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.

Advertisements

Spanish Paella

PaellaSo how can you have a week dedicated to rice and not touch on paella? Originating in the Valencia region on the east coast of Spain, paella is widely regarded as Spain’s national dish, as well as the identifying symbol of the Valencians. The three best known types of paella are Valencian paella, seafood paella, and mixed paella, but there are many others as well. Valencian paella is believed to be the original recipe and consists of white rice, green beans, meat (chicken and rabbit), white beans, snails, and seasoning such as saffron and rosemary. Another very common but seasonal ingredient is artichoke. Seafood paella replaces meats with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables. Mixed paella is a free-style combination of land animals, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans.

The dish earned it’s name from the pan in which it is prepared. Derived from the Old French word paelle for pan, which in turn comes from the Latin word patella for pan as well. Valencians use the word paella for all pans, including the specialized shallow pan used for cooking paellas. Paelleras are traditionally round, shallow and made of polished steel with two handles. As most North American home kitchens don’t have paelleras hanging around, a large, oven proof skillet will do as a replacement.

The recipe below is a bit of a twist on a traditional paella, as there is chicken and sausage, but no fish or shellfish. A key ingredient that is present though is saffron. It adds an essential taste and colour to the dish that is a must! Due to the high cost of saffron, you can use Mexican saffron rather than Spanish or European, as it tends to be cheaper. Just note that you need to use a bit more, as the flavours are not as intense. If you can’t find kosher chorizo sausage, you can use a substitute such as a smoked paprika or spiced sausage. The recipe below will serve 8 very happy people.

Ingredients:

Chicken:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt and black pepper to taste
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces

Rice:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
1 large pinch saffron threads
1 bay leaf
½ bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped*
1 litre chicken stock
1 (398ml) can of diced tomatoes
2 lemons, zested**

Sausage & Vegetables:
½ tablespoon olive oil
1 pound chorizo sausage, casings removed and sliced/diced
1 large Spanish onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
½ cup frozen green peas

* Click here to learn how to properly clean parsley.
** Click here for tips on zesting.

Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, and rice. Cook, stirring, to coat rice with oil, about 3 minutes. Stir in saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, diced tomatoes and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Add the cut up sausage to the skillet and saute until the fat begins to render from the meat. Once the sausage is cooked/heated through, using a slotted spoon, remove it from the pan, but keep the majority of the fat/drippings in the pan. Return the pan to the heat, and add the marinated chicken and onion, cooking for 5-7 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Once the chicken is almost fully cooked, return the sausage to the skillet, along with the peas, and mix to incorporate.

Combine the meat/vegetable mixture with the semi-cooked rice, and place in the preheated oven for 10-20 minutes, until the rice has completely finished cooking and has begun to get a bit crispy. Serve hot!

Corn, Rice, Tomato & Arugula Salad

Corn, Rice, Tomato & Arugala Salad

This is a great light salad that is even better the second day, as the flavours have had a chance to meld. If you can find fresh corn, it’s definitely worth it! This recipe will serve 6.

Ingredients:

1 cup rice
4 ears of fresh corn, husked & silks removed (or one 341ml can of corn niblets)
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
1 cup fresh arugula leaves or spinach*
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced (optional)
1 cup red onion, cut into thin slices (approximately ½ small red onion)

For Dressing:

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean arugula and spinach.

Directions:

Prepare the rice according to package directions and cool. Cook corn in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain. Let ears cool, and then trim the corn off the cob by cutting closely to the cob in long strips. Carefully lay aside. Combine cooled rice, halved tomatoes, onion, jalapeño and arugula in a serving bowl. Carefully arrange corn strips on top of rice mixture and drizzle the salad dressing over all. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

Ginger, Herb, Lime & Sweet Onion Rub

Ginger, Cilantro, Lime and Sweet Onion RubThis rub/marinade is full of light, crisp flavours and would work really well on fish, chicken or tofu. If using on fish, beware that the acid in the limes actually starts to “cook” the fish, so do not let the fish marinate over night, but rather for just a few hours. FYI, for those of you that hate cilantro (like I do), I find that when combined with other herbs, like here with mint, the cilantro flavour is not that strong. Alternatively, you can substitute with an equal amount of parsley. This recipe will make about 2 cups of rub/marinade.

Ingredients:

1 ounce fresh ginger, finely diced (about ¼ cup)
¼ cup cilantro, chopped (about ¼ of a bunch)*
¼ cup mint, chopped (about ¼ of a bunch)*
4 limes, juiced and zested**
¼ sweet onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt

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

Directions:

If you want to save time and not have to dice everything by hand, you can use a food processor, but just make sure to use the pulse control feature, as this is supposed to be chunky and not a puree.

Combine all the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl and mix to incorporate. If using as a rub, coat the fish/chicken/tofu (or other protein) about one hour before grilling, using only enough to coat the protein. If using as a marinade, on chicken or tofu, marinate for 4 hours or more, even up to overnight. If using on fish, marinate for 1-3 hours. This recipe should be enough for about 4 large pieces of protein.

Charred Jalapeno, Mango, Citrus & Tequila Rub

Charred Chile, Mango, Lemon Verbena and Tequila RubThis marinade/rub will give your meat a bit of a Latino kick! You can cut down on the amount of jalapenos you use if you want it to be milder, however when the jalapenos are charred they tend to lose a bit of their potency. Additionally, if you remove the seeds and inner membranes (the white parts that the seeds cling to) from the peppers, that will greatly reduce the heat level. This recipe will make about 2 cups of marinade.

Ingredients:

6 jalapenos
1 mango, diced
3 limes, juiced and zested*
¼ sweet onion, diced
2 tablespoons chopped lemon verbena (you can substitute lemon thyme, lemon grass or lemon zest)**
2 ounces silver tequila***
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt

* Click here for tips on zesting limes.
** Click here to learn how to properly clean lemon verbena.
*** Click here to see the approved kosher alcohol list.

Directions:

Preheat your grill or grill pan. Place the jalapenos on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until charred black. Allow jalapenos to cool. Once cooled, remove the stem and seeds. Combine the seeded and stemmed jalapenos and remaining ingredients in a food processor. Using the pulse control, process until almost smooth and combined. Rub steaks (or other protein) about one hour before grilling, using only enough to coat the steak. This recipe should be enough for about 4 steaks.

Easy Marinades

Marinades 101These marinades use ingredients that you likely have on hand. Remember that they typical ratio for marinades is one part oil to three or four parts acid, with extra ingredients added to taste. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk, then transfer the marinade to a large freezer bag and add your favourite protein. Seal the bag, turning it so the protein is exposed to the marinade, and refrigerate for 3 hours to overnight, for meats or tofu, or about 1 hour to 4 hours for fish.

Honey Barbecue Marinade
Olive oil + Dry Red Wine + Honey + Crushed Garlic + Pepper

Fresh Mediterranean Herb Marinade
Olive Oil + Balsamic Vinegar + Finely Chopped Rosemary* and Basil* + Salt + Pepper

Asian Fusion Buttermilk Marinade
Sesame Oil + Buttermilk** + Ground Ginger + Cilantro* + Soy Sauce + Pepper

* Click here to learn how to clean these herbs.
** Click here on tips for making non-dairy buttermilk.

Sweet-and-Sour Celery

Sweet and Sour CeleryThis is a nice, easy side dish that gives a little sweet and a little sour to balance out the flavours. This recipe will serve 8 people.

Ingredients:

¾ cup water
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons mild honey
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 lbs celery, cut into 2-inch pieces, reserving about 1 cup inner celery leaves* (2 to 3 bunches, any dark green outer ribs peeled)
¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley*

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

Directions:

Cut a round of parchment paper to fit just inside a wide heavy 6-to 8-quarts pot, then set round aside. Simmer water, lemon juice, oil, honey, salt, and pepper in pot, stirring, until honey has dissolved. Stir in celery (but not leaves) and cover with parchment round. Simmer until tender and liquid is reduced to about ¼ cup, 35 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, coarsely chop reserved leaves. Serve celery sprinkled with celery leaves and parsley.

Fish Soup

Fish SoupThis is a nice alternative to chicken soup, and combines the fish course and soup course into one! All the flavour, half the work! This recipe will serve about 12 people.

Ingredients:

⅓ cup olive oil
2 medium onions, quartered
2 large leeks, white part and most of the green part, sliced*
4 stalks celery
1 bulb fennel, quartered (save the fronds for garnish)*
6 cloves garlic
1 large bunch parsley*
2 red peppers, seeded and cut in chunks
Head and tail of a large salmon, tile fish, or any other big fish, quartered, loosely but securely wrapped in cheesecloth
2 (540ml) cans crushed tomatoes
8 cups water
2 large potatoes, cut in small cubes
1 cup dry white wine
½ teaspoon cayenne, or a little more to taste
Good pinch ground cloves
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon paprika
2 good pinches saffron
8 cups fish, cubed, about 1” size (salmon, tile or snapper)

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

Directions:

In a food processor, coarsely grind the onions, leeks, celery, fennel, garlic, parsley and peppers. You can do this in batches if you have a smaller processor or you find the vegetables are becoming over processed.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil, and then add the vegetable mixture. Sauté the mixture until the onions and leeks become translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Mix often so that nothing sticks and burns.

Next, add the head and tail of the fish (in the cloth), along with the tomatoes, water, potatoes, wine, cloves, bay leaves and paprika. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and let cook for 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecloth with the fish parts in it, and then add the chopped up fish meat and saffron to the pot. Allow the soup to cook another few minutes until the chopped fish has cooked through. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, and then serve hot, garnished with a few fronds from the fennel.

Salty Coffee Chicken

Salty Coffee ChickenThis recipe will make enough for 6-8 people to eat. I would suggest serving it up with green beans and mashed potatoes, or serving it cold, picnic style. Either way, it’s delicious! Just make sure to use low-sodium soy sauce, or it might be just a bit too salty!

Ingredients:

1 ⅓ cups reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup cooking sherry*
½ cup strong brewed coffee**
½ cup olive oil
12 chicken legs
ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

In a medium, nonreactive container, mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, sherry, coffee, and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Place chicken legs in the mixture. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours. Remove chicken from the marinade mixture, and set aside. Transfer the marinade to a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Heat remaining olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with pepper, and brown on all sides in the skillet. Pour the hot marinade mixture into the skillet. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Cool slightly before serving.

* If you don’t have any sherry on hand, or wish to make this dish alcohol free, substitute by using ¼ cup vinegar + 1 tablespoon sugar + ¼ water OR 1 tablespoon vinegar, plus chicken stock or water to make ½ cup.

** For strong brewed coffee, I suggest using 1 ½ times the amount of coffee to water that you usually use to brew a cup.

Chocolate Chicken Mole

Chicken MoleYou may look at this list of ingredients and be a little shocked! Moles, meaning sauce, traditionally have at least 20 different ingredients on average and are a source of great pride. They usually involved several different types of peppers, dried fruits, nuts and a hint of chocolate. This version is a bit of a dumbed down one, as it only contains 12 (chicken and garnish not included)! If you don’t have a rotisserie chicken, you can poach or roast off the equivalent amount of chicken yourself.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ chipotle peppers with 1 ½ teaspoons adobo sauce from can (or more to taste), chopped
1 ½ cup raisins
1 (796ml) can of diced tomatoes
4 ½ tablespoons smooth peanut butter
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 teaspoons chili powder
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ¼ ounces unsweetened chocolate (or 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder)
1 ½ rotisserie chickens, meat removed and shredded (skin and bones discarded)
⅓ cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish
1 ½ teaspoon sesame seeds, for garnish
Zest of 1 orange, for garnish
Fresh cilantro, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced, for serving
Flour tortillas, for serving

Directions:

Place a pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion and garlic, stirring to soften for 5 minutes. Add the chipotle with adobo, raisins, and tomatoes, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Carefully pour the mixture into a blender. Add the peanut butter, broth, chili powder, and cinnamon. Puree the mixture until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Return the mixture to the pot over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Add the shredded chicken and heat through.

Transfer the mole to a serving dish and garnish with peanuts, sesame seeds, and orange zest. Serve with cilantro, lime, avocado, and tortillas.