Date Posted: 20/04/2017
1 tbsp Vegetable oil
- Cut or break off the woody ends of the asparagus. Boil the spears in a large pan of salted water for 3 mins. Drain then plunge the spears into ice cold water to stop the cooking and set the colour. Pat the asparagus dry.
- Oil the spears lightly. Leave a large cast-iron griddle over a high heat until it’s very hot, then arrange the spears on it in a single layer. (You may have to griddle the asparagus in two batches.) Reduce the heat to medium and cook the spears for 3-4 minutes. Turn them with tongs and cook for a few more minutes, or until the spears are tender to the point of a knife and lightly gilded.
- Transfer the asparagus to a serving platter and sprinkle on a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Serve while still hot, although the spears will also taste very good at room temperature.
- To get ahead, you can prepare the asparagus to the end of step 1 and keep refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam
Date Posted: 23/03/2017
1kg rhubarb, weighed after trimming, cut into 3cm chunks
1kg jam sugar, (or 1kg caster sugar plus 1 x 8g sachet pectin)
2 vanilla pods, halved lengthways
Juice 1 lemon
Put a small plate in the freezer. Put the rhubarb into a preserving pan or your largest saucepan with the sugar and halved vanilla pods. Heat gently, stirring, until all the sugar has dissolved, then squeeze in the lemon juice and increase the heat.
Boil for about 10 mins, skimming off the scum as you go (the fruit should be soft). Test for setting point by spooning a little onto your chilled plate. After 1-2 mins, push your finger through the jam – if the surface wrinkles it is ready, if not, keep cooking for 2-min intervals, testing in between. (Or if you have a sugar thermometer it should reach 105C)
Once the jam is ready, let it cool for about 15 mins before ladling into warm sterilised jars and sealing. Will keep for 6 months in a cool, dark place.