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.

Advertisements

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.

Maple and Soy Roasted Duck

Maple and Soy Roasted DuckSo out of the three entrees served at Queen Victoria’s May 15, 1879, one of them was for Filet de Canetons aux Petits Pois or for those non-Frenchies, Fillets of Roasted Ducklings with Small Peas. Of course, I was able to find a Victorian Era recipe for the dish, but the recipe doesn’t fit with today’s tastes, it’s actually strangely both simple and rich at the same time. To fit with more modern tastes, today’s recipe is for a Maple and Soy Roasted Duck with a wine, thyme and grape sauce. Delicious! This dish will serve 6-8 people or can be halved easily for 4 people.

Filets de Canetons aux petits poisIngredients:

2 whole ducks (2 ½ kg each)
Fine sea salt to taste
4 sprigs of fresh thyme*
8 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 clementine or mandarin oranges, rinsed and quartered
3 teaspoons good quality soy sauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Sauce:
2 ½ cups cabernet sauvignon red wine
2 sprigs of fresh thyme*
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 cups seedless red grapes, rinsed and halved
2 tablespoons jelly of choice (I recommend cherry, currant or raspberry)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean thyme properly.

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Remove the ducks from their packaging, empty the cavities and rinse under cold water. Make sure to pat dry the ducks inside and out. Cut off excess fat from the ends. Using a fork, prick the skin of the duck on top and underneath (on the fatty parts), without piercing the meat.

Season the duck with salt on the outside and inside the cavity. Stuff the each duck with 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, the 4 cloves of garlic and 1 clementine or mandarin orange worth of quarters, and then truss.

Place the duck, breast side down, on a grill in an approximately 13 x 9 in broiling pan. If you don’t have a grill for your roasting pan, you can place a wire cooling rack used for baking in a deep casserole dish instead. Just make sure to indicate that the cooling rack is now considered a meat utensil. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees, turn the ducks over to breast side up, and roast for another 30 minutes.

In the meantime, put the wine, grapes, 2 sprigs of thyme and jelly in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce to half over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, or more to taste. Mix. Set aside. Take the ducks out of the oven, and baste with the fat and cooking juices. Put the ducks back in the oven and continue cooking until the skin turns golden brown, approximately 60 minutes.

Take the ducks out of the broiling pan. Mix the soy sauce and remaining maple syrup together and then brush the mixture over the ducks. Return to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes. Empty the accumulated fat. Tilt the ducks to empty the cooking juices that have accumulated in the cavity. Skim off the juice and add to the sauce. Transfer the ducks to a serving plate. Remove string and leave to rest for 15 minutes. Slice and serve with the sauce on the side.

Potage à la Julienne (Julienne Soup)

What gives this soup it’s name is the way all of the vegetables are sliced in it. They are all done up “Julienne Style” or in thin matchstick pieces. Back in Victoria’s time, this was all done by hand, but if you have a food processor, it will definitely help with the cutting. For those of you that get a kick out of this kinda thing (like I do), I found an old recipe for this soup that was published during the time. I hope you find my modernized version a little easier to make 🙂

Potage a la JulienneVegetable Soup Julienne
Serves 6-8 people

4 carrots (if you are able to get them use a purple carrot as well, it looks amazing)
4 turnips
2 celery stalks
4 red cabbage leaves*
4 green cabbage leaves*
6 stalks of chard*
4 leeks*
4 spring onions*
12 French green beans
2 litre vegetable or chicken stock
4 tablespoons margarine
salt, pepper to taste
Few sprigs of tarragon or marjoram*
1 clove of garlic, grated into a paste
2 cups cold water and a squeeze of lemon juice

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

Once all your vegetables are cut into thin batons, add the red and green cabbage, the chard, and beans to the cold water with lemon juice.

In a large soup pot, melt the margarine over a low heat until it is just foaming. Add the carrots, turnips, leaks and onions and garlic paste. Sauté in the margarine for about four minutes, or until tender.

Strain the water from the soaked vegetables, and add them to the pot, letting them sauté for a minute or two, then add the vegetable or chicken stock. Let the soup gently simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. Add half of the tarragon or marjoram, and a squeeze of lemon juice, then let simmer for 5 more minutes.

Taste and add salt, pepper as desired, adding the last of the herbs just before serving.

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.

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.

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.

Dirty Rice

Dirty RiceNo, before you get all worried, I’m not suggesting you eat the rice that you swept up as part of your Passover cleaning! Dirty rice is a traditional Creole dish made from white rice which gets a “dirty” colour from being cooked with small pieces of chicken liver or giblets, green bell pepper, celery, and onion, and spiced with cayenne and black pepper. Parsley and/or chopped green onions are common garnishes. Dirty rice is most common in the Creole regions of southern Louisiana; however, it can also be found in other areas of the American South. This recipe will serve 6 as a side dish, and 4 as a main.

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked rice
4 cups chicken stock
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium/large onions, diced (about 1½ cups total)
2 medium green bell peppers, diced (about 1 cup total)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup total)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ pound ground beef
½ pound chicken giblets or livers**
2 bunches green onions, chopped*

* Click here to learn how to clean green onions.
** If you are using livers instead of giblets, please ensure to following the directions found in this article on how to Kasher your raw liver.

Directions:

If using Giblets:
Place the giblets in a pot, and cover with water, bring to a simmer for 30 minutes with 1 bunch of green onions, salt and pepper.

If using Liver:
If using raw liver, please Kasher it according to the instructions provided in the link above. Once the liver is cooked (either purchased cooked or cooked through the Kashering process), follow the same steps as the giblets, however only simmer until warmed through, not for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a colander, rinse rice several times until water runs clear. Place rice in a large pot and add chicken stock. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not overcook.

In a pan, sauté the garlic, onions, bell peppers and celery in vegetable oil until soft for about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaf and cayenne and add to rice. Cook the ground beef in a sauté pan and add to rice.

Finally, let the giblets cool enough to chop into small dice then add to rice mixture. Mix rice well and let simmer on lowest heat for an additional 30 minutes, stirring continuously, until flavors meld. Serve hot garnished with the second bunch of green onions.

White Fish Étouffée

fish etouffeeSo here is another classic Cajun dish called Étouffée. Most commonly prepared with shellfish like crawfish or shrimp, it was back in the 1950s that crawfish etouffée was introduced to restaurant goers in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, however the date of invention of this dish has been shown as early as the late 1920s. Originally crawfish étouffée was a popular dish mainly just in the bayous and backwaters of Louisiana amongst Cajuns in the area, but in the early 80’s a popular Bourbon Street restaurant called Galatoire’s brought the crawfish étouffée dish into the limelight. Even amongst the French Creoles this Cajun dish was a hit. Our recipe uses firm white fish, rather than shellfish, but is just as good! This recipe will serve 6.

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ tablespoons flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bunches green onion, sliced*
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 pound firm, white fish, cut into large chunks (like Cod, Halibut or Flounder)
1 teaspoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 ⅔ cups vegetable or vegetarian chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
rice to serve

* Click here to find out how to clean green onions.

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, stir in the flour until dissolved, and keep stirring until it turns a rich reddish-brown colour. Add the garlic, onion, green onions, green pepper and celery. Sauté until the vegetables become transparent, about 5-10 minutes. Mix in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, cumin and Cajun seasoning. Once combined, add the chunks of fish, being careful not to break up the fish too much. Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add the broth into the vegetable-fish mixture, taste for salt and pepper, and then let simmer until thickened, about 35 minutes. Serve over rice.