask where you live – I’ll be stopping by for a few days of delicious rest.

I have to admit that I don’t eat in bed very often. I’m sure I could enjoy it,  but when the plate is empty I’d have to be the one cleaning the Parmesan crumbles from the sheets, which would put a damper on my few moments of pleasure.

Maybe I need to make some lifestyle changes. Because seriously, what could be more relaxed and sensual than nibbling tender spears of asparagus with your fingers, dipping into the creamy yolk of a softly poached egg and reclining comfortably; all at the same time?

The recipe is so named because of the way the tips of the asparagus spears peek out from beneath a “blanket” of egg and cheese. It appears in the cookbook Cucina Simpatica, inspired by Asparagi alla Bismark, a dish served at Bagutta, a very old restaurant in Milan.

The recipe in the cookbook calls for the asparagus to be quickly roasted at a high temperature – at the restaurant Al Forno where it’s made they cook in a super-hot wood burning oven – and topped with an egg fried in butter. When the soft yolk, butter and cheese commingle, they create their own sauce.

I made my version with blanched asparagus because it was morning, I was hungry, and I didn’t feel like waiting for the oven to get hot. I also poached my eggs rather than frying for the same lazy reason, but the thought of a buttery fired egg makes me go mmmmm inside. I might have to try that next time, just before I jump back into bed to eat.

roasted cumin-lime carrots


Carrots could easily be the bastard child of the vegetable world. I think that needs to change.

Carrots are such a tried-and-true, familiar sight in just about any kitchen; so dependable and ordinary that we don’t even notice them growing whiskers and getting limp in the refrigerator vegetable bin, probably right there next to a sad, yellowing bunch of celery.

And just forget about those elderly, foot-long, Grand Canyon-cracked carrots with their greens lopped off that you buy individually and invariably taste like a mildewed bath math; who knows how long they’ve been hanging around in storage?

The kind of carrots I’m talking about are bunches of sweet babies you can take home with their fresh green tops still attached.


I’ve been training myself to treat fresh carrots as well as any other vegetable; not as an afterthought. They taste so good to snack on when crunchy and raw, and they may be even better nutritionally when cooked.

Cooking breaks down the cellulose in vegetables so they are a bit more digestible, but the healthy beta-carotene in carrots needs fat in order to be absorbed.

Roasting baby carrots in olive oil, spices and a bright hit of lime juice is the perfect way to get all nutritious, and so delicious too.

Roasted Cumin-Lime Carrots

Serving Size: serves 2 -4


  • 1 pound baby carrots with fresh green tops
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice and fresh grated zest of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Small handful fresh mint leaves, chopped


  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Trim the tops off the carrots (you can use them in salads if you enjoy their flavor). Toss them on a baking sheet with the olive oil, lime juice and zest, agave, salt and spices.
  3. Roast about 20 minutes, depending on size, until the carrots are just tender and beginning ot color. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with the green onions and mint before tossing together and serving.

Simple Brioche Bread

Whenever I look through the recipes in the Fannie Farmer Baking Book I’m transported to a kitchen out of a vintage storybook, one that pictures an aproned grandma with flour on her hands and a gentle face, with the sound of a wooden screen door slapping and the sight of a spatula resting in a big, old batter bowl coated with something sweet and buttery to lick.

It could be the photo of author Marion Cunningham on the book jacket – a smiling, white-haired woman who seems to embody all that’s wholesome and homemade. Or maybe it’s just that the very name Fannie Farmer conjures nostalgia for a fantasy of well-ordered domesticity; a comfortable nest of a home where there’s always a glass of milk and some cookies waiting on the counter.

My own nest lacks the dear presence of a living, doting grandmother, but I’ve found I can remedy that situation very nicely by baking something.

However, I don’t have all day. You know how it is.

Happily, this brioche recipe from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book – it’s called Buttered Brioche Batter Bread in the book – satisfies the baking urge yet is simple to make. It’s actually a kind of yeasted quick bread, a bit different in texture and flavor than an authentic French brioche. It’s nice toasted, and Marion says it makes great tea sandwiches if you’re so inclined.

Now go forth and bake; fill your nest with the smell of something from the oven.