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tonight's appetizer

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

grilled asparagus and grape tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and shaved parmesan.

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Austell, GA(Zone 7a)

Yum! Looks good. I bought asparagus yesterday...and I have tomatoes..and cheese...

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

you're all set then!

here's the main course, ham & bean soup...finishing up the last of a huge pot made on friday (in anticipation of the cold weather).

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So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Appetizer looks fabulous! My asparagus haven't started peeking up yet... and tomatoes won't happen before July.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

i can't wait that long! lol

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

I have some garden tomatoes from over-wintered plants - the big producer at the moment is Stupice. I'll pick up some asparaus. you put the cooking sheet on the grill just like that or do you first grill the asparagus and tomatoes in a grill basket, then finish off under the broiler with cheese? Thanks, mm

waukesha, WI(Zone 5a)

That absolutely made my mouth water!! What a combo. YUM

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

i guess technically, they aren't grilled since they are on a restaurant pan...more like roasted.

here's how i do it:

snap the asparagus first and then lay them out on the pan (any pan with a shallow lip will do).
halve the tomatoes and lay them in.
drizzle with olive oil and then VERY lightly sprinkle with some course kosher salt....i also sprinkle with some McCormick's salt free lemon pepper but a course ground black pepper will do.
pop the tray inside a 350 oven or outdoor gas grill until the thick end of the spear is to your liking. quickly sprinkle the parmesan on and let cook another couple of minutes.
i prefer my veggies crunchier but my dp has to have his softer (or else put his teeth in...sigh). i did these last night for 45 minutes but the outdoor grill does them much faster, 20 minutes or so. it was too cold to cook outside last night!

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

tracks, what's your ham/bean soup recipe?

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

it used to be that you could make a good pot of bean soup with any old ham or smoked pork hock (my favorite) but over the years the flavor seems to really be lacking and what they lack in flavor, they try to make up for with salt. so i went back to my mom's old stand-by, a boneless smoked butt in the old time red wrapper. i'll show a picture of the brand i buy from publix at the bottom of this post. i buy them a couple at a time and freeze them.

ok, so here's the recipe. get out a big pot 'cause you're gonna need it! lol this can all be found at publix.
take the pork butt (aka picnic cut in the midwest) frozen, let it sit under hot water for a few minutes and then cut the red wrapper off. you'll see a netting around it and you cut this off too. you can start with one thawed already too to cut the cooking time.
put it in the pot with one box each of Kitchen Basics Vegetable Stock and Chicken Stock (the no salt added one), 5 cans of rinsed Northern beans and 1 can generic/Rotel Tomatoes & Chilies. bring to a boil and then let simmer for 4 hours.

add 1 large onion, as much chopped celery as you like (i do 3 cups), a cup of chopped carrots (i use the baby ones) and simmer for another hour.

you will notice that i use no seasonings. the ham has just the right amount of salt and the Rotel gives it heat.
i will add that i've tried all the different broths and stocks on the market and unless you make your own, the Kitchen Basics brand has them all beat by a mile. i'm addicted to the Vegetable Stock.

the pork doesn't seem cheap when you are buying it (small package/large price tag). they normally run about 3.20 a pound and an average package is 3-5 lbs. when you think that 2 people got 7 large meals out of this one pot, it breaks down to about 2.85 a meal and it is SO good!

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Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

That soup sounds real good....don't have that brand here but pre-salted food is a problem in this household. We threw out that shaker years ago so just about anything already 'mixed' is too salty. Maybe I could use a whole chicken instead??

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

i think you could use anything you want! it would be fun to try chicken.
this ham/pork is low on the salt scale (imo) compared to say, a ham steak or bacon or a canned ham. it is a smoked shoulder, btw, didn't know if that was visible on the picture.
was coming back to add, simmer with lid. when you simmer without a lid, the liquids evaporate and you get a saltier taste (this holds true for any soup regardless of the salt content).
also wanted to add that this cut of meat also works well for green beans and new potatoes...another of my all time faves.

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

That's interesting - about removing the lid - what's the physics behind it do you know?

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

i learned it on one of the cooking shows. i think it's called reducing/reduction and it intensifies all of the flavors in the liquid. i guess the water part evaporates, leaving behind the non-water part. does that make sense?

in case anyone is wondering, this pork is not a "pressed" meat. it is a hunk of pork/ham with a small amount of fat running through it....a true piece of meat. i hate that pressed stuff.

This message was edited Feb 13, 2012 9:05 PM

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

That makes sense. Dinner just done, the grilled asparagus was a big hit!!

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mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

looks beautiful! glad to have given you the idea.

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

This forum is always an inspiration for me......get some great ideas and I go with them. Thanks!

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

These foods look delicious, Tracks. Publix has nice hocks but many stores only carry them around the holidays when hams are being butchered. Hocks have become pricey, IMO. We now smoke chicken thighs, turkey legs and thighs or hams to get the flavor for my foods.

One correction to your butchered cuts is in order. A pork butt (aka shoulder) and a picnic are not the same. The shoulder/butt is the upper part of the leg joint and the picnic is the lower portion. I prefer shoulder/ butt because it has only a small blade bone while the picnic, more like a ham, has the whole leg bone. Just remember butts have more meat and less bones than picnics. lol

Lafayette, NJ(Zone 6a)

Tracksinsand, thanks for the asparagus recipe. I grilled it on my indoor electric grill. It was very good. I think if I ate this for an appetizer I would eat it all and not eat dinner.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

mpl, thanks for the clarification! my mom called them picnics but the ones i buy are labeled butts. they are boneless and oh so good! lol
elsie, when i make this, i'd just as soon eat it instead of dinner too. yum!

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Welcome, Track.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

just realized that the ones i buy now are labeled "shoulder butts"! lol

Mount Pleasant, PA(Zone 6a)

That asparagus looks great! *sigh* 14 y/o hates tomatoes DH hates asparagus. Guess they'll just have to eat something else lol.

Longboat Key, FL(Zone 9b)

I do similar with asparagus as I used to grow them. Roasted with oo wrapped with prociutto tied with chives. served with sauted tomatos.Yes work but I like eye treats

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

me too! and yours sounds fabulous.

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