Share Our Strength's Taste Of The Nation And Asparagus Veloute

Have you heard of Share Our Strength? Share Our Strength is a nonprofit organization that aims to end childhood hunger in America. In its own words, "Share Our Strength’s highest priority is to make sure that every child in America gets the nutritious food he or she needs to learn, grow and thrive."

It does this through raising awareness, creating programs that focus on food and nutrition, and fundraising. One of the fundraisers Share Our Strength hosts is called Taste of the Nation. Since 1988, Taste of the Nation has raised more than $73 million for organizations in the United States, Canada, and abroad, including more than $1.4 million in Boston alone.

This year's Boston Taste of the Nation event will be held on Thursday, April 14, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., at the Hynes Convention Center. Many of Boston's best-known chefs, restaurants, and mixologists will be participating in the event, including Jody Adams, Andy Husbands, Hamersley's Bistro, and Sel de la Terre. General admission tickets are $90 in advance/$100 at door, and VIP tickets are $150 in advance/$160 at the door.

Area charities that will benefit from this year’s event include The Greater Boston Food Bank; Food for Free Committee; Cooking Matters, formerly known as Operation Frontline -- Massachusetts; and Project Bread/The Walk for Hunger. I have donated to Share Our Strength in the past and supported friends who have done Project Bread's Walk for Hunger.

This year, I've been invited to cover Taste of the Nation as media, and I look forward to being part of something so meaningful right here in Boston. I'll be sure to report back with everything I learned and experienced, and I encourage you to attend as well.

If you're wondering what sort of food you might encounter at the benefit, check out the recipe below from Chef Rich Garcia of 606 Congress. Michelle, Meghan, and I gathered at my house last Friday and whipped up this veloute together. We all agreed that it would be great served as a shooter, since the garnishes pack a ton of flavor but the soup itself is pretty monotone. A lot of garnish paired with a small bit of soup would be just right.

Spring Asparagus Veloute With Pickled Radish And Crispy Garlic (adapted from Chef Rich Garcia, 606 Congress)

1 pound green asparagus (ends trimmed)
1 quart heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup champagne vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 radish, washed and sliced into matchsticks
4 garlic cloves, as large as possible, peeled
1 cup olive oil


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and add asparagus. Cook until tender, about 4 minutes, and then transfer to an ice water bath.

In a small pot, bring cream to a simmer.

Place asparagus in blender or food processor with cream, and puree until smooth.

Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Let cool.

To make the pickled radish, in a saucepan, bring champagne vinegar and sugar to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Place radish in bowl, and cover with the vinegar mixture. Let cool in liquid.

To make the crispy garlic, using a small knife, slice the garlic very thinly. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat until very hot. Line a plate with two paper towels. To test the temperature of the oil, add a slice of garlic. When it sizzles, add the rest of the garlic, and cook until just crisp and light golden brown; this will only take a few seconds.

Use a slotted spoon to keep the slices from sticking together as they cook, and transfer them to the paper towels to drain once they change color. (The oil can be strained and reserved for use as garlic oil.)

To serve: Place the chilled veloute in a bowl, and garnish with pickled radish and crispy garlic chips.