25 July 2016

Cooking Wild

John Ash is known as "The Father of Wine Country Cuisine." Since 1980 Ash at his John Ash & Company restaurant was one of the leaders in California cuisine. For over 35 years he has featured local, seasonal ingredients in the dishes he serves. 

He and James Fraioli's new book, Cooking Wild offers up more than 150 recipes "for eating close to nature."  Ash's grandmother taught him to forage as a child. He relished the books of Euell Gibbon's and Billy Joe Tatum. And while the book advocates foraging, Ash points out that in this day and age, many wild foods can be found in local groceries.

While one does not always need to be out in the wild searching for ingredients, it is important to use the same due diligence in the grocery store as one does in the wild.  Buy local and seasonal. Buy sustainable.  Above all else, be simple, let the food speak for itself.

The great thing about this book is the dual nature of the book.  Yes, you can grab your copy of Euell Gibbons and head out into the woods, but the recipes are also written to allow the average couch potato to have his couch and eat his potatoes, too, or maybe asparagus.

Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Olive Oil, Pecorino, and Prosciutto

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Flaky sea salt such as Maldon
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons or so Italian or California lemon infused extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, thinly shaved with a vegetable peeler
8 very thin slices prosciutto
2 tablespoons drained capers, patted dry and fried in olive oil until crisp
Lemon wedges, for serving

Prepare a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill for medium high.

Brush the asparagus with the extra-virgin olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper to taste.  Grill the asparagus, turning as needed, until lightly browned on all sides but still green and crisp. Place on a plate and drizzle with lemon olive oil.  Scatter the cheese over the asparagus, arrange the prosciutto attractively on top, and sprinkle with the capers.  Serve with the lemon wedges.
  Go forth and forage.

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