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Quebec chef Normand Laprise was awarded a prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for his cookbook Toqué!: Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy last Friday. Scoring the top prize in the Cooking from a Professional Point of View category, the 444-page book includes recipes from Laprise's acclaimed Toqué! restaurant in Montreal, such as a day-lily salad with deer heart and calamari.

Laprise's preparations are probably a touch too elaborate for the home cook: His Backwards BLT takes an hour to make, and the H20 Panfried Foie Gras calls for whipping up rhubarb water, strawberry-red pepper water, strawberry-red pepper jelly, daikon confit and an acidic mix. The maple-syrup caramelized white asparagus, on the other hand, is fuss-free, perfect for spring and uses a handful of easy-to-find ingredients – note the word "optional" beside fir or spruce shoots. Here's how to do it.

Servings: 4


12 medium white asparagus

1 tbsp butter

5 tbsp maple syrup

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Young fir or spruce shoots (optional)


Break the stems and peel the asparagus. Blanch in salted boiling water for about 2 minutes, depending on the size of the asparagus.

In a frying pan, over medium-high heat, simmer the butter and maple syrup for a few seconds. Add the asparagus and caramelize lightly. Remove from heat, season to taste and add the young shoots. Serve as an entrée or side dish.

- Source: Toqué!: Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy

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