Spinach, Penne (Fusilli) and Cheese "Spoufflé" (page 43)
Described as a "one-pot" dish, I was very excited to think that I could toss ingredients into a pot willy nilly and have it emerge from the oven as a fluffy soufflé.
That is actually what you do in this recipe....maybe without the "tossing willy nilly" .....but only after first cooking pasta, making a béchamel sauce, cooking spinach, grating cheese and whipping egg whites, finally combining these components to put into the baking dish. I don't have much experience with soufflés - this one's a "spoufflé" because it includes pasta - so I'm always thrilled when they work out. And this one did, puffing up beautifully in the ramekins. Everyone loved it and thought it well worth the sink full of dirty dishes (which they didn't have to wash!). I really enjoyed it but thought the onion flavour didn't come through and would steep it longer in the milk or perhaps mince and sauté it next time - what's one more dirty pan after all!
Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad (page 71)
This is what I want to be eating on a hot day. Light and fresh tasting, this Thai-inspired salad was bursting with lime and herb flavours. The author makes some ingredient suggestions so I went with rice vermicelli, and mint and coriander were my herbs of choice. My own not so very creative substitution was Chinese long beans/snake beans for the green beans. I loved that the components could be made in advance and assembled just before serving, making it an excellent choice for a packed lunch. This dish is destined to be made often during the summer months.
Kohlrabi "Carpaccio" (page 116)
Pearled Barley Broth (page 160)
There was no wow factor here, just the pleasant flavours of a simple, homey soup with barley, an assortment of vegetables, herbs and spices. Since mushrooms and barley are such a natural pairing, I made the alternative garnish of sautéed cremini mushrooms. Served with a simple salad, it made for a very family friendly meal.
Asparagus (Fiddlehead) Pizza (page 185)
I know spring is really here, not when I spot the first local asparagus or discover pea shoots or ramps, but when fiddleheads start popping up at markets and in grocery stores.
They're treated like a vegetable, but they're actually ostrich ferns picked during the bud stage, before they unfurl into feathery fronds. They grow only in the wild, are harvested by hand and have a very short growing season. I'm lucky to live in an area where they abound but they're still a rare treat.
Since Andrea invited us to be creative with spring produce this month, I decided to use fiddleheads in a dish from this book but I wanted to choose one that would showcase them. As she pointed out in the p's and q's, they are similar to asparagus in flavour and can often be used as a substitute. Unlike asparagus, they shouldn't be eaten raw or even partially cooked, only fully cooked.
I decided to do a make-up of a recipe chosen last May that met with rave reviews, the asparagus pizza. Apart from the substitution, I made one change which was to precook the fiddleheads and toss them with a little olive oil and garlic for extra flavour before putting them on the pizza.
Hugh's Magic Bread Dough turned out well again, providing a crisp and chewy base for the sautéed onions, mozzarella, Parmesan and fiddleheads. Fabulous! And worthy of this delicacy.
Spicy Merguez Oven Fries with Yogurt Dip (page 225)
I could probably put anything on a fried potato and it would get eaten here, but this spice mix of cumin, fennel, coriander, caraway and smoked paprika happened to taste fantastic.
I made a mistake while measuring it out and doubled the cumin, doubling the entire recipe in the end to correct for it. But no regrets, it was worth making extra to have on hand for the next batch. After parboiling the potatoes, they were oven-fried (in only 3 tbsp oil) so they were crisp with a fluffy centre. I think I would have had similar results without pre-cooking so I'll skip that step next time.
When I see the word "spicy", I think "hot". But unless you went wild with the cayenne, these potatoes were just very flavourful. The accompanying tangy yogurt dip, to which I added an entire clove of garlic, complemented them perfectly. Needless to say, these were a huge success.
Grilled Asparagus Spears with Lemon Dressing (page 339)
Young asparagus, grilled until tender and dressed with a little lemon juice and a sprinkling of fresh herbs is a delicious but not particularly revolutionary recipe. However, Hugh's technique of threading the spears on wooden skewers that had first been soaked in cold water was absolutely brilliant. I tried it with blanched broccoli as well and it worked perfectly. I grill vegetables all the time and didn't think I needed a recipe for them, but I'm so glad I tried this one. No more vegetables lost to the grill ever again!!!!
I can't wait to see what the other members did with the recipes this month. Visit here to find out.