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desperate housewife

Inspiration for recipes comes from many places, such as giving a standard recipe a healthy makeover or combining recipes to make something just right. Plucking fresh food from your garden or a farmer’s market, using other cuisines to spice up an old favorite, or in this case, out of complete and utter desperation!

Ever since last Friday, when I held a girl scout cooking class, my life and time management skills had been in a downward spiral. Some of that was due to my own bad planning, other parts were things out of my control, and the rest was just Murphy’s Law – “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

So the light at the end of the tunnel of this tornado that was my life came in the form of a party at my home. After racing from one thing to another and running on virtually no sleep, I had less than 5 hours to come up with a menu for the party, shop for the food and drinks, and make it all. Clean all the outdoor furniture (it’s been raining quite a bit here, so it was all a mess). And worst of all, clean a house that had not only been neglected but literally treated (by me!) as if it were a landfill, where I was actually just tossing things on the floor or any flat surface.

The picture below doesn’t really do justice to the hot mess the house was. The sun is shining so brightly against the more than a dozen glass bowls on the island that they are not really visible. But that was just one load of dishes spread out from unloading the dishwasher from the night before when I fell into bed right after putting in another (and the 3rd of the day) load.


So here is where this recipe begins. I had worked with Barb Fenzl at Les Gourmettes in the morning, where she taught a delicious class that included a Glazed and Grilled Asparagus. All the while I was thinking about what I could make, or pull from my freezer, or pick up at Trader Joe’s on my way home. There was leftover marinate from the asparagus, so I poured that into a jar and decided to make the asparagus as an appetizer instead of a side dish. I also had leftover sliced mozzarella, sliced black forest ham, and basil in my fridge from a food styling event I’d done the day before… voila, a recipe is born. OK, it may not be the most inspired, creative, or original thing I’ve ever come up with, but the point is, anyone can pull something together with what they have available to them by just giving it a little thought.

The asparagus portion of this recipe is thanks to Barb Fenzl and I thank her for not only that, but for the delectable frozen Blue Cheese Galette dough, she so generously sent home with me to use as well!

Marinated Asparagus Roll-Ups

1 pound thick asparagus
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup whole grain mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon or orange zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon or orange juice
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 slices (12 ounces) of sliced mozzarella cheese
12 slices of black forest ham or prosciutto
12 large fresh basil leaves

Peel the asparagus and bread off the tough stem ends. Set aside.

In a shallow dish, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, olive oil, zest, juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss in the asparagus, coating evenly.  Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or may be done up to 3 hours ahead, covered and refrigerated.

Preheat grill or grill pan. Remove asparagus from marinade and grill over medium-high heat, turning occasionally until the spears are tender and lightly blistered, about 8 minutes.  Return asparagus to pan with the marinade and allow to cool.

Lay the ham slices on a work surface, top each with a basil leaf, then with a slice of cheese. Cut each in half and place 1 or 2 asparagus spears (dripping with the sauce) in the center of each half, roll up and secure with a pick.

Chill until ready to serve.

Makes 24


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1 comment

1 Ronnie Jaap { 03.07.10 at 9:09 AM }

Even your desperate moments are inspirational and delicious!

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