Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dear Asparagus, I Heart You

My significant other and I have been staying at his parents while some stuff is being done at our apartment. His dad does a lot of (excellent) cooking, so I haven't been doing much myself, besides a few odds and ends. I am guilty though of being a midnight snacker, and sometimes the things I want aren't really snack like. Asparagus would be one of those things.

I want to eat asparagus all the time these days. It was only recently that I decided I didn't hate this weird green vegetable. Now, I feel like I need to make up for lost time and consume all the asparagus I was missing out on the last 24 years or so. However, there are only two cooking methods I consider acceptable for cooking asparagus:

1. Grilling
2. Roasting/Broiling

The first is my preferred method. Grilled asparagus just has a taste and texture so good, it makes you want to punch other vegetables in their hyperbolic faces. It gets tender, and yet stays crisp at the same time. The heads get all toasty and delicious and crunchy...and now I want some asparagus! Damnit. However, I'd like to note that any cooking method that stands to turn the asparagus all soft and mushy is unacceptable. So boiling is out. So is using canned asparagus. Steaming or pan frying might be okay, if done right. Still, nothing beats the taste of the grill.

This is how I prepare my asparagus prior to grilling:

Wash the asparagus, and chop off any extra bits at the bottom of the stalks. If it's not green, you probably don't want it. After the asparagus is nice and clean, toss it with some olive oil and kosher sea salt, a sprinkle of garlic powder, and some fresh grated Parmesan cheese. Let it sit and absorb all the goodness for about 15-20 minutes before throwing it on the grill or in the oven. Cooking times will vary based on the heat of your grill or oven and the size of the asparagus, but rule of thumb I'd say no more than 10 minutes at high heat. Allow the asparagus to cool (or don't, if you're impatient like me), sprinkle a little more of that fresh Parm on it, and then have a mouthgasm.

For all you asparagus haters...just trust me on this one. I HATED asparagus, until I tried it grilled. Give it a shot. It's so worth the funny smelling pee!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Cupcakes. Duh.

It's been over a month since I made a post here. I got wrapped up in the office politics of a pretty shitty job that I'm somewhat relieved not to be working anymore. At any rate, it was sucking my soul, and as we all know, soul is essential to cooking, so most nights when I got home from work were either spent lamenting over my Burger King, or boiling some yellow rice and calling it a day.

But I'm back with a vengeance you could say, and today I bring you lemon cupcakes with fresh raspberry and a lemon-raspberry glaze.

(Look at us! We're so fresh and tasty! Don't be jealous!)

It is a fact of life that lemon + raspberry=win. When cake is involved, that equation actually equals awesomesauce.

Keep in mind, this is the lazy cook's version. If you went ahead and did everything from scratch...well, that would take a long time. Sometimes, I have a need for almost instant gratification with my baked goods. Last night, watching Food Network at 3am was one of those times.

Here's what you need:
-1 box lemon cake mix, plus whatever ingredients the mix calls for (in my case, it was 3 eggs, 1/3 cup oil, and 1 and 1/3 cups water)
-1 container lemon frosting
-1 carton of fresh raspberries
-1 jar raspberry jam or jelly
-1 6oz cup raspberry yogurt

Grease two cupcake pans and preheat your oven to 350*. Adjust temp as needed for higher altitudes.

Next, make your cake! I followed the directions on the box, but instead of using 1 and 1/3 cups water, I used a cup of raspberry yogurt and 1/3 cups water. Fill each little cup in the cake pan halfway with the mix. At this point, you'll eat about half the carton of raspberries. Then, you'll put a raspberry in the middle of each little cup of cake mix. During the baking process, the cake will rise and the raspberry will be trapped in the middle, like a hidden treasure of raspberry goodness. Pop those bad boys in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

While the precious is in the oven, stick your tub of frosting in a bowl of hot water for 3 minutes. Pour the semi-liquid frosting into a bowl. Mix 1/2-2/3 cup of the raspberry jam into the frosting. It's going to be runny, so more like glaze than frosting. Once your cakes are out of the oven, and while still warm, generously spread the glaze on top. Allow to cool (or don't), consume and enjoy!