(and the Pinch of Yum Workshop)

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“Well hello gorgeous asparagus!  You’re looking lovely today.”

That would be me speaking to the asparagus in the case at the Organic Butcher of McLean the other day.  Just call me the vegetable whisperer.  But truly, how often do you spot purple asparagus?  Wow.  I do adore vegetables, though given my recent blog entries, you’d think I only baked.  Time for some blog balance and healthy eating, I say.

Asparagus is one of the few vegetables in House Morell that everyone will happily eat.  Have I mentioned I have a collection of picky eaters with odd tastes? No peas for one, no onions or peppers for another, no brussels sprouts either… and for heavens sake, could we make sure nothing touches the other foods on the plate?  As someone who will eat and enjoy just about anything (including casseroles!), it gets rather exasperating.

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I could not wait to bring this asparagus home and pull out my camera.  Ever since I returned from Minnesota the last week, I’ve been obsessively photographing nearly everything coming through the kitchen – much to the consternation of the hungry members of my family who try to persuade me to take pictures of the cat instead.   They insist she’s quite photogenic.  I’m not convinced.

Let me gush for a bit and share a few more thoughts and photos from the Pinch of Yum Photography Workshop.

Sorry, this one’s not a particularly well-composed shot, but wanted to give you a sense the space was simply amazing (this shows less than half of it):

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The star of the show was the immensely talented Lindsay.  After walking us through “camera basics 101”,  she presented dozens of ideas and tips for plating and composing food… In this shot, she’s working her magic with a stack of pancakes and fresh berries.  The workshop space featured walls of windows for natural light, each with a curtain to help diffuse it a bit.  As you can see, she’s working with a few potential backdrops – the granite block, the linen napkin… and embellishing her shot with drizzled syrup and pistachios for a pop of color:

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She pulled from this dreamy collection of surfaces and props:

pinch-of-yum-workshopAfter Lindsay captured the shot, she’d pop the image up on her computer, explain each setting she used, and ask for suggestions as to how we thought she could improve it.  The fact that she is an elementary school teacher by training was evident, and very handy for those of us who needed simple, precise instructions…

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And here we have the final picture – pulled from Instagram – I just want to dive into those pancakes!  Such a gorgeous shot, Isn’t it?

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We then had loads of time to shoot a variety of images of our own… experimenting with lighting and backgrounds and such…

I played with berries in jars with delicious Seven Sundays Muesli:

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And farm fresh eggs:

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and smoothie bowls…

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and finally, the piece de resistance… cupcakes from The Copper Hen Kitchen :

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If you’re a blogger, or simply love to photograph food, I can’t recommend this workshop highly enough.

If you’re still interested in perfect roasted asparagus, thanks for hanging in there!

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Once upon a time (at least in our home), it seemed asparagus was served steamed, or even boiled.  So dull.  We’ve evolved, my friends… roasting on high heat creates wondrous asparagus. The flavor becomes far more intense, the stalks carmelize just a touch, and the tips get a bit crunchy.  Divine.

I set my oven to 425, drizzle the stalks with olive oil (just enough to coat them), then dust them with a generous bit of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Depending on the thickness of the stalks,  they can be done in as little as 10 minutes, but likely closer to 15 or 20 minutes at the most… with heat that high, you need to keep an eye on the roasting.

I would argue that my simple version rocks, but I’ve had my eye on a handful of other bloggers who have embellished their spring asparagus a bit…

Love the Hazelnut Gremolata from Will Cook for Friends

… or a few different suggestions in the Lemony Roasted Asparagus from Cookie + Kate

… and if you would like the full Ina approach to embellishing your asparagus (translation – tons of butter and egg yolks), by all means, try the Hollandaise Sauce from the Barefoot Contessa.  I would never judge.

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Oh, and things I’m crushing on:

My brother John has a Fugazetta sandwich featured in the Food Network piece: Great Grilled Cheese Sandwiches from Coast to Coast.  Oh dear Lord.

Sam at the Culinary Compass put together this nifty YouTube video of our workshop… it gives a great idea of the space.

Two years ago: Baked Brie with Mixed Nuts and Caramel (in which I lament my sorry photo skills… took me long enough to address the issue!  But we’ll look onward now…)

One year ago: 10 Reasons to Love London

Thanks for stopping by friends!

Perfect Roasted Asparagus
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • a tablespoon or two of olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper if you like a quick clean-up.
  2. Break off the tough ends of the asparagus (if you sharply bend the asparagus near the base, it will snap in the right place). Discard the ends.
  3. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, then toss to coat the asparagus completely. Your asparagus should be lightly coated, not drowned with olive oil (trust me on this.)
  4. Spread the asparagus in a single layer and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
  5. If your asparagus is thin, roast it for roughly 10-12 minutes, if it is a bit thicker, like the asparagus in my photo, the timing will be closer to 15 to 20 minutes.

I’m going to share this post with the crew at Fiesta Friday and Saucy Saturdays this week!

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21 Responses to "Perfect Roasted Asparagus"
  1. Fiona says:

    Loved every moment, comment, photo of this entry mb. Thank you.

  2. mb says:

    Thanks Fiona! We miss you! Hope you’re headed home soon…

  3. What a great workshop that must have been. I am envious of all those props.

    • mb says:

      I know! I wanted to put a stack of awesome props in my carry-on bag!! It inspired me to add to my collection 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Nadia!

  4. tentimestea says:

    That workshop looks so fun–what an experience! I love the photographs that came out of it (and just as you said, the prop collection is what me dreams are made of!). The asparagus look simply incredible, especially the two colours juxtaposed against each other. Sometimes nothing can beat some fresh and tender roasted asparagus.

    • mb says:

      I just can’t stop gushing about the workshop… it was a great experience! Thanks so much for stopping by 🙂

  5. Oh my gosh I’m SO JEALOUS you got to go to the Pinch of Yum workshop!!! That looks like so much fun! (And that asparagus looks BEAUTIFUL!)

  6. Julianna says:

    Awesome photos, MB! I would love to attend a workshop like this! You are so lucky! Now I have to go hunting for purple asparagus! 😀

  7. Hilda says:

    I would love to attend a workshop like that – although even just hearing some of your thoughts on it is helpful. Simple as the asparagus dish is, it is simply stunning. Great photos by the way.

  8. Annie Fenn says:

    MB your photos are just stunning! I totally agree about the Pinch of Yum workshop — my photography skills improved by leaps and bounds. Can’t wait to get back into the kitchen with my camera.

    I love your purple asparagus. The only way my teenage boys will eat asparagus is if I roast them until they become asparagus french fries.

    • mb says:

      Thanks so much for the note Annie – it was so great to meet you in Minnesota! Asparagus french fries… now that would be popular around here too 🙂

  9. Lovely photos & delicious asparagus too. So perfect for the season!

  10. I’m so jealous that you got to attend Lindsey’s workshop! I’ve been following her blog for awhile. Did you go to Minnesota to attend her workshop then? And oh my gosh, your photos are soo gorgeous! Plus, roasted asparagus taste amazing. Roasting vegetables tend to bring out the best flavors, doesn’t it?

  11. Antonia says:

    The workshop sounds amazing! I would love to attend something like this. Thanks so much for sharing! Your asparagus look delicious 😀

    • mb says:

      The workshop WAS just amazing Antonia… I hope you do get a chance to attend one day!

  12. Liz says:

    I would love to attend the workshop, I’ve also been following her blog. It sounds like it was very worth the trip to Minnesota. Maybe next time.

    And your photos are gorgeous! We love roast asparagus at our house as well.

    • mb says:

      I can’t recommend the workshop enough… Lindsay is amazing, and the workshop is worth every penny. Thanks for stopping by, Liz.

  13. Believe it or not, I’m from Mpls, but have been staying in SD with my folks to help them out – here we have no purple asparagus and no POY workshop! I’ve been wanting to take one for some time!

    • mb says:

      Oh, please try a POY workshop… it’s awesome!! (And Minneapolis is SUCH a great town… love it!)

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