This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
Is eaten with the fingers when cooked, whether hot or cold; for this reason asparagus on toast is dished with the heads only in the butter or sauce, the toast holding up the white ends dry. The largest on record were a hundred heads grown at Mortlake-on-the-Thames which weighed 42 pounds, the bunch. Another hundred presented to George II in 1737 weighed 2$ pounds. A tall story has recently been in print of a traveler having discovered a giant species of asparagus 12 inches thick, growing wild in Russian Asia, of which one head was enough for a party of six. The larger the head the poorer the flavor, however, and the medium-sized green tinted is the best eating. It might be grown in the garden of almost every hotel, as it only needs planting once to come up in the same spot for years. The shoots which escape cutting grow to a beautiful plant with feathery foliage and bright red berries, making a fine decorative plant for ball rooms, banquet rooms, etc. Asparagus possesses medicinal qualities similar to the water of sulphur springs, which causes it to be adopted as a diet in the canned state when it cannot be obtained green.
Is plain boiled and served in bunches, full length.
Are the pointes d'asperges, the green heads cut small and served in soups and sauces.
Is clear soup with asparagus heads and poached eggs, same as a I'Imperatrice. Consomme Printanere always has asparagus heads. Asparagus Soup, Puree of Asparagus, Cream of Asparagus are three kinds in which this vegetable is the principal ingredient.
The green heads, boiled, in Bechamel sauce.
The heads cooked, cut small, seasoned, and served cold as a salad with dressing.
The heads dressed in oil and vinegar, and frozen.
The green heads cooked and drained, mixed in an omelet.
Boiled green in salted water, the heads cut off, of good length, placed on hot cloth near the fire. Some hollandaise of butter yolks, salt, pepper, little vinegar, cooked in a pan in boiling water till just thickened, and poured over asparagus.
The heads cut small, blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes, simmered in a saucepan with butter, lump of sugar, an onion, very little water: onion removed, cream added and thickened slightly; served on toast.
The stalks, after being scraped and washed, are tied in bunches and the butt ends cut off even, to make them of one length. The water has salt in it and a pinch of soda, and should be boiling when the bunches are dropped in. The soda preserves the green color if the lid is kept off the saucepan. Takes about 20 minutes to cook. The very slender and green stalks of asparagus are called sprue and cooked like greens.
Soyer tells us that the Romans dried asparagus for use in winter and restored it by soaking in water.
Is good except in the one respect of the heads being generally broken. It should not be taken out of the cans to cook, but the cans opened at the butt, as shown by the label, set on the range and the stalks served from the can.
A French restaurant specialty; an entree formed in a mould and turned out; made of asparagus and breast of chicken in equal parts, chicken pounded and forced through a seive and mixed with little veloute, asparagus divided into green puree and white puree. Half the chicken paste mixed with the green, other with the white; green in buttered mould first, white to fill. Steamed an hour without letting it reach boiling heat; turned out and bordered with green asparagus prepared separately. The special mould is in shape of a fine bunch of asparagns.