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potato quiche (gluten-free)

grated potato quicheThis recipe takes the rösti, a classic Swiss comfort food, and turns it into a savoury, delicious pie.  Nearly every cook I know has their own favourite version of quiche and my mom’s quiche Lorraine recipe, a family favourite, is so darn good but I have also made a few non-traditional ones, too.  After tasting this potato quiche you might consider it a contender to rival the traditional…just sayin’. Continue Reading →

Asparagus Vichyssoise

asparagus vichyssoiseI am a huge fan of supporting anything local; it just makes sense to me to do so.  A few years ago I read The 100 Mile Diet – A Year Of Eating local.  Big kudos to Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon for their one year journey of only eating what was available to them within 100 miles.   It’s a far cry from the staggering 1,500 miles from farm-to-plate that happens all over North America.  A study from Brock University found that if five million Ontarians spend $10 of their weekly grocery budget on local foods it would contribute $3 billion to their economy. Of course, in smaller communities that number would be less but it still would have a positive impact.  It’s a tough sell, though, for those on a tight budget.  I admit, I shop all over the food grocery map…it’s the only way I can make things balance and help stretch my food dollar.  The road to buying local is paved with good intentions and it’s important we all feel that even a small amount contributes in a big way.  Brock University also stated that buying local has three times the financial impact on communities compared to buying imported items.

Vichyssoise (vish·ē·swäz′) is a thick soup made with leeks, potatoes and chicken stock.  For those who are lactose intolerant, omit the milk and increase chicken broth or substitute water for the milk.  Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K, A, and C and this humble perennial is also a natural diuretic.  To get optimum health benefits from asparagus, consume within 48 hours of purchase as they are more perishable than most vegetables (store in the refrigerator with the ends wrapped in a damp paper towel).

Serves 4 to 6
extra-virgin olive oil
knob of butter
3 leeks, cleaned and sliced (white and pale green parts only)
1 lb. asparagus, roughly chopped
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
1 cup cubed potato
plain yogurt

In a saucepan melt butter and add a splash of olive oil. Add leeks and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Add potatoes, stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Toss in asparagus, cover and cook 5 minutes or until asparagus is al dente. Remove from heat and purée using a hand blender. Stir in milk and season with salt and pepper. Let the soup cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with a tablespoon or so of plain yogurt.  Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  If the soup is too thick, thin with water.  This soup is typically served cold but you can serve it hot, too.  Enjoy!

Asparagus Fennel Salad

Asparagus and Fennel Salad by The Culinary ChaseEven though asparagus is available year-round, Springtime is the best time to enjoy them.  Asparagus and fennel salad may seem like an unassuming dish but don’t be fooled by its looks.  The pine nut dressing deliciously coats the veggies and it’s love at first bite!  And, because this dish does not require a stove top or oven to make it, it’s perfect for a hot day.

Serves 4 as a starter

1/4 cup pine nuts
1 clove of garlic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan
asparagus bunch, ends trimmed
1 fennel bulb, cut in half
125g fresh mozzarella, torn into chunks

To make the dressing, in a mortar add a pinch of sea salt and garlic and use the pestle to muddle until a paste develops. Add pine nuts and bash to a thick paste. Add lemon juice, oil and parmesan.  Muddle  until well combined.  Adjust according to taste by adding more oil, lemon juice or Parmesan.

For the salad, thinly slice asparagus using a vegetable peeler and for the fennel use a mandoline. Place in a bowl and add the dressing.  Toss to combine making sure the vegetables are well coated.  Arrange on serving plates or platter and add mozzarella chunks. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, garnish with fennel fronds and season with freshly ground black pepper.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Try avoid ‘snapping off’ the ends of the asparagus as I find this sometimes wastes too much of the vegetable.  Instead, cut the bottoms off about an inch – white ends definitely need a chop.  Choose firm asparagus that are bright green (dark could mean older stalks), and the tips are tightly closed. Asparagus, also known as the stinky vegetable, has strong cleansing effects on the kidneys and bladder. It flushes out acid wastes so quickly you can smell the ammonia in your urine shortly after eating it.

Roasted Asparagus with Anchovy Panko-Garlic Topping

I was in the city yesterday meeting Mr. S. for a cappuccino and then off for a bit of retail therapy.   I mustn’t have been in the mood as nothing I saw grabbed me except for when it came to a bit of food shopping at Eataly.  It’s my favorite specialty shop in Manhattan showcasing all things Italian.  If you have never been, you’re missing out on quite an experience.  They offer hard-to-find Italian food items that other grocers don’t seem to have or carry on a regular basis and their market has housemade bread, pasta, mozzarella, gelato, and pastries.  Even if you don’t want to buy groceries here, it’s a great place to eat at one of their 9 restaurants.  Want to learn more about food?  Take a cooking class or dine at their monthly chef’s table and learn more about the regional cuisine as the chef prepares your meal.  It’s worth a visit even if only to walk around Eataly and take in all the sights and sounds.

Serves 6
adapted from Food & Wine

2 pounds asparagus
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
7 anchovy fillets in oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons lemon zest
juice of one lemon, for drizzling  

Preheat the oven to 425°. On a baking sheet, toss the asparagus with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, turning once, until golden and tender. 


Meanwhile, in a small pan, simmer the remaining 1/3 cup of olive oil with the anchovies over moderate heat, stirring, until the anchovies dissolve. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the panko brad crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and lemon zest. Transfer the roasted asparagus to a serving platter. Drizzle with lemon juice, top with the panko and serve.  

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Unbelievable flavors coming from this dish!  If it’s just the two of you, like it was for us, take only the amount of asparagus you’d eat and adjust the panko crumb mixture accordingly.  Enjoy!