Easy weekday meals, A beautiful asparagus tart

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Like everyone else out there, even though I love to cook and eat well, weekdays can be a challenge. By the time I’m getting supper ready, it’s 7 or later. So needless to say, I don’t really want to spend 3 hours cooking up a meal. It needs to be quick, nutritious and especially, delicious! Omelets, quiches, one pot dishes that you can leave to simmer on the stove top, all great alternatives! And seeing as my time is counted, I thought I’d concentrate the next few posts on quick and simple meal ideas. As you guessed, first up, the tart or quiche. Great recipe to add what you’ve got on hand, a bit of ham or a bit of bacon, potatoes, leeks, that last bit of cheese…. You get the idea! Roll out some dough, whip up those eggs with a bit of cream, add your bits and bobs, stick it the oven! And I know what you’re going to say, the dough itself is too much. Well, make a batch, stick it in the fridge or freezer, take it out when you need it, job done!

Recipe

Dough

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

5 tablespoons butter

3-4 tablespoons cold water

Dash of salt

Filling

5 eggs

1 cup grated cheese, for this recipe I used Emmenthal

1 small bunch asparagus

1/4 cup cream

Salt & pepper to tasteIMG_0513

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut butter into salted flour. When butter is in small nuggets, form well in center and add water. Blend with wooden spoon, being careful not to overblend. Add water if necessary. When dough forms a rough shaggy dough, blend using hands, once again being careful not to overblend. You want the dough to have patches of butter, this is what makes the dough flaky. Form into a flattened ball, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk eggs with cream and seasonings. Add grated cheese and mix well.

Roll out dough into a rectangle (or oval or round depending on dish) and place in dish, add egg filling, then place asparagus. Cook in oven for 30-45 minutes or until browned and cooked through. Makes 4 servings, that keep refrigerate for up to 4 days, or frozen up to 2 months. Enjoy!

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Celebrating spring, birthdays & Asperges au Gratin

Easter weekend was my birthday and I treated myself to a long overdue trip to New Orleans. What a beautiful city and what beautiful & friendly locals! The food was fantastic, I almost got my fill of seafood, almost. Crab, oysters, drumfish, shrimp, crawfish and one that I can quite decide wether I’m happy about or not, turtle. I’m hoping that this is not one of the endangered turtles…  I ate fried chicken, well no that’s not fish, but it certainly is southern food (!), and gumbo and poboys and beignets with café au lait and eggs & grits and biscuits so fluffy and buttery… Did I say the food was fantastic?! At Pêche seafood and gril, I had a variety of entrées, one of which was an absolutely spectacular smoked drumfish salad. The glass of rosé I just so happened to be drinking turned out to be a drool worthy pairing. I will certainly be trying to recreate that salad, I’m still fantasising over it!

And back home, it’s that time of year, thank God! Asparagus season 🙂  I love, love, love asparagus, so needless to say I’ll be eating them everyday and in all sorts of different ways in the coming weeks. I had a hankering for Endives au gratin and the thought crossed my mind, why not replace the endives with asparagus? And you know what? It totally works! This is a perfect light supper.

Now my mind is going crazy with asparagus inspirations!

Ingredients:

2 bunch asparagus

200 gr. ham, I used an organic cruelty free variety from my butchers

100 gr. emmental or swiss cheese, preferably local

1 cup 10% organic cream

1 tablespoon organic butter

1 tablespoon spelt flour

1/4 small onion with 1 clove

1 clove garlic, crushed

Freshly ground nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. To make the béchamel: Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat, add flour and mix well. Whisk in cream slowly and when well combine add half of grated cheese,  grate nutmeg and season with salt and pepper then add onion and garlic and simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile cut asparagus tips and reserve the tips for stock. Wrap asparagus with ham and place in a gratin dish. Cover with the béchamel and top with remaining grated cheese. Place in oven and cook for 15-20 minutes. If needed, broil for a few minutes to caramelize. Let cool slightly before serving. Makes 2 portions. Enjoy!

 

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February is for comfort food & the classic comfort duo: Cream of tomato soup and grilled cheese

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but soups seem to be a recurring theme at my house. I guess soup is the perfect quick comfort food. It’s nourishing, tasty, can be made in every colour of the rainbow and can be made as light or as hearty as you desire. So today I’m sharing my cream of tomato soup recipe. I’ve been making it for over twenty years and the ingredients have evolved over the years. You can swap from milk to dairy alternatives, coconut milk/cream, from the cream cheese to greek yogurt or anything you want to use, experimentation leads to perfection!

Cream of tomato soup

Ingredients

1 28 oz tin of canned tomatoes

1 medium onion with 1 clove inserted

1 medium carrot, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups milk (or alternative)

1 Tb flour

1 Tb butter (or alternative)

Dash of grated nutmeg

1 cup cream cheese (or alternative)

Instructions

Place tomatoes, carrot and onion in saucepan, season with salt & pepper and cook on medium-low heat , covered, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile in a separate saucepan make a béchamel by melting butter on medium heat, add flour and stir until well incorporated and whisk in milk slowly, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. When the milk has thickened, allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside. After 30 minutes, add cream cheese to tomatoes to warm. Put all the ingredients in a blender and process on high until smooth. Makes 2-3 servings, can be frozen for 3-4 months.

Grilled cheese

Ingredients

1 large slice country bread cut in 2 (or 2 slices regular bread)

2-3 slices of cheese of your choice

Cranberry chutney

Butter

Sliced scallion

Instructions

Butter outer sides of bread. Spread cranberry chutney on the inside of bread, place 1-2 slices cheese on top, sprinkle scallion and add another slice of cheese. Close with 2nd slice and cook on medium heat in a cast iron pan until well browned on both sides. Serve and enjoy!