Posts Tagged ‘Asparagus’

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Farmer’s Market Quiche

August 14, 2011

I love to go to the farmer’s market for fresh vegetables.  But, if you’re anything like me, you tend to get a little overzealous – buying entirely too many vegetables only to get them home and realizing they take up a lot more fridge space than you’d planned for.  And there’s no conceivable way you can eat them all before they go bad.

The crust, vented and ready to blind bake.

Of course, it makes me almost physically ill to have to throw them away, weeks later – each moldy, meely, or otherwise unsavory bag I plunk into the trash forcing me to admit I wasted my money.

All of the fresh, farmer's market finds!

Sautéing the vegetables.

The makings of the egg mixture.

I don’t know what made me think of this recipe, other than it’s been a while since I’ve had quiche and we used to have it pretty often when I was growing up.  I really love the versatility and inexpensiveness of quiche.  It can be made out of almost anything.  It works for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  And all for around $0.50 in eggs!

And the vegetables are in!

You can use literally any ingredients you have on hand for this recipe (feel free to mix and match from what I’ve used).  I could easily see using peppers, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, eggplant, … stop me anytime.  I had several ears of corn on hand to use, so I put it in with the egg mixture and the dish became something between a quiche and a corn pudding (and that’s FINE with me, because I love a good corn pudding).

The filling is in the asparagus decoration is on.

As far as cheese goes, my favorite cheese to use in a quiche is a good, sharp swiss.  Though in this case, I treated it like a clean-out-the-fridge recipe and used the remnants  of cheddar and mozzarella I had on-hand.

Golden brown from the oven.

Now, the notes:

I used our classic tart crust, because it’s just so rich and delicious and simple (You’ll find the recipe here).  Of course, you can always go the easy route and buy a refrigerated pie crust, in which case I urge you to make two quiches and freeze one for later, because it really makes enough filling for two.

You can use regular milk or even cream instead of the buttermilk, if you prefer.  I thought buttermilk felt more farmy (plus it was nearing its expiration date…).

Sliced and served (and promptly consumed, no doubt).

Farmer’s Market Quiche

  • 1 Pie/Tart Crust
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • ½ Cup Chopped Onion
  • 1Cup Sliced Zucchini
  • 1 Cup Sliced Mushrooms
  • 5 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Shredded Cheese
  • ½ Stick Butter, Melted
  • ½ Cup Buttermilk
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • A dash of cayenne pepper, if you’re into that
  • 10 Asparagus Spears

Prepare the pie crust(s) and press into a tart pan or pie plate.  Prick air vents with a fork and blind bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees before adding the filling.

In the meantime, sautée onions, zucchini, and mushrooms in olive oil.  Remove from pan to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs with the next 5 ingredients (through cayenne pepper), mixing until incorporated.

Place sautéed vegetables at the bottom of the pie crust, and pour egg mixture over the vegetables (only fill ¾ of the way to avoid overflow).  Place your asparagus spears evenly around the top of the quiche, pressing down into the mixture slightly, to create a starburst pattern.

Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees, then lower the temperature to 375 and bake for an additional 25-35 minutes, until set.  Slice and serve hot, warm, or cold.  It keeps well in the fridge for 2 or 3 days, covered.

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Risotto, I Don’t Think We’re in Kansas Anymore

March 20, 2011

Risotto is certainly no newcomer to the table, but in case its charms and wonders have somehow slipped under your culinary radar, let me clue you in.  Risotto is a classic Italian dish made with Arborio rice that is cooked in a broth until the starches break down and it becomes rich and creamy.  Risotto is one of the most versatile dishes out there, and once you get the hang of the basic cooking process, the possibilities are virtually endless.

The queue of ingredients, waiting to go into the pot.

A few notes before you embark on your risotto journey:

First of all, don’t make risotto if you’re hungry.  This advice may sound counter-intuitive, but keep in mind, it takes almost an hour to make – if you’re starving you’ll wind up playing “eat the pantry” and ruining your dinner before it’s even on the table.  Make it when you’re almost hungry so it’s ready when you are.

Secondly, don’t plan on doing anything else while your risotto is cooking.  You really have to nurture it (i.e. watch it like a hawk and stir it constantly).  It demands your undivided attention.

Lastly, don’t let these points intimidate you.  If you’ve got the time and really have a taste for something special (or someone to impress), give it a try!  It can be done vegan or vegetarian (as shown below), or beefed up with meat stocks or seafood.  Either way, it’s a very worthwhile dish to have in your repertoire.

Coating the rice in oil. Nice action shot! (Photos by Edward B.)

Mushroom Asparagus Risotto

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (for vegan) or butter (for vegetarian)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup diced white onion
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine (I used some leftover Pinot Grigio I had in the fridge – doesn’t need to be fancy)
  • 3 ½+ cups vegetable (or chicken or beef) stock, as needed (could also use mushroom broth if you can find it in your grocery store)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms, any variety
  • 1 ½ cups chopped asparagus, parboiled
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan (optional)

In a large, shallow pan, sauté garlic and onions in oil/butter for 2-3 minutes.  Add rice and cook 2-3 minutes, letting the fat coat each grain.  Add wine all at once, stirring to allow rice to absorb wine.  Once wine is almost completely absorbed, add broth ½ at a time, stirring continually to incorporate liquid.  Add mushrooms halfway through, cooking with rice in broth.  Cook until rice is just barely al dente and risotto is thick and creamy.  Add asparagus.  Finish with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Adding the asparagus to the mix. Mmm...so green.

~Josie

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“Dynamite Pizza”, or The Best Pizza You’ll Ever Eat

February 17, 2011

I put off writing about this for a while because I know pizza is simple and it’s been done.  A lot.  True, anyone can throw some toppings and cheese on a crust and bake it.  But I promise you haven’t lived until you’ve tried this one.

I came across this crust recipe a few years ago in Cooking Light magazine, and I haven’t strayed since.  The truly amazing thing about this recipe is that it makes four crusts from one recipe, and you can have them ready to go in your fridge or freezer – making for a really fast and delicious weeknight meal. Plus, there’s just so much potential for creativity here!

In the past Erik and I have done everything from Greek Pizza, to Tomato Basil Mozzarella Pizza, to a Barbecue Pizza (a personal favorite which always receives rave reviews).  But the one I want to share here now is one of our latest and more delicious creations:  a Spinach, Artichoke, and Asparagus White Pizza; inspired by spinach artichoke dip.  It’s a great combination of fresh, green vegetables and rich, delicious cheesiness.  It’s certainly a nice break from the monotony of pepperoni pizza with tomato sauce, and well worth the extra effort (though it doesn’t take much).

The White Pizza, before baking.

Dynamite Pizza Dough

  • 1  package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1  cup  warm water
  • 1 1/4  cups  cold water
  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon  sugar
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 5 cups unbleached bread flour
  • Additional flour, for kneading

*For Wheat Crust, use 4 cups all purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour.

Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Combine 1 1/4 cups cold water, oil, sugar, and salt in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.

Measure flour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Add yeast mixture, and cold water mixture to the flour.  Mix on low 8 minutes or until dough begins to form. Let rest 2 minutes.  Mix on low 6 more minutes. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 2 minutes); add additional flour if needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky).

Divide the dough in half (for thicker crust) or quarters (for thinner crust), and place each portion in a large zip-top bag. Seal and chill several hours or overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling out.  Roll and stretch dough to desired size and shape.

Pizza bakes at 500° for 12 minutes.

Note: You can freeze the dough in heavy-duty, freezer-safe zip-top plastic bags for up to 2 months; thaw dough overnight in the refrigerator.

The dough can also be divided into smaller portions for personal pizzas or calzone.

Baked White Pizza, SO delicious!

Spinach Artichoke Asparagus White Pizza

White Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
  • 4 ounces (1/2 brick) cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 cups milk or soymilk
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic powder, stirring frequently.  Melt in cream cheese.  Stir in arrowroot powder to milk.  Add milk mixture, parmesan cheese, oregano, and basil to saucepan.  Stir until sauce begins to thicken.

Toppings:

  • 1 can artichoke hearts, chopped (kitchen shears work well for this)
  • 15-20 blanched asparagus spears (about 3 cups, cut in 2-inch pieces)
  • 1 cup cooked spinach (frozen spinach thawed and drained well is the easiest)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese

Assembly:

Makes 2 large pizzas.  If you only want to make one, reduce everything by half.

Place each prepared dough on a pizza pan.  Brush lightly with olive oil and spread on half of white sauce (it may look like there is too much sauce, but it soaks in quite a bit while it bakes).  Sprinkle spinach and mozzarella over sauce.  Top with artichokes and asparagus.  Scoop tablespoon sized balls of ricotta over the top of the pizza.  Bake at 500° for 12 minutes.  Indulge.

One last look at the finished pizza.

~Josie

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A Different Approach to Lasagna

January 20, 2011

Whew, it has been a while since I last posted. I was sick. Blech. <(@_$)> But alas I have returned with a great recipe to share.

I think one of the best/easy meals to make for a group of people is lasagna. It can pretty much be made ahead and warmed as your guests arrive. You may be saying to yourself “Boooo lasagna. <(-_-)> Boring. Boring. Boring!” However, this recipe is different. I found it in a Barilla online celebrity cookbook that I downloaded a couple of months back. It is a recipe for vegetarian lasagna with asparagus and eggplant that was endorsed by Julianne Moore. (OMG it must be delicious right?) Plus, how can you not love the colors!

So the recipe called for a pesto sauce to be used alternately with the white sauce, but I really wasn’t feeling that. Plus, I am a big fan of the ricotta layer in more classic lasagnas. Therefore, I decided to go with a spinach-basil-ricotta filling in place of the pesto.

Thoughts:

-As with most cream sauces I make, I used soymilk.  Feel free to use dairy if you so desire.

-I use panko in just about every recipe that calls for a breadcrumb crunchiness factor. You can use ordinary breadcrumbs if you don’t have panko on hand.

Asparagus and Eggplant Lasagna

  • 1 box lasagna noodles
  • 1 bunch medium asparagus spears
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large Japanese eggplant, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½  cups mozzarella cheese
  • ½ c. panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1 15 oz. container of ricotta cheese
  • 1 small package frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed of excess liquid
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 egg

For besciamella sauce (fancy Italian word for simple cream sauce a.k.a. bechamel in French):

  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 3 cup soy milk, hot
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of nutmeg (fresh if you have)

Preheat the oven to 400.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Trim the asparagus and boil for 1 minute. Remove from water and place into a bowl of ice water. Drain well and cut each spear in half lengthwise.

I felt inclined to build an asparagus cabin. My house was a lovely shade of green.

Either cook eggplant in a sauté pan over medium heat in a little bit of olive oil for about 5 minutes or drizzle with olive oil and grill up right quick.

I really like the color contrast of eggplants. Deep purple exterior with beige seeded center. Too bad my crappy phone camera can't show this effectively.

In a medium bowl mix together the spinach, ricotta, egg, and basil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

To make besciamella sauce, in a pan melt the butter over medium high heat. Sprinkle in the flour and stir around the pan to incorporate into the butter. Let cook until light golden brown, about 6-7 minutes. Slowly add in the milk to the butter, cup by cup and whisk until smooth. Bring mixture to a boil and then remove from heat and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Set aside for layering. Woot!

Cook the lasagna sheets in the boiling asparagus water until al dente (I think that is still a thing with lasagna noodles).

Prep a 13×9 inch baking pan by buttering or spraying.

I was very happy with the grill marks from the grill pan. It looked so pretty while assembling.

Put a little bit of sauce on the bottom of the dish. Layer 3 sheets of lasagna on bottom of the pan; top with a nice layering of the asparagus followed by a few slices of eggplant. Add a healthy drizzle of sauce. (about a cup). Layer with 3 more sheets of lasagna. Then using a spatula spread half of the ricotta mixture. Repeat these layers again. (You may have some leftover veggies depending on the size of your eggplant and bunch of asparagus). After placing the remaining noodles on top layer, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and the panko.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and the breadcrumbs have browned up.

Yah the finished product. (I was so excited to eat that I forgot to take pictures, this one is a leftover slice so not bubbly oozy).

P.S. Use a really sharp knife or sharp metal serving spatula to effectively cut through the layers and not have asparagus pieces that jump ship.

~Erik <(^_^)>

 

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Happy New Year, and Asparagus Spiral Appetizers!

January 2, 2011

Looking for an easy, yet elegant appetizer for a cocktail party or a get together with family or friends?  Well look no further.  Seriously, whether vegetarian or not, this quick concoction is sure to impress any crowd.  And it’s so tasty I could hardly wait to share it here.  I want everyone to make it.  Really, it’s that delicious.  Plus, I got a new camera for Christmas that has a pretty good food setting, so I’m excited to share pictures!

We decided to make this appetizer for New Year’s Eve after Erik’s dad showed us a recipe he’d found online.  We tweaked it a bit, omitting the proscuitto it called for (though that does sounds awfully delicious – the meat eaters among us will have to try it that way and report their findings).  Though, we certainly didn’t miss the meat, and neither did the Bowens.

The original recipe didn’t mention a sauce, but I couldn’t really imagine it without one.  And since I have an ongoing love affair with horseradish, I thought nothing would be more fitting than a horseradishy dipping sauce.  Erik suggested horseradish hollandaise.  Bingo.  It coupled so nicely with the asparagus and puff pastry.  (Though I am ashamed to admit we used hollandaise from a packet…never again will I stoop so low, especially since hollandaise is a relatively simple sauce to make).

Also, ideally, I’d make my own puff pastry, but that is quite another adventure…

So, without further ado, the recipe…

Asparagus Spirals with Horseradish Hollandaise

  • 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 cup whipped cream cheese, seasoned as desired
  • 30-40 asparagus spears, washed/dried/trimmed
  • 1 recipe hollandaise sauce (whether from a packet or homemade – we’re not judging)
  • 1-2 tsp. prepared horseradish

For the asparagus:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line baking sheet with foil.  Unfold thawed puff pastry sheets and spread ½ cup of cheese on each sheet.  Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut puff pastry into thin strips (cut as many strips as you have asparagus spears).  Wrap each strip around an asparagus spear, using the cheese-side to stick the puff pastry to the asparagus.  Place on baking sheet and bake 20 minutes or until puff pastry is lightly golden brown.

For the sauce:

Stir 1-2 teaspoons of prepared horseradish (depending on your taste preference) into the finished hollandaise.  That’s it.  Really.  Dip the asparagus, and enjoy!  But, a word of caution…once you start snacking on them, it’s hard to stop.

 

~ Josie