There are several cooking feats, generally supposed to be basic and simple, that I have never mastered, and making pancakes is one of them. This may be related to the fact that I also don’t like eating them. Iron blobs weighting down the stomach – that’s my idea of a pancake. Rebecca was a great Pancake Day aficionada, but I think that I usually missed it because I worked evenings and so only ate dinner with my dear little family a few times a week, probably not often on Tuesdays. But, being a good Catholic, and this being a Christian Feast, just as is Mardi Gras, I did want to celebrate Pancake Day. BBC Good Food website had an inspirational pancake post, with a recipe that looked yummy! When I say that I don’t like pancakes and have not had success at making them, I am talking about American pancakes. English pancakes and crepes are another matter. Yummy to eat, and foolproof to make. But in contrast to the iron blobs, they seem a little unsubstantial. So I thought I had better make a bunch of other things to fill the empty spaces. Perhaps a vegetabley salad sort of affair, as not only was it pancake day, but it is the beginning of asparagus season! Triple yummy!
When preparing food for guests, I always find making dishes that need to be fussed with at the last minute (like pancakes) pretty stressful. But The Darling Twins have witnessed so many of my last minute preparation fiascos, and afterwards, life has gone on as before, that I was willing to give it a go. Everything but the pancakes could be made well in advance, and the salad was a bunch of stress-free roasted vegetables. Beets? No problem! Broiling the peppers? A little dicey, as the broiler didn’t seem to be working, and then I forgot momentarily about them broiling away in the other oven. A smoke filled kitchen jogged my memory. No problem there, just close the kitchen door so the smoke alarm doesn’t go off, and charred is fine in the matter of peppers. And the asparagus? Piece of cake! Just bathe them in olive oil, and roast them till there are done. Ah! There’s the rub! When they were done, I was trying to take the pan out of the oven with insufficient hot pad assistance. I barely had a grip on it and when the hot olive oil spattered on my hand, I lost the little that I had. The sizzling glass pan leapt from my grasp and shot back into the oven, gliding across the burners like an Olympic luge, and nestling safely under the blistering baking stone was completely out of my reach. With the baking stone in place, I couldn’t even really see it. Heart pounding, hands shaking, I tried to assess the situation. I couldn’t tell if the glass was still intact, and couldn’t see the asparagus. Disaster! What to do? First, open the oven door, to let things cool off. Second, put Tobias out on the porch so that he could not emulate any of the characters in Hansel and Gretel. Then, third, have a cup of tea to restore the nerves! This done, and the oven cooled somewhat, I managed, fearing electrocution all the while, and with the help of tongs and long handled ladles, to scoot the pan to the front of the oven where I could get it out. Halleluiah! The glass pan was not broken, and all the asparagi were still in it. And they were delicious.
Asparagus – sufficient number of spears to lie side by side in a baking dish
Olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
Clove or two of garlic,
Salt and pepper,
Ponzu sauce, about a tablespoon
Capers, about two tablespoons
Heat the oven to 450°. Snap the tough, thick bottoms off the asparagus spears. Crush the garlic and moosh into the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to the oil, and whisk in the ponzu sauce. Place the asparagus spears in the baking dish, and pour the olive oil mixture over them. Swish things around so that every spear is shiny and well oiled. Arrange the spears so that they are not overlapping. Bake until done. (I hate it when recipes say vague things like that!) The length of baking time will, of course, vary, depending on the thickness of the spears. Set the timer for 15 minutes for medium thick spears, and then check them to see how they are doing. When done, sprinkle the capers over them. Serve immediately, or cool to room temp. They are excellent both ways.
This is an easy and delicious way to prepare one of springtime’s delights.
I have gotten many compliments on my lovely photos in the previous post, but they are actually Maria Laughin’s photos. I meant to note this in the post, but forgot. I am an indistinguishable speck somewhere in them, as opposed to being behind the camera. You can see more of her photos of this amazing event here.