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.

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.

Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

Roast ChickenOkay, so back in Queen Victoria’s day, she had multiple main courses, there was the entree course, the removes course and the roast course… for me, that’s about 2 courses too much, but what do I know, I’m not the queen. So in her honour I’ve found a modern take on one of the dishes from her roast course. She served (or more accurately was served) Rots les Poulets (see picture below), or Roasted Chicken. My modern take uses garlic, lemon and thyme and roasts the chicken with onion, carrots and fennel. It will serve 6-8 people, and I hope you enjoy!

Poulet RotiIngredients:

1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs*
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges*
olive oil

* Click here to learn how to clean fennel and thyme.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the chicken giblets, or any other extra chicken parts that were stuffed inside the carcass. Rinse the chicken inside and out, and remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the margarine and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 ½ hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

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.

Pan-Fried Whiting Fillets with Garlic Kale

Pan-Fried Whiting Fillets with Garlic KaleOkay, so Queen Victoria’s chef may not have made his whiting fillets like I have in the recipe below, but to be honest, it was probably pretty close. I found another recipe from the era and it gives a simple recipe for dusting the fillets and serving them with a Hollandaise sauce. I figure a beurre blanc sauce with garlic kale is a nice modern twist. This recipe will serve 6-8 people. I hope you enjoy it!

Fillets of Whitings FriedIngredients:

Garlic Kale:
2 large bunches (about 500g) kale, stems trimmed*
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon chili flakes

Whiting Fillets:
⅔ cup olive oil
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
16 (about 1.1 kg) whiting fillets, skin off

Beurre Blanc:
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup white wine vinegar
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus extra wedges to serve
1 ¾ cup chilled unsalted butter, cubed (just under 4 sticks)
salt and white pepper, to taste

* Click here to learn about cleaning kale.

Directions:

For the beurre blanc, bring wine and vinegar to the boil in a saucepan. Add the shallots, and season with salt and white pepper and season. Reduce heat to low and cook for 6-8 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 3 tablespoons liquid should remain). Stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Strain and return to a clean saucepan over medium heat for 30 seconds to warm. Reduce heat to low. Add butter, a piece at a time, whisking constantly so it melts before more is added. Remove from heat and whisk in remaining tablespoon of lemon juice. Season to taste, set aside and keep warm.

Meanwhile, blanch kale in a pan of salted boiling water for 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain. Heat butter and extra virgin olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and chili, then cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add kale, season and toss to coat. Cook for a further 10 minutes until tender.

To prepare the fillets, in a small bowl mix together the flour, salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Coat the fillets with the seasoned flour, and shake each fillet to remove any extra coating. Cook the fish in the hot oil for 2-3 minutes each side until golden.

To serve, divide the kale and fish among plates, and spoon the beurre blanc over the fish and serve with lemon wedges.

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.

Sweet Lavender Scones

Lavendar SconesI never thought that I’d actually make my own scones at home (my baby sister is the baker of the family), but I found this recipe to be quite easy to pull off. If you can’t find lavender buds (they’re in the spice section of the more higher-end grocery stores), you can substitute with another flavour profile, maybe up the lemon? Or add some almond bits and some almond extract for a nutty scone? The possibilities are really endless. I do recommend the lavender though, it add a nice floral note, and you can always use the leftover buds to make lavender cookies, lavender sugar, lavender sachets…. You get the idea 🙂 This recipe will make 16 tea sized scones.

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon dried lavender buds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch cubes
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk*
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sanding or granulated sugar
1½ cups store-bought lemon curd (for serving)

* Click here for tips on zesting and how to make buttermilk.

Directions:

Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and then preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, lavender buds, salt and baking soda. Add the chilled butter in cubes, and rub it through the dry ingredients with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the buttermilk, the lemon zest and the vanilla. Slowly add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and mix until a shaggy dough forms.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and then knead until a cohesive dough forms, about 2-3 minutes. Gently shape the dough into a 10×6″ rectangle. Halve dough lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into 4 squares. Cut each square diagonally in half into 2 triangles. Divide the triangles between the two baking sheets. Brush each triangle with the remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake until scones are golden and a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, 13–15 minutes. Transfer the scones to wire racks to cool.

Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon curd.

Lag B’Omer Carob Cake

Carob CakeThis Carob cake is very apropos for Lag B’Omer, but can be served any day of the year! It is especially good for those that want the flavour of a chocolate cake, without the chocolate. This cake will serve 9.

Ingredients:

½ cup margarine
⅔ cup honey
2 eggs
1 banana, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup carob powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
icing sugar (to garnish)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees . Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan. Sift together the flour, carob powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and honey until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the banana and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the water. Stir in chopped nuts (if using). Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool, then dust with icing sugar to decorate.

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.