Tag Archives: Michigan Asparagus

June Produce

Summer Is Here!

It has been a long time coming, but summer is finally here. Those brutal, blistering, cold months of winter are a distant memory. It is now the time of the year when we can enjoy all those fresh, new crop fruits and vegetables. They are certain to spoil us as are warm temperatures and extended daylight hours.

Herbs and Vegetables of June

Among the first crops to look for in our stores are our very own, Michigan-grown herbs. Our herbs are exclusively grown for Nino’s right in our own backyard, in Imlay City. Helena’s Herb Company has been growing herbs for Nino’s for over 25 years. The quality and freshness is second to none. So if you are looking for rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, chives, or marjoram, to name a few, now is the time to start enjoying Michigan-grown herbs.

Another popular choice is fresh-picked, bi-color corn. As you may have noticed, all of our stores have piles of fresh corn as you enter them. Although Michigan corn will not be ready for another month or so, the Florida and Georgia corn are in their peak seasons. They are sweet as sugar and a perfect side for any grilling menu.

A little fruity

As cherries head into their peak season, June is when they will be the sweetest. Bing variety cherries are what I prefer to have when they’re available. Year after year, the Bing variety cherry seems to be the most consistent and flavorful out of all the many varieties of cherries. Also, be on the lookout for Washington cherries, as we transition from California to Washington. Washington cherries tend to be a stronger fruit, due to growing in a cooler climate than the California variety. Then there are Michigan cherries, which are primarily used for processing. However, when they are available for simple eating, they are excellent. We were pretty much wiped out of last year’s crop due to extreme weather conditions, but hopefully, Mother Nature will be kinder to us all this year. Michigan cherries, if available, will be in towards the very end of June.

Another popular fruit to hit our market in June are the famous California grapes. Whether it be green or red grapes you desire, early June is just the beginning of a season of sweet, tasty grapes that will bring us deep into the fall season. Both green and red grapes will continue to get even sweeter as the summer months continue.

Along with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are now joining the fun and pulling up a seat at the Berry table. You will notice that each of our stores has large displays of full-pint blueberries and raspberries, with the hope that you take advantage of their excellent pricing. Both blueberries and raspberries are more than half the price cheaper than they typically are in our winter months. Now is the time to stock up!

Around the World

As we celebrate our spring/summer months, parts of the world are at the end of their fall/winter seasons. Why is this important? This is important because if you simply enjoy apples or pears, the new crop from countries like New Zealand, Argentina, or Chile is just beginning. Please look for our country of origin signs on our displays or ask one of our managers to make sure you are enjoying the freshest fruit the WORLD has to offer.

Michigan Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce

Michigan Asparagus Is IN and on Nino’s Shelves.

Every year, I look forward to the 1st crops, because for my money, nothing beats our locally grown “spears,” especially when they’re “shown off” with a great recipe. A recipe that doesn’t mask their flavor or hide them amongst a half dozen other ingredients. A recipe that lets you enjoy all of asparagus’ sweet flavor and tasty goodness.

And that recipe would be for a sauce: Hollandaise.

Hollandaise sauce is one of 5 “Grand Sauces” that all chefs and devoted cooks learn to make early on. It’s also one that non-professionals are told is just too difficult to attempt.

Truth be known, if someone told you how easy it is to make (and I’ll give you a couple of tips to help you out), you’d probably eat out less often. And chefs get nervous when their dining rooms aren’t full.

The mystique of Hollandaise continues.

So to help you enjoy your new crop of Michigan asparagus, I’m going expose the “Hollandaise Myth” and give you simple tips for these “Spears with NO Peers.”

Hollandaise is made from only 5 ingredients, but it’s the 2 main ingredients (egg yolks and butter) that can give you real headaches if you don’t to pay attention to what you’re doing.

Here’s how you avoid the headaches, and to show you, we’ll make an average-sized recipe of hollandaise.

Before you begin to cook your egg yolks, in a microwave on the defrost setting, melt 1 ½ sticks of butter until the fat separates, and then skim off that clarified butter and reserve.

Second, squeeze the juice from a half lemon and reserve.

Now, you’re ready to start.

Choosing the right bowl and saucepan to make your hollandaise is super important. You want about a small-to-medium-sized saucepan and a mixing bowl that nests within the saucepan, leaving at least an inch of space from the bottom and an inch or so lip at the top. This way, you can easily lift the bowl in and out of the pan as you cook your yolks.

Next, put only a half inch of water in your saucepan and bring it to a simmer. You should have a space between the bottom of your mixing bowl and the water, and that will mean your egg mixture will be cooking gently over the steam and not directly on the water.

Place 2 egg yolks in your mixing bowl, and for each yolk, a half egg shell of water–in this case 2 half egg shells.

This step will help you to cook your egg yolks into a “pudding.”

Place the bowl over the simmering water, and using a whisk, beat the egg yolk mixture on and off the steam heat (about 15 seconds each round). This method will take a bit longer to turn this raw mixture into a thickened egg pudding, but it will also prevent your mixture from cooking too fast and turning into scrambled eggs.

When the egg mixture is sufficiently cooked, the whisk will create tracks in the mixture. This will let you know it’s time for step 2.

Remove the water from the saucepan and lay a damp kitchen towel or paper towel over its mouth. Replace your bowl and nest it in snugly. This neat trick will allow you to do the next step more easily.

This step gets everyone in trouble now, but if you just take your time, there’s NO reason you should ever have a problem.

You’re going to make an emulsion here by SLOWLY–and the key word is SLOWLY–adding the clarified butter to the cooked egg “pudding.” That means whisking somewhat briskly while adding the clarified butter in very small amounts, especially at first.

Start by drizzling in less than a tablespoon; don’t dump it in all at once. Drizzle it in a thin stream.

Once that is incorporated, add another, the same way.

After the 3rd tablespoon, you’ll notice the mixture is getting thicker. Now is when you begin to whisk in a bit of your squeezed lemon juice–about a teaspoon.

Continue alternating butter and lemon juice until they’re both used up.

The hard part is over, now all you have to do is add a few drops of Tabasco® sauce and salt to taste.

Done.

Now, if you like Bearnaise sauce, which is a derivative of Hollandaise, omit the Tabasco, and simply add the following, which needs to be simmered slowly over medium heat until it is nearly a paste.

2 TBSP Dried Tarragon Leaves
1 TBSP Chopped Fresh Shallots
¼ Cup Cider or Tarragon Vinegar
¼ Cup White Wine (nothing too sweet)
¼ tsp Cracked Black Pepper

Nothing beats Hollandaise sauce over fresh Michigan asparagus!