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Asparagus Means Spring!

The name “asparagus” is derived from the Greek word for “sprout” or “shoot” and has been cultivated since Egyptian times.  The two types are green and white.  White asparagus is the same plant but it is kept covered with dirt to prevent the sunlight from turning it green.

I prefer to use the larger spears and find them to actually be tenderer than the thin ones. The larger spears are from younger, more vigorous plants.

Asparagus has a bad reputation regarding wine pairing, but I believe that it goes very well with fruity, un-oaked styles of wine such as St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc.  The following recipe combines fresh spring asparagus with the classic Sauvignon Blanc pairing of goat cheese to produce a dish that really makes the wine sing.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

ASPARAGUS & GOAT CHEESE CUSTARD

Serve with St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc

1 lb fresh asparagus, cut into 1/4″ pieces

3 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped

1/2 cup leeks – white part only, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc

1 cup cream

10 oz. soft goat cheese

4 eggs, large

Salt & white pepper to taste

Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Heat the oil over a low flame in a large frying pan and sauté the leeks and garlic until soft.  Add the asparagus then season with salt & pepper to taste.  Add the wine and simmer, covered, until the asparagus is tender.  Add a little water if the pan dries out.  Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree.

Heat the cream to a simmer in a saucepan and add the goat cheese.  Stir until the cheese is melted.

Place the cream & goat cheese mixture, asparagus, and the eggs into the blender. Blend until smooth.

Spray 8 – four-ounce ramekins with the nonstick spray and fill about 3/4 full with the asparagus mixture.  Place the ramekins in a large baking dish and fill with enough hot water to come about half way up the ramekins.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the custard is no longer liquid

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 8

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Penne Pasta with Heirloom Tomatoes, Grilled White Corn & Basil

Penne Pasta with Heirloom Tomatoes, Grilled White Corn & Basil

Take advantage of the summer bounty.  Dead ripe tomatoes, juicy white corn and fragrant basil make for the perfect summer dish.  If you grow your own tomatoes, so much the better.  If not, search out a farmers market or a store that carries vine ripened / heirloom tomatoes.  Accept no substitutes!  Serve warm or at room temperature with a glass (or two) of St. Supéry Rosé

Pair with St. Supéry Rosé

4     cups  diced heirloom tomatoes – try to include a mixture of colors

3      ears of white corn – charcoal grilled until slightly charred.  Cut kernels off the cob

3       cloves of garlic – minced

1        cup fresh basil – coarsely chopped

4        tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1         pound Penne pasta

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large skillet, add the olive oil and the garlic. Warm until the garlic is soft but not brown.  Add the tomatoes, basil and corn kernels. Heat on medium until the tomatoes are just warmed through.  You do not want to cook the tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the Penne.  If the water tastes like the ocean you have salted it correctly.  Cook until al dente – about 10 minutes and drain. Toss the pasta with the tomato mixture and serve.  Or cool to room temperature.  Parmesan cheese optional.

Serves 6

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