Friday, July 20, 2012

MILAN-STYLE ASPARAGUS AND EGGS WITH PARMESAN

PATIENCE AND DISTRACTION

Patience is power. 
Patience is not an absence of action; 
rather it is "timing" 
it waits on the right time to act, 
for the right principles 
and in the right way. 
- Fulton J. Sheen 


It’s inexplicable. I lost my brother three years ago and Marty’s illness should be so insignificant in the scheme of things. Yet here I am weeping my eyes out. How can something so small be so important? How can something that takes up no room at all take up so much space? The silence is deafening, the apartment empty of his presence and we rattle around in like lost souls. We try to gather our senses and put it all into perspective but, as any animal lover knows, he is and has always been, a huge part of our family. In between visits to the clinic, we bide our time, force ourselves to be patient, and carry on with all of the rest. Time seems to move in slow motion, we feel as if we are slogging through mud; patience is all that we have. Patience and distraction.


Monday afternoon, right smack in the middle of our 25th wedding anniversary, we will become owners of a new apartment. Decoration magazines and shop catalogues are strewn across carpets, stacked up in slippery piles on bedside tables and we discuss and argue and haggle, each sure and certain that we have the perfect kitchen in mind. We take long walks around Nantes and I contentedly snap and share photos on Instagram, which I am quickly falling in love with. And falling back in love with my city seen through the eye of a camera. Iphone in hand, always on the lookout for great images to share, I notice details that I haven’t noticed before, hidden sculptures in niches, beautiful facades and funny signs, very cool graffiti and new shops. Even a wedding in progress.


Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. 
But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience. 
Anonymous 

And a diversion! I need very little to distract me: the least little thought or movement, the ping of an incoming email, the expectation of a tweet, the signal of a comment on a Facebook post or just the desire and curiosity to see the latest gossip or political news on Huff Post stops me in my tracks. But a true diversion is heavenly and was much needed this week of all times. I took an early train into Paris Thursday morning and spent a wonderful, wonderful day, despite the chill wind and threatening skies, with David and The One, lunching à la française on roasted chicken, cheesy potato gratin, green beans and ratatouille. And chilled white wine, bien sûr! We talked the day away, pausing long enough and with much regret that the day was so short, to dash to the gorgeous Luxembourg Gardens whose beauty had long slipped out of memory and mind, to hug and chat with Renee until it was sadly time to run (literally) to my train for home, much too soon.


And the little dog’s progress is up and down like some out-of-control roller coaster ride. We finally picked him up, brought him home, gave him a warm bath and he is now snuggling in his comfy, cozy, familiar poof. And we wait… once again…patience, patience… to see how each of us live this weekend.


Have a heart that never hardens, 
and a temper that never tires, 
and a touch that never hurts. 
Charles Dickens 

Fried egg sandwiches were a comfort food of my youth. A single, tiny, one-egg omelet placed on white sandwich bread, soft and chewy, slathered with ketchup and eaten on the sly, alone, was my mother’s private treat, something, like her chilled, sugary, milky iced coffee or a bowl of creamed corn soup, that she made and kept just for herself. I learned to make my own and did once in a blue moon when I craved that sensual blend of flavors, the tang of ketchup against the blandness of the egg, when I needed the tenderness, the silence of this perfect snack. I still make one for myself every now and then (although one fried egg sandwich usually leads immediately to a second). Love and comfort between two slices of white.

When we moved to Italy, we discovered a Milan specialty which often replaces it: gently blanched asparagus, slender and green, if you please, lined up on a plate and topped simply with a fried egg sunny side up. Just crack an egg and slide it into sizzling butter in a skillet, salt and pepper and cook until the white is firm, the edges are golden brown and the yolk is just set on the outside but still runny inside. Slide onto the asparagus, top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, as much as desired, freshly ground black pepper and a dash of salt and eat immediately.


I have replaced the traditional (and our usual) fried sunny side up with a soft boiled egg, just 5 minutes in order to guarantee that the white is cooked and firm and the yolk stays runny. Gently peel (don’t burn your fingers), place on the tender-cooked asparagus, dust with grated Parmesan, salt and pepper (I used Halen Mon smoked sea salt!!) and serve!


Comfort, love and goodness on a plate. Healthy, light, seasonal, this is a wonderful dish for lunch or as a starter for an elegant meal. Milan-Style Asparagus with Egg and Parmesan is pure sophistication at its rustic best.

Feel free to follow your Milan-Style Asparagus with Egg and Parmesan with a bowl of Tiramisu or a Cherry Prosecco Granità.


I want to share this with Jeanne and Meeta for this month’s Monthly Mingle. This month’s Mingle theme, chosen by Jeanne, our hostess with the mostess, is a Taste ofYellow for Barbara. You have read my post on the passing of a friend and beloved and generous food blogger, Barbara of Winos & Foodies who recently lost her very long battle against cancer. This Monthly Mingle is for her. We are all cooking and baking in yellow.

MILAN-STYLE ASPARAGUS WITH EGG AND PARMESAN

6 – 10 stalks of asparagus per serving/person, as desired (slender green asparagus is traditional)
1 large egg per serving/person
Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Butter if frying the eggs
Olive oil, if desired

Trim the tough ends of the stalks of the asparagus and discard. Heat a large shallow pan with water (large enough to hold the asparagus) and bring to the boil. Add a large pinch of salt, lower the flame, slide in the asparagus and gently simmer until tender, about 10 minutes depending on the toughness and thickness of the asparagus and how tender you like them). When done, lift out the asparagus with a large slotted spoon, drain and divide among the plates.

For soft boiled eggs (like in the photos), simply boil the eggs on a low boil for 5 minutes, drain and peel off the shell very gently so as not to break the eggs themselves (do this under cool running water or in a bowl of cool water so as not to burn your fingers). Place one egg on top of the asparagus on each plate.

Drizzle a tablespoon or so of olive oil over each serving of asparagus and egg, dust generously with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and serve immediately.

26 comments:

Christina said...

Oh my! What is not to love? Asparagus is wonderful and topped with egg and Parmesan would be simply lovely together! I will definitely be trying this one this weekend!
My heart, thoughts, and prayers are with you and your family during this stressful time.

Cake Duchess said...

I think everyone has to deal with difficult situations their own way. I'm happy you got to get away to meet in Paris:)I send gentle many hugs to Marty. Your salad is lovely for hot summer days. xx

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Oh, I definitely know how you feel. This afternoon I broke down in tears in the street while on my way to the vet... The fear of losing my kitty was so big that my emotions exploded. And I'm not the kind to cry easily. Those little creatures have such a big heart and pure soul. They are our "babies".

Praying for you and Marty (what a cutie)...

Delicious asparagus and a lovely meeting!

Hugs,

Rosa

Javelin Warrior said...

It's good to see Marty is back home with you and your family - but the waiting is so dreadful. Those pictures say it all, poor little guy... I've never had a fried egg on ketchup covered bread before, but I'm going to have to try it. And this soft cooked egg over asparagus looks marvelous, Jamie...

Robin | what-about-the-food said...

Something yellow, some distractions, and some kind of love. It is all here.

Terra said...

Our babies are so special, and such an important part of our lives! I really hope sweet Marty feels better soon. Your asparagus dish looks delicious, I remember trying something similar to this from the lovely Dorie Greenspan recipe book:-) Beautiful! Hugs, Terra

Jamie said...

@Rosa's Yummy Yums: I, too, know how you feel about your kitties and my heart goes out to you. I hope you had someome with you because I would have a hard time bringing Marty to the vet all alone. Poor kitty. I hope all goes well. xoxo

Lisa said...

I'm so glad you found some delights to distract you a bit considering all the pain you've been through with Marty - but so happy to see he's back home and comfortable..love surrounding him every which way. Such a handsome little fella!

This asparagus dish is simple, beautiful and phenomenal. Not to mention your egg is cooked to soft-boiled perfection..exactly how I love it! I usually roast asparagus to munch on, but I'm trying it this way next time - love, love, love that egg on top!

Jamie said...

@Lisa: Funny, I was hoping for a slightly runnier egg which is why I suggest 5 minutes for a large egg (I cooked mine for 6) and I really want to try grilling the asparagus next time. This is such a simple and wonderful meal.

Amanda said...

This is a lovely dish and a perfect one with which to honour Barbara - fresh ingredients, treated simply and honestly.
I love the photo's of your outing - I'm so glad to see you all looking so happy.

A Canadian Foodie said...

Glad to see doggy is back and doing better. Adorable photos of him. And, to just hope on a train to go to Paris for a day. Oh, my.
:)
V

Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

Just reading your words bring a tear to my eye; our pets become a part of the fabric of our lives; they are not outside of our family looking in...there are most definitely in our private circle. Sometimes I think they are attuned even more closely to those of us that love them than we really know but I most definitely know we are as attuned to them as any other member of the family. My heart breaks for you, for your family and yes, for poor Marty for all he has been through. It's time for hugs and prayers and you've all got mine.

Jamie said...

@Barbara: Your comment brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for being my friend. xo

Anonymous said...

i'm glad you little one is back home w/ you now and yes it is a roller coaster. sometimes distractions are not just distraction but what one needs to get throught. my thoughts are with you and yours during this difficult time. be gentle with your self and take care.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

This is the kind of meal I like to make for myself when no one else is at home. I do grill the asparagus, sometimes on my panini press. And this is a much healthier comfort food than the cookies and chips I might have reached for in the past. What a nice treat to have a visit with David and The One in Paris, too!

tasteofbeirut said...

I envy how you can put your feelings on paper; must be so therapeutic!
Great meal too, love simplicity and flavor and not too much fuss.

Carolyn Jung said...

It's never insignificant when you lose someone. I read a quote in a book review recently that just stayed with me. It goes something like this: We think grief will disappear all at once, because it came all at once. But really, it's our guest for a lifetime.'' So true. What you're feeling is only natural.

Rambling Tart said...

I'm so sorry about Marty, Jamie. We had to put down two of our dogs this year and it was absolutely gutting. :-( Sending you a hug and hopes for your comfort. XO

Ivy said...

I truly hope that Marty recovers soon. I know the pain and sorrow after the loss of our cat a couple of years ago. Delicious eggs and asparagus to honour a friend who is now cooking for the angels.

Lora said...

A lovely elegant meal. Sending my good wishes for Marty's speedy recovery. I had many special dogs in my life and I feel for you and your family.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

This is how we eat asparagus often without any fuss. I make poached eggs and a light mustard sauce with it but it's the same variation! Love it. Great to see Marty back at home and as always I am rooting for him! Hugs!

Jamie said...

@Meeta : oh that mustard sauce sounds fantastic and would really change this whole dish! I love it!

Mairi @ Toast said...

Poor Marty, hope he is doing OK, it is awful to have to go through that with them, they really are a member of the family & it is heartbreaking to see them suffer. And those quotes about patience...I love & should pay them some heed!!! As for asparagus & eggs it doesn't get much better than that.

Baker Street said...

Hope Marty is better now! My spaniel suffered from pancreatic cancer a couple of years ago and I don't think there's anything that can describe how painful that was. I'll keep my fingers crossed for Marty and his speedy recovery.

Jeanne said...

Oh I love love love the combo of asparagus and soft, runny egg yolk! Simple perfection. Glad to hear that Marty is home being spoilt by his Mama & Papa :) Thanks for taking part in this month's extra special Mingle.

Paz said...

Wonderful dish! Best wishes to you.

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