For those of you who regularly read Sparrows & Spatulas you might recall that four of us recently started a 'Dinner Club.' The ball was in my court for the first meal and I prepared:
Starter soup: Heidi Swanson's Cauliflower Soup with Mustard Croutons
Side dish: Heidi Swanson's Wild Rice Casserole
Main dish:Spanakopita with Tzatziki Sauce
Dessert: Our guests brought an Almond Cake fromSweet Melissa in Cobble Hill. Yum. The second installation of the 'Dinner Club' was last weekend and my best friend and his husband (my friend too) were in charge of the menu. They really out did themselves and the meal was delicious! We settled on a Saturday dinner-- early bird, 5:30 p.m. That's pretty much how I roll these days unless I am entertaining at my place. Otis really has to be in his crib by 9. And, not wanting to rush dinner conversation and eating, we all decided it was better to get an early start. While my son was distracted by chasing an adorable elderly cat named Claudia (she's fine being publicly identified), we sat down to a lovely decorated table with great chairs (I'm having home decor envy in case you can't tell). We dined on linguine pasta, blanched asparagus and a fried egg. Brian served the dish with a side of absolutely amazing hollandaise sauce. Few things go better with asparagus than hollandaise! And you really can't go wrong when you pair pasta with a runny egg. Brian also prepared a citrus-herbed garbanzo bean side dish which had really great flavor. For dessert I brought the Lemon Yogurt Cake with Lemon Glaze (blogged about here). Wondering what we did to quench our thirst? Homemade (and I believe an original recipe) of Fresh Berry Limeade. It was a great way to spend the evening.
Here are a few notes and adaptations on this recipe: 1. The market I went to didn't have thin or "pencil" asparagus so I bought regular (thick) asparagus. A few days later I saw the kind I was looking for...I should have waited. I think that the high quality, uber thin, seasonal asparagus is the way to go with this recipe. 2. You can use dry pasta but I think fresh pasta is a better choice. It cooks quickly and tastes better. 3. Salt and pepper are important seasonings in this dish. Actually, they are the only seasonings, so be generous with your pinches. 4. Brian fried an egg, sunny-side up, in butter instead of poaching it. I think both work. Be sure to keep the yolk runny. 5. A side of hollandaise sauce really compliments the dish. The original recipe didn't have it. I would definitely add it. I typed up a simple recipe for hollandaise from "The Joy of Cooking." I'm looking forward to our third meal together. I've been flipping through back copies of Saveur Magazine in search of the perfect recipes. Feel free to submit suggestions in the comments section :) Until then, Bon Appetit!
Martha's Linguine with Asparagus and Egg(Courtesy of Martha Stewart, Brian's adaptations are listed above.)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3/4 pound linguine or fettuccine (I like fresh pasta for this recipe and I would go with linguine. Fettuccine is too thick.)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1/2 ounce), plus more for serving (optional)
4 large eggs
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions, adding the asparagus in the last minute of cooking. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid; drain pasta and asparagus and return to pot along with butter and Parmesan. Toss until butter is melted, adding enough pasta water to create a thin sauce that coats pasta.
While pasta is cooking, in a large straight-sided skillet, heat 2 inches water over medium until a few bubbles rise to the top. Crack each egg into a small bowl and gently pour into skillet. Cook until whites are set and yolks are runny, 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to a parchment-lined baking sheet. (See adaptation above.)
To serve, divide pasta among four bowls, top each serving with an egg, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan if desired.
Yields 1 cup Place in the top of a double boiler or in a large stainless-steel bowl set up as a double boiler: 3 large egg yolks 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water Off the heat, whisk the egg mixture until it becomes light and frothy. Place the top of the double boiler or the bowl over- not in- barely simmering water and continue to whisk until the eggs are thickened, 2-4 minutes, being careful not to let the eggs get too hot (or they will scramble). Remove the pan or bowl from over the water and whisk to slightly cool mixture. Whisking constantly, very slowly add 1/2 cup warm (not hot) clarified butter, 1069
Whisk in: 1 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice Salt and ground white pepper to taste If the sauce is too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water. Serve immediately or keep the sauce warm for up to 30 minutes by placing bowl in warm water.