A writer upon dietetics says - whether truthfully or not each of us can judge for himself - "Asparagus has nothing plebeian about it, as has the onion, the potato, the cabbage, turnip or parsnip. It is essentially a gentleman's vegetable, and is an aristocrat from tip to stalk."
It is becoming more and more customary to serve certain vegetables as a course by themselves, instead of with the meat and its attendant vegetables, as in days gone by. The housekeeper, who is often sorely perplexed as to what entree she shall serve with a dinner, eagerly welcomes this custom. Asparagus, artichokes and cauliflower may be sent in as separate courses.
Cut off the tough lower part of your asparagus-stalks and save them to stew for flavoring your next soup. Lay the asparagus in cold water for fifteen minutes, then tie carefully into a bundle with a piece of soft string. Put into a saucepan large enough for them to lie at full length. Cover with salted, boiling water and boil until tender. If young, twenty minutes should suffice. Drain carefully and lay neatly on a hot dish. Pass drawn butter with the asparagus.
Cut the woody part from a bunch of asparagus, and with a soft piece of twine tie it into a loose bundle. Have ready, boiling, enough salted water to cover the asparagus. The saucepan containing this should be large enough to allow the asparagus to lie at full length. Boil until tender, but not until the green tips begin to break. Spread upon a platter crustless slices of buttered toast; drain the asparagus, and lay it in a neat pile upon the toast. Of course the string must be removed from the bundle. Just before sending to the table pour a white sauce over the asparagus. An excellent plan is to pour this sauce only over the green ends of the stalks, leaving the white ends uncovered, that the fingers need not be soiled in handling the vegetable.
Cut the tender halves of the asparagus-stalks into inch-lengths. Cook for fifteen minutes in salted boiling water, then drain. Grease a pudding dish and put in the bottom a layer of the asparagus. Sprinkle this with fine bread-crumbs, bits of butter, pepper and salt and small pieces of hard-boiled egg. Now put in another layer of asparagus, more crumbs, etc., and so on until the dish is full. The last layer must be sprinkled with crumbs and bits of butter. Bake for half an hour, and serve in the dish in which it is cooked.
Cut the tops from square breakfast-rolls, and scoop the crumbs from the insides, leaving box-like crusts. Butter the outside and inside of these hollowed rolls and set them with the tops beside them in the oven to dry and brown lightly.
Boil asparagus tips tender in salted water and drain. Have ready on the stove a white sauce made by cooking together a tablespoonful of butter and one of flour, and adding to them a cup and a half of milk. Stir into this sauce the asparagus tips, and pepper and salt to taste. Fill the hollowed rolls with the mixture, replace the tops and set in the oven just long enough to become very hot.
Reject the lower halves of your asparagus stalks and boil the upper halves until they are very tender. Then drain and chop. Cook together a tablespoonful of butter and two of flour until they bubble, pour on them a pint of milk with a bit of soda dissolved in it. Stir until smooth and of the consistency of cream, add the minced asparagus, with salt and pepper to taste. Set this mixture aside until cool, then beat into it three well-whipped eggs and two tablespoonfuls of cream. Pour into a greased pudding dish and bake covered for twenty minutes; uncover and brown.
Boil the asparagus according to the directions given in the preceding recipe. When done, drain and set aside until cold, then place in the ice-box until wanted. Lay upon a chilled platter and pour over the stalks the following dressing:
Put three tablespoonfuls of salad oil into a bowl and stir into it a tablespoonful of vinegar, a saltspoonful, each, of salt and sugar, and a dash of paprika.
The asparagus and the dressing that accompany it should be served very cold.
Cook as directed in recipe for boiled asparagus. While the vegetable is cooking make a hot French dressing by putting to gether in a saucepan over the fire half-a-dozen tablespoonfuls of salad oil, two of vinegar, two teaspoonfuls of French mustard, half a teaspoonful of sugar, salt and pepper to taste. When the asparagus is tender, drain, lay it in a deep dish, and pour over it the hot dressing. Cover and set aside to cool, then stand in the ice-chest for an hour or two before serving.
Cook three cupfuls of the asparagus tips until tender, then drain. Put into a saucepan two tablespoonfuls of butter and one tablespoonful of flour; cook together one minute. Add one cupful of milk, one-half teaspoonful of salt and one-fourth tea-spoonful of paprika. Add the milk slowly, stirring all the time, and let it cook five minutes. Take from the fire and add four well-beaten eggs, one cupful of asparagus tips and a teaspoonful of chopped parsley. Line a well-buttered baking dish with the remainder of the asparagus tips; pour in the asparagus and sauce, and cook with the dish in water in the oven for fifteen minutes. Serve with egg sauce.