No Crust Asparagus Quiche for Spring

Nothing says spring like a lovely asparagus quiche for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This one really cuts down on the calories too, but not the flavor, by omitting the crust. And it’s gluten-free!

Serendipity: the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. That is pretty much how I feel today! A fab group of fellow Canadian food bloggers and I are sharing Spring recipes with you all today. And for some crazy reason, it is sunny and the temperature is going to climb to an unusual high of 23 C as well.  Pretty great timing and it just makes me want to spring into action and enjoy a slice of this delicious No Crust Asparagus Quiche!

No Crust Asparagus Quiche

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Cheesy Garlic Party Bread for the 5th Food Film Marathon

How do you get everyone running to the buffet table? Serve a pipping hot bread laden with fresh mozzarella, minced garlic, butter, and parsley.

Hosting home parties, the Canadian Thanksgiving, the upcoming arrival of Halloween, followed by the American Thanksgiving, and after that Christmas, New Year’s Eve and insert-your-local-holiday-here. It is that time of year to start prepping your menu plan and finding the perfect party recipes. You can never start too soon!

For me, the perfect party food is one that requires a small number of ingredients, one that is easy and quick to prepare – preferably ahead of time -, and that once you put it in the oven your guest are swooning over the smells coming from the kitchen. This Cheesy Garlic Party Bread absolutely checked all these boxes. It truly was the ideal contribution for my 5th Food Film Marathon which took place a couple of weekends ago.

Cheesy Garlic Party Bread

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Great book gift ideas

Still looking for a few great gift ideas for the chef or foodie in your life? I have a few excellent suggestions for you today. This is a very varied mix of books touching on recipes, travel, health and treasures to be found in the pantry.

I have been enjoying every moment spent leafing through these books, testing their theories, trying out recipe and planning a few future seasoning purchases. I am including the main description of the books and a “my-2-cents” paragraph for each. Enjoy!

Yunnan_Cookbook

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Lemon Lavender Avocado Loaf and Cupcakes

It’s Food ‘n Flix time again! In this monthly group a ‘host’ picks a movie of their choice that pertains to food. Everyone watches the movie and then makes a recipe which the film inspired. It can be any recipe you want. This month’s pick is hosted by Tina at Squirrel Head Manor. Tina picked a movie A Good Year, which is based on a novel by Peter Mayle. Like most of his books, the setting is Provence, the land of lavender – my inspiration!

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About 10 years ago I went on a Peter Mayle reading rampage. I read so many of his books I do not remember if I read this one. Apparently that would be a good thing not to remember as the book is very loosely based. That said it was a very cute romantic comedy movie.

Max, an unethical business go getter, inherits his uncle’s house in Provence, the house where Max spent a many summers as a boy. His trip for a quick sale becomes extend as he is in hot waters with the UK government. Well his presence upsets many people in this small French town, including the wine maker who works on the now for sale land and Fanny the lovely eventual romantic interest. What does the future hold for all three characters? Well I hope I wetted your appetite enough to get your hands on the movie.

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There is lots of talk about wine and food in the movie but nothing for me really stood out. What did stand out was a “situation” that occurred twice in the movie: the cleaning lady chases away scorpions with fresh lavender to save the terrified visitors. So I looked it up online and indeed lavender is a scorpion repellant. Who knew!

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That is when I knew my recipe would showcase lavender buds. I searched high and low for a really ‘out there’ recipe. Most people would find a lavender recipe exotic but I have actually use it in cooking several times. For this event I settled on the curious Lemon Lavender Avocado Loaf by Sheena on Allrecipes.

lavender fields 1

It so happens that this summer 4 of my friends and I headed out of town to visit a local lavender field. Walking along the 2 toned purple plants up and down the longs field was such an amazing experience. At the midway point the farm had set up a bunch of Adirondack chairs. Imagine 5 lovely ladies sitting in a row just enjoying the calming smell. We we so relaxed and happy, it was hard to leave the fields.

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I had recently run out of edible lavender buds so I bought some while at the farm, perfect for this really creative recipe. I hope you were not to put off by this combination of lavender, lemon and avocado but actually it worked really well together. The avocado acts at the fat for the recipe and you only have hints of it on the palate. I will admit the lavender is intense here if you are not used to it. There recipe was for 2 loafs but since I only have one loaf pan I used half the batter for cupcakes which I topped with a pretty raspberry!

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I found that the flavors mellowed a bit after a day, so if you have the willpower wait for the next day to try a slice. I brought only one cupcake to work for an adventurous colleague. When my other colleagues found out I was reprimanded quite severely for underestimating their open-mindedness. I made amends by bringing half the loaf in the next day. And they proved me wrong as I mostly got positive comments.

Yields 2 loafs or 12 large cupcakes

Lemon Lavender Avocado Loaf
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Ingredients

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsps baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed avocado
  • 2 Tbsps lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsps dried lavender
  • 1 Tbsp grated lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 2 9×5 inch loaf pans.
  2. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture should be noticeably lighter in color. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next. Beat in the avocado and lemon juice with the last egg. Pour in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing until just incorporated. Fold in the lavender and lemon zest; mixing just enough to evenly combine. Pour the batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour (about 25 minutes for cupcakes). Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.
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http://cultureatz.com/lemon-lavender-avocado-loaf-and-cupcakes/

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Such a gorgeous shot of the batter with the lavender and lemon peel

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Total coincidence I was wearing purple nail polish, I swear.

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Cheesepalooza: Fourme d’Ambert

This is the 11th month of the world wind Cheesepalooza challenge and there is only 1 more month to go after. I know I said the same thing last month but, oops, I had missed the 12th challenge. The finale next month will be…interesting and creative to say the least. But for this month we had to make a blue cheese.

I have been looking forward to making blue cheese since day one. It is a cheese I hated as a child but have grown to adore. My particular favorite is called a Bleu d’Auverge, from the same named region in France. I came across a recipe for a Fourme d’Ambert also from the Auvergne Region.

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Epiphany’s Galettes des Rois Pistachio Style

OK class, today we will have a lesson in religion. January 6th is known as Epiphany, a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of Jesus of Nazareth as the living Son of God on earth. Over the centuries the specific events which testify to this revelation have varied a lot but for today’s Western Christians, the feast primarily commemorates the coming of the Magi, with only a minor reference to the baptism of Jesus and the miracle at the Wedding at Cana.

And of course, in some  parts of the world,  a dessert had to be created to celebrate this revelation. In parts of  France people have traditionally  prepared a Galettes des Rois, a cake consisting of puff pastry with almond cream (frangipane) to their celebrations. It is reminiscent of the King Cake found in the American Southern States that celebrate Mardi Gras. Hidden inside the cake you will find a trinket (usually a porcelain figurine) or a dry bean. The person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket becomes the king/queen for the day and will have to offer the next cake. The analogy of the king refers to the three kings drawn to visit Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Often a paper crown accompanies the cake which is placed on the chosen king/queen.

I am not a religious person but by pure coincidence I happened to host a dinner at my place with a few friends on the evening of January 6th so of course I had to make a Galettes des Rois for the fun of it. Without a small porcelain figurine or dry bean in sight I opted for a small button. The crown took the form of a tiara with pink marabou which I happened to have lying around (don’t ask). And since I had a hankering for pistachios this was my nut of choice for the frangipane. Hey traditions only survive with the addition of modern twists!

For my filling I adapted a recipe found on Pham Fatale. Since we were only 4 at the dinner table I made the galettes small enough to ensure there would be no leftovers should the trinket not be found on the first round. If you buy a package of frozen puff pastry this recipe will make 2 galettes of 5 to 6 servings each. You could just make 1 bigger galette, in that case roll you disks out to 12 inches.

Ξ Pistachio Galettes des RoisΞ

5 ounces roasted, unsalted pistachio nuts, shelled
2 eggs, at room temperature
10 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk
4 x 9 inch disks of puff pastry (1 package of frozen puff pastry 397 gr/14 oz)

Directions:

Place the pistachios in a blender, a food processor or spice grinder and process them until you have a coarse crumbs. Make sure you stop before it turns into nut butter.

Using a handheld mixer, whisk the eggs and 5 tablespoons of sugar for about about 5-6 minutes, until the eggs are a pale yellow and very airy.

Cream the butter with 5 tablespoons of sugar, the salt and vanilla extract. Pour in the egg mixture and the ground pistachios. Gently mix until the batter is smooth.

Using a fork, beat the egg yolk with a tablespoon of milk. Use as your egg wash as described below. Place 2 disks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lay half the pistachio frangipane on each puff pastry disk, leaving a 1 inch ring of pastry. Brush the ring with the egg wash and place the remaining disks on top. Press the perimeter very tightly together. Using a knife, make decorative cuts on the top disks and brush with egg wash.

Refrigerate the galettes for an one hour. If you skip this step your filling may end up leaking out of the disks while baking (which happened to me). Preheat the oven to 400F, bake 10 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350F and bake 20 to 30 minutes or until the top is golden.

And in case you are wondering who was the lucky trinket finder this year. It was me! Yep I have the button in my mouth.