Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Asparagus and Parmesan Tart

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This recipe is described as being 'a flash' to make.  It certainly sounds delicious.  Some suggestions:  If you have not used puff pastry before, you can find it in the freezer section of the supermarket.  Serve with a mixed green salad with a vinaigrette dressing or a fruit salad.  You will also need parchment paper for baking.
Cleo, Food Bank Volunteer



  • tablespoon olive oil
  • shallot, finely chopped
  • pound asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 4- to 5-inch pieces
  • (14-ounce) sheet puff pastry, defrosted if frozen
  • 1/2  cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1/2  cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2  teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • large egg yolk mixed with 1/2 teaspoon water


  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan. Add shallot and sauté about 1 minute. Add asparagus and cook over medium-high heat until asparagus is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Roll out pastry to a 10 x 16-inch rectangle on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Transfer pastry and paper to a baking sheet.
  4. Spread ricotta evenly on pastry, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Spoon asparagus mixture evenly over ricotta. Sprinkle cheese over all. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Brush edge of the tart with egg and water mixture. Bake until pastry is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve warm. Cut into 8 (4 x 5-inch) pieces.
Recipe source 

Friday, May 20, 2011


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Cream of asparagus soup is one of the best of the cream soups.  This recipe is a bit healthier than others and seems easy to make. There is also a recipe for  croutons which will add a bit more substance to the soup for lunch.

Cleo, Food Bank volunteer

2 - 2 1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus
1 c. light cream
2 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. diced onions
1 c. milk
2 tbsp. flour
1/8 tsp. pepper
Cut tough ends off asparagus, scrape stalks and wash well. Cut into half inch pieces. In saucepan, place asparagus, onion and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until very tender (15 minutes). Put into blender and puree. Add cream and milk to puree and blend lightly. Pour back into saucepan. Melt butter and blend with flour, stirring into asparagus mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring until bubbles appear around the edge. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.
For the croutons:


baguette, sliced into ½ in pieces
olive oil
gruyere or parmesan slices


Turn the broiler on. Place a slice of cheese on each crouton and broil until bubbly. Serve the croutons with the soup.

Recipe source

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Asparagus Risotto

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Making risotto is labor intensive but well worth the effort. Making it is a good way to show off your culinary skills.
I have adapted this recipe from one on the Amatuer Gourmet web site.

Cleo, Food Bank volunteer


2 lbs asparagus, trimmed
1 qt chicken or vegetable stock (perhaps a little more)
coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small red onion, peeled and very finely chopped
2 Tbs unsalted butter
3 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 cups risotto rice (also called Arborio rice)
1/3 cup vermouth or dry white wine
3/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan


(1) Heat the chicken/vegetable stock and check for seasoning. You don't want to bring it to a boil or it will evaporate while you do everything else. Just warm it up. But make sure to season because if it's not salty enough, your risotto will be bland.
(2) Cut the tips off the asparagus and keep to one side. Chop the tender parts of the stalks into approximately 1-inch pieces.
(3) Blanch the asparagus tips for 2 minutes (in boiling salted water) and then blanch the stalks for about 3 minutes
(4) In a heavy saucepan or large, caste iron skillet, cook the onion in half the butter and the olive oil over a low heat for about 10 minutes until soft.
(5) Add the rice and cook gently, stirring, for 2 minutes to coat the rice with the oil.
(6) Start to add the stock, ladle by ladle, stirring constantly, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. Continue until the rice is al dente, usually about 20 minutes.
(7) Once the rice is al dente, add the asparagus tips and stalks, vermouth,  the rest of the butter, and the Parmesan. Stir and it's ready to serve.

Recipe source

Monday, May 9, 2011

May's Volunteers of the Month: Steve Radosevich and Robert Dragoon

From left: Steve, Robert
Yolo County UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners, Steve Radosevich and Robert Dragoon, have helped transform the Food Bank’s section of land into a flourishing demonstration garden. The sight of a white pick-up truck and a green pick-up truck signal their arrival and a new stage of the Food Bank’s garden. For well over a year, we have benefited from their efforts on a weekly basis—whether preparing for the next season’s crops or teaching a compost workshop.

Both Steve and Robert began volunteering with us after our Executive Director, Jose Martinez, asked if they could help us implement a square food garden.* Admittedly, they were both skeptical of that method, but Robert says they have since become converts to the idea. This type of gardening is especially exciting to us because it allows us to demonstrate to our clients that growing their own food is possible regardless of the amount of space they have.

Steve, who once worked for the Food Bank of Santa Clara County, has seen first hand the services provided to those in need and was happy to assist with the project. One of his favorite parts of volunteering with us is that he can see the garden’s progress week to week. Steve says, “As a retired person, it’s important to do work that I enjoy and it has to be for a good cause. It is most rewarding when I can put acquired skills and knowledge to good use”. Some of Steve’s other hobbies include: bird watching, photography, traveling, and singing.

When asked what his favorite part of volunteering with us is, Robert said, “Seeing the staff enthusiastic about what we are doing”. He also volunteers twice a week as a carpenter for Habitat for Humanity, saying, “If a person has the ability to do something to help someone, they should.” When he’s not working on one of this various volunteer projects, Robert loves bike riding and gardening.

From all of us at the Food Bank of Yolo County, thank you Steve and Robert for all of your hard work and help in our garden!


*Square foot gardening refers to a method of planting in small 12”x12” sections of a garden (typically bunched together in a grid). This method yields a high amount of produce, and works well for those with very small yard space.

For more information about the Master Gardener Program, please visit: http://ceyolo.ucdavis.edu/Gardening_and_Master_Gardening/

Friday, May 6, 2011

Asparagus and Avocado Wraps

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The veggie of the month for May is asparagus.  These wraps sound sooo good.  This is a great recipe to make ahead of time to have on hand for lunch or for a party.  And don't forget the chips and salsa.

Cleo, Food Bank volunteer


24 spears asparagus
1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
1 tsp fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups cooked cold long-grain white rice
3 tbsp plain nonfat yogurt
3 (10-inches in diameter) whole wheat tortillas
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 tbsp chopped red onion


In a medium-sized saucepan over high heat, bring 2 inches water to a boil. Place the asparagus in a steamer basket, cover, and steam until just tender, approximately 5 minutes. Remove the asparagus and immediately rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain thoroughly. In a small bowl, mash the avocado, lime juice, and garlic into a coarse puree. In another small bowl, stir together the rice and yogurt to mix well. Heat a large dry frying pan (not one with a nonstick surface) over medium heat. One at a time, heat the tortillas in the hot pan until softened, approximately 20 seconds per side. Lay the tortillas flat on a clean work surface. Spread the avocado mixture equally among the tortillas. Top each with an equal amount of the rice mixture, asparagus, cilantro, and onion. Fold in both sides and the bottom of each tortilla up over the filling; then roll to close. If made in advance, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 hour. Return to room temperature before serving. To serve, cut each wrap in half crosswise.

 Recipe source