Asparagus with Sauce Gribiche

Asparagus with Sauce Gribiche

Asparagus with Sauce Gribiche. It sounds elegant and with just a little bit of work on the sauce-making front, it turns into something that’s actually tastes even better than it looks. The lovely white asparagus is nice to have and looks great on a plate, but this would work well with green asparagus and plenty of other veggies and quite possibly even a good fish dish, under the right circumstances.

There are a couple of things that have to do with the french way of making asparagus — mainly using a vegetable peeler to skim off the skin from the bottom of the sprout to the end of the stalk. That’s true whether green or white asparagus. But the real trick here is a great sauce gribiche, which it turns out is only a little work and takes the regular dish and improves it a lot. The main thing is that it requires a hard boiled egg, and it will be a lot better if you make it the night before and have it ready and nearly room temperature when you use it. I don’t know if that’s how the French do it, but I love it much more after it’s had a chance to sit around a bit.

Like a lot of recipes, this started as a blog I saw somewhere and after getting the recipe tested and adjusted a bit, this is what I came up with. I like it a lot.

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Tortellini in a Creamy Tomato Sauce

Tortellini In Creamy Tomato Sauce

Tortellini is one of those Italian recipes that I make fairly often but don’t generally write about. Why? Well, for the most part, you get a good cheese tortellini and add some marinara and you’re pretty much done. Great meal, but not much to write or read about, unless you’re making your own — something I’ve never tried before. Still, with all that, I made a couple of discoveries that changed my mind. The first is a chicken and mushroom tortellini and the second is a delicious creamy tomato sauce that makes all the difference.

You can get all kinds of cheese tortellini, almost anywhere you can find groceries. What you find less often are meat tortellini, in part because they don’t keep as well in a refrigerated case. What I found this time, however, was homemade tortellini in a small Italian grocery that was filled with a lovely chicken mushroom mixture that was in just about any context you can think of, a real pleasure to eat.

But when you add the creamy tomato sauce — yes, flavored with real cream — it was nothing short of astounding. In particular, the use of chopped tomatoes and spinach with just enough onion to give it a little bite and you’ve got a real winner. Add a little Parmesan on the side and I don’t know too many things that get much better.

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Pancetta, Brussels Sprouts and Bucatini

Pancetta, Brussels Sprouts and Broccolini

There are plenty of good reasons to use Brussels sprouts, even this late in the season. And this idea of using them with a little Pancetta, Brussels Sprouts and Bucatini is maybe one of the best I can think of. It’s plenty of a main course, but it’s also a great side dish if that’s what you’re looking for. Either way, the taste is fantastic and the “filling” quotient is pretty good too. It does depend on some great sprouts, but that’s actually rather easy.

What’s best, for a quick dinner or a nice side, the dish comes together very quickly — more or less about the time it takes to make the pasta — which will definitely get you on the table in under thirty minutes. In other words, it’s great.

I’m pretty sure I saw something like this on another recipe site and took some notes, but I don’t remember well, except the main ingredients. Apologies to whomever I may have picked this up from.

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Brussels Sprouts with Leeks, Lemon and Pasta

brussels sprouts with leeks, lemon and pasta

One of the great troubles I find in cooking is getting good side dishes to go with whatever else I’m serving. With few fresh vegetables available from local sources, you really don’t have a lot to choose from. But this one, you can serve either as a light main serving or as a side, depending on the situation, and the Brussels sprouts with leeks and pasta are very good in both cases.

I saw the first such recipe on a Bon Appetite site and after researching it, found several others that were similar, and decided to make my own version, with a little bit more pasta and a lot more lemon and garlic. You can play with this recipe a good bit without ruining it, and come up with your own version, if you like. It’s really that easy. And I love the nice brownness that really makes the Brussels sprouts come alive.

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Ham and Corn Risotto

Ham and Corn Risotto

So we all know risotto, that lovely rice dish, is definitely an Italian original. This ham and corn risotto (though I don’t know it’s heritage), is most likely something cooked up probably a good way from Italy. That said, there still is something about smoked ham and good corn that makes this risotto as good as it could ever come from Italy or anywhere else.

I should probably mention that under almost any circumstances, I’m good for risotto just about anytime you could bring it up. There is something about that Arborio rice and chicken broth that really gets me going. So when I came across the recipe from Southern Living, I had to try it and man, was it good. I did resort to making the risotto the traditional way, with lots of care in the execution, but apart from that, I really didn’t change a whole lot.

Give this a try. I think you’ll like it.

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Twice Baked Potatoes

twice baked potatoes

It’s one of those days when a great little side dish is needed and there isn’t much around the house except the usual kinds of things you might find in almost any house — OK, well my house, anyway. That’s where these twice baked potatoes come into play. You get a good, filling, side dish that you can dress up just about any way you like (within reason) and end up with something plain, fancy or maybe something in-between.

This recipe is pretty much a basic version, with a little bit of Italian to it. You’ll need a bit of Parmesan cheese, garlic, chives, butter, sour cream and milk and that’s about it. You could also do bacon-cheddar and a whole host of other possibilities. Your call. I think there is probably a limit to what you might do to each potato, but it still leaves a whole lot of room to play, if you’re willing.

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Corn with Thyme and a Little Garlic Butter

Corn with Thyme and Garlic Butter

There is nothing better than a great little side dish that adds just a hint of spice, and a bit of filling stuff without messing up that grand presentation you’ve got coming for the main dish. That’s where this little corn with thyme dish comes into play. I haven’t done a lot of side dishes here at Discovery Cooking, but this one, no matter how simple, is one you should always have around.

First off, the corn. When the late summer and early fall are on the line, good fresh corn right from the farmer’s market is definitely in order here. There is nothing quite like good fresh corn, and there is nothing quite like it. Trouble is, for most of us, that’s a pretty small window to hit. If your one of those lucky ones who have corn you’ve actually canned, that’s generally a good substitute. For the rest of us, high-quality frozen corn is often what we’re left with, but guess what? It’s often way better than some of the two and three-day old corn sold as fresh in the super markets. So there.

The second thing to remember is the thyme. If you can’t get fresh thyme, don’t even try this. The thyme is what gives this dish most of the flavor and there is nothing quite like that flavor.  Good news, if you’re growing some thyme in the backyard, but in most days, you can now get fresh thyme in most grocery stores. The main thing is to add the thyme a little bit at a time until you’ve got just the right amount, and that may vary from when and where you’ve got it.

Add in just a little garlic in the butter sauce and you’re on your way.

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