I think now is as good a time as any to make the formal announcement that I’m working on another cookbook! If you are a newsletter friend then this is old news (also, thank you for subscribing!) or you may have noticed a sly little hashtag on Instagram, #newcookbook, popping up in a few of my recent photos. I’ve sort of tiptoed around all of this for awhile but today it felt right to tell you all. While the fanfare may not be the same as the first time around, the excitement joy I feel is allllll the same. Perhaps even more so because I get it. I mean I know what’s coming and while part of that is terrifying (truly, like wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night scary) mostly I’m reveling in the creativity – waking up and going to sleep thinking about new recipes – and just so excited to share extremely practical, delicious, inventive recipes that will bring us all to the table.
This book is quite a departure from the first and yet totally not because they are both completely me. Date Night In was date food. I mean some menus took hours to prepare and the food was indulgent in the best sort of way – it needed to be, because again it’s date night! The food helped set the intention behind the evening. With this book though, my aim is for it to be stunningly practical. We’ll cover everything from Tuesday night dinners that take all of twenty minutes to prepare and utilize pantry staples, to our Christmas Eve Wellington with homemade quick puff and Winter Greens Gratin. There are recipes for those weekday mornings when you need to somehow make breakfast in-between showering and brewing coffee like Cocoa Coconut Date Shakes or Sesame Fried Eggs with Miso Aioli. And then for those mornings when you have time to preheat your oven and can make Oven Baked Pancakes with Maple Roasted Rhubarb.
Even though I’ve done this before I’m approaching this yet-to-be-named book quite differently. Date Night In started off with an 80 page proposal which served as my road map. This time it was as if the map was sketched by a 4 year old. But I love that about it – sure it’s caused some fretting in me (I can’t help it, I just fret a lot) but I’ve grown accustomed to this new process and embraced the fact that much of this book is simply coming from me spending time in my kitchen. I want to take you with me as I approach food from the perspective of having worked in professional kitchens but now am a home cook who has a passion to feed my family and friends food that evoke joy and beauty. The recipes don’t necessarily follow a certain diet trend and yet to me it’s health food because they are made with real ingredients with the intention of sharing or sparking a moment of gratitude in our otherwise frantic days.
This post is making all of this real. I mean the contract is signed it’s totally happening but it suddenly feels more real having shared the news on this space. After all this is the place that started it all. And even though the Internet is crowded and we are taking in information at rapid speed and most of us are probably feeling overwhelmed by all the noise, this place will always be my happy home on the world wide web. It’s here where I learned how to take photos of food and by making thousands of mistakes I learned how to write a recipe that you all could follow. It’s here where I discovered a love of writing and sharing my heart. This place, and you all, led me to writing Date Night In where I found that writing books is quite possibly the best work I could ever imagine. And here we are doing it again. It’s just all so damn good I don’t even know what else to say, except thank you. From every square inch of my being I want to thank you all for being here, supporting me, sending me the loveliest emails that so often encourage me in my moments of doubt and insecurity. You all are the absolute best and I can not wait to cook with you in the kitchen through this next book, whatever the name may be.
Now let’s talk about tacos for a minute. Asparagus Tacos: Two words found on the Taco Tuesday menu at Essex and the moment I saw them I knew two things – 1. I had to order these tacos and 2. They had to make them at home. My version uses asparagus that I roast with olive oil, salt, and whole cumin seeds. With a few staple ingredients we whip up a zippy, but not too much so, sauce and top it all with shaved radish, cilantro, lime and crumbled Queso Fresco. What I’ve since learned about these tacos is that they are much more pleasant to eat when you roughly chop the asparagus so that’s how I have written the recipe although the images were taken prior to that revelation. Since it is indeed spring asparagus makes perfect sense but I can imagine the taco craving being just as strong in the winter so in that case I think cauliflower roasted in the same way, or even broccoli or brussels sprouts would make a fine substitution.
With a mouthful of asparagus taco my friend said, “This better be in the book!” Yes, it will be in the book.
Yield 4 - 6
1 bunch asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely minced pickled jalapeños
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 -4 radishes, thinly shaved
4 - 6 corn tortillas
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
Preheat the oven to 425°F
Place the asparagus on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (for easier cleanup).
Add the olive oil, salt, and cumin seeds to the asparagus. Toss to combine then lay out the asparagus in a single layer.
Roast until tender and frizzled in parts, about 20 minutes.
Once cool enough to handle roughly chop the asparagus.
To make the aioli combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, and pickled jalapeños with a pinch of salt.
Warm the tortillas either in the oven wrapped in aluminum foil or carefully over a low gas flame.
Add a tablespoon or so of the aioli to each tortilla, top with about 1/4 cup chopped asparagus. Sprinkle on cilantro leaves, a squeeze of lime, shaved radishes, and Queso fresco.
i LOVE the idea of these! i’m digging asparagus right now, but just roasting it gets old. the thought of adding them into tacos with queso fresco sounds incredible!!
Omg, what incredible news! I’ll definitely be looking forward to your book and I love hearing a little bit about your approach to writing it. Also, these tacos are like killing me with cravings!
Congratulation, Ashley! It sounds very thrilling and a new, exciting challenge. Free-riding without a detailed proposal sounds scary but, as you say, it’ll also make the process more spontaneous and give you more room to adjust as you go. I also had a solid proposal for my first, but if I ever get to do another book, I’d like to keep things more ‘fluid’. It’ll mean a leap of faith for the publisher but hopefully a more enjoyable creative journey for the author. I’m sure it’ll be wonderful and I really can’t wait to see it already!
Thank you Valeria. It’s fun to just let the creativity in the moment be the guide. I have to just trust the process and know that it will all come together as it should. Thanks for the kind words.
Hooray! What terrific news. You are such a talent and have so many beautiful things to share. I can’t wait to hear more about this new project!
Thank you so much Kate. So kind.
Congratulations Ashley! Mmm I love tacos and asparagus so much, these look amazing.
Hooray! I am so, so, so excited for your new book! Having tasted your home cooking myself, what a gift it is for you to share all your secrets! You are by far one of the best home cooks I’ve ever shared a table with.
I could not be happier for you, Ashley! Your first book is still a huge source of inspiration to me and is one of the few that’s followed me from house to galley. Inventive recipes, artful photos, and beautiful prose–what more could one want besides another NWS book? 😉 Many, many congrats.
Brooke, thank so much for the generous encouragement. So excited to be doing this again!
Congrats on the new book Ashley! Can’t wait!
Congratulations on the new cookbook launch! Thank you for this recipe, had never heard or seen any such thing! Looks wonderful, am adding it to my “sides” since the components are already something I make regularly, just haven’t thought to ever put them together
Thanks Sabrina. I hope you enjoy the tacos!
I’m so thrilled to hear your news! I can hardly wait to see what this new book evolves into. Congratulations, Ashley!
Thank you so much, MJ. I really appreciate the encouragement. It’s a scary yet fun process. The cheers and support mean the world to me.
Oh I am beyond excited for this!
I still remember some of your first few posts!
Wishing you all the best with this new adventure
Oh Cynthia. You are just the sweetest. Thanks for being such a wonderful support and encourager. You are such a gift.
Congrats on the new book. And these tacos. OMG, I have never thought about putting asparagus in tacos. Pretty sure their shape was made for tacos. 🙂 Pure genius.
And the photos are so stunning (as always).
Thanks Justin. I hope you like them!
So excited for you!!! A new book is so exciting. Also, asparagus tacos look delicious. What a creative idea!!
Thank you, Maria!
Just bought your book to gift for the sixth time! 🙂 Can’t wait for a new one!
You’re the best!! Thank you so much. I’m blushing.
A major hats-off to you in signing for a new book! It’s inspiring to hear your story. I’ve still in the process of making a thousand mistakes, trying to lay-out a recipe that one can follow, but it’s nice to hear that it just takes some time.
As an aside….these asparagus tacos look incredible! I’m all about queso fresco. Are you sure you don’t have any Mexican blood in you? This sounds super authentic! 🙂
hahaha. Thanks for the kind words. 100% dutch over here but maybe some of my husband’s Mexican heritage has rubbed off on me. As a funny aside you have the same name as my mother-in-law. I thought it was her commenting!
Mmmmm..delicious.thank you so much..I ‘ m preparing it for a picnic on the lake
…very very delicious…today picnic on a Lake…thank you😋