Cooks Corner: ‘Strange' can be good

Published 12:09 pm Wednesday, April 9, 2008

By Staff
It's strange the things people will eat. I've seen some strange concoctions through the years and wonder how someone ever got the idea to eat some of the stuff on their plates.
I can remember a time when I wouldn't even consider eating broccoli. That all changed when I went to a luncheon and the only things they served were broiled chicken, steamed broccoli and a wild rice dish. I decided that I would have to eat a little broccoli that day or go hungry.
Even though I didn't enjoy that particular dish, it did put me in the mindset at least to try new things when offered. A large casserole dish filled with broccoli, rice and cheese showed up on the table at a potluck dinner I had attended and I decided to try the dish. The results of the taste test put a new appreciation for the vegetable in my mouth.
I've told you that story to get to a set of recipes about another vegetable I find a little strange: asparagus.
I have a good friend who loves the vegetable. His mom has told me he could eat his weight in it, so I guess he really does love it.
However, there's just something about plucking a stick from the ground, putting it in a pot of water for a few minutes and then eating it that just doesn't appeal to me. But for those of you who like asparagus, I've rounded up a few recipes for your collection. For those of you who don't like asparagus, I've even included a recipe that could make an asparagus lover out of anyone, I hope.
This first recipe calls for cream cheese in the mix. I'm thinking it can't possibly be bad if it's got cream cheese in it. The recipe also calls for shrimp, but would probably be just as good without them.
Asparagus Casserole
2 (8 oz.) packages whipped cream cheese
1 can condensed cheese soup
8 oz. canned shrimp, drained
3 (15 ounce) cans asparagus, drained
1 (6 ounce) can French-fried onions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a mixing bowl, blend cream cheese and cheddar cheese soup until there are no lumps. Fold in the shrimp. Arrange the asparagus in a 9×13 inch casserole dish. They should be arranged so that the head to tail end of the asparagus are alternated. Pour the cheese and shrimp mixture over the asparagus. Use a spatula to spread the soup around evenly. Be careful not to tear asparagus. Make sure there is at least 1/2 an inch of space between the top of the ingredients and the top of casserole dish because the casserole will boil while cooking. Bake covered in a preheated 400 degree oven for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes, uncover and crush fried onions on top of casserole and cook for the remaining 10 minutes uncovered.
An aromatic sauce could be just the thing to enhance the flavor to a point that even I might like it.
Easy Asparagus
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon sesame seed
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
Whisk together orange juice, olive oil, soy sauce, ground mustard, and sugar in a small bowl. Toast sesame seeds in a small, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Steam asparagus until crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes. Place steamed asparagus on platter; pour dressing over asparagus. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
This next recipe may also be one that could help turn someone into an asparagus eater.
Asparagus Bites
20 thin slices sandwich bread
3/4 pound butter
4 ounces blue cheese, at room temperature
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 egg, beaten
20 fresh asparagus spears
Trim crusts from bread, and flatten slightly. In a bowl, stir cheeses together with the egg until well blended and creamy. Spread a thin layer of cheese mixture over each slice of bread. Roll one asparagus spear inside each, and fasten with a toothpick. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Roll each wrap in butter to coat. Place on a baking sheet and freeze for one hour, or until butter hardens. Remove pan from freezer and cut each wrap in half.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange frozen wraps on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.
I hope that you'll try one of these recipes in your kitchen.
Next week I plan to share some strawberry recipes since the season is getting into full swing. I'm in desperate need of an easy strawberry preserve recipe. If you can help I'd love to hear from you.
Send your recipes or tips by e-mail to, or you could just give me a call at 867-4876. I promise to give you credit for your recipes or ideas.
Until next week, happy cooking!

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