Let's not pretend eating cheese asparagus fries will replace the pleasure of biting into a hot, crispy french fry straight from the deep fryer, seasoned with just the right amount of salt, or maybe topped with a scoop of cheese curds and a generous portion of home-made gravy. Too many of those pleasures and not enough balance leads to a closet full of clothes that pinch in all the wrong places, and so we eat asparagus. Besides, asparagus is the harbinger of spring, the promise that warmer days are coming, EVEN WHEN MOTHER NATURE IS CLEARLY NOT ADHERING TO THE PLAN.
Are we done with winter yet?
I'll use any excuse to cook with cheese, eat cheese, or smell cheese, so I jumped at the invite to the 2015 Canadian Grand Prix Gala of Champions, which was organized by the Dairy Farmers of Canada. The evening consisted of three courses of cheese sampling for a total of 27 — out of 268 entries — cheeses, all of who were category winners. I ate a lot of cheese, even for me. Cheese lovers in Canada have so much to choose from, not only do we have access to pasteurized and non-pasteurized cheeses from around the world, our homegrown varieties are incredible. The cheese makers who attended the Gala are knowledgeable and passionate about producing great cheese and that's a win for the rest of us. After the 27 cheeses were sampled, the Grand Champion was crowned — Fromagerie du Presbytère Laliberté, which is a cream-enriched soft cheese, took home the big prize. I took home cheese dreams and more recipe ideas.
I love asparagus and when it's combined with a flavourful cheese like Parmesan, it's difficult to share. This recipe is ready to eat in 30 minutes, so it's a quick add-on to any midweek menu.
2 large eggs, beaten
Wash the asparagus and snap off the woody ends. Do this by gently bending the asparagus near the bottom of the stalk until it snaps.
Combine the panko breading, Parmesan, salt, and pepper into a shallow bowl or plate and set aside.
Beat the two eggs and pour into a deep plate. Measure out the flour into a deep plate. Preheat oven to 220C/425F.
Take 4-5 stalks at a time and coat with flour.
Dip the flour-coated stalks into the egg until the stalks are covered.
Coat the stalks in the panko/Parmesan mixture.
Place coated stalks onto a baking tray covered in parchment paper and bake at 220C/425F for 12 - 15 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
Set up a selection of three mayonnaise-based dips to serve with the asparagus fries and dig in! The dip recipes are listed from top to bottom (see image below):
Ketchup-Paprika Mayo Dip
1/8 teaspoon paprika, salt, ground pepper
Cilantro-Jalapeño Mayo Dip
1 teaspoon green jalapeño sauce
Sriracha Mayo Dip
1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice