Spring Greens and Cream Cheese Penne

Greens and Cream Cheese PenneThis beautiful white and green pasta dish will hit the spot for Shavout lunch! The bright green of the spring vegetables and herbs, mixed with the creamy cheese will comfort those who have been up all night learning. This dish will serve 6-8 people.

Ingredients:

1 ½ pounds penne rigate (or other short cut pasta)
2 tablespoons butter
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
2 bunches green onions, cut into 1” lengths*
2 bunches asparagus, cut into 2” lengths*
2 cups frozen green peas
500g cream cheese (equal to two tubs or bars)
2 shallots, diced*
4 tablespoons chives, chopped*
2 tablespoons lemon zest**
Salt and pepper, to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean these vegetables and herbs.
** Click here for tips on zesting citrus.

Directions:

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, when it is done, drain the pasta, but keep about 3 cups of the cooking water (the starchy water will help the sauce cling to the pasta).

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and cook the garlic with the green onions, shallots and asparagus for 5 minutes. Add the chives and peas and cook for 2 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour 3 cups of pasta cooking water into the saucepan and add the cream cheese. Keep over a low heat to let the cheese melt and stir until smooth. Add the drained pasta to the pan, along with the lemon zest, and mix together to combine. Serve hot.

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Asparagus and Brie Tartlets

Asparagus & Brie TartletsThis is lovely as an hors d’oeuvre, or two per person as an appetizer. You can par-bake the wonton wrappers ahead of time, just make sure to weigh them down with something so that you retain the cup shape. I suggest dried beans or pie weights. This recipe will make 12 tartlets, but can easily be doubled. You can even make this into one large tart by layering the wrappers on the bottom of a tart pan, and then just topping with all of the filling and brie. I would suggest slightly cooking the tart first though, before adding the filling, so that it can crisp up a bit.

Ingredients:

24 wonton wrappers, thawed
2 ½ tablespoons butter, divided
24 asparagus spears, cut into 1” lengths (about 2 bunches)*
1 shallot, diced*
¼ cup white wine or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
4 oz. (120g) brie, sliced into 12 pieces/wedges
salt and pepper, to taste

* Click here to learn how to check these vegetables.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt about 1 ½ tablespoons of butter in a microwave or small saucepan. Brush each wonton wrapper with the melted butter and press two wrappers into each mould of a muffin tin. When placing the wrappers I find it easier to align them first out of the tin, then press them in. You should have one wrapper square in front of you, with the flat edge facing you, and then another wrapper on top, but turned 90 degrees, so that the point is in front of you.

In a saucepan, melt remaining butter on medium heat and cook asparagus for 2 minutes. Remove the asparagus with a fork or slotted spoon to keep the melted butter in the pan. In the same saucepan, cook the shallot for about 2 minutes. Add the white wine, and let it simmer until it has reduced by half. Add vinegar and reduce once again by half.

Pour the shallot/wine/vinegar mixture over the asparagus and season with salt and pepper. Divide asparagus and Brie among the muffin moulds lined with wonton wrappers. Bake on the bottom oven rack for 15 minutes or until wonton wrappers are golden brown. Serve warm.

Savoury Spring Vegetable and Goat Cheese Tart

Spring Vegetable & Goat Cheese TartThis savoury tart is filled with wonderful bits of green from the asparagus and onions, contrasting with the bright yellow from the eggs. The cheese adds a creamy tart note that definitely satisfies, even those of you who might not normally go for a tart. If you don’t have a tart pan (kinda like a shallow spring form pan) then you can always just use a regular pie dish or even the disposable tin ones that the pie crusts come in (that’s what I do). With regards to asparagus, please follow the link below to learn how to clean them properly. Alternatively though, you could use frozen pre-checked asparagus, from a brand such as Bodek. If you can’t find crème fraiche, you can substitute with sour cream or Greek yogourt. If you’re not crazy about tarragon (like me), you can omit this herb or use basil in its place. This tart will serve 8.

Ingredients:

1 store-bought pie crust
All-purpose flour (for surface)
2 bunches asparagus (about 1 ¼ pounds total), trimmed, peeled if thick*
5 spring onions or 12 scallions/green onions*
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 ounces soft fresh goat cheese
¼ cup crème fraiche
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley*
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives*
2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon*
3 large eggs

* Click here to learn how to properly clean these ingredients.

Directions:

Roll out pie crust on a lightly floured surface to a 12″ round. Transfer to tart pan and press onto bottom and up sides. Bake crust according to package instructions. Let cool in pan on a wire rack.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut off top 1½” of asparagus tips; reserve. Slice stalks into ¼” rounds. Cut white bulbs from spring onions; trim and quarter (halve if using scallions/green onions). Slice pale-green parts into ¼” pieces. Toss asparagus tips and spring onion bulbs in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on prepared sheet; roast, turning once, until onions begin to brown and asparagus is bright green and tender, 12–15 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil and butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add sliced asparagus and pale-green parts of spring onions; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and asparagus is bright green and tender, 6–8 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan. Spread evenly over bottom of tart crust.

Tea Sandwiches

Tea SandwichesThese three recipes will make the most adorable, and yummy, sandwiches for your tea service. They are just as good if you “up-size” them to a regular sandwich for lunch in stead. If you’re expecting a large crowd, you can easily double the recipes.

Curried Egg Salad in Mini Pitas
Servings: Makes 16

Ingredients:
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons scallion/green onion, thinly sliced*
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon (heaping) curry powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
4 large hard-boiled eggs, chopped**
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into ⅛ inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
8 mini pita pockets, halved
Arugula leaves*

* Click here to learn how to clean these ingredients.
** Click here to learn how to make the perfect hard boiled egg.

Directions:

Whisk mayonnaise, scallion, shallot, apple cider vinegar, mustard, curry powder, and cumin in a large bowl. Fold in eggs and apple. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Fill pita pockets with about 1 tablespoon egg salad each. Top pita sandwiches with arugula leaves.


Sesame-Crusted Crab and Mango Tea Sandwiches
Servings: Makes 16

Ingredients:

¼ cup plain yogourt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup fresh cilantro/parsley, chopped*
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped*
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ pound lump-style artificial crab meat
½ cup mango, finely diced
16 slices Pullman or white sandwich bread, cut ¼ inch-thick, toasted
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted (optional)

Directions:

Whisk yogourt and vegetable oil in a medium bowl. Stir in cilantro/parsley and mint, kosher salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Fold in crab meat and mango.

Thinly spread yogourt on one side of each slice of bread. Divide crab mixture among 8 slices; top with remaining bread, yogourt side down. Trim crusts. Cut each sandwich in half on a diagonal.

Place toasted sesame seeds on a plate, if desired. Dip one cut side of each sandwich in sesame seeds.

* Click here to learn how to clean these ingredients.


Shaved-Radish Sandwiches with Herb Butter
Servings: Makes 16

Ingredients:

½ cup (1 stick) room-temperature salted butter
5 anchovy fillets, mashed and drained
1 small garlic clove, grated
3 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped*
3 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped*
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest**
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
32 slices of baguette, diagonally cut ⅛ inch thick
12 radishes, very thinly sliced
16 green radish leaves*

* Click here to learn how to clean these ingredients.
** Click here for tips on zesting.

Directions:

Mix first seven ingredients in a small bowl. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Spread herb butter on one side of each slice of baguette. Toss radishes with salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

Top half of bread slices with radish leaves and radish slices. Top with remaining bread slices, butter side down.

Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers with Feta Cheese

Stuffed PeppersThis is a great dish for a weeknight, and will make those in your household that don’t eat meat very happy! Here’s a tip, when selecting bell peppers, choose those with 4 bumps or “legs” on the bottom to cook and select those with 3 or less bumps or “legs” to eat raw. This recipe will serve 6.

Ingredients:

1 cup wild rice blend
6 large bell peppers, tops trimmed off about ½ inch, cored and seeded
1 (341 ml) can of corn niblets
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped*
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped*
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 Kalamata olives, minced (optional)
1 ½ cups of your favourite tomato sauce
2 green onions, sliced*
Salt and Pepper to taste
Garnish with 2 sliced green onions, and remaining warmed tomato sauce, if desired.

* Click here to learn how to properly clean these herbs.

Directions:

Cook the rice according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a large pot of water to boiling and par-boil prepared green bell peppers for 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pepper. They should be softened but not cooked through. Drain and place in shallow baking dish coated with non-stick spray.

Stir feta cheese, corn, herbs, garlic, olives, green onions and salt and pepper to taste into cooked rice. Divide the mixture among the bell peppers and top with 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. (May take longer according to the size of peppers. Insert a knife into the middle of the rice mixture and leave for a few seconds. Remove the knife and touch to see if it is hot. The knife should be hot to touch if the peppers are completely heated through.)

Garnish with additional sliced green onions and remaining warmed tomato sauce.

Tzvoorach (Farmer’s Salad)

Farmer's SaladI personally LOVE this dish and make it quite often for myself. It keeps well in the fridge (as any dairy would), but tends to separate a bit the next day, so make sure you re-mix it before serving. The vegetables listed below are the “classics” but you can definitely switch them up, adding bell peppers or celery. I’ve even seen broccoli and cauliflower thrown in. I suggest keeping the onions though, and they really add a kick to the mix. This recipe will serve 5-6 as a main.

Ingredients:

1 bunch radishes, sliced
1 long English cucumber, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced*
½-1 tsp. salt (to taste)
LOTS of freshly ground pepper
8 oz dry pressed or creamed cottage cheese
½ cup sour cream

* Click here to learn how to properly check green onions.

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together first the cottage cheese and sour cream, with the salt and pepper, so that it has a chance to blend and have the salt and pepper flavour the cheese. Then add each of the chopped vegetables, tossing between each batch to fully incorporate. I suggest adding the tomatoes last so that they don’t bruise and break up too much with repeated mixing. Taste for salt and pepper, and adjust as needed. Serve cold/room temperature.

Passover Lasagna

Matzo Lasagna

This recipe will serve around 9 people, depending on how you slice it!

Ingredients:

6-8 sheets of Matzo
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups ricotta cheese (or low fat creamed cottage cheese)
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded hard cheese, like mozzarella
2 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the ricotta (or cottage) cheese, along with the parmesan, eggs, salt and pepper. Then layer the lasagna as follows: sauce, Matzo, cheese mixture, grated cheese. Repeat, making as many layers as you can, ending with a sheet of Matzo, sauce and grated cheese on top. Bake for45 minutes or until brown and bubbly. Let sit for 15 minutes before cutting into. Enjoy!

Sweet Corn Quiche in Teff Crust

Teff Quiche

This yummy quiche will serve 4-6 people and would make a great brunch or dairy dinner dish!

Ingredients:

⅓ cup water
⅓ cup sesame oil
1 ¼ cup teff flour
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh corn kernels*
¾ cup milk
4 large eggs
hot pepper sauce, to taste
¼ teaspoon salt
4 oz. gouda cheese, shredded
¾ cup onion, chopped
⅓ cup green pepper, minced
2 cherry tomatoes, sliced thinly

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9” pie plate. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the water and oil until they become white and frothy. Add the teff flour and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Mix together and then press into the prepared pie plate.

Place corn kernels and milk into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add the eggs, hot pepper sauce and remaining salt. Blend until combined.

Sprinkle the cheese onto the unbaked teff pie crust. Add the corn mixture. Sprinkle the onion and green pepper over the surface of the pie. Arrange the tomato slices around the edge of the filling, creating and nice pattern.

Bake until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean and the centre of the pie is set, about 45 minutes.

* Click here to learn some tips on how to remove fresh corn kernels from the cob.

Mini-Smoked Salmon Frittatas

Smoked Salmon FrittatasThis dish is designed to make 6 individual mini frittatas, but you can always just make one large one instead. To do this, instead of dividing the recipe into little ramekins, you can let it cook in the oven in a oven-safe skillet or pan. Just adjust your baking time, as it will take longer for the centre of the dish to set up. This recipe makes 6 servings (serving size: 1 frittata)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup diced onion
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
4 ounces smoked salmon, cut into ¼ -inch pieces
6 large eggs
8 large egg whites
1 tablespoon half-and-half
3 tablespoons 1% milk
3 ounces low-fat cream cheese, cubed
2 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet, and sauté the onion for 2–3 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the salt, pepper, and salmon to the skillet, and toss to combine. Remove the pan from stove top, and let the mixture cool.

Next, combine the eggs, egg whites, half-and-half and milk in a bowl. Stir in the cubes of cream cheese. You are not trying to incorporate this fully with the egg and milk mixture. There will be chunks of cheese in the final frittata. Lightly coat 6 (8-ounce) ramekins with cooking spray. Add 2 tablespoons of salmon mixture to each ramekin. Pour ¾ cup egg mixture into each ramekin. (Do not overfill.)

Place ramekins on baking sheet; bake 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean. Garnish with green onions, if desired.

Blintz Soufflé

Blintz SouffleIngredients:

1 dozen frozen blintzes, any flavour (cheese, blueberry, cherry, etc.)
1 ½ cups sour cream or yogurt (light or regular)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup sugar
4 eggs (or 1 cup egg substitute)
½ cup orange juice
cinnamon, as garnish

Directions:

Place blintzes in a single layer in a sprayed 9” x 13” glass baking dish. Using a steel blade, process sour cream or yogurt, with vanilla extract and sugar for a few seconds. Add eggs and orange juice through feed tube while machine is running. Process until smooth. Immediately remove bowl from the base of machine to prevent leakage. Pour topping over blintzes(can be prepared in advance and refrigerated.) Sprinkle the top with some cinnamon (it looks good AND it tastes good!). Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour, until puffed and golden. Serve with sour cream or a sauce that matches the blintz filling; e.g.: cherry, blueberry, etc.