Crustless Asparagus Quiche

17 05 2011

Asparagus season is underway and I’m always looking for new ways to use it. Luckily, it’s very versatile and can be a part of breakfast, lunch or dinner. This crustless quiche is perfect for brunch – it can be made in advance and re-heated. Leaving out the crust makes it dead simple to put together (Bonus: it’s also low-carb!). This recipe is very flexible: add a bit of cooked ham or crab, some chopped fresh herbs (chives are nice) and your favourite cheese. I sometimes add a bit of swiss cheese in addition to the cheddar.

A tip for removing the slices from the pan: Make sure the pie plate is well greased (including the top rim of the plate) before adding the custard to bake. After removing the baked quiche from the oven, run a knife tip around the edge of the quiche to loosen it from the plate. Let the baked quiche rest for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Crustless Asparagus Quiche

Makes one 9” quiche

(VEGETARIAN)

  • 12 oz. fresh asparagus, woody ends trimmed and cut into pieces about 2” long (yields approximately 2 cups of chopped asparagus)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup whipping cream (35% M.F.)
  • 1-1/2 cup (packed) grated old, sharp cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Steam asparagus until just tender, approximately 6 minutes (asparagus can also be boiled in a small amount of water until tender). Remove from heat and set aside to cool (you can also plunge them into a boil of ice water to halt cooking. Dry the spears well before using).
  3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, cream, cheese, salt and pepper. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Add cooled asparagus pieces and mix so the spears are evenly distributed.
  4. Grease a 9” pie plate with butter. Pour egg mixture into pie plate. Bake for approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until the top of the quiche is brown and puffed. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.
  5. To serve: Run a sharp knife around the circumference of the quiche to ensure it will separate easily from the pie plate. Cut into wedges and serve
  6. Optional: this quiche also pairs well with crab, lobster or ham. Add cooked meat or seafood to the egg mixture before baking.
Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Crustless Asparagus Quiche (made with ham and fresh chives), served with a green salad

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication. This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.





Sesame Noodles with Asparagus and Mushrooms

14 05 2011

Ontario asparagus at the St. Lawrence farmers' market, Toronto, May 14th, 2011

Spring may have officially started back in March but today marks the ‘real’ beginning of spring for me: at long last, the first local asparagus is at the market!  I’ve been waiting patiently for asparagus season to begin and was not disappointed at the St. Lawrence farmers’ market this morning. I also found local fiddleheads, wild leeks and rhubarb so things are starting to get interesting in the kitchen.

Why not make a delicious and simple Asian-inspired noodle dish to showcase new asparagus? Sesame oil can be found at most supermarkets with the soy sauces. It adds a delicious nutty flavour to dishes and complements the asparagus and mushrooms beautifully (although a little goes a long way so be sure to use a light hand with it!).

Sesame Noodles with Asparagus and Mushrooms

Makes 4 to 6 main course servings

(VEGETARIAN)

  • 1 lb. (500 g) dry long noodles such as spaghetti or linguine
  • 12 oz. (340 g) asparagus, cut into 1-1/2” pieces – will equal about 2-1/2 cups
  • 4 oz. (113 g) shiitake or button mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced 1/2” thick – will equal about 2 cups
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil, such as safflower
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • Chopped green onion tops for garnish

Sauce:

  • 4 Tablespoons sodium-reduced soy sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, very finely minced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • ¼ cup neutral oil, such as safflower
  • 4 large green onions, white and light green parts only
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water
  1. To make the sauce: In a bowl or large measuring cup, add all sauce ingredients and stir to combine. Set sauce aside until ready to use.
  2. Prepare noodles according to package directions (spaghetti and linguine are usually cooked for about 9 to 11 minutes in salted boiling water).
  3. While the noodles are cooking, stir fry the vegetables. Heat two tablespoons of neutral oil in a large deep skillet on medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and mushrooms. Stir-fry until the mushrooms have softened and the asparagus is tender-crisp, about 6 minutes.
  4. Drain the noodles and add to the skillet with the vegetables. Pour sauce over the mixture and use a large spoon and fork to toss the mixture until vegetables are evenly distributed and the noodles are coated with sauce.
  5. Garnish the noodles with toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions before serving.
Additional Ideas: You can make the dish more substantial by adding cooked meat (sliced grilled steak or chicken would be delicious, as would Chinese bbq pork). You can also add other vegetables such as snow peas, diced red pepper, steamed broccoli or sliced zucchini.
Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Sesame Noodles with Asparagus and Mushrooms

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication. This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.





Snow Crab

12 05 2011

Snow crab legs and claw (cooked)

Every now and again something will come to my attention and I’ll become sort of obsessed with it for a while. The current object of my affection is Canadian snow crab. It started with a couple of trips to Montreal I took back in April. The snow crab season had just begun and I enjoyed a starter of cooked, chilled crab at a party I was attending. A couple of weeks later, my husband and I had an excellent meal at Le Filet, a new restaurant from the owners of the much-lauded Le Club Chasse et Pêche. (Lesley Chesterman gave Le Filet a lukewarm review in The Gazette around the same time but the kitchen was on its ‘A’ game the night we were there and our dinner was outstanding). The highlight of our meal was an asparagus and snow crab risotto. When I returned to Toronto, I decided to seek out some of the sweet crustaceans and we’ve enjoyed it a number of times since.

Snow Crab (a.k.a. Queen Crab, Spider Crab, Crabe des Neiges, Crabe Araignée) is harvested off Canada’s east coast from April to November. It is usually found frozen at most fishmongers although last weekend I was fortunate to find cooked, unfrozen claws and legs at The Beach Fish House, a great little seafood shop in my neighbourhood.

To thaw frozen snow crab, you can steam or briefly boil the legs/claws. Extracting the meat takes a bit of time but is well worth the effort. I usually set the crab on a clean folded dishtowel to soak up any liquid. You can use lobster crackers or a sharp knife to crack open the claws. The shells tend to be relatively thin at this time of year so I use seafood scissors (see photo) to cut them open. Most cookware shops sell seafood forks that you can use to extract the meat but I just use the forks from my fondue set – they work perfectly fine.

Tools for extracting crab meat: seafood scissors and fondue forks!

Snow crab is very versatile but I feel that the simplest preparations are usually best – let the sweet crab meat shine! Here are a few simple suggestions for enjoying it:

Garlic Butter

Melt some butter in a small bowl. Finely mince a clove of garlic and stir it in. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon if desired. Dip the crabmeat into the garlic butter and enjoy!

Crabby Spaghetti

In a sauté pan, heat a few tablespoons of butter or olive oil. Add a teaspoon or so of red pepper flakes, two finely minced garlic cloves, a couple of peeled and seeded diced tomatoes and cook for a minute until the garlic is tender and fragrant (you can also add a bit of minced green onion and finely diced red or yellow pepper if desired). Add a cup of crab meat to the pan and stir to combine. Cook spaghetti or other long pasta according to package directions. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss until the pasta is coated. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh chopped chives, if desired.

Spaghetti with Snow Crab, Garlic and Tomato

Crab and Avocado Stuffed Tomatoes

These make a great appetizer for parties. You can skip the avocado to make things easier. Get the recipe here: Crab and Avocado Stuffed Tomatoes.

Crab and Avocado Stuffed Tomatoes

Crab and Avocado Stuffed Tomatoes

Asparagus and Snow Crab Risotto

The perfect spring dish, this was inspired by my dinner at Le Filet in Montreal. Follow the instructions for Basic Risotto but use shellfish stock (see recipe below) instead of meat stock (although chicken stock will work in a pinch). Add about 1-1/2 cups cooked crab meat and 4 oz./113 grams of lightly steamed asparagus, cut into 1-1/2″ pieces. Stir in the asparagus and crab toward the end of cooking. Season with fresh chopped chives and two finely minced fresh basil leaves. Finish with a generous amount of butter and garnish with a crab claw (optional). Note: Italians do not usually serve seafood dishes with cheese but you can add a bit of parmesan if desired.

Snow Crab and Asparagus Risotto, garnished with a crab claw

Shellfish Stock

This makes a great base for all kinds of seafood dishes from risotto to pot pie to chowder. I usually save any shells from shrimp, lobster and crab in a bag in the freezer until I have enough to make a batch of stock. Leftover stock can be frozen.

Makes about 7-1/2 cups of stock

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups shrimp shells
  • 1 lb. / 500 grams crab and/or lobster shells (cooked and empty)
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup brandy (optional)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 8 cups water
  • Cheesecloth, for straining
  1. In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add the shells and sauté until they begin to brown slightly around the edges, stirring frequently (they may stick to the bottom of the pot a bit).
  2. Add the onion, carrot and celery and sauté for another two minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste and add the brandy, if using. Add the thyme.
  4. Pour in the water. Cover and let simmer gently (don’t hard boil) for about 25 minutes.
  5. Line a strainer with multiple layers of cheesecloth and pour the stock through it into a large vessel.  If the stock isn’t completely clear, repeat the straining with more clean cheesecloth.
  6. Stock can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen.
  7. Note: The stock will seem a bit bland because it doesn’t have any salt in it – season it as you use it so you can control the sodium levels.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





Roasted Tomato Salsa

5 05 2011

Roasted Tomato Salsa with tortilla chips

May 5th is Cinco de Mayo, which is a great excuse to enjoy Mexican-inspired food and drinks. A simple roasted tomato salsa makes a delicious accompaniment to many dishes, from quesadillas to tacos. Or, just enjoy it with some tortilla chips and a margarita or Mexican beer.

Tomatoes are not in season right now but high quality greenhouse-grown cherry tomatoes are available in the produce section of most grocery stores. I usually use Canadian-grown Savoura brand cherry tomatoes but any kind will do as long as they’re ripe. A quick roast in the oven enhances their sweetness and adds a bit of delicious char. You can add additional jalapenos and hot sauce for a hotter salsa.

Serving Suggestion: Why not make some Crispy Fish Tacos and Mango Margaritas?

Roasted Tomato Salsa

Makes about 1 cup

(VEGETARIAN)

For the roasted tomatoes and onions:

  • 2 cups (400 grams/ 14 oz.) cherry tomatoes, stems removed
  • 1/2 small red onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 Tablespoon neutral oil such as canola or safflower
  • A generous sprinkling of salt
  • Parchment paper

To finish the salsa:

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped pickled jalapeno peppers (or to taste)
  • 1 large clove garlic, very finely minced
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon (or more, to taste) finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional – a lot of people don’t like it so you can omit it if desired)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Extra hot sauce, to taste (optional)

To roast the tomatoes and onion:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, add the tomatoes and onion chunks. Toss with the oil and a generous pinch of salt until they are coated.
  3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Make sure the paper goes up the sides of the rim so it catches any juices from the tomatoes.
  4. Roast the vegetables for 25 minutes or until they are softened and slightly charred. Carefully lift the parchment paper and pour the contents into a large bowl. Let cool completely.

To finish the salsa:

  1. Use a spoon to break up the tomatoes and their skins, leaving the sauce slightly chunky.
  2. Add the chopped jalapenos, garlic, lime juice, cilantro (if using) and salt to taste. Stir together until smooth. Add additional hot sauce if desired.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





The Friday Five – April 29th, 2011

29 04 2011

A weekly round up food and drink-related news stories:

1.  If you sold that punch bowl you got as a wedding gift at the last neighbourhood yard sale you might regret it: apparently punch is making a comeback. (nrn.com)

2.  Millions (billions?) of people around the world watched today as Prince William and Kate Middleton got married. The royal festivities will likely go on through the night, ending with Prince Harry’s “Survivor’s Breakfast”: a meal of traditional English fry-ups and bacon sandwiches. (Yahoo)

3.  Have you ever had trouble finding a recipe you needed just as you were about to start cooking? Then you will probably enjoy the convenience of having an omelet recipe already printed on your egg.  (Slashfood)

4.  Social media shows no sign of slowing down. If you’re interested in adding to your list of people to ‘follow’, check out this list of 10 Most Followed Food Critics on Twitter. (The Daily Meal).

5.  April 30th is Tax Day in Canada. To ease the pain, why not mix up cocktail or two? The Taxman contains blood orange juice, gin, vermouth and of course, bitters. (Toronto Star).

As a final note, my thoughts are with the people in the Southern United States who have experienced devastating storms over the past few days. If you are interested in helping out, check out some of these links to various aid groups and charities.

Have a great weekend!

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Maple Rice Pudding

17 04 2011

A bottle of Canadian maple syrup

If you live in Eastern Canada or New England, maple syrup is everywhere at this time of year. Whether you take the time to visit a sugar shack or are shopping at the supermarket, there are usually a variety of syrups readily available. It’s versatile, delicious and makes a great gift if you’re visiting friends abroad.  If you live don’t live in an area that produces maple syrup, it can often be found at specialty shops or by mail order. It’s worth seeking out the real thing – imitation syrups and flavourings are a poor substitute.

This dessert is made with arborio rice, which can be found at most grocery stores. Arborio is an Italian rice that’s often used for risotto. It gives off starch as it cooks, making it perfect for creamy rice pudding.  Don’t skip the step of folding in the whipped cream at the end – it lightens the texture of the pudding, making it less dense.

Serving Tip: I like to scoop the pudding into individual dishes (martini glasses work well). For an extra boost of maple flavour, drizzle a bit of syrup over the pudding before serving.

For the recipe, check out Suite 101.com: Maple Rice Pudding.

Maple Rice Pudding, garnished with chopped walnuts

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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The Friday Five – April 15th, 2011

15 04 2011

A weekly round up food and drink-related news stories:

1.  You know royal wedding fever is heating up when someone claims to have found a jelly bean that looks like bride-to-be Kate Middleton (it really kind of does!). (Yahoo)

2.  Apparently Olive Garden’s ‘Tuscan Cooking School’, where they claim to train their chefs, is basically a sham.  They just rent some rooms at a hotel and hold a few cooking classes in the kitchen. What?!  You mean they aren’t learning how to make delicate handmade pastas from someone’s nonna, using the finest local ingredients? Shocking! (Slashfood)

3.  Montrealers take their hockey very seriously (trust me!), especially during the playoffs.  First, the French-language election debate was moved to accommodate game one of the Montreal Canadiens-Boston Bruins series. Now, Canadian-based Boston Pizza is temporarily changing the name of their 26 Montreal outposts to ‘Montreal Pizza’. Go Habs Go! (Bloomberg,Montreal Gazette)

4.  In a move that is sure to be popular on college campuses, Taco Bell is experimenting with a new menu item: a taco shell made out of nacho cheese Doritos. (Food Beast)

5.  Apparently a school in Seattle has asked people to call Easter eggs ‘spring spheres’ instead. Stephen Colbert is understandably outraged. (Toronto Star, Eater)

Have a great weekend!

(p.s. – if you’re American, you still have the weekend to pull together your taxes: they’re due Monday!)

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The Friday Five will return on April 29th, 2011.





Sour Cream and Chive Noodles

11 04 2011

Chives are easy to grow in a pot and require little maintenance

The first green item of spring has arrived: Chives!  The oniony herb is usually the first thing to appear in my herb garden each spring after a very long winter so I think it’s worth celebrating with a new recipe.

This simple pasta dish only takes minutes to put together and makes a great side dish for chicken or beef. Think of this dish as an alternative to a baked potato with sour cream and chives.

Sour Cream and Chive Noodles

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

(VEGETARIAN)

  • 8 oz. (227 grams) dry egg noodles (equals about 4 cups of dry noodles)
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock or milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup chopped chives, plus extra for garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Cook the noodles according to package directions (usually 5 to 6 minutes for al dente noodles).  Drain the water once cooked and return the noodles to the pot.
  2. Add the butter and stir until melted.  Pour in the chicken or vegetable stock (or milk) and add the sour cream and dijon.  Add the chives and stir until the noodles are thoroughly coated.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with additional chopped chives and serve immediately.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

For more great ideas using chives, check out the Chive Archives.

Sour Cream and Chive Noodles make an easy and delicious side dish

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





The Friday Five – April 8th, 2011

8 04 2011

A weekly round up food and drink-related news stories:

1.  I absolutely love pho – a Vietnamese soup that is packed with noodles. I also love puns so you can imagine how delighted I was by these Nine Funniest Pho Restaurant Puns (even if they do require pronouncing the name of the soup incorrectly). (good.is)

2.  Researchers in Maine have developed a biodegradable golf ball made from lobster shells.  They are intended for use on cruise ships and help prevent lobster waste, which sounds like a great excuse to eat more lobster. (Yahoo)

3.  Speaking of lobster, The Maritime Fisherman’s Union has started a marketing campaign where you can ‘meet’ the person who caught your dinner. The pilot project tags lobsters with a code, which diners can enter on-line and get information where and how their lobster was caught. (CBC)

4.  Everyone is familiar with the legacy of Julia Child: chef, cookbook author, television pioneer and ….spy? A new book details her time in the Office of Strategic Services (a predecessor of the CIA) during WWII. (Salon)

5.  You know the bacon craze has gotten out of hand when companies are coming up with things like bacon cologne. Let’s hope the next big food trend isn’t durian… (Huffington Post)

Have a great weekend!

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Herb Roasted Chicken

3 04 2011

Crispy skinned and juicy, an herb roasted chicken makes a delicious and elegant dinner

Roast chicken is a classic dinner and perfect in any season.  However, I particularly enjoy it in early spring because it’s a bit lighter than some of the heavier dishes we enjoyed through the winter yet is still hearty and comforting when the weather remains cool. It’s also versatile and can be served with any number of side dishes, from Roasted Green Beans with Shallots to Celery Root Slaw.  And of course mashed potatoes are a must to soak up the delicious gravy. For more great ideas on how to use leftover roast chicken, check out my article Three Delicious Ways to Use a Rotisserie Chicken.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

To keep the breast meat from drying out and the cooking time reasonable, select a smaller chicken weighing around 3 lbs. (1.5 kg). It will only take about 80 minutes to roast, which keeps the white meat from becoming stringy and dry. If you’re serving a crowd, consider roasting two smaller birds instead of one that’s twice the size so the roasting time will remain relatively short and the meat will stay juicy.

Boost the Flavour

Tucking herb infused butter under the skin before roasting keeps the meat moist but also adds flavour. Filling the cavity with fresh herbs, onion and garlic helps flavour the chicken and adds depth to the juices, resulting in delicious gravy. Use fresh herbs instead of dried for a brighter flavour. Fresh sage, rosemary, thyme and parsley are readily available year round at most supermarkets.

Juicy Herb Roasted Chicken

Serves 4 to 5

  • One chicken weighing about 3 lbs. (1.5 kg.)
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage
  • 1 small onion, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Herb Butter:

  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ garlic clove, very finely minced
  • Pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper

Gravy:

  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably sodium-reduced
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 Tablespoons dry white wine (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

To Make Herb Butter:

  1. In a small bowl, add all herb butter ingredients and use a fork to mix until combined. Wrap herb butter in a piece of plastic wrap and form into a ‘log’ about 3” long. Place in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. (Herb butter can be made in advance and refrigerated until use).

Preparing and Roasting the Chicken:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the cavity of the chicken is empty and pat the skin completely dry with clean paper towels or kitchen towels. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of a small roasting pan and place chicken in the pan.
  2. Stuff the cavity with sprigs of herbs, garlic cloves and quartered onion. Remove the herb butter from the fridge and slice the log into ‘coins’ about ¼” thick. Carefully lift the skin covering the breasts and slip the herb butter rounds under the skin, making sure to cover as much of the breast meat as possible. Make sure the skin covers all of the breast and butter.
  3. Rub the chicken with remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper.
  4. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. After 20 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Set a kitchen timer for 1 hour.
  5. After one hour, check on the chicken. Use a thermometer to test the internal temperature, at a thick part near the leg. It should read 170 degrees Fahrenheit when ready. If the chicken is not done, return to the oven and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Once the chicken has reached 170 degrees, remove from the roasting pan and set it on a carving board to rest.

To Make the Gravy:

  1. In a measuring cup, combine three tablespoons flour with one cup of chicken stock and whisk until smooth. Place the pan used to roast the chicken on a burner and bring the chicken juices to a simmer. Whisk in flour/stock mixture, add wine and cook until beginning to thicken, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and strain the gravy through a sieve to remove lumps. Serve over carved chicken.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication. This recipe first appeared on Suite 101.com.