Asparagus-Potato ChowderGet ready to slurp some great soup. The “Asparagus-Potato Chowder,” from the April/May 2014 issue of Fine Cooking, allows you to exploit a pound and a half of marvelous asparagus, from end to end. Here’s what I mean: the “woody ends” of the asparagus, which we typically chop off and throw into the compost heap, are used here to make this soup’s stock. How brilliant! Also, each asparagus tip is “halved lengthwise,” which is a sensible way to make them mouth friendly in a soup. All good.

As you build this soup, luxuriate in the scents of garlic + Dijon mustard + white wine. The mascarpone and cream provide the alluring smoothness, and their creamy flavor pairs so perfectly with the chopped dill. I added 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt at the end. My diners devoured this one.

Honey-Lime Chicken Wings…and speaking of delicious fun, the sticky/tangy/sweet “Honey-Lime Chicken Wings,” from the same April/May 2014 issue of Fine Cooking, inspired sticky “thumbs up” from my diners. To make these wings kid-friendly, I replaced the sauce’s Sriracha with tomato paste. Nobody was hurt.

I enjoyed broiling the chicken wings first, then mixing them into the pot of sticky sauce after. This was the cleanest method, rather than brushing sauce on the wings and ruining the broiler pan with an uncleanable mess. I broiled the wings for 12 minutes, until “charred in spots,” then flipped them and broiled for another 6 minutes. Easy, right?

Do garnish with chopped scallions. I found their sharpness kicked my taste buds back into focus, after a mouth full of sweet sticky wings.

PRICES:
Onions (2) = .98¢
Chicken Wings (2.5 lbs.) = $7.60

PREP TIMES: dedicate 90 minutes or so to the soup prep and cooking; including splitting the chicken wing joints and zesting your lime, you can eat sticky wings after 30 minutes of attention
TASTES:
Dijon mustard, white wine, and dill complement creamy mascarpone and hearty potatoes in the asparagus soup; honey + tamari + fish sauce + lime coat wings in a crowd-pleasing sticky/tangy/sweet sauce

Next time, I will dig into an old cookbook: Craig Claiborne’s Southern Cooking, published in 1987. I’ll make the “Mirlitons Stuffed with Shrimp” (where I’ll swap in eggplants) (recipe below), “Southern Biscuit Muffins” (in a muffin tin!), and “Okra with Tomato Sauce” (a guaranteed winner) (recipe below). Come back to my site next week, to witness my historic(!) meal.

Mirlitons Stuffed with Shrimp
Craig Claiborne’s Southern Cooking
Makes 6 servings

3 mirlitons (chayotes) (3/4 to 1 lb. each)
salt to taste
3/4 lb. raw shrimp in the shell
4 Tbsp. butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp. finely minced garlic
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
1 egg yolk
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup fine fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Split the mirlitons in half lengthwise. Put in a kettle of cold water and add salt to taste. Bring to the boil and simmer about 10 minutes. Do not overcook or the mirlitons will become mushy. Drain and run briefly under cold water. Drain again.

Using a spoon or melon-ball cutter, scoop out the flesh and seeds of each half, leaving a shell about 1/8-inch thick or slightly thicker. Set the shells aside. Chop flesh and seeds fine. There should be about 1 cup. Set aside.

Peel and devein the shrimp and coarsely chop. There should be about 1 1/4 cups. Set aside.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Heat 2 Tbsp. butter in a saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until wilted. Sprinkle with flour and stir to distribute evenly. Add the milk, stirring rapidly with a wire whisk.

When the sauce is thickened and smooth, add the chopped pulp. Bring to the boil, stirring, and add the scallions.

Remove from the heat and stir in the egg yolk. Let stand to room temperature. Stir in the shrimp, salt, pepper, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, and parsley.

Stuff the mirliton halves with the mixture, piling it up and smoothing it over.

Blend the remaining 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and the cheese. Sprinkle over the stuffing, patting to help it adhere. Dot with remaining 2 Tbsp. butter.

Arrange stuffed halves in a lightly buttered baking dish and place in the oven. Bake 20 minutes.

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Okra in Tomato Sauce
Craig Claiborne’s Southern Cooking
Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 lbs fresh baby okra
4 cups canned tomatoes
4 Tbsp. butter
salt, pepper

Wash the okra in cold water. Drain well.

Put the okra into a pan and add about 1/2 cup cold water. Cover and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until the okra is tender.

Meanwhile, blend the tomatoes thoroughly in a blender.

Drain okra and add tomatoes, butter, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, partly cover, and cook until the okra is tender and the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.