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Let's make some tasty, easy food

Cream of Leek and Asparagus Soup

Monday, March 26, 2012

This soup is a great way to celebrate asparagus, and the addition of leeks in the recipe gives a boost of extra iron as well as delicious flavor. This sumptuous soup tastes even better if made a day ahead, and it can serve as a creamy and satisfying main meal alongside a tender salad and some crusty wholegrain bread. 


1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 large celery stalks, diced
1 ½ pounds asparagus
6 large leeks, white and palest green parts only, chopped and well rinsed
vegetable stock (about 3 cups or as needed)
½ teaspoon each: dried tarragon and dried basil
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 to 1 ½ cups low-fat milk or soymilk, as needed
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste 

Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and celery and saute over moderate heat until the onion is golden. 

Crustless Smoked Salmon, Leek and Red Peppers Quiche

Thursday, March 22, 2012

This crustless quiche is easy to make and great for any meal. The smoked salmon lends a touch of elegance, and the leeks can be substituted with onions or shallots. 


- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cup milk or cream
- 6 oz smoked salmon
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts sliced (about 1 cup of slices)
- 1 small red pepper, chopped 
- 3/4 cup shredded cheese - almost any kind or combination is fine, but not too much strong-flavoured cheese such as Parmesan
- 1 tsp dry mustard (I replaced with Dijon)
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- pinch of cayenne pepper or a bit of hot sauce
- paprika, salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Saute leeks in a little olive oil. When they begin to soften, add the peppers. Add a little salt and cook for 3-4 minutes. Just before taking off the heat, add the thyme.

Risotto Primavera

Sunday, March 18, 2012

This is a twist on the technique to cooking a classic risotto, and it only takes 6 minutes of continuous stirring, as opposed to 18, because this risotto cooks undisturbed for the first 12 minutes. It is a quick and easy meal for two, using the following ingredients:

- 1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 tsp olive oil
- 3 oz cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
- 1 small onion, chopped fine (I used 3 scallions)
- 1/2 cup Arborio rice
- 3 oz asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup frozen peas
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste

Stuffed Pork Chops

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ingredients (I halved the quantities listed below, as I had two monster pork chops :)))
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 quarts water
  • 4 (2-inch thick) pork chops, bone-in rib loin chops, split to bone
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, minced
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
  • 2 1/2 cups crumbled cornbread
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk salt and sugars in 2-quarts of cold water. Add pork chops and cover. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove the pork chops from the brine and dry well.

In a large heavy bottomed saute pan, begin to fry bacon. Add celery, onion and garlic to pan and allow to saute with the crispy bacon. Add rosemary, sage and parsley after bacon has cooked for 8 to 10 minutes. Saute until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl add cornbread, dried cranberries and chicken stock. Stir in the cooked vegetable mixture. Mix well.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Stuff the chop with about 1/2 cup of stuffing.

Use toothpicks to help seal the chops. Grill the chops for 5 to 7 minutes per side. Internal temperature should be 145 degrees F. Allow chop to rest for 5 minutes before serving.


Roasted Branzino Stuffed with Leeks and Meyer Lemons

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I prepared the branzino in the Mediterranean style, with citrus and herbs and served with a risotto Primavera. You can replace the branzino with any white, flaky fish.


1 whole branzino or other white-fleshed whole fish, butterflied
1 leeks cut into thin strips
1 Meyer lemon cut into thin rounds with one wedge reserved
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place fish on a roasting pan open and flesh side up. Sprinkle salt and pepper over both fish. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over each fish. Line one side of the fish with lemon slices, top with a generous amount of leeks and 2 sprigs of thyme. Fold the empty side onto the filled side. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.

Cook for 12 to 18 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through.


Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A staple in the Roman cuisine, tomatoes stuffed with rice appear on nearly every antipasto table in Rome. You'll need:

- 8 firm, medium ripe tomatoes (I had 3 very large ones)
- 1/2 cup raw Arborio or other risotto rice
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper

Position oven rack in top third of oven, then preheat the oven to 400F. Trim about 1/4-inch from the top of each tomato and set them aside. Working over a medium bowl, use a small spoon to carefully scoop out inner pulp without puncturing the walls of the tomatoes; reserve the pulp. Arrange the scooped-out tomatoes open end up in a medium baking dish and set aside.

Pass the tomato pulp through a food mill or pulse in the bowl of a food processor to a chunky puree, then transfer back into the bowl. 

Add the rice, basil, parsley, garlic and oil, then season generously with salt and pepper. Mix well. 

Spoon the filling into prepared tomatoes 

and place a reserved tomato end loosely on top of each stuffed tomato. 

Drizzle a little bit of oil over tomatoes and bake until rice is tender and the tomatoes are soft and well browned, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature. 


Crustless Broccoli and Cauliflower Quiche

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

This recipe again makes use of the entire broccoli, nothing is left out. Peel off the skin of the broccoli stems with a vegetable peeler or a very sharp knife, then cut them into slices or chunks.

- 1 tsp olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp dried rosemary, chopped
- 1 medium bunch broccoli and cauliflower, cut into florets, broccoli stems peeled and cut 1/3 inch thick

Heat the oven to 375F. Brush a 10-inch pie plate with olive oil.

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and let it cool.

Add the eggs to the onion and slightly beat. Whisk in milk, 1/2 cup of the cheese, water, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper and rosemary to blend.

Cover the bottom of the pie plate with the broccoli and cauliflower.

Pour the cream mixture into the pie plate. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Bake until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean and quiche is golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes. Enjoy!


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