Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta

19 08 2009

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Mid-August is peak tomato season and usually markets are bursting with all shapes and sizes of the delicious fruit (yes, tomatoes are fruit).  However, this year many areas have been plagued with cold, wet weather and an unfortunate blight has taken a toll on vines in some regions.  The few local tomatoes I’ve tried have been tasteless and mealy but I’m hoping to find better specimens in coming weeks.  I have found that smaller cherry, grape and cocktail tomatoes have been sweeter and juicier than the field varieties I’ve tried.

If field tomatoes are poor in your area, why not make a delicious dish with cherry tomatoes?  They should be easy to find at most markets and roasting them concentrates their flavours, giving them a sweet and slightly charred flavour.  Turned into a simple sauce with fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil, it makes delicious vegetarian summer meal.  

Click here to get the recipe from a recent Suite 101.com article I wrote:  Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Roasted Cherry Tomato Spaghetti

Roasted Cherry Tomato Spaghetti





Zucchini Pie with Fresh Basil

16 08 2009

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It’s no secret that I love savoury tarts. I have posted a number of different recipes for vegetable-based pies/tarts/quiches including Swiss Chard Tart, Leek and Ham Tart, Crustless Asparagus Quiche and Tomato Tart with Herbed Ricotta.  There’s just something about them that appeals to me and luckily the French and Italians have a strong tradition of cooking seasonal produce in pie form so I find inspiration everywhere. 

This pie is a great way to use the abundance of zucchini that crops up every summer. As a child growing up in the country, zucchini would over take gardens by the end of summer and people would give them away by the basketful.  I’m sure that farmers must laugh at city folk who actually pay for zucchini at the markets but since I don’t have room to grow my own, I have no real choice. One of my favourite recipes is Zucchini Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting but I enjoy savoury main dishes made with this versatile summer squash as well. 

Zucchini Pie makes a great vegetarian main dish or an delicious side to grilled meats. Click here to check out my recent article for Suite 101.com:  Zucchini Pie with Fresh Basil.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!





Corn with Red Pepper and Herbs

10 08 2009

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It’s corn season again!  It’s one of my favourite vegetables so I have fun experimenting with various ideas during its brief season. While corn-on-the cob with butter, salt and pepper is a classic that’s hard to beat, sometimes the menu calls for something a little more elegant.  Sweet roasted corn with red pepper, crispy herbs, brown butter and a hint of heat makes a tasty dish that pairs well with grilled meats, seafood or vegetarian dishes.  You can also toss the corn with pasta for a quick and delicious main course.  Click here to read my recent article for Suite 101.com: Corn with Red Pepper and Herbs.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!





Crustless Asparagus Quiche

9 05 2009

egg being beaten up

Quiche is a savory pie that makes a great dish for breakfast or brunch.  A classic French dish, quiche is made from a rich custard in a pastry shell.  However, leaving out the crust simplifies the process – just mix the ingredients together, pour into a pie plate and bake.  It’s very versatile so you can add what you have on hand such as leftover roasted peppers, some grated cheese or a bit of cooked ham.  Because it’s asparagus season, I decided to use it for this easy and quick version of a classic quiche. 

Click here to read my Suite 101 recipe for Crustless Asparagus Quiche.

Easy Crustless Asparagus Quiche

Easy Crustless Asparagus Quiche

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!





Potato and Wild Leek Gratin

8 05 2009

 

Wild Leeks - also known as ramps - at the market

Wild Leeks - also known as ramps - at the market

 

The season for wild leeks (aka ramps) is in full swing at the moment.  These delicious, pungent plants taste like a mix of onion and garlic.  They are becoming increasingly popular as cooks discover their unique flavour and versatility.  Ramps can be cooked in countless ways including in soups, roasted, grilled, sautéed or pickled.  They won’t be available much longer so seek them out soon if you’d like to give them a try.  They can be found throughout Eastern Canada and the U.S. and are very popular in West Virginia.  Check with farmer’s market or independent grocers – large supermarket chains are not likely to have them.

This gratin is a great way to try ramps for the first time.  They add a unique flavour to the dish but green onions and garlic can be used if you can’t find ramps.

Click here to check out the recipe on Suite 101:  Potato and Wild Leek Gratin.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

 

Potato and Wild Leek Gratin

Potato and Wild Leek Gratin





Roasted Asparagus Lasagna

6 05 2009

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As I mentioned the other day, I’ve been working on some new spring recipes with all the great local produce I’ve been getting at the market.  Asparagus is one of my favourite vegetables and during its brief season each spring I go a bit nuts and eat it almost every day.  Sometimes I simply steam it and serve with a squeeze of lemon and a little butter.  Other times I roast it with a bit of olive oil or a citrus vinaigrette. This lasagna takes roasted asparagus to a whole new level.  It’s a rich and indulgent vegetarian dish that will even appeal to the most die-hard carnivores.

Click here to check out the recipe on Suite101.com: Roasted Asparagus Lasagna

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

 

Roasted Asparagus Lasagna with Salad

Roasted Asparagus Lasagna with Salad





Fiddleheads, Asparagus and Ramps – Oh My!

4 05 2009
The very first local produce to hit the market: asparagus, ramps (wild leeks) and fiddleheads - May 1, 2009

The very first local produce to hit the market: asparagus, ramps (wild leeks) and fiddleheads - May 1, 2009

It’s official – there are local vegetables in the markets again! (at least in Toronto). While folks in California, Florida or other southern areas may not quite understand the significance of this, for those of us who are buried under snow five or six months of the year, it’s exciting news.  I’ve been busy at work testing some new recipes to share with you.  The change of season is reinvigorating and inspiring and I have a lot of fresh ideas for delicious ways to use the fruits and vegetables I’m seeing at the markets.  Check back often for ideas and mouth-watering recipes!

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Ontario fiddleheads were available for $7.99 a pound at the market last Friday. Fiddleheads are a tasty vegetable and can be found in many markets in Eastern Canada and the Northeast U.S.  If you’ve never had them, give them a try if you can find them.  This Asian-style salad is easy to prepare and makes a great side dish or starter to a spring meal.  Check out my article on Suite 101.com for the recipe and more fiddlehead information:

Fiddlehead Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette (the vinaigrette is also delicious with steamed asparagus or sautéed snow peas).

Fiddlehead Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette

Fiddlehead Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette

Visit these pages for more on asparagus and ramps:

Potato and Wild Leek Gratin

Roasted Asparagus Lasagna

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!





Welcome to March!

2 03 2009

 

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We’ve finally made it through the dark, cold months of January and February and spring is less than three weeks away. However, March is a study in contrasts – it can be as wintery as January or as spring-like as May within the same week.  This can pose unique challenges to a cook when planning menus and shopping for groceries. The best idea is to be flexible and eat what suits the weather and your mood on a given day.  If it’s a warm spring day maybe a salad with fresh greens, herbs and roast chicken will fit the bill.  On a snowy cold day, a braise or stew might be more appealing.

One dish that is flexible for the shifting weather is soup.  It can be refreshing and light or warming and comforting.  With summer just around the corner, many people are interested in lower fat dishes.  I recently wrote an article for Suite 101.com discussing how to prepare lower fat soups without sacrificing flavour.  Whether you’re serving it as a starter course or lighter main dish, soup is a  great addition to the menu.

Click here to read  How to Make Flavorful Low Fat Soups.   The recipe in the article is for Butternut Squash Soup, however, you can use your creativity to come up with your own signature soup such as asparagus, tomato, carrot or mushroom.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!






Perfect Mashed Potatoes

10 02 2009

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Mashed potatoes are one of my favourite comfort foods.  Creamy russet potatoes mixed with cream and butter – what’s not to like?  They are very versatile as an accompaniment to classic winter dishes such as braises, stews, roast beef, shepherd’s pie, meat loaf, gravy and roast chicken.  Potatoes are available year round and can be stored throughout the winter.  They are also very inexpensive so they can stretch your food budget a long way.

I recently published an article for Suite 101 on how to make perfect mashed potatoes.  The recipe calls quite a bit of cream and butter (it’s for ‘perfect’ potatoes, not low-fat ones!) but you can always cut back on the butter and use lower fat milk or evaporated milk in place of the cream.  They won’t be quite as good but they’ll still be pretty tasty if you follow the technique and season them properly.

Click here for the Suite 101 article: How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes.  Serve with your favourite hearty winter dishes, such as Braised Short Ribs.

Bon Appetit and Enjoy!

 

Creamy mashed potatoes with a pat of butter

Creamy mashed potatoes with a pat of butter





Lobster Pot Pie

6 02 2009

 

A photo taken in mid-January shows lobsters selling for $5.00 per pound

A photo taken in mid-January shows lobsters selling for $5.00 per pound

We’re living in difficult economic times right now.  Every day the news features stories about companies downsizing and people losing their jobs.  So why am I featuring a dish that uses an expensive ingredient like lobster?  No, it’s not because I am an insensitive clod. Rather, lobster prices have recently been the lowest we’ve seen in years, meaning that lobster meat may be within reach without having to take out a loan.  It also helps support the lobster industry which has been hit hard by the economic downturn.  

 

Misty Harbour Seafood in New Brunswick

Misty Harbour Seafood in New Brunswick

If you are able to find affordable lobster meat, this dish is well worth making.  It’s great for entertaining because you can assemble the pot pie in advance and bake it when your guests arrive.  A dish featuring lobster will always impress!

 

Click here for the recipe I recently posted on Suite 101: Lobster Pot Pie

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

 

 

Lobster Pot Pie

Lobster Pot Pie