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Aunt Suzy says . . .

My friend, Ruth, and I recently read My Life in France by Julia Child and thought it would be fun to cook some things inspired by her.  . . maybe not exactly her recipes from The Art of French Cooking, but similar ones using fresh seasonal ingredients.  We had talked about a souffle, but I’ve always been intimated by them.  Probably should give one a try at some point, but we decided on quiche and chose an asparagus quiche because asparagus is at its peak right now.  I did look in TAOFC to see whether Julia had a recipe using asparagus (no) and to see her methods (interesting and helpful!).  Ultimately, we chose this recipe from Martha Stewart that we modified slightly.   I know the perfect person to buy from at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market, so we went Saturday morning to buy asparagus and other items for our menu.  I realized that while I enjoy ordering quiche out or having it at other people’s homes, I had never made one myself!  This was very easy and definitely delicious, so I will make quiche again, experimenting with other types and recipes.  It was fun to cook with friends, with everyone diving in and making light work of the tasks. We served this with a beautiful salad and a glass of chardonnay.

Margaux says…

Quiche is kind of a staple in our house.  My dad made quiche a lot when I was a teenager, so it’s like comfort food to me.  And it’s (relatively) easy, inexpensive (especially if you just use leftover stuff like I do a lot), and really delicious.  This recipe is definitely a little fancier than I usually make, with the Gruyere and leeks, and it’s super good.  We usually have a few leftover pieces for breakfast the next day, but this one we totally polished off that night!

When I make quiche, or any baked single-crust pies, for that matter, I use the Joy of Cooking method with the crust, and I find that it always makes for a better finished pie.  In the Joy of Cooking test kitchen, this was the only way they found that didn’t end in a soggy, under done crust.  The edges may get a little brown, but it’s totally worth it.  I’ve included the instructions for this method after the recipe.

Ingredients

Your favorite pie crust for a single crust pie

1 pound asparagus, tough ends removed

2 medium leeks, white and light green part only

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

4 large eggs

1 1/4 cups half and half

A pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Crust: Roll out the dough and place in a 9-inch pie plate.  Crimp or flute the edges.  Bake at 350° for 7-8 minutes.  Remove from the oven and make a few stabs with a fork to deflate any bubbles.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Leave the oven on. (Or follow Margaux’s instructions below for pre-baking the crust).

Asparagus and Leek QuicheVegetables: Wash the asparagus and pat dry.  Cut in roughly 3/4-inch lengths.  Cut the tops off the leeks so only white and light green part remains.  Slice these pieces in half lengthwise and wash thoroughly under running water, fanning out the layers.  Thinly slice in half moons then pat dry with a towel or paper towels.  Heat the oil in a non-reactive skillet over medium heat.  Sauté for about 10 minutes until asparagus is beginning to soften and the leeks show a few browned bits.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Eggs: Whisk the eggs and half and half together and add the nutmeg along with salt and pepper to taste.  Whisk to completely blend and emulsify a little.

DSC06707Assembling and baking the quiche:  Place the slightly cooled pie crust on a jelly roll sheet pan. Scatter the grated Gruyere onto the bottom of crust.  Place the vegetable mixture in a layer over the cheese. Next pour the egg/cream mixture over all.  Place the quiche on the sheet pan in the center of the oven and bake for 45 to 60 minutes.  (check at 45 just in case it’s done. At Ruth’s it took an hour in a gas oven and at my house it took 45 min in an electric oven.)  A knife inserted into the center should come out almost clean.  The quiche will continue to cook slightly as you let it rest for 15 minutes (or more) before serving.  You can serve warm or room temperature.

NOTES ON THE INGREDIENTS: 

Suzy says…None of us had time to make a crust so we used store bought and it was fine! While I swear by homemade, I have friends who swear by store-bought. Today I was convinced that if pressed for time purchased crust is a good option.  On the recommendation of the cheese department manager, I used half local Gruyere and half imported French.  Her idea was that the French is nutty and flavorful, but not very “melty” and the local is very melty, but does not have as much flavor as the French.  If Gruyere isn’t readily available, you can use regular Swiss cheese.

Margaux says…I have used store bought crust before too, and prefer Whole Foods brand by far.  But I have to be REALLY pressed for time to do it…I always make an all-butter crust and it’s way more flavorful.  🙂

Joy of Cooking pre-baked crust method:

Roll out your dough and place in pie dish.  Crimp the edges as desired, and freeze for about 8-10 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and set a rack in the upper third of the oven.  Take the pie dish with crust out of the freezer and smooth a large sheet of aluminum foil, shiny side down, into the pie crust, leaving an overhang all the way around the edges.  Fill the liner with raw beans or rice or metal pie weights, banking the weights along the sides if you don’t have enough to fill the whole shell.  Bake the crust for 20 minutes with the weights in to set the crust.  Take out of the oven, carefully remove the foil by grabbing the corners and pulling it out with the weights, then prick all over with a fork.  Put it back in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until its golden brown.  Check periodically for doneness and if there is any puffing up, prick the puff with a fork and gently push back in place with a spoon. Take out of the oven and fill with the filling and bake (don’t forget to turn the oven down to 350).  If your crust edges start to get too brown during baking with the filling in, carefully cover just the edges with aluminum foil pieces.  Or get a vintage crust saver (aluminum ring that you set on the crust) like I have…it’s great!

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Aunt Suzy says . . .

This recipe is a riff on Aunt Cindy’s Artichoke, Edamame and Asparagus salad.  She had raved about that salad to me the week before I was having friends over for a cookout.  It occurred to me that this would be a great basis for a pasta salad, and I just went crazy from there making adaptations.  Like the A.E.A. salad this is based on, it was such a hit that it’s been made for more than one recent event.  Thanks to niece Sarah for suggesting the cherry tomatoes.  We served this with grilled chicken and Spring Farmer’s Mkt Potato Salad, which made for a great summer meal.

The Dressing

3 tablespoons EV Olive Oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced

Juice of 1-2 cloves of garlic, using a garlic press

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together in the bottom of a large salad bowl.  Set aside at room temperature.

The Salad

1 can or jar of artichoke hearts, drained (I like the ones with stems from Trader Joe’s)

1 pound asparagus, tough ends removed

1 lemon, thinly sliced crosswise

1/2-2/3 pound small dried pasta shapes

2 pints cherry tomatoes (I used the multi-colored ones from Trader Joe’s), cut in half

1/2-3/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

1/2-3/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 425° and place the top rack one down from the top of the oven.   Pat the artichokes and asparagus dry.  Line a cookie sheet or broiler pan bottom with foil and cover lightly in EV olive oil.  Place the asparagus, artichokes and thinly sliced lemon on the foil and turn to coat all items with a little olive oil.  Place the pan in the pre-heated oven and roast for 7-10 minutes until done.  The asparagus does not need to be turned, but you will want to turn the artichokes and lemon slices a couple of times.  I found that the artichoke hearts and lemon could go longer, so I removed the asparagus after 7 minutes and placed the pan back in the oven for about 5 minutes more.

Cut the cooked asparagus into 2-inch lengths and the artichoke hearts into small pieces.  Cut the roasted lemon into small dice.  Add these ingredients to the dressing in the salad bowl.

In the meantime, cook the pasta al dente according to package directions.  Drain and let cool.  NOTE:  I did not like the shells and used spirals the next time I made this – much preferred!  Add the cooled pasta to the bowl and toss to thoroughly blend and coat everything with the dressing.  Add the cherry tomatoes to the salad and stir to blend.  Lastly, add the mint and basil, stir to blend.  Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.  Let sit at room temperature to blend the flavors for at least 30 minutes.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

This tasty and healthy salad was introduced to us by “Aunt Cindy and Uncle John” (my brother and his wife).  They had recently made this for Cindy’s niece’s bridal shower and loved it so much they made it for Mom/Granny’s 86th birthday party.  I discovered the original recipe on Health.com.  Two adaptations were made from the original – roasting the asparagus instead of adding it to the edamame cooking water and using marinated artichoke hearts vs. plain. We all agreed that this is a “keeper”!  It’s fast, easy to make, delicious and impressive.  When we saw that they were using a jar of pre-shaved Parmesan cheese purchased at Costco, we thought this recipe would fit right in with the Sandra Lee semi-homemade approach :-).  So if you use the pre-shaved cheese, it’s even faster to make!

These quantities make 4-6 servings and the recipe can easily be made in larger quantities by doubling or tripling.

Ingredients

1 garlic clove, peeled and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (14-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 cup frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans)
1 pound medium asparagus, tough ends removed, and cut diagonally into thirds
1 ounce shaved Parmesan cheese (about 2/3 cup)

Instructions

1. Rub the inside of a large salad bowl with cut sides of the garlic clove; discard garlic.

2. Add oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and pepper to the bowl and whisk until slightly emulsified. Add the artichokes, tossing gently and set aside at room temperature.

3. Meanwhile, place the edamame in a large pot of boiling salted water and cook 2 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook until asparagus and edamame are crisp-tender (about 3 minutes). Rinse under cold water, drain well, and blot dry with a towel or paper towels.  FOR ROASTED ASPARAGUS:  Cook the edamame for about 5 minutes, drain and pat dry.  Oven roast or grill the asparagus whole, lightly coated with a little olive oil.  Once done, cut into 2-inch pieces.  Proceed to step 4.

4. Add asparagus and edamame to the artichoke mixture and toss to blend.  Arrange shaved Parmesan over all and serve.

Aunt Suzy says

This is a delicious dish that is also versatile.  The original recipe called for using it as a topping for bruschetta.   We served it at room temperature as a side salad for a cookout meal, and I can also see it served warm as either a side dish or a vegetarian main dish.  Many options!  Here’s a photo of the finished salad.

The Vegetables

8 ounces asparagus, cut into bit-size pieces

1 1/2 cups mushrooms, quartered (white, crimini, baby bella or shitake)

1 tablespoon EV olive oil

1 can (15-ounce) cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

Toss the olive oil with the asparagus and mushrooms (I used crimini).  For outdoor grilling, place in a wok or grill pan and place over the fire.  Close the lid and cook for 4-5 minutes, until tender, stirring once mid-way through.  For oven roasting, place on foil on a cookie sheet or broiler pan bottom and roast at 425 for 6-7 minutes, stirring once mid-way through.  Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in the beans.

The Dressing

1 minced or pressed garlic clove

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon water

1/4 cup EV olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and whisk till slightly emulsified.  Pour dressing over the vegetable mixture while still slightly warm.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Aunt Suzy says

Upon seeing Margaux’s recent post on Fettucine with Asparagus, Peas and Pancetta, I thought “I will be making this!”.   I too love pasta and had just purchased asparagus and sugar snap peas at the farmer’s market.  Margaux’s remark that a vegetarian version of this might also be nice, prompted me to make this as a veggie side dish to accompany the salmon I was planning to make for dinner.  I made modifications based on what I had on hand.  This was delicious and I can’t wait to make the original recipe with the pancetta!

Pasta with Asparagus and Sugar Snap Peas in Lemon-Herb Sauce (by Aunt Suzy Test Kitchen :-))

12 ounces small pasta (I used tri-color fusilli)

2 to 2-1/2 cups asparagus, cut into 1-inch lengths

2 to-2 1/2 cups sugar snap peas, strings removed and cut into 1/4-inch lengths

4 large scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)

The dark green part of the scallions, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

juice of one lemon

zest of one lemon

1/4 cup parsley, or more to taste

1/4 cup basil, or more to taste

1/2 cup parmigiano, grated, plus more for passing

Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Before draining, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta liquid.  Drain pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile, place the asparagus in a saute pan and cook for 1 minute in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil at medium high heat.  Turn the heat down to medium and add the sugar snaps, the sliced green onions (white and light green parts) and garlic.  Saute for 3-4 minutes more, then put the lid on the pan and cook for 2 more minutes.  The vegetables will get slightly brown on the bottom of the pan which will add extra flavor. 

Place the cooked pasta into a large pot and add the vegetable mixture.  Stir to combine and then add 1/4 cup of the pasta water, the green parts of the scallions, the lemon zest and juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, the parsley and basil.  Stir to combine and then add the parmigiano cheese, stirring to thoroughly mix in.  Add additional pasta water a little at a time if too dry, which I did not have to do.  Serve with extra parmigiano to pass.

Aunt Suzy says

When I first saw this shaved asparagus pizza recipe last week from Smitten Kitchen, I thought it looked delicious, not to mention beautiful to look at.  With great asparagus so plentiful right now, I wanted to make it at my first opportunity,  My friend Sue had asked about adding goat cheese and that got me thinking about other ingredients.  Randy and I made pizza on Saturday night using Vicolo Pizza frozen crusts which are cornmeal based and are our go-to pizza crusts.  I wanted to try the recipe as described on Smitten Kitchen and also to add some other ingredients to see how they worked. True confessions . . . I might be posting this just so I can show these cute Mozzarella Pearls that I just discovered at Whole Foods.

On top of that base of Parmigiano and Mozzarella, I placed the shaved asparagus.  On the right in the photo below is the basic recipe and my riff on it can be seen on the left.  I added roasted red pepper, Niciose olives and feta cheese.  Both sides of the pizza were delicious!  Randy went even further and used pizza sauce as a base, green olives, red onions and roasted red pepper and no mozzarella.  He said it was one of the best pizzas we’ve ever made, and we both agreed that shaved asparagus is a winning pizza ingredient!

 

Margaux says

I love pasta dishes.  I would eat pasta every night for dinner if the rest of my household felt the same as me.  However, as much as my husband loves pasta, too, he doesn’t feel the same way as I do.  And Desi doesn’t really like it at all.  Seriously, where did this kid come from??  No mac n’ cheese, no spaghetti…sometimes its really hard to come up with dinner ideas!  This dish was a winner because Desi loves asparagus, peas and bacon, and we even got him to eat a few noodles, too!

I used proscuitto because my grocery store didn’t have pancetta, and I didn’t feel like making an extra trip to Whole Foods.  I think I could have just used bacon, and it would have been just as delicious.   It also would have been really good vegetarian.

Fettucine with Asparagus, Peas and Pancetta
by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen

* 12 ounces fettuccine or penne
* 3 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped
* 1 1/4 pounds asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces
* 2 cups shelled fresh green peas, blanched 1 minute in boiling water, drained, or frozen peas (do not thaw)
* 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, white and pale green parts separated from dark green parts
* 2 garlic cloves, pressed
* 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
* 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
* 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided

Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.

Meanwhile, cook pancetta in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon drippings from skillet. Add asparagus to drippings in skillet; sauté 3 minutes. Add peas, white and pale green parts of green onions, and garlic; sauté until vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add vegetable mixture, 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid, dark green parts of green onions, 1/2 cup Parmesan, cream, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon peel, half of parsley, and half of basil to pasta. Toss, adding more cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls if needed. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle pancetta, remaining parsley, and basil over. Serve, passing additional Parmesan cheese.