Fat Tuesday

Lots of living things come creeping out of the ground when spring arrives: wiggling worms, sweet crocuses and buds of forsythia. And fresh young vegetables and fruit to put on your table. Tender asparagus is one of my favorite foods to appear, so I flipped open my trusty Joy of Cooking in search of a simple recipe to get ready. I’m looking forward to Saturday lunch, making a soup while April rain falls. After a creamy, savory, but fresh soup a slice of sweet, tart and crumbly pie would be the perfect finish. Strawberries and rhubarb also emerge in the spring, all in all a perfect rainy spring lunch.

Cream of Asparagus Soup
About 6 cups

Wash and remove the tips from:
1 pound fresh green asparagus
Simmer the tips, covered, until they are tender, in a small amount of:
Milk or water
Cut the stalks into pieces and place them in a large saucepan. Add:
6 cups poultry stock
¼ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery

Simmer these ingredients, covered, about ½ hour. Strain them through a sieve. Melt in the top of a double boiler:
3 tablespoons butter
Stir until blended:
3 tablespoons flour
Stir in slowly:
½ cup cream

Add the asparagus stock. Heat the soup, adding the asparagus tips. Season immediately before serving with:
Salt, paprika and white pepper

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
A 9-inch, double crust pie

BASIC PIE DOUGH
For a double-crust 9-inch, or a single-crust pie with a generous lattice, use the following amounts:
Sift together:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

Measure and combine:
2/3 cup chilled leaf lard or shortening
2 tablespoons chilled butter

Cut half of the shortening into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, or work it in lightly with the tips of your fingers until it has the grain or cornmeal. Cut the remaining half coarsely into the dough until it is pea size.

Sprinkle the dough with:
4 tablespoons water
Blend the water lightly into the dough. You may lift the ingredients with a fork, allowing the moisture to spread. If needed to hold the ingredients together, add:
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon water
When you can gather the dough up into a tidy ball, stop handling it. Roll out dough and cut into circle to fit to pie dish.

PIE
Line a pie pan with:
Basic pie dough
Prepare by picking over and hulling:
2 cups fresh strawberries
and dice:
2 cups unpeeled, young rhubarb stalks

Combine:
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 ¼ – 2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon butter
(1 teaspoon grated orange rind)

Sprinkle these ingredients over the berries and stir gently until well blended. Let stand for 15 minutes

Preheat oven to 450°
Turn the fruit into the pie shell. Dot with:
1 – 2 tablespoons butter
Cover the pie with a well-pricked top or with a lattice. Bake the pie in a 450° over 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350° and bake 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

The Joy of Cooking. Irma von Starkloff Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. Bobbs-Merrill (1975).

-EM

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