Cold weather food for those long nights of winter, Classic Beef Stew & Dumplings is…
Having a ball in the big shiny kitchen, in the last couple of weeks I’ve tied about five hundred of these adorable little vegetable bundles for weddings and swanky gala events.
A simple way to prep your vegetables for easy plating if you’re hosting a large dinner party or event. It makes plating a cinch whether you’re pumping out 180 plates for a wedding, or seating eight in the dining room. A quick tip to make your next night of entertaining a snap.
Vegetable Bundles 101:
1) Peel and cut vegetables to size; here we’re working with approximately two and a half inch asparagus spears, or a combo of asparagus, carrot sticks and snow peas. If you want to get all fancy, try miniature vegetables, tops intact.
2) Blanch vegetables in salted, boiling water to soften, not cook. In the case of asparagus, you want it to turn bright green (about 30 seconds) then immediately remove. The point is to get them to just start cooking, so they can be easily steamed to the perfect doneness just before serving. If you’re taste testing, the ideal doneness is ‘crisp’.
3) Remove from boiling water and shock vegetables in an ice water bath. This stops the cooking process and cools them so you can easily handle to bundle and tie. Then reserve, cold until ready to tie.
*Repeat as needed for vegetables varieties, carrots take longer to soften than asparagus does (about 3 minutes), so blanch each one separately Also be cautious of colour and flavor bleeding, you may need to change the water in between.
3) Clean and separate leek leaves, being sure to remove all grit. Blanch and shock leek leaves in the same manner as you did with the vegetables above. They take much less time, just a few seconds until soft and malleable.
3) Cut leek leave into 1/4 inch strips with a sharp pairing knife.
4) Divide your vegetables into equal bundles. When working en mass, in a commercial setting, we weigh out sample bundles to ensure quality control and aesthetic appeal, an average asparagus bundle would be about five to six spears. Place your vegetable bundle on a strip of leek, and tie a simple double knot to secure, and cut the leek ends to make a tidy presentation. Repeat as needed. Place finished bundles, evenly spaced in a steamer, cover and refrigerate until needed.
You can prep vegetables up to two days in advance, if you’re doing a big party, it helps to have as much of your smaller tasks complete ahead of time so that you can visit with your guests – looking fabulous – instead of being trapped in the kitchen.
5) Once you know the timing of your main, bring a (low) pot of water to boil and place your steamer full of prepped vegetable bundles over top, and steam for 3 to 5 minutes prior to serving. You can remove and let stand a couple of minutes, off the heat, if necessary. Then plate and join your guests as they marvel at your culinary wizardry.
Go forth and entertain.