Weekly rumblings – 18 (The heat is on)

Nothing says English summer more than home-grown asparagus. The season is short and as asparagus doesn’t travel well it’s the perfect candidate to binge eat whilst is available in plentiful. I often get bundles from the farmers’ market, as the spears are thicker and juicier than supermarket versions. Contrary to expectations, thinner stalks of asparagus aren’t necessarily more tender than the thicker ones, as the latter have a better ratio of skin to mass.

Asparagus with speck and poached egg

Asparagus is real fast food as it cooks in minutes and is the most delicious steamed or pan-fried. I prefer not to boil it, and a fan steamer makes easy work of steaming.

We ate it this week, lightly steamed with crispy speck (a cheaper version of prosciutto, perfect for cooked applications), Parmesan shavings and poached eggs. Some grilled sourdough and 15 minutes later dinner is on plate… and a gorgeous looking one at that.

Julia Child’s Hollandaise
Julia Child’s Hollandaise (2)

Asparagus also pairs well with truffle oil & lemon, or with lemon and butter. But the most decadent of all is to eat it with  “Hollandaise sauce”. If you do decide to push the boat out and make Hollandaise, there’s no better recipe than Julia Child’s.

Who do you trust?

If you have been following the nutrition-related news, you might have come across latest news by the American Heart Association (AHA) stating that coconut oil isn’t actually good for you. We have heard this before – coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol which in turn is a cause of heart disease.

As a consumer, this is disconcerting, to say the least. What of the research that says that coconut oil is unique with its medium chain triglycerides, which have been shown to increase the rate of metabolism and hence recommended increasingly by nutritionists?

Millions of people in Asia who have been known to eat vast amounts of coconut for centuries. For e.g. an Australian report on coconut agriculture reported that in 1978, Sri  Lankans consumed 120 coconuts per head/ year and 1 out of 100,000 deaths was attributed to heart disease. Coconut consumption continued to fall over the years (perhaps due to advice against eating saturated fat), and over time the rates of heart disease actually increased.

Nonetheless, I don’t know any traditional Asian diet which recommends eating coconut oil by spoonfuls or adding it to smoothies and coffee, as is recommended by some modern day nutritionists.

My view on this, as with most other things, is moderation. The recent studies correlating saturated fat and heart disease probably have a lot of other factors at play including consumption of sugar, refined foods etc. so take the AHA advice with a pinch of salt. This article by Emily Maguires summarises it well.

An English summer
Hattingley Valley “White Admiral”

The past week in the UK has been the hottest on record for forty years. Not all bad news in my view & Horreur!  parts of southern England are now home to vineyards, something inconceivable a few decades ago. These estates are producing some fabulous wine, especially sparkling wines to rival my favourite prosecco. Hattingley Valley in Hampshire makes a crisp, floral sparkling white aromatic with elderflower, which I could (and did) quaff vast amounts of. The wine is only available at the cellar door, and I am very pleased to have tracked down a case of the stuff. Friends and family visiting us over the next few weeks are in for a treat!

Recipes this week

We ate a mixed bag this week – our favourite steamed fish for a spot of virtuousness followed by a meatball orgy. Yin and Yang. A soothing, moist cake and a light summery pavlova to round off dinner with friends. Flaxseed crackers for the snack box and the cheese board completes the recipe collection for this week.

In my absence last week and a half, the boys “managed” with recipes from the blog. From almost no-cook sardines on toast to Salmon teriyaki (so what if rice vinegar was used instead of mirin and it went largely unnoticed!)…all baby steps towards food independence!

Love your family and throw them in the deep end of cooking!

 

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