Quiche with Crab and Asparagus

I haven’t stopped cooking and baking but I haven’t worked on my blog in awhile.  I rely on it myself when I go to make favorites, like this morning when I looked up my granola recipe.  I love sharing my recipes with people and this is the perfect vehicle.  So I will keep on blogging.  It’s Easter weekend and I thought I’d make a special Saturday brunch for the two of us.  I found a recipe for crab quiche and made my own modifications.  Eating brunch this morning reminded my of going to a little seafood place in Chicago near our daughter that serves awesome crab cakes Benedict.  This is an easy recipe that comes together quickly and takes about 50 minutes for baking and 10 minutes for resting so you’ll have time to whip up some muffins or a little green salad to go with the quiche.  Another reason this came together fairly quickly is because I cheated and used a prepared pie crust.

Ingredients:

1 9” unbaked pie crust (your own or one from the grocery)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup whole milk

2 T AP flour

1/2 tsp salt

Franks Hot Sauce (optional)

5 oz Gruyere cheese cubed

8 oz container crab meat

5-6 green onions chopped

asparagus spears cut into bite size pieces

Preheat the oven to 450.

Roll out the pie crust and line a 9” pie pan, crimping the edges.  Cover with two layers of tin foil and bake for 8 minute.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 5-6 minutes until light brown.

While the crust is baking dice the green onions, asparagus, and cube the cheese.

In a medium size bowl whisk the eggs.  Whisk in the milk, mayonnaise, flour, salt, and a few shakes of Franks.

Gently fold in crab meat, onion,  asparagus and cheese.  Pour egg mixture into the hot pie crust.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 and bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the edges are puffed up and the center is set.  Allow the quiche to rest for 10 minute before slicing.

Slice and serve!  I made blueberry muffins to enjoy with ours.  And mimosas.  Had to have mimosas.  I had grapefruit juice, my husband had orange.  Both delicious.

I will blog the blueberry muffins next.

NOTE:  As always you can change this up.  Don’t like asparagus, use broccoli or zucchini.  Don’t care for gruyere cheese, use Swiss (almost the same) or cheddar.  Add more Franks or none at all.  Substitute a little cayenne.  Everyone’s palate is different.  It also depends on what’s available in your fridge and pantry.

Asparagus Pickled and Asparagus Soup

Roadside stands and farm markets selling fresh asparagus is a sure sign of Spring in Michigan.  At our house we love asparagus roasted, in risotto, in quiche and, of course, pickled.  Anyway it’s served!  The pickled spears make perfect Bloody Mary swizzlers, make a relish tray look fancy and are just great for munching.  Several people were joking about asparagus and smelly pee so I decided to do a little research to see what causes the smell.  Asparagus, they say, contains asparagusic acid…not a very creative name…which breaks down into sulfur containing compounds when ingested.  Apparently everyone’s urine is pungent after eating asparagus however not everyone has the special gene that allows them to smell it.  Interesting.  In my research I came across a quote by French novelist Marcel Proust from the early 1900s.  He wrote  “asparagus transforms my chamber pot into a flask of perfume”.  I can tell you I do not have the “flask of perfume” gene.  In my reading I also learned that to cultivate white asparagus the shoots are covered with soil as they grow.  No exposure to sunlight causes them to remain white.  White or green, asparagus is very low in calories (about 3 calories a spear) and high in vitamins and fiber.  So enjoy guilt free!!

I bought about 25 pounds of asparagus and turned the majority of it into pickled spears…20 pint and a half jars.  I used taller jars allowing for longer spears but you still trim off several inches.  So as not to let that all go to waste I made asparagus soup.  Recipe follows.

Pickled Asparagus Ingredients:

7-8 pounds of asparagus trimmed to the appropriate length

2 quarts of water

1 quart of white vinegar

1 cup of granulated sugar

2 tsp mustard seed

1 T dill seed

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 T black pepper corns

1 T kosher salt

14 cloves of garlic peeled

1 onion sliced

Trim the spears to approximately 6″ and wash them thoroughly.  Sterilize the jars in a water bath.  In a heavy kettle combine the water, vinegar, sugar and spices and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and maintain the brine at a simmer.

In the meantime clean the garlic cloves and thin slice the onion.

Once the asparagus is trimmed, brine is simmering and onions and garlic are ready begin filling your jars.  I find it easiest to lay a sterilized jar on it’s side to fill it with spears adding some onion slices and a couple cloves of garlic to each jar.  Once the jar is filled top off with hot brine leaving 1/4 inch of head space.  Seal the jars.

Once all of the jars have been filled process them in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove the jars and allow them to cool completely.  As with all other canned goods I store them in a cool dry place,  Make sure the jars have sealed before stowing them away.  If a jar did not seal put it in the refrigerator and enjoy within a few weeks.  The quantities above made 7 pint and a half jars.

Allow the jars to sit for a couple of weeks prior to sampling.  That allows the brine to permeate the asparagus spears.

NOTE:  If you like your spears kicked up, add some sliced fresh jalapeño  to each jar or increase the red pepper flakes.

 

All of these yummy pieces of asparagus (and more) were left behind after my pickling and I did not want them to go to waste so they became soup.

 

Cream of Asparagus Soup Ingredients

2 pounds of asparagus pieces

1 medium onion rough diced

2-3 cloves of garlic

2 T butter

24 oz chicken broth

2 medium potatoes peeled and rough chopped

3 ribs of celery rough chopped

1 tsp of thyme

lemon juiced (approximately 1/4 cup)

12 oz half n half

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven heat the butter and saute the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the asparagus, potato and celery.  Saute for 2-3 more minutes.

Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes until all of the vegetables are tender.

Add the thyme and using an immersion blender blend until smooth.  Stir in the lemon juice.

Stir in the half n half and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Bring the soup back to a simmer.

While the soup is warming blanch some asparagus tips and pieces and set aside to add to the soup.

Ladle the soup into bowls.  Add some asparagus pieces and garnish with Parmesan cheese.  Serve with homemade croutons or crusty bread.

NOTE:  Discard the thick tough stalks and wash and cut the tender left over stalks into 1-2 inch pieces.  Blanch, bag and freeze.  They can be used in soup, quiche, or other recipes.

Creamy Pesto with Asparagus and Chicken

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I have been on a bit of a blogging hiatus.  Not because I haven’t been cooking.  Probably mostly because I’ve been a bit lazy.  Last weekend we went to an Italian restaurant with a group of people and a friend ordered linguini with a creamy pesto sauce.  She said it was excellent and wanted to know how to make it so I thought I’d do a little experimenting.  I don’t usually like cream sauces but I actually did like this.  I liked it a lot.  I also prefer angel hair over linguini or fettuccini so that’s what I used.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup chicken broth (I used better than bouillon)

2 T butter

1/2 cup pesto

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese plus more for finishing

1-2 T olive oil

1 chicken breast sliced into medallions

1 bunch of asparagus cut into 1-2 inch pieces

1 can baby artichokes halved

1 heirloom tomato diced

1/2 pound pasta of your choice

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Heat a large kettle of salted water to boiling and cook pasta according to package instructions.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy skillet.  Cut the chicken breast into medallions, season with salt and pepper and sear on both sides.  Put on a platter and keep warm until serving.

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If necessary add a little more olive oil to the skillet and add the asparagus.  Cook over medium high heat just until tender tossing occasionally.  Add the artichokes to the skillet and keep warm.

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In a medium size, heavy sauce pan heat the cream and chicken broth to a simmer.  Add butter and stir until melted.  Stir in the pesto and garlic powder.  Add the shredded Parmesan and stir until melted.

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Put the cooked pasta in a large skillet over low heat.  Reserve some of the pasta water.  Add the asparagus and artichoke hearts to the pasta.

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Add the chicken and the sauce and toss to coat.  If necessary add some of the pasta water.

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Add the tomatoes just before serving.

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Serve in pasta bowls and garnish with some additional shredded cheese and cracked pepper.  This dish was very yummy and for sure I will make it again.  I think that the addition of the pesto and the chicken broth made this dish a little less rich than typical cream sauces although heavy cream and butter play a major role here.

You can add your favorite vegetables in place of the asparagus and artichoke hearts or in addition to them.  You could also substitute shrimp or bay scallops for the chicken or make the dish meatless.  I used prepared pesto but obviously you could make your own and that would make the dish even better!

Mangia!Mangia!

Succotash Reinvented

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Succotash consists primarily of sweet corn and Lima beans.  Mostly Lima beans.  Frequently when we would visit my mother-in-law  she would say, “I made your favorite!  Lima beans.”  But Lima beans really are not a favorite at our house. We’ve been out of town for several days and I was looking in the fridge for something to make for a side dish.   I had a few ears of fresh corn from a cookout we had before we left, a poblano pepper, and some asparagus so I decided to reinvent succotash to suit our palates.

Ingredients:

4 ears of fresh corn cut off the cob

1 bunch of asparagus spears chopped

1 poblano pepper seeded and rough chopped

1/2 cup of red onion rough chopped

good drizzle of olive oil

salt and coarse black pepper to taste

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Preheat your broiler.

Toss all of the ingredients together and spread out on a baking sheet covered in foil. Drizzle with olive oil and add a generous amount of cracked pepper and salt to taste.

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Broil for 15-20 minutes stirring a couple times. Cook until you have a little char on the vegetables.

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Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve. Tonight we had smoked pork chops, smashed cauliflower and the succotash.

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The succotash would be good with red or orange bell peppers, fresh green beans, or, if you like, Lima beans. Enjoy.

 

Asparagus and Garlic Pasta

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On one of our weekly shopping expeditions my friend and I discovered the most awesome pasta made in Grand Rapids Michigan by the Local Epicurean. The box says it is “hand made pasta by passionate artisans.”  I believe them. There are numerous combinations including lemon dill, asiago oregano, portobello Parmesan, red beet, asparagus garlic and several others. I’ve purchased and cooked many different pastas that purport to contain various vegetables but they seem to only be colored pastas. The Local Epicurean pastas actually taste like the ingredients they are infused with. Each package has cooking instructions and a recipe. This is the recipe, slightly modified, for the asparagus garlic pasta.

Ingredients:

4 T olive oil

1 cup asparagus cut into approximately 1″ pieces

1 cup grape tomatoes halved

1 cup of sweet yellow peppers rough chopped

1 cup mini portobellos

4-5 cloves of garlic minced

1/4 cup shallots sliced

1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1 package asparagus garlic pasta

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Put up a large kettle of salted water for the pasta and bring it to a boil. This pasta cooks very quickly, 4-6 minutes.

Prep all of the vegetables.

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Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add all of the vegetables stirring occasionally. Cook 5-6 minutes until vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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While the vegetables are cooking grate a generous cup of parmigiana reggiano.

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Once the pasta is cooked drain but do not rinse.

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Add the pasta, cheese, and about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid to the vegetables.

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Toss until well combined and serve.  Enjoy every bite.

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You can add shrimp, scallops, or thinly sliced chicken breast but I served it as a vegetarian meal. It could also be garnished with some fresh parsley or basil. Serve with a nice salad and some good bread and you have a meal that you’d be proud to serve any guest. And how easy was that!  If you cannot find this particular pasta the recipe would still make a very tasty dish.

I was recently at Eataly in Chicago with my daughter and was inspired to make my own pasta. I haven’t made pasta in a very long time. Years and years. I just think it would be great fun especially if I can talk someone into doing it with me. Maybe that will be one of my next blogs. We’ll see.