04 May 2009

Operation cleanout, moving, dusting off the cobwebs

Apologies for the long silence here on Tales of a Test Kitchen. In the last month, I've packed up my little Back Bay kitchen, moved across the line just barely into Brookline, and been traveling like a mad woman ever since.

Excuses, excuses, I know, but it's tough to really get back into the swing of cooking - and enjoying it - when the kitchen still has boxes in it, is missing appliances and what not. Slowly but surely, this will be remedied, I assure you. I've promised a few people updates on here, so lets kick the tires. I'm at home with a nasty head cold from my latest travels, and maybe this will get my brain moving.

This post is about a month old, but good nevertheless. Pre- my move, I was in the midst of cooking to clean out my fridge and pantry, part of Operation Cleanout. Day 3 of this process brought us a delicious vegetarian pasta with chard, lemon cream sauce and toasted pine nuts, as well as a lemony asparagus soup that's to die for.

The pasta was an interesting endeavor, to say the least. I had half a container of sour cream to use, lemons, spring onions, chard, whole wheat pasta and a number of other miscellaneous ingredients. The sauce was a mix of the sour cream, sauteed garlic, some chili flakes, lemon zest and lemon juice. I had toasted some pine nuts and sauteed some chard separately. Once all of the components were complete, just tossed them all with the sauce and voila. Topped with some chopped spring onions. This was just aces after a long day of work, and kicked any alfredo sauce or pasta roni kit you can get at the store.

The Lemony Asparagus soup that joined the night's menu was spotted on Dishing Up Delights, and was not only supremely easy, but light and delicious.

And even better, I had a few burners left on my stove to make it, while still tending to the pasta mentioned above.

Lemony Asparagus Soup
From Dishing Up Delights, adapted from Food and Wine

1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
2 cups chicken stock (could also use veggie)
one 1-inch wide strip of lemon zest, plus 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest for garnish
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, and cook the asparagus for about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.

In a clean saucepan, add oil and cook the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Add chicken stock and lemon zest strip. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes or so. Add asparagus and cook for another 5 minutes until tender. Discard lemon zest and use an immersion blender to puree.

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