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The truth is

I have to tell you something sort of unpleasant today, but somehow, I don’t think you’re going to be surprised: I have not been doing much cooking lately.

I was hoping to be able to avoid the topic, but I can’t. There is a lot going on over here, and you can see it as clearly as I can, so there’s no point in trying to fool anyone. The truth is, for the past week, we’ve been living on a pot of pinto beans spiked with Tapatio, four steamed artichokes, a few pans of scrambled eggs, a quart of ice cream, one bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, and one bag of Blazin’ Buffalo & Ranch Doritos. I am not too proud to admit it. I am also not too proud to blame Delancey. In fact, I totally blame Delancey, with all my heart. Yesterday, I managed to roast some parsnips for lunch, and I felt so pleased with myself, so absolutely elated,
as though I’d suddenly discovered that my oven door opened directly into Narnia. It was really something.

Not as great a something, though, as the roasted asparagus with walnut crema that I made for dinner a few hours later. The oven and I were on a roll.

I found the recipe in A16: Food + Wine, by Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren, executive chef and wine director, respectively, of the restaurant A16. I’ve wanted to go to A16 for a long time now, but somehow, whenever I’m in San Francisco, I wind up so distracted by every option on every street corner that I completely forget what I went there for. I think sensory overstimulation is a requirement for any proper visit to the Bay Area, so I don’t fight it too hard, though it means, sadly, that I have never been to A16. Luckily, the book makes a happy stopgap. It’s visually stunning - clean but warm, with lots of luminous photographs on sturdy matte paper - and the recipes walk a fine, perfect line between simple and complex, rustic food and restaurant food. It’s the kind of cookbook I feel inclined to keep on the nightstand, so that I can read it in bed. Just this past weekend, it won Book of the Year in the 2009 IACP Cookbook Awards, so if you need a really firm, serious endorsement, there you go. It also contains the most inspired asparagus recipe I’ve run across in ages, which is why I’m rattling on and on like this.

It was 70 degrees in Seattle yesterday, unreal for April 6, and I decided to mark the occasion by driving with the windows down and buying some asparagus. The A16 book was lying on the coffee table in the living room, and at some point in the afternoon, I picked it up to put it somewhere else, and when I did, it fell open to page 102, the recipe for Roasted Asparagus with Walnut Crema and Pecorino Tartufo. I took it as a sign. From Narnia.

The recipe title sounds fancy, and the finished dish tastes fancy, too, but in essence, it’s very straightforward. First, you make the walnut crema. You bring some water to a boil, toss in some walnuts, and cook them until they’re tender to the tooth. While this is going on, you sweat some red onion in a skillet. Then you dump both items into the food processor with some of the walnut-blanching water, blend it all up, and then pour in olive oil while you blend it some more. The resulting mixture, now worthy of the handsome word crema, looks a little like hummus, but it tastes somehow more like a distant cousin of pesto: fragrant, rich, and deeply savory. You spoon it onto a platter, top it with roasted asparagus, shave some ribbons of pecorino over the whole thing, and splash it with olive oil. The pecorino melts against the hot asparagus, and it’s salty and tangy, and the walnut crema sort of slithers beneath it all, subtle but beguiling. We scraped our plates, and then we had it again for lunch today.

Roasted Asparagus with Walnut Crema and Pecorino
Adapted from A16: Food + Wine

The original version of this recipe calls for Pecorino Tartufo, a sheep’s milk cheese with black truffle, but barring that, any aged pecorino works nicely. I used Pecorino Romano. The original recipe also calls for finishing the dish with some toasted walnuts, but I skipped that part. The walnut crema carried plenty of nut flavor for me, and I thought that anything more was overkill. Maybe I’m weird. Either way, I finished mine with a squeeze of lemon, and it was a nice counterbalance to the richness of the crema.

This recipe is intended to serve six, and even if you don’t need to feed that many, I would go ahead and make the full amount of crema. It will keep in the fridge for a few days, and you can roast the asparagus as needed. (One bunch is perfect for two people.) Also, Brandon has a hunch that leftover crema would make a terrific sauce for pasta, tossed with fresh garlic, lemon, and a little Italian parsley.

For walnut crema:
Kosher salt
1 ½ cups raw walnuts
½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, diced (about 1 cup)

For asparagus:
3 bunches fat asparagus (about 30 spears, total)
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 block Pecorino Romano or Pecorino Tartufo
Lemon wedges, optional

To make the walnut crema, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the walnuts, and blanch for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender in the middle. (I pulled mine out after 8 minutes, thinking that they seemed tender enough, but I should have left them for the full 10 minutes. My finished crema was slightly grainy, probably meaning that my walnuts weren’t soft enough.) Drain the walnuts, reserving ¼ cup of the cooking water. Set aside separately.

In a small skillet, warm 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt, and sweat for about 7 minutes, or until golden brown and softened. Remove from the heat.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the walnuts, the reserved cooking water, and the onion, and process until creamy. Taste for seasoning: it will probably need a decent amount of salt. With the motor running, slowly add ½ cup olive oil, processing until blended. The crema should have the consistency of a creamy hummus. If it seems too thick, add a little water. Taste again for seasoning, and then transfer to a bowl or other container. Cover, and hold at room temperature. (Crema can be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for a few days. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Preheat the oven to 500°F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.

Snap the tough ends from the asparagus spears. Rinse them, and then dry them well. Spread them in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Drizzle them lightly with olive oil, and roll them around, smearing the oil with your hands, to coat evenly. Season with kosher salt. Bake for about 8 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice, until blistered, slightly charred, and tender.

To serve, spoon the crema evenly across the bottom of a platter. Arrange the asparagus spears on top. Working quickly, while the asparagus is still hot, shave Pecorino generously over the platter. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, and serve immediately, with a squeeze of lemon, if you like.

Yield: 6 (first-course) servings


Blogger OnTheMove said...

The recent Seattle spring sunshine has kept me outside until it's too late to deal with complicated dinner prep. Tonight was my own version of a pasta primavera - heavy on the asparagus and lemon zest. After reading your post I'm ready to hit the market for more asparagus and walnuts.

We're eating "interesting" meals lately as I empty the freezer in preparation for an Alaskan trip, but nothing beats fresh seasonal produce.

10:31 PM, April 07, 2009  
Blogger Keri said...

Oh. My. God. No wonder I bought fat asparagus today. Normally, I wait for the skinny ones, but I must try this, and I'm totally sold on giving the pasta topping a spin as well.

10:43 PM, April 07, 2009  
Blogger A Day That is Dessert said...

I walked right past the asparagus today at Whole Foods; I'm going to have to shop again tomorrow. All I've been eating are bad burgers and hot dogs at little league games.

10:56 PM, April 07, 2009  
Blogger Anna said...

YUM!! I can't believe it's asparagus season again, I'm so happy :)

11:17 PM, April 07, 2009  
Anonymous Valerie said...

Oh yum, yum, yum! We have a friend over for dinner tonight and that's what he will get as a first course!

11:17 PM, April 07, 2009  
Blogger Lickedspoon said...

So delighted you're back in the kitchen. This looks like an intriguing and delicious combination - can't wait to try out the crema.

11:44 PM, April 07, 2009  
Blogger Mathias said...

Dang, asparagus and pecorino. That's genius!

11:56 PM, April 07, 2009  
Blogger Samantha S said...

I just had asparagus yesterday for the first time this season. I will want to definitely try this - I adore walnuts so this recipe sounds like my sort of thing.

11:57 PM, April 07, 2009  
Blogger Victoria said...

I don't have that book but consider your endorsement more important than the IACP award.

Anyway, I had some delicious fat asparagus for dinner last night. But that was before this post.

Even though it was f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g in New York City yesterday, I know the asparagus will be peeping from the bed upstate pretty soon. By then I will have this recipe under my belt.

Can't wait to hear more about Delancey.

Did I ever tell you your dog is the cutest?

1:25 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger reya said...

Ooh Molly, you got me when I saw that image of the pecorino melting over the asparagus, so silken and translucent.

2:11 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Reuben Morningchilde said...

Mmmh... I usually make a walnut/arugula pesto, but this one sounds utterly intriguing.

Thanks for finding the time to cook again, bringing new ideas into our kitchens!

2:21 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Greg said...

How interesting. Alas, I am starting to worry that I sound like a broken record of an ungrateful, uncultured reader. Don't be offended, but again, I don't think I can make this dish, at least not as a main course. As much as I love asparagus (it might just be my favorite vegetable ever), my husband gets apprehensive if he sees even a side of delicious, simple roasted asparagus on his plate. A whole plate of it might give him a panic attack. Sorry. It does sound tasty though, and the combination of ingredients is truly inspired.

3:18 AM, April 08, 2009  
Anonymous emily said...

oh yum. we're roasting asparagus tonight. and i just might have to make that crema to go with it. (ps. - i owe you a note. it's coming!)

4:34 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Maggie said...

I haven't seen any local asparagus in NY yet, but this was the recipe I've been eyeing in the A16 cookbook, too. Simple and yet unusual. Looks and sounds delicious

I hear the restaurant is lovely. Meet you there?

4:44 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger michaela said...

while its sunny and gorgeous in seattle, i've been in boston and ny where its been pouring and 40s. not fair. i'm hoping the weather holds on until i return.

where the aspargus local or from CA? i haven't seen any from WA/OR yet.

5:03 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Laura. said...

oh, yeah. need to try this one for sure! hurrah, spring!

5:22 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Anna said...

Anything with walnuts in it makes me very happy. This looks delicious! I cooked with my first batch of spring asparagus the other day so I am feeling very inspired to try more asparagus options!

5:39 AM, April 08, 2009  
Anonymous LaurieA-B said...

I'm looking forward to my first asparagus of the spring; last night I was wondering if Pike Street Fish Fry is offering fried asparagus yet, it was delectable last year. This sounds great too.

5:47 AM, April 08, 2009  
Anonymous Meghan at Making Love In the Kitchen said...

We all have out moments when things take us away from where we might prefer to be. I kind of think of it in the same way as when I take a week off yoga... I always come back ready, refreshed and inspired.

5:54 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Roasted asparagus on its own is lovely, but that walnut crema sounds perfectly divine. I'm putting asparagus on my shopping list right this minute.

6:07 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger ashley said...

I made pickled asparagus with oregano & marjoram the other day and it was such a scrumptious introduction to spring! I'll have to try your recipe.

Btw, I've been curling up with your book, before I turn in at night, in the bath, on the couch. Truly loving it. Loving it so much, in fact, that it reduced me to tears as you told of your and Brandon's courtship. Made me walk immediately downstairs and plant a kiss squarely on my own hubby's forehead. Our relationship, not to mention overall preferences, parallels could not be more similar. Thank you for writing a work of such gorgeous, and candid, poignancy.

6:18 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Greetings! said...

Sounds and looks delicious! I love asparagus and love new ways of preparing it. Thanks for passing on the recipe and the book title - sounds like a good one to get!

6:21 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger jai.faim said...

I just took this book out from the library and have been perusing through the pages over the last few days. The pizza recipes caught my eye and the amaretto cookies sound so delicious. However, I will definitely have to try this asparagus recipe out. Thanks for sharing!

6:23 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Erika said...

I cannot wait to try this. Unfortunately it is 9:30 in the morning and I'm at work. Bah.

6:37 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger City Girl said...

This sounds absolutely scrumptious. I am already planning to buy the first asparagus of the season when I go to the market on Sunday, and may well make this dish :)

6:38 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Amanda said...

No local asparagus here in Pennsylvania yet, but I couldn't resist buying some imports. I think we're all aching for spring here. I will definitely be trying this walnut crema.

Oh, and to Keri's comment: I actually find the fat asparagus are often sweeter and tenderer than the thin ones, especially when oven roasting. Just peel the skins off the lower stems.

6:45 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger rachelef said...

So lucky to have asparagus! the season isn't quite here yet in Philadelphia, but I've been pining...

7:05 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger green ink said...

That walnut crema sounds utterly divine.

Hurrah for the return of asparagus!

7:06 AM, April 08, 2009  
OpenID thecatskillkiwi said...

It might still be snowing here... but I'm off to find some asparagus!

7:11 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Shannalee said...

This looks perfectly lovely. Marking it down to try this weekend.

7:28 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Megan said...

I get a little frustrated when other things take up my cooking time. I'm glad you were able to get back to the oven for a little bit. It will all be worth it when Delancey is up and running!

I love asparagus and am very excited to try this recipe! Thanks for sharing it!

7:31 AM, April 08, 2009  
Anonymous Luisa said...

Despite the fact that that book beat out my authors' book at IACP on Saturday night, when it won I cheered. It's totally genius.

7:48 AM, April 08, 2009  
Anonymous beyond said...

in nyc it is snowing right now. snowing. doesn't feel like asparagus season yet.
walnut crema? sounds like bliss.

7:48 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Laura [What I Like] said...

Oh god I cannot wait for asparagus season to start! They are also fantastic roasted with a little balsamic vinegar. But that walnut crema sounds phenomenal. I feel like I've been throwing walnuts in everything lately (blended in salad dressing is my new thing) so you have most certainly hit my mood perfectly!

7:49 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Shelley said...

Yum, I have been looking for a recipe for asparagus that actually complements the bitter-sweet. This seems absolutely perfect. Thanks!

7:54 AM, April 08, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds interesting, so I have to try and am eating a few nuts a day so another way to include them YAY. I made my roasted asparagus with an Asian type dressing the other day- worked nicely- but the highlight of my cooking week so far was salmon and fingerling potatoes- I got really fresh salmon from a fisherman that had ZERO odor- (neither did the fish) anyway I made a marinade (paste) with lime, cumin, a little oil, cinnamon, garlic, allspice and two little teaspoons of chipotle - so yummy- Then I decided to treat the potatoes the same except the lime and wowser! Isn't roasting grand?

Recent comment from me- spell check fixed Granddaughter to be Grand Daugherty! Too funny -

Oh and now I have the spelling right - Delancey- great name.


7:57 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Anna Haight said...

I live in California, so I'm thinking the asapagus that's been showing up with great prices is local. You've inspired me to try another way to serve them! I usually marinate in lemon and EVOO and grill outside.

8:54 AM, April 08, 2009  
Anonymous Monica said...

This restaurant will do this to you again and again. And you will find your moments of peace in the simplest of recipes. I have never been so brave as to build my own restaurant so I can only speak as one who owns/operates one: You will be the most tired, the most scared, and the happiest that you have ever been! And some days will go by and you will crave cooking just a little something! And you will. And it will be divine!
Peace and Bliss my friends!

8:57 AM, April 08, 2009  
Anonymous Jen said...

Cheers to Narnia! Happy to read that inspiration trickled in...Your photos are gorgeous and now my stomach is growling prematurely for lunch.

9:03 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Localette said...

yum yum double yum. hey and don't feel bad about the doritos or anything...I figure I have to eat junk sometimes to appreciate the good stuff ;) thanks for the inspiration

9:13 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger jennie said...

thanks for the post! i'm wondering if almonds or pecans would work in this recipe since that's what i have on hand at the moment... or would that be completely wrong? forgive my ignorance. ;-)

by the way, i lovedlovedloved your book, molly! my friends and coworkers thank you too as i've been on a orangette-high, happily cooking one recipe after another with amazingly scrumptious results.
of course, what else could have been expected?! :)

i'm glad to hear it is warm in seattle! enjoy the day and thanks again for sharing with us!

9:40 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger m*buckley said...

pairing walnuts and asparagus sounds so nice. hazelnuts might take their place for me, though, when i attempt this dish. because it's just a question of when, not if.

9:42 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Goat Girl said...

I always feel relaxed after reading here. And hungry. Sigh.

10:10 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger kickpleat said...

That sounds like the perfect simple spring supper. Yesterday was a beautiful day and I wish I had picked up asparagus when I saw some. Will have to go back to the market today. Thank you!

10:16 AM, April 08, 2009  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Making this TONIGHT. Thank you!!
And Molly, if you feel bad about not making it to A16, please think of the girl who lives in Berkeley, works in SF, and STILL hasn't made it there.
then you won't feel so bad.

10:30 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger MyLastBite said...

You've inspired me. I got the A16 book for my birthday recently and haven't read to page 102 yet.

I'm making the asparagus tonight.


10:34 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Heather M said...

Oh my goodness gracious, this looks delectable. I'm so glad you've been able to balance out those addictive doritos with something a bit more wholesome.

10:41 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger The Single Gal said...

I hadn't heard of the A16 book before & now I've come across it 2x in the last week. I think that's a sign I need to go get a copy!

Check out this great article on Design*Sponge from Rabelais Books in Portland - they included the A16 book on their list of the Top Ten Cookbooks: http://www.designspongeonline.com/2009/04/rabelais.html

11:11 AM, April 08, 2009  
Anonymous Mel H said...

It is freezing in Toronto, and I am eagerly awaiting local asparagus at the market. I think sadly its still quite a few weeks away- however the minute it arrives I'll have your walnut crema waiting in the wings. Grazie mille Molly!

11:14 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Rosiecat said...

Wow, this is one glamorous spring dish! Well done, Molly. Roasted asparagus is delicious with nothing but a splash of oil and some salt and pepper, but this dish sounds like roasted asparagus all dolled up and going to the prom. Lovely.

11:18 AM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Claudia said...

I'm at the processor now with my walnuts. The "children-on-their-way-home-from-college" will thank you.

12:00 PM, April 08, 2009  
Anonymous Sara said...

The walnut crema sounds delicious. It does sound like a great pasta sauce.

12:08 PM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Wide Lawns said...

I made this for our Seder tonight, only without the cheese, as we are having meat and can't mix meat and milk (I'm sure its better with the cheese). I couldn't stop eating the crema out of the food processor. I was licking my rubber scraper. It's really yummy, but seems slightly unbalanced. I think I need to add a squirt of lemon.

12:56 PM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Phoo-D said...

Thank you for sharing this! We just had dinner at A-16 on Saturday night and it was an incredible meal. The perfect balance between rustic simplicty and intense flavors. I didn't buy the book because I ran out of room in my suitcase (a stop at the farmer's market will do that fast) but I will go and order one pronto!

1:00 PM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger laura said...

Nothing like doritos & ice-cream to fill out the week's menu! We've all had those.

1:47 PM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Gemma said...

Haven't had any asparagus yet but when I've tired of it dipped in melted butter I will definitely give this a shot. Only problem I can foresee is tiring of eating asparagus in melted butter..

2:57 PM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger denise said...

oh yes...i've experienced such doritos type periods in my life too. i just substituted my favorites, barbara's cheese puffs and snap pea crisps, for your two doritos flavors. same salty fatty calories, different names. ha!

3:22 PM, April 08, 2009  
Anonymous andrea said...

I love asparagus but I really want to try those Blazin' Buffalo and Ranch Doritos.

3:26 PM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Erin said...

A 16 really is phenomenal, and not too expensive! Delicious, authentic food, and the whole crew is really nice. Did you know that on Monday night's they do Meatball Night - feature a different meatball every week? Doesn't get any better than that in my book.

Next time you are in the Bay Area email me if you need someone to go with! :)

3:48 PM, April 08, 2009  
Anonymous enzee said...

That was a great post. I love how the simple things in life can make us feel so great...Also, I wish you luck opening the restaurant. It's gonna be hard work, but you'll do great. I hope to eat there some day. Oh, I know what I'm bringing for Easter dinner at our friends Bob & Barb's house this weekend.

4:02 PM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger this humble abode said...

Go to A16.

4:13 PM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Lisa said...

Mmmm. Maybe I'll use this as an excuse to visit the tiny little local market in a nearby town -- certainly we can't do that once our own market season starts in a few weeks!

God I love asparagus. I'm hoping to remember mid-summer that I really want to start a family patch for us this year!

4:14 PM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Well, hello to my new Easter vegetable dish! Thanks!

4:34 PM, April 08, 2009  
Anonymous Mixing Bowl Mama said...

Oh, I can't wait until I can make this...here in Ontario we've just had two days of SNOW so we're a bit away from eating asparagus. We're trying very hard to eat as local as possible and the only asparagus I've seen in the stores is coming from Mexico...soon though, soon.

Thank you for the lovely post and recipe.

5:44 PM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Monica said...

I have been cooking from this book for a while now.
Have not tried the asparagus recipe, however, will now give it a go.
I have made Bruschetta with Peperonata and the Chocolate and Sea Salt Shortbread Cookies, both are sublime.
I too have yet to go to A16, but will have a go soon- being I live in the Bay Area.
Will be interested to know what you think of the Caputo 00 flour.

8:57 PM, April 08, 2009  
Blogger Darya Pino said...

Ha! I'm going to A16 on Friday. Haven't been there in at least a year. Will let you know if asparagus is still on the menu.

10:53 PM, April 08, 2009  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

I adore the way you write, Molly.

Now I will hunt high and low for pecorino and wait patiently for asparagus to make its brief and expensive appearance on the Korean peninsula.

12:41 AM, April 09, 2009  
Anonymous gine said...

mmm ... looks delicious :-)! Great recipe!

7:01 AM, April 09, 2009  
Blogger mrslavendula said...

i love asparagus! great pictures by the way, it looks like ill be visiting this blog often!

7:45 AM, April 09, 2009  
Blogger Chelsea said...

Wow, walnut crema sounds fantastic! I love the word "crema". Thanks for another inspiring recipe:)

8:16 AM, April 09, 2009  
Blogger swellflamingo said...

Holy Moly. How Yummy. Just started reading your blog... read about it over at Soulemama. What a great day to start reading it... beautiful post and I love asparagus!

8:25 AM, April 09, 2009  
Blogger Anne Zimmerman said...

Asparagus is one of my favorite parts of spring. Most of the time I can't bear to do anything beyond simply roast it. The flavors are too good! But this recipe sounds great; I cretainly trust A-16

9:08 AM, April 09, 2009  
Anonymous Mary Casper said...

I had some roasted asparagus with a dilly creamy yogurt dip at a kitschy palm sunday party last weekend and this looks like it could be a nice followup! Also, walnuts (in my book, the affordable nut) need more play these days.

10:05 AM, April 09, 2009  
Blogger Barbara said...

A winner once again and your photograph of the asparagus made me want to reach into the page and savor it!

12:06 PM, April 09, 2009  
Anonymous Chilli said...

I picked up asparagus yesterday for another recipe I've been meaning to try and now I see this droolworthy recipe!! I'm torn...I think the dilemma shall be solved by buying a second bunch of asparagus!! I have to try this.
You live in Seattle so it's easy to see why your attention may be diverted to other restaurants when you are here...I've lived in San Francisco for six years now, could have gone to A16 for any number of reasons and still haven't...something always prevents it or changes plans...oh well, someday..

12:33 PM, April 09, 2009  
Blogger Caroline said...

This sounds wonderful. We got some asparagus in our CSA box last week. If we get more this week, I'll try this recipe for our Easter dinner.

On another note, I finished your book last week. I had the best time reading it! I laughed, I cried, sometimes all at once. I especially liked all the chapters about your Dad. Your descriptions and stories are so vivid that, by the end of the book, I felt like I knew him. He sounds like a very special person. I'm so sorry for your loss, but I'm happy that you have so many wonderful memories (and recipes) from the times you shared.

I haven't made any of the recipes yet, but I will make the French Lemon Yogurt Cake as a dessert this weekend. Now, I just need to keep my fingers crossed for the asparagus...

1:33 PM, April 09, 2009  
Blogger RecipeGirl said...

The asparagus recipe sounds amazing. I've made asparagus every which way, but never with walnuts.

I can relate to your having parsnips for lunch. It's the sort of lunch I find myself making often. On a recent gloomy day, I roasted whole carrots of three colors. It was the best lunch I'd had in a while, and they were all for me!

4:40 PM, April 09, 2009  
Blogger Nicole said...

Cooking much or not, I have to say your asparagus is gorgeous. A perfect spring dish.

10:17 PM, April 09, 2009  
Anonymous Laura said...

I have resisted buying a copy of A16 because I have too many cookbooks already. Many people I know told me that it is a great book so I might give in after all. The chickpea dish is also fantastic I heard.

We have been trying to open a restaurant in the city we live too. We have a name, the concept, and a business plan, but no funds. The many people who were interested in investing disappeared after the economy bonked. One day....in the meantime I will live my dream virtually through you guys. I have some friends in Seattle, I will tell them to check your place out when it opens. Best of luck!

7:20 AM, April 10, 2009  
Anonymous Hillary said...

We've been eating a ton of asparagus lately! We have simply steamed it and served it plain but perhaps it needs some dressing up...

10:04 AM, April 10, 2009  
Blogger Diana said...

I'm definitely making this as soon as I can get my hands on some asparagus. But I wonder why we shouldn't toast the walnuts. Wouldn't toasting them add toastiness-- or would it ruin the texture?

12:06 PM, April 10, 2009  
Blogger Molly said...

Hi, all!

Victoria, I am so jealous that you're growing your own asparagus. SO JEALOUS.

Greg, maybe you should make it just for yourself? It's worth the trouble, I promise.

Michaela, this asparagus was from California. I haven't seen any from WA/OR yet, either. But for now, California is close enough for me. I'm desperate for spring.

Thank you, Ashley! That makes me happy.

Jennie, I'm not sure if you'll see this reply - it comes a bit late, I know - but I wouldn't use almonds or pecans here. I don't think the flavor of either would be quite right, and I think the almonds might be a bit too dense. They might not puree properly. It probably wouldn't be a disaster, of course, but I doubt it would be as good. (If you do try it, though, please let me know. I would love to hear how it went.) Oh, and thank you for your sweet words about the book!

The Single Gal, that Design*Sponge piece was written by my friend Maria! Isn't Rabelais great? Maria always finds good things.

Wide Lawns, yes, try a squeeze of lemon on top. For me, that sealed the deal. That, and a bit of salt.

Laura, I'm so sorry to hear about your woes, re: restaurant investors. That's awful. It's such a hard time to be starting any kind of business. Bleh. We have gotten small amounts of money from a number of places - a loan, a line of credit from a bank, and a couple of friends and family members - but it's been hard. We're on a tight budget.

Diana, I know what you meant about toasting the walnuts. It would certainly bring out their flavor, yes. But I do think it might mess up the texture. Toasting them would make them more crispy and crunchy, which would make the crema grainy - unless you boiled the toasted walnuts before pureeing. Hmm. Not sure what to tell you...

12:37 PM, April 10, 2009  
Blogger Jenni said...

Just wanted to tell you that I'm going to attempt a non-dairy version of the Hearts and Minds cake for our family's Easter celebration. My hubby is allergic to dairy, so I've got super dark chocolate and earth balance margerine. I'll let you know how it goes. For me, I also like the relgious connotations to the "Winning Hearts and Minds" name. It works for so many things! Thanks for sharing it.

1:30 PM, April 10, 2009  
Blogger trupeach said...

i love, love, love roasted asparagus & this will gussy it up just right.

2:18 PM, April 10, 2009  
Blogger whimseycreations said...

Molly, I downloaded your book on my Kindle last week - I can't even remember where I saw it publicized but it's fabulous! The stories are wonderful and I've already bookmarked some of the recipes. Thanks so much for sharing your life!

4:41 PM, April 10, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After a week of vacation with kids - and more than my share of chicken nuggets, fries, etc. - I am craving green. This is my ticket! Thanks for bringing me back to real foodie life!

5:37 PM, April 10, 2009  
Blogger Uncle Beefy said...

Oh but you must be sick of reading comments but... this sounded heavenly from the start and immediately took me back to Rome where I indulged in a glorious (yes, Brandon) pasta w/ walnut sauce! One of the most heavenly things that has graced my gullet!

Me thinks I am going to have to check out this A16 book of which you speak.

And the "my oven door opened directly into Narnia" line? PRICELESS!

Happy weekending!

6:01 PM, April 10, 2009  
Anonymous Louise said...

I will try the asparagus recipe..it sounds wonderful but right now I am wondering how you "presented" your Hearts and Mind Wedding Cake..did you do the traditional cutting of the cake,etc? Just asking as my son is newly engaged.. I have just finished your book and am thinking it would be a perfect engagement present..I made it this evening and will serve it for a celebratory desert tomorrow night..All the best with Delancey

7:13 PM, April 10, 2009  
Blogger Molly said...

Louise, we did do a traditional cutting of the cake, yes. Our caterer had put a few of the cakes out on a table, each on a cake stand and topped with a rose. It was very understated and pretty, I thought! (Here's a picture; scroll down.) When the time came, we cut into one of them, each took a bite, and then the caterer cut up all the rest.

7:38 PM, April 10, 2009  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

I go through phases of not cooking, too, when things are so busy, but getting back in the kitchen always grounds me. Enjoy the beautiful spring weather!

6:49 AM, April 11, 2009  
Blogger amisha said...

after seeing the delancey pics, i can see why the oven has been neglected! i am amazed with everything you two have been doing. there is going to be so, so much love in that place.
that said, the words "walnut crema" have been floating in my head since i saw these pics on flickr. oh my.

ps i've been cooking very little, for a much less exciting reaso (exams approaching), and living on my mama's very simple, very delicious makhani dal recipe. let me know if you don't have a recipe for it already and i'll send it your way :)

2:44 PM, April 11, 2009  
Anonymous katrina said...

wow i just loved your blog .your passion is same as mine-will bookmark your blog for future references too. even i have a blog on recipes,have a look you may love exploring it.my blog: http://bestrecipesguide.blogspot.com .
keep the gr8 work going on

12:43 AM, April 12, 2009  
Blogger Sarah said...

I am new to your blog and am very impressed, it took me an hour to scroll past all the previous comments to get here, you have quite a fan club, add me in!

9:25 AM, April 12, 2009  
Blogger A.Mountain.Bride said...

am in seattle for a month on an externship...spent easter with my ridiculously cool aunt/uncle in queen ann this weekend where i was introduced to your book and your blog - our entire easter feast were your creations (personally love the lemon yogurt cake - holy cow - thanks for that lil gem.)

LOVE your site. LOVE it.

7:07 PM, April 12, 2009  
Blogger Maya said...

Love the asparagus and always on the lookout to make something special like this recipe. Really looking forward to the opening of Delancy!

6:15 AM, April 13, 2009  
Anonymous Angelique from Bitchin' Lifestyle said...

Thanks for this! I may re-create this recipe or even submit it to the show for them to redo.

9:38 AM, April 13, 2009  
Blogger samerk said...

I have to say that I found your blog a while ago and then I lost it somehow, but Thank Goodness for Soule mama (at least I think it was her, it might have been Blue Yonder) at any rate one of them mentioned your book and blog and I was found again! I finished your book last night and I was sad, SAD because I was finished reading it. I will of course test drive every mouthwatering recipe and I have already recommended it to everyone I know. Beautifully written, so entertaining...my emotions ran the gamut and I must say I wished I could see the pictures of the food at your wedding(oh I used my imagination) but after seeing them here on your blog I must admit my imagination was just not vivid enough. Beautiful! Thank you!

11:28 AM, April 13, 2009  
Anonymous Mark Scarbrough said...

Love the walnut crema. Yum. And while asparagus seems an eternity away right now in rural New England where cold winds are strafing my front yard, I can certainly imagine this yummy sauce on many things. Oh, heck, on a piece of toast, in fact.

12:34 PM, April 13, 2009  
Blogger THE PARIS HOUSE said...

Oh My! I must eat this and I must eat this now, I am off to the farmers market

2:18 PM, April 13, 2009  
Anonymous dina said...

Amazing recipe! I made it yesterday and we all devoured it...yes, even the kids. I am sure we will make it again and again!

2:36 PM, April 13, 2009  
Blogger Virginia G said...

I made this for easter, and everyone loved it! Beyond the asparagus, we ate it on bread, crackers, and I wish I still had some leftover to mix with pasta and a little truffle oil...thank you!

3:30 PM, April 13, 2009  
Anonymous kc said...

I just discovered your blog and I love it. Just went out to buy your book. Your writing style is casual and fun. Your blog has inspired me to cook more and stop buying out all the time. Your blog has also made me miss Seattle a lot, where I used to live. Good luck with the restaurant!

10:32 PM, April 13, 2009  
Blogger Eddie Howard said...

I agree, A16: Food + Wine is a terrific cookbook. Everything I've cooked from it has been wonderful. I haven't tried this recipe yet, but I definitely will once it's asparagus season in NY (hopefully soon...).

4:19 AM, April 14, 2009  
Blogger Cookin' Canuck said...

Nothing screams spring like a beautiful bunch of thin, crisp asparagus. This recipe is going on my list of "must-try"s. Thanks for sharing this!

10:31 AM, April 14, 2009  
Anonymous 2bnMaine said...

This sounded so great I just had to try it. And I am so sorry to say I was very disappointed.

Would still prefer to simply roast naked asparagus in a hot oven and sprinkle with white balsamic vinegar.

Although, the crema is enjoyable as a kind of hummus.

2:05 PM, April 14, 2009  
Anonymous Feasting on Art said...

This has my mouth watering. I just did an asparagus dish and I really wish I had read your post beforehand!

3:20 PM, April 14, 2009  
Blogger Emily said...

molly, i don't suppose you know what farro is called in french? i don't suppose it is blé dur? it translates a durum wheat, is that the same as farro?

12:08 AM, April 16, 2009  
Blogger Emily said...

aaack! commented on the wrong post! sorry!

12:09 AM, April 16, 2009  
Blogger Emily said...

oh good lord. i hope you don't publish my comments! :) all other things aside i realized that all packaging here is printed in french, german and ITALIAN. shouldn't be too hard to find farro then at a health food store. haha! and yes, still commenting on the wrong post, decided to go with continuity rather than correctness.

12:21 AM, April 16, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Molly! I discovered your blog a few months ago and have been cooking my way through your recipe index ever since, but this is my first time to comment. I just love your writing...so vivid and beautiful. And your story is so inspiring. I was also in a Ph.D. program but left recently after the Masters and am trying to figure out what to do with myself now! I'm so happy for you that you've found what you truly love and are suceeding marvelously at it! Oh, and I love love LOVE your book. I've already bought 3 more copies and given them as gifts. It's been a huge hit.

As for this recipe...I have to say, I'm sorry but I wasn't crazy about it :( (first time! I have LOVED everything else I've made). My crema was really thick and bland even after I added a good bit more olive oil and salt. I ended up adding lemon juice and fresh ground pepper too, but still didn't love it. HOWEVER, I can confirm Brandon's suspicions- I tried turning the leftover crema into a pasta sauce the next day and it was fabulous! I crisped up some bacon in a skillet, took it out and drained off some of the fat, then deglazed the pan with chicken stock (maybe 1/3 to 1/2 cup? I don't know- I'm not a measurer unfortunately). Then I added the crema and whisked it in. I ended up adding more chicken stock in batches to thin it out until I got the consistency I wanted. Then I added the juice of half a lemon, a tbsp or more of crushed garlic, some red pepper flakes, sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and a tbsp of butter at the end. Delicious!! I served it over fettucini with roasted chicken and the crumbled bacon mixed in. It was so wonderfully creamy...like a thick walnut cream sauce but without the cream. Yum.

Thanks for all the great recipes! I look forward to your posts every week!


12:46 PM, April 16, 2009  
Blogger yola said...

I've been happily eating asparagus and spaghetti tossed with walnut crema all week -- thanks so much for finding such a beautiful pairing for me to add to my go-to recipes! And that pecorino and lemon definitely finish that spring taste, yum!

2:38 PM, April 16, 2009  
Anonymous laura said...

I can't wait to see the A16 cookbook - it sounds like a wonderful gourmet adventure. I always struggle to find something interesting to do with asparagus (no more hollandaise sauce please!) - the crema sounds just right.

7:56 AM, April 17, 2009  
Blogger Nostalgic Nosh said...

I love the minimalism of these food photographs, and they look delicious as well!

4:06 PM, April 18, 2009  
Blogger E-Kitten said...

And there it is, that magic number, 70. It makes people want to do things, to mark the wonder of warmth after months in a cave that seems to stretch across the entire country. And so thank God for asparagus, and artichokes, and avocados. Because here is what I do when it hits 70-I make guacamole and eat it with chips. And margaritas. Yum. I will have to try this asparagus next.

7:45 AM, April 19, 2009  
Blogger Mama JJ said...

Hi Molly,

I made this for supper last night and, sorry to say, it was not a hit. The crema and asparagus didn't meld, and like the other commenter said, it seemed unbalanced even after adding lots of salt and lemon. Kind of heavy and cloying (but not the sweet kind of cloying). I like the idea of adding sharper seasonings, such as cumin, bacon, red pepper etc...

That aside, we're feasting on asparagus---one of my favorite ways to eat it is quickly sauteed in butter and then drizzled with lemony creme fraiche and sprinkled with a chopped boiled egg.

2:05 PM, April 24, 2009  
Anonymous jfud said...

I made this a few days ago, and although initially weirded out by the consistency of the crema, it was delicious! I only salted the water and onions and I guess I got lucky, because it tasted just right.

Earthy, savory, lemony, asparagusy goodness.

Can't get enough.

6:53 PM, May 04, 2009  
Anonymous Maija said...

Had to report back that the boyfriend called this "crack" and loved it. Coincidentally, he returned home with a 3lb bag of walnuts from his family the same day that I made this. Hurrah!

We also dipped our roasted new potatoes in it. I think the salt added to the onions & the boiling water is what makes it work.

11:21 AM, May 06, 2009  
Anonymous Ingrid said...

I like walnut crema, but I think I like this (different but related) sauce even better. It's courtesy of my (wonderful) mother in law, I think by way of Mollie Katzen.

Heat two cups apple juice. Just before it boils, whisk in 4 T (1/4 cup) miso. Turn off the heat. Blend the miso/apple juice mixture (in a blender or food processor) with two cups of walnuts, 1 T grated ginger, and 1 T (or a little more) rice vinegar. Like walnut crema, the result looks like hummus. My mom in law's is a tiny bit grainy, which I think is just fine. This is good on asparagus, other veggies, rice, etc.

I've recently discovered your book and blog, and am enjoying both! Cheers.

6:33 PM, May 08, 2009  
Blogger Cate said...

Perhaps it's something in the air, the overwhelmingness of things to do right now. Your recipes keep me going (whether I make them or not), and while you're away we have all the previous material you've already so generously put together. I'll miss you. Have a good summer, and thanks.

4:31 AM, May 21, 2009  
Anonymous Gemma said...

Good luck Molly! There's nothing wrong with weighting priorities. I look forward to Orangette's return.

1:30 PM, May 22, 2009  
Blogger kener said...

Don't you know, I just discovered Orangette and now... Read the first chapter of your book and it is a must read (all on New York Times). I love the photography on your blog and look forward to reading the blogs and trying the recipes!

6:43 PM, May 31, 2009  
Blogger Kate said...

Oh Dear Lord, Brandon was right -- this makes a divine sauce for pasta. We had it last night over some sweet potato ravioli and snap peas; I made enough for both of us to take leftovers for lunch.

Instead, we ate the entire thing and I'm just dreaming about it...and wondering if I can get away with using the rest of the crema to make the same thing again tonight.

12:11 PM, June 18, 2009  
Anonymous Dazy said...

As you already know, I like your recipes, just wanted to tell you that I made this dish last week and it was amazing! Thank you so much for the recipe, it is one we will be enjoying again and again!

10:41 PM, July 21, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Help! I found your recipe for Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze in Bon Appetit. I am confused on the yeast. The recipe calls for 2 1/4 tsp., but then says "from 2 envelopes yeast". I made the recipe with 2 1/4 tsp. yeast, but that is only one envelope. It has been rising for 1 1/2 hours and is certainly not doubling in volume. Was I supposed to use 2 envelopes of yeast, which would be 5 tsp.??? Oh, The Trouble With Yeast!!!

12:43 PM, February 04, 2010  
Blogger Molly said...

Anonymous, don't worry! You made the dough correctly. I don't know why Bon Appetit said two envelopes of yeast, because 2 1/4 teaspoons is exactly the amount of yeast in one envelope, and that's what I called for in the recipe I sent them. Very frustrating!

As for why your dough isn't rising as fast as it should, I can think of two possibilities:

1. Is the room too cold? In the winter, my house is usually quite cool, and when I make yeast doughs, they take extra time to rise. Either give the dough more time, or try moving it to an area that's a little warmer. (But not hot.)

2. Is your yeast old, or close to its expiration date?

Hope this helps!

12:59 PM, February 04, 2010  

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