Contributed by Chef Odessa Piper
2 pounds asparagus, ends snapped off, spears sorted by thickness
1 tablespoons light vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt flakes, cracked pepper to taste
Ingredients for "Dunk"
2 pint cottage cheese
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon grated shallot pulp
1 & 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup pumpkin seed oil
Cast iron griddle with ridges, or grill
Fine mesh sieve (Chinoise)
Preparation of "Dunk"
Blend everything except the pumpkin seed oil in a food processor till very smooth and creamy. Push mixture through a fine meshed strainer with the back of a soup ladle. The Dunk should be the consistency of loose sour cream, so that it can stick to the vegetables for dipping. Cottage cheese can be already quite salty, so taste first, and then season with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Dunk can be made up to a day ahead and stored in the cooler until presentation. If it thickens overnight, add a bit more buttermilk at presentation.
Presentation (at the last minute)
Pre-heat the grill or griddle. Pour dunk out into a wide, shallow bowl. Drizzle the pumpkin seed oil randomly over the surface. Take a toothpick or the tip of a paring knife, and swirl the seed oil into the dunk for a pretty surface effect. Place the dunk in the center of a large platter. When griddle is ready, a drop of water will spit back with attitude. Toss the asparagus with the oil, sprinkle with the salt flakes and freshly cracked pepper and toss again. Open the window. Put the thickest spears on the grill first, setting them at right angles to the grill lines. The oil coating the asparagus will smoke a bit, which builds flavor and imparts a light grill mark. Turn each spear and put grill marks on the other side, then immediately transfer spears to the platter. The heat imparted from the grill will continue to cook the asparagus. For best effect, serve immediately, while the asparagus is still al dente.