Five Ways to Cook Asparagus | Skinny Asparagus with Tomatoes and Hot Pepper

Today there seems to be less time to shop and cook, and yet the time eating together seems more important than ever. Five Ways to Make Asparagus is about making dinner in real time and under real conditions. Peter Miller argues that no matter how busy your day has been that you can still cook and eat well. The only difficulty is to recognise the possibilities.

Using the number five as a reference, Five Ways to Cook Asparagus (and Other Recipes) is built around a hypothetical five day workweek, offering a plan to make the best use of your time, materials and interest in good, healthy food. To help simplify the process of deciding what to cook and how, there are five exceptional ways to cook asparagus that best represent and celebrate the asparagus. The recipes range from the extremely basic, allowing the ingredient to truly shine, to more nuanced preparations. If you try them, you will know more about asparagus, and it will become a more versatile character in your plans for cooking – and so forth, with broccoli and cauliflower, with quinoa and lentils.

Peter has carefully selected a group of specific foods, focusing on vegetables, grains and legumes. As some of the most versatile and healthy foods, they form an easily adaptable arsenal that can be quickly converted into simple, delicious meals. While his recipes are vegetable centric, he also offers select preparations for incorporating fish and meat.

This week why not try out his recipe for Skinny Asparagus with Tomatoes and Hot Pepper:

Five Ways to Cook Asparagus
© 2017 Hirsheimer & Hamilton

Skinny Asparagus with Tomatoes and Hot Pepper

SERVES 4

At the very start of the spring season, you can get fresh, skinny asparagus, and you can cook it with a particular, sprightly abandon. Once the asparagus matures, you can still make the dish, but it will not have the same flourish as in the early first days. The same, of course, is true of spring garlic, or the first wild mushrooms, or the early beans and peas.

1 pound (455 g) skinny asparagus, trimmed, soaked, and drained (see below)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter

1 shallot or 2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 small dried red chile

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

6 to 8 cherry tomatoes

¼ cup (60 ml) chicken stock, at a simmer

¼ cup (10 g) chopped fresh cilantro or basil leaves

First, trim the asparagus, cutting 1 or 2 inches (2.5 or 5 cm) off the woody ends. With a swivel peeler, shave the bottom 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm) of the stalks, taking off the harder outer skin. As you work, set the peeled asparagus in a shallow dish filled with cold water. Soak it for 5 minutes, then drain. (This seems to rehydrate the asparagus and help it cook more quickly.)

Heat a big pot of water to a boil and toss the asparagus in. When the water comes back to a boil, quickly pull out and drain the asparagus.

Heat a wide sauté pan over medium-high heat for a minute. Add the olive oil, half the butter, and the shallot. After a minute, crush the dried red pepper into the pan and add the garlic. Toss and stir so the parts mix, then throw in the asparagus. Cook for no more than 3 minutes. The sauté cycle is a flash of exuberance for the first of the asparagus. You must shake the pan vigorously to get the asparagus to touch all the other elements. Add a good pinch of salt and black pepper. Throw in the tomatoes and stock and shake the pan even more, above the heat, to get the parts in contact. The stock will loosen and deglaze the pan’s contents, and the tomatoes will create even more disorder as they split and leak.

Add the last of the butter, swirl for a second, then lay the asparagus in a jumble on a warmed platter. Sprinkle with the cilantro and give one last grind of black pepper.


 

Five Ways to Cook

Five Ways to Cook Asparagus (and Other Recipes): The Art and Practice of Making Dinner by Peter Miller (Abrams, out April 11, £18.99)

Offering more than 75 recipes, adjustable menus, tips for giving new life to leftovers and detailed information on sourcing ingredients, with Five Ways to Make Asparagus you can cook a dinner with only one or two fresh ingredients and you can be confident that that will be more than enough.

 

The Last Thing You Said | Extract

Last Thing You Said Quote

Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie – Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister – was gone, her heart giving out during a swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief.

Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together.

They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing – and to each other.

Last Thing You Said Quote

Click here to read an extract from this deeply romantic YA.

Budapest Bowl | Recipe from Bowls!: Recipes and Inspirations for Healthful One-Dish Meals by Molly Watson

Budapest Bowl
© 2017 by Nicole Franzen

Budapest Bowl

Mushroom barley pilaf + paprika-braised chicken + dilled white beans + sweet pepper slaw + sour cream + dill

ORDER OF OPERATIONS

  1. Cook the chicken
  2. Make the pilaf
  3. Make the slaw
  4. Heat the beans
  5. Assemble the bowls
Paprika-braised chicken
  • 1 lb [455 g] boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp mild Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tsp hot paprika, or 1⁄2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup [240 ml] chicken, vegetable, or mushroom broth
Mushroom barley pilaf
  • 8 oz [230 g] button or cremini mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup [180 g] pearled barley, rinsed
  • 3 cups [720 ml] chicken, vegetable, or mushroom broth
Sweet pepper slaw
  • 3 bell peppers (a mix of red, orange and yellow is nice)
  • 3 Tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp freshly ground black pepper dilled white beans
  • One 141⁄2-oz [415-g] can white beans, rinsed and drained, or 13⁄4 cups [420 g] drained homecooked white beans
  • 1⁄2 cup [20 g] chopped fresh dill
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup [120 ml] sour cream
  • Chopped fresh dill for garnish

FOR THE CHICKEN: Preheat the oven to 375°F [190°C]. Pat the chicken dry. In a large frying pan or sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, undisturbed, until it starts to brown on the underside, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the pieces over and brown on the second side, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Add the butter to the same pan and melt over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about

3 minutes. Add the mild and hot paprika and cook, stirring, to coat the onion. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil.

Return the chicken to the pan, cover, and transfer to the oven. Bake the chicken until it is very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, uncover, and use a wooden spoon to separate the chicken into shreds (that’s how tender it should be). Place the pan on the stove top over medium heat and cook, uncovered, until the sauce is reduced by one-third, about 20 minutes.


FOR THE PILAF: Begin the pilaf while the chicken is in the oven. Trim off the stem ends from the mushrooms, then cut off the stems. Finely chop the stems and thinly slice the caps. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the mushroom stems and caps, and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms release their liquid, about 5 minutes.

Add the barley and stir to mix everything well. Pour in the broth and stir again to mix. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a steady simmer, cover partially, and cook, stirring every few minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the barley is tender, about 30 minutes. If the liquid is absorbed before the barley is tender, add up to 1 cup [240 ml] water, 1⁄4 cup [60 ml] at a time.


FOR THE SLAW: Seed and thinly slice the peppers. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add the peppers and toss to combine.


FOR THE BEANS: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the beans until hot (or put them in a microwave-safe bowl and heat them in the microwave). Add the dill, season with pepper, and toss to mix well. 


TO ASSEMBLE: Divide the pilaf among four bowls. Arrange the chicken, beans, and slaw in three separate and equal sections on top of the pilaf. Dollop the sour cream on the chicken and sprinkle everything with the dill.


NOTE: Want to gild the comfort lily? Try this with Mashed Potatoes instead of barley pilaf.


This recipe is from Bowls!: Recipes and Inspirations for Healthful One-Dish Meals by Molly Watson, published by Chronicle Books (£13.99)

Bowls

Explore The New Paris with Lindsey Tramuta

Expat Lindsey Tramuta, who has been living in Paris for a decade, is here today to share her favourite spots from Paris’s vibrant new food, fashion and design scenes…

…as if we needed more motivation to book a trip to Paris!

The New Paris

There’s a lot to love about Paris today across the worlds of dining, drinking, shopping, and exploring but these are among my favourites from “The New Paris”.

Grand Pigalle Hotel

The Experimental Cocktail Group’s first hotel is, of course, outfitted with a spacious lounge for craft cocktails and Italian plates crafted by Roman chef Giovanni Passerini.

Le 52 Faubourg Saint-Denis

Accomplished restaurateur Charles Compagnon’s third restaurant, with an ever-changing menu and nonstop service from breakfast through dinner. Don’t miss a bottle of his own beer, La Marise, and a cup of Café Compagnon which he will soon be roasting himself in Courances, outside of Paris.

Le Tricycle

Vegan hot dogs, soups, salads, and cakes put this funky two-story spot on the Paris street-food/healthy-food map.

The New Paris
© 2017 Charissa Fay

O Coffeeshop

Timothée Teyssier’s itinerant coffee bike may only hit the road for special events but he can now be found in his new fixed location in the 15th arrondissement, turning out excellent coffee, cakes, and fresh soups and salads.

The New Paris
© 2017 Charissa Fay

La Chambre Noire

Natural wines and farm-to-table small plates with a crowd that spills over from next-door taqueria, Café Chilango.

Paname Brewing Company

A Parisian brewery and brew bar on the Quai de la Loire, the perfect spot for a pre-dinner drink outdoors.

Des Gâteaux et du Pain

A fruit-lover’s paradise! Try one of everything in season at Claire Damon’s sleek pastry shop.

Cuisse de Grenouille

Inspired by 1960s surf culture, this shop is dedicated to casual-chic menswear and womenswear and lifestyle accessories.

Le Slip Français

100% French-made undergarments for men and women in patriotic blues, whites, and reds.


Discover more spectacular places from Paris’s vibrant new food, fashion and design scenes in The New Paris, available now!

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Travel Guide – time to reconsider Detroit

Detroit: The Dream is Now

Detroit is the new Brooklyn: a city in flux, fighting against the negative images of a city in decay pervading the media in recent years. If you know where to look, Detroit is a city of vibrant design, art and food scenes, and that is were Michel Arnaud comes in. In his follow-up to Design BrooklynDetroit: The Dream is Now, Arnaud turns his lens on the emergent creative enterprises and new developments taking hold of this vibrant city.

Detroit: The Dream is Now will have you booking the next flight out, ready to explore a city that has so much to offer.


The following is an extract from Detroit: The Dream is Now by Michel Arnaud.


DETROIT: THE DREAM IS NOW

The food scene.

EASTERN MARKET

Detroit: The Dream is Now - Eastern Market Mural
A mural by The Weird, a crew of artists from Germany and Austria, welcomes visitors to Eastern Market.

Eastern Market is the centre of all things food in Detroit. Farmers and wholesale vendors from across Michigan bring their wares, produce, and food products to the market on Saturdays, and to a smaller version on Tuesdays, throughout the year. It is a testing ground for new foods and a direct connection to the public for many farmers and suppliers. There are five sheds, which have both indoor and outdoor features and are open according to the season. It is a rich cornucopia of regional harvests that has existed in the same forty-three-acre location since the late 1800s. The businesses that surround the market – meat processing plants and packinghouses, restaurants, clothing stores, galleries, and letterpress studios – thrive on the crowds that come to town on market days.

Detroid: The Dream is Now - Easter Market Shed 2
Shed 2 is an open-air, brick-and-wood building.

From restaurants around the market to the vendors and food trucks that park between the sheds, Eastern Market is a hub of activity on the east side of Detroit.

Detroit: The Dream is Now - Eastern Market

Every year the Sunday after Mother’s Day is Flower Day in Eastern Market. The market is full of flowers from hundreds of vendors.

Detroit: The Dream is Now - Easter Market Flowers


Discover more places to explore in Detroit in Michel Arnaud’s Detroit: The Dream is Now - available now.

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn | Extract

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn

Quinn Cutler is sixteen and the daughter of a high-profile Brooklyn politician. She’s also pregnant, a crisis made infinitely more shocking by the fact that she has no memory of ever having sex. Before Quinn can solve this deeply troubling mystery, her story becomes public. Rumours spread, jeopardising her reputation, her relationship with a boyfriend she adores, and her father’s campaign for Congress. Religious fanatics gather at the Cutlers’ home, believing Quinn is a virgin, pregnant with the next messiah. Quinn’s desperate search for answers uncovers lies and family secrets – strange, possibly supernatural ones. Might she, in fact, be a virgin?

Click here to read an extract from The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer.

Inspiring Paper Flowers | Guest Blog Post by Livia Cetti

Exquisite Book of Paper Flower Transformations

Master crafter Livia Cetti is here to share the story of how she came to create her exquisite paper flowers.

Take is away Livia!


 

Growing up in the mountains of Santa Barbara, I’ve always been drawn to nature. As a child, I spent a lot of time playing with flowers and I created my first bouquet for the wedding of family friends at 7 years old. I began working for a floral shop in high school and went on to study fine arts at the San Francisco Institute of Art, always working for florists along the way. After graduating, I continued to hone my floral skills in various places and cities.

I knew I didn’t want to have a floral shop of my own – the market is already saturated with so many great florists. I became the senior style editor at Martha Stewart Weddings, and after a career in magazines I fell into freelance floral styling, which I really love because of how detail oriented it is. I made my first paper flower for a client and have been making paper flowers ever since.

I have always been interested in the movement towards handmade objects and had been looking for something I could make in my basement so that I could be close to my children and paper flowers were it.

Charm peony

I think about each flower for a long time before I make it. I’m never trying to copy the flower identically, but instead am trying to capture what I love most about the flower. Overtime the way I make different paper flowers develops and changes. I’m really excited to be able to share the way my paper peonies and roses have evolved in my second book. When I first began making peonies, it was difficult for me to figure out the right system for creating volume in the petals. Eventually I created a method of layering, fanning, and darting, which allowed me to create more realistic looking peonies. The same method has translated into the way that I make paper roses. I’ve loved the way the roses have continued to develop – there’s so much diversity and infinite possibilities, and in the end they always look like a rose.

Eden rose


Livia’s new book; The Exquisite Book of Paper Flower Transformations: Playing with Size, Shape, and Color to Create Spectacular Paper Arrangements is out now. Pick-up your copy in all good bookstores and start your own crafting story.

 

 

Bookstore of the Month | Rogan’s Books

Bookstore of the Month

Our Bookstore of the Month this April is Bedford’s very own reading haven: Rogan’s Books.

This was really hard! So we got our customers to do it! 

IMG_0548

Describe Rogan’s Books in three words.

“Utter reading bliss”

“Magic Faraway World”

“Children’s treasure trove”

“Adventure, development, knowledge”

“Cosy literary nook”

“Where imaginations grow”

“Child’s reading paradise”

“Feeding (or fuelling) young curiosities”

“Inspiring young minds (or readers)”

“Frabjous imagination emporium (this may be our favourite!)”

“Many happy memories”

“Doorway into imagination” – for full list go to our Facebook page!

Where is your favourite spot in the store?

David Litchfield (The Bear and the Piano, The Building Boy): “They have a secret mini door that gets you from one side of the shop to the other… Only the really small can see it”.

IMG_4206

Give us a brief history of Rogan’s Books

Very short! We opened 24th October 2015, the ribbon cut by the Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell.

Do you have a store pet?

Kind of – I live three doors along from the shop so my two dogs frequently join me, and when we first got our new kitten, Varjak (named after SF Said’s Varjak Paw) he spent a lot of time in the shop! We also pet-sat two local geckos for a while…

  1. Yes? Can we have a picture? To follow
  2. No? What would be your ideal bookstore pet? If we were to get one full time it would have to be Fawkes from Harry Potter.

IMG_0519

Do you have a favourite author? If yes, who is it?

NEIL GAIMAN. And yes. I am shouting.

What is your favourite opening line from a book?

Oooooh, tough. Peter Pan: “All children, except one, grow up”.

OR

I Capture the Castle: “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink”

IMG_2570

What was the last book you read?

Re-read ‘The Dark is Rising’ by Susan Cooper

What is your favourite A&CB book?

They All Saw a Cat OBVS.

They All Saw a Cat

What is your favourite book?

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Share a #Shelfie with us.

Rogan's Books

Our favourite shop shelves!

You will find Rogan’s Books at:

27 Castle Road,
Bedford,
Bedfordshire,
United Kingdom.

Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

 

It Starts With Wonder | Guest blog post from Kate Messner

It Starts With Wonder

by Kate Messner 

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This series started on a school field trip. I taught seventh grade English for fifteen years, as part of a wonderful interdisciplinary team. Every winter, we used to take our students on a snowshoe field trip in the nearby Adirondack Mountains to look for animal tracks and other signs of life in the winter woods. On one of those field trips, we saw this.

Hole in snow
Photograph by Loree Griffin Burns

It was just a little hole in the snow, with some tiny tracks leading up to it. The naturalist guiding us could have walked right on past. But instead, she stopped our group and said, “Oh! Everyone gather around and look at this!” When we were all circled around, she pointed down and said breathlessly, “Do you know what this means?” She paused. Then she whispered. “This means that we’ve had a visitor from…the subnivean zone!”

We stood in hushed silence for a moment until someone said, “What’s that?” And our guide explained that the subnivean zone is the fancy phrase used to describe the secret network of tunnels and tiny caves that exist under the winter snow. All the smallest forest animals knew about it, she told us, and they’d go down there to be a little warmer, a little safer from predators. And then we continued on down the path.

But the rest of the day, as I padded through the woods on my snowshoes, I couldn’t stop thinking about what she’d said. We’d been hiking for three or four miles…and all that time, there’d been a secret invisible world going on down there, under the snow? I asked a lot more questions. We talked more about the different animals who make their winter homes under the snow and the creatures who find their way through the woods above. And when I got back to the school bus, after I took attendance and made sure we hadn’t left any seventh graders out in the woods, I started writing. I didn’t even have a notebook with me that day – my first draft of Over and Under the Snow was written on the back of the attendance list for the field trip, in bumpy, school-bus handwriting. But it couldn’t wait, because I was fuelled by wonder that afternoon.

That’s what we do as writers of children’s books – we wonder. We stop everyone in their tracks. We slow down the day for a few minutes to say, “Look at this! Look more closely… Isn’t it amazing?” And that’s how I know when I have a story idea with the staying power to grow into a picture book. If I’m feeling that sense of awe at how things work, how things are, how amazing this part of our natural world is, then kids are likely to feel that way, too.

After Over and Under the Snow was published and doing well in the world, Chronicle asked illustrator Christopher Silas Neal and I if there might be another hidden world we’d like to explore. We emailed back and forth a bit, talking about the things that made us wonder. And we discovered that we both loved our vegetable gardens. Not just the weeding and tomato-eating part of gardening…but the wondering part. We’re both parents who love getting down on our bellies to look more closely at the critters that inhabit our gardens, and that was the wonder that sparked our second book together, Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt.

Our third book together, Over and Under the Pond, starts in that same place – with a familiar setting and a desire to slow down for a closer look. When I was getting ready to work on this book, I went back to the setting of Over and Under the Snow – the trails of the Paul Smiths Visitors Interpretive Center in the Adirondacks – but in a different season. The pond that had been covered with ice and snow in January felt like an entirely different place in July — a green, lush, buzzing ecosystem, just waiting to be explored. So I scheduled one of the centre’s guided canoe trips and spent a day paddling through the reeds. We marvelled at the tiny water striders skating on the pond’s surface, stared up at woodpecker scars on a tall tree by the water, and gasped as an American Bittern fluttered up from the grass.

Over the pond
Photograph by Loree Griffin Burns

There were families along on the trip, and I watched them, too. With their phones turned off and tucked away in waterproof bags, they paddled through the quiet together, whispering about the minnows and wondering what might live in that hollow log on shore. Slowing down in places like this feeds us in important ways. As a writer, I walked away from my canoe at the end of the day full of ideas, full of images and poetry and fresh air. I was ready to hit the library, finish my research, and get to work on Over and Under the Pond. But maybe even more important than that, spending time in the quiet of a cold snowy trail or a warm mountain pond reminds us to slow down. To look. Listen. And wonder. That’s my biggest hope for these books – that they’ll bring families together on the couch for a cozy story and then outdoors to wonder, too.


Over and Under the Pond is out now, order your copy today.

The New Old House

The New Old House – projects that prove adaption and restoration is worthwhile.

The New Old House

This beautiful book presents 18 private historic homes, from North America to Europe, and traces the ingenious ways architects have revitalised and refreshed them for a new generation.

Each project address such timely factors as sustainability, multiculturalism, preservation and style, and demonstrate the unique beauty and elegance that comes from the interweaving of modernity and history. This bright and bold look at combining historic and modern architecture is sure to inspire architects and dreamers alike.

Click here to find out more about The New Old House.