Thursday, 20 December 2012

Spicy white asparagus christmas twigs


It´s the party season again,be it catering a small offering to take to the office, having the neighbours round for drinks, or a full blown, no expenses spared, evening of champagne and fine dining. The pressure is on but the brief is the same, you need be creating food that´s imaginative, original and most of all dressed to impress.
I was working as a waiter at a party once, and while working the room with a tray of pre-dinner canapés involving among other items some allumettes aux anchois ( anchovies rolled in very thinly sliced fried brown bread), I was involved in a chance meeting that will be hard for me ever to forget. As I thrust my offerings in front of a loquacious parley of thespians, the revered Imelda Staunton, startled by my arrival and eyeing me askance, enquired " my dear good man what are these?" Following my response she retorted" "may I call them a fish finger."She enjoyed her apparent new discovery so much that every time I passed she tugged my sleeve asking for replenishment....
Rolled canapés can be spectacular and make heads turn as you have seen.Anchovies aside, my suggestion here for a party conversation stopper is an unusual way of serving asparagus. Depending on what size you opt for these canapés they could be called cigars, cheroots (if they had truncated ends), or if using very thin asparagus and inspired by La Staunton "might I call them a twiglet".I have to say at this point, this was my first foray into filo´s world and tough it was too.Working with filo you need to keep your wits about you and work faster than the speed of light, but at the end of the day my little twigs were crisp as a pringle,short and sharp as the bite of a quaver and not nubby like a twiglet ever was.Step down Marmite, born in the Algarve here comes the new alternative conquering twiglet.With its introduction as an early starter on the Casa Rosada menu the demand is indicating that, like our guests, it is here to stay.

Parmesan and white asparagus twigs with presunto
Makes about 36
These twigs can be made up to 4 hours in advance and then reheated
If you can not get hold of fresh asparagus a good quality bottled asparagus will
be just as good, but be very careful not to break the spears when you take them out of the jar.
2  bunches of white asparagus,trimmed
18 very fine slices of presunto,prosciutto or parma ham,torn in half
6 sheets of fresh filo pastry
100g butter,melted
150 g finely grated parmesan
cayenne pepper for dusting
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Using a vegetable peeler, peel the last 5cm of each asparagus stalk,then cut stalks in half width wise.If any of the stem ends are particularly fat.cut in half lengthwise.Blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes or until just tender.Drain and refresh in iced water,then refresh again.
Working with one sheet of pastry at a time and keeping the others covered with a lightly dampened tea towel,brush lightly with melted butter,sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of parmesan and a pinch of cayenne,then cut in half lengthwise.Cut each half into 3 to get 6 roughly square sheets of pastry.Roll apiece of ham diagonally around each asparagus spear.Place an asaparagus spear across the bottom left-hand corner of one square and roll up diagonally and as tightly as possible.Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Place the twigs on on greased oven trays,brush generously with more melted butter.Sprinkle lightly with Flor de sal and bake for 10-12 minutes or until crisp and pale golden.Serve warm or reheat when required.

1 comment:

  1. Fab, fab, fabulous idea. May I call it that? I suspect I shall be serving this on Christmas Day, where it will become a "Kentish Town Frond"! My butcher has just given me a really good deal on a whole parma ham and I am awash with the stuff!

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