Monday, March 14, 2011

Al fresco

 
We are spending a lot of time outside these days. It's gorgeous, and before we know it, it'll be too hot. Also, the house is a wreck and the backyard's a nice escape. Ha.



We had dinner out on the porch the other night, and the setting turned a commonplace weekend dinner into something special. (It wasn't our first dinner outside this spring - that was a few weeks earlier when I smoked us out cooking steaks on the stove.)



Chris grilled steaks, we had baked potatoes, a Brie en croute we picked up at Fresh Market (it's totally easy to make with this rough puff pastry recipe, but I was feeling lazy) and our new favorite asparagus recipe. Asparagus just tastes like spring, don't you think? I'm so ready for all the great veg and fruit that's coming into season - winter roots and squashes be gone!

Asparagus with Parmesan
from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
1 1/2 to 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and peeled
2 to 4 tablespoons butter, plus some for greasing the pan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
About 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Simmer, steam or microwave the asparagus; undercook it a little bit. Drain and plunge it into ice water, then drain and dry. (You may prepare the recipe in advance up to this point; refrigerate, well wrapped or in a covered container, for up to 2 days before proceeding.) Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Butter a casserole or baking pan, then place the asparagus in it. Dot with as much or as little butter as you like and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Scatter about two-thirds of the cheese over the asparagus and bake until the cheese is just beginning to turn light brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and serve.
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