Scrambled Eggs with Ramps, Asparagus and Morel Mushrooms

Scrambled Eggs with Ramps, Asparagus and Morel Mushrooms


The other week I made the asparagus, morel and ramp quiche with a brown rice crust and as I was running out of it I thought that a simple scrambled egg version would also be nice. I knew that the ramps and morel mushrooms would be disappearing quickly and I wanted to enjoy them as much as I could before they were gone. Luckily last weekend I was able to find all of the ingredients at the farmers market and I have been enjoying scrambled eggs with wild leeks, asparagus and morel mushrooms for breakfasts this week. One of the things that I like about scrambled eggs is that you can add pretty much any flavours to them and the ramps and morel mushrooms certainly added a ton of flavour to these scrambled eggs. Another thing that I like about scrambled eggs is that they are really easy to make and they don't take much time. You can easily have a hot fresh cooked breakfast on a workday morning if it is scrambled eggs.

Fiddlehead Shrimp Scampi

Fiddlehead Shrimp Scampi


Another new ingredient that I discovered this Spring was fiddleheads. Fiddleheads are young fiddlehead ferns that have yet to unfurl they leaves and they are only available for a short period of time during the Spring. I first saw them at the farmers market and later I was a bit surprised to also find them at a few main stream grocery stores. Of course, I picked some up right away to try. While looking around for recipes I kept coming across the suggestion to boil them for at least three minutes before cooking them over safety concerns for toxins.

The first thing that I did with the fiddleheads was a simple saute (after boiling them for 3 minutes) in some olive oil with some chopped up ramps and a simple seasoning of salt and pepper. I really enjoyed the sauteed fiddleheads and I would imagine that sauteing them in butter would also be excellent. A sprinkling of parmigiano reggiano might also be a nice addition.

Now that I had experienced the fiddleheads I was looking for a recipe to use them in. While I was thinking about them I was thinking about spirals and then shrimp popped into my head. I was also thinking about wanting to use the preserved lemons that I had made in a new dish. I decided to combine all of the ideas and make a shrimp scampi with fiddleheads and preserved lemons. Fiddleheads in a pasta with a buttery lemon sauce with shrimp sounded good. I also thought that replacing the garlic in the shrimp scampi with the in season ramps would be a nice touch. It is hard to go wrong with shrimp scampi and this Spring version with fiddleheads, wild leeks and preserved lemons also turned out great! The fiddleheads worked well in the scrimp scampi and they were really nice in the buttery lemon sauce with a background of wild leeks. The preserved lemons also worked well in the scampi kicking up the lemon flavour and adding a new texture. What a great way to enjoy the fiddleheads! I will definitely be keeping an eye out for them again next year!

Feta Salsa

Feta Salsa


It is always nice to be able to sit down and relax and enjoy a good dip and I am always looking for interesting new dips to try. I recently came across a very interesting idea for a feta salsa dip on smitten kitchen and I knew immediately that I would have to try it. This feta salsa's primary ingredients are feta, olives and sundried tomatoes which are all near the top of my list of favorite ingredients. From there you finish the salsa off with some herbs and olive oil. I decided to add some garlic and for the herbs I was thinking Greek and went with some fresh oregano. I was also planning on adding some green onions but I forgot that I was out and had to skip them. (Thinking about it now, I had some red onions that would have worked well.) Given the simple list of ingredients you want to use some good ones and I took the opportunity to pick up some nice imported Greek sheep milk feta and some nice olives. The feta "salsa" turned out really well! It was nice and tasty and so packed with flavour! I enjoyed scooping the the feta salsa up with whole wheat pitas when I served it the first time. The leftovers went really nicely on salads and I added about a tablespoon of it to my next few bowls of salad during the week.

Asparagus and Cashew Chicken Stir-fry

Asparagus and Cashew Chicken Stir-fry


I like to keep a few quick meal ideas around for week nights when I don't have a lot of time to cook and this stir-fry is one of them. Really this recipe is more of a guideline where you can use whatever meat and vegetables that you want. You can also play around with the flavours by using different sauces. This time I went with asparagus because I had a bunch of it in the fridge and some chicken that I had in the freezer. I like adding nuts to dishes like this and the cashews were definitely invited to the party. I would normally make this with the garlic as stated in the recipe but this time I actually used some ramps or wild leeks as I had them on hand as well. Stir-fry's come together quickly so I like to have all of the ingredients chopped and at the ready. That means that the meat usually only gets to marinate for as long as it takes my to get everything else ready. The cooking takes very little time so this meal is usually on your plate in well under 30 minutes. Quick, simple and tasty; just the way I like it. I normally serve this on brown rice but you could easily replace swap in noodles, etc.

Tilapia Piccata

Tilapia Piccata


Lemons have still been plentiful and cheap and every time I walk by them in the grocery store I remember the buttery lemon chicken piccata that I made a while ago and really enjoyed. I also remembered thinking that a fish version would also probably be really nice and possibly even lighter. This weekend I decided to try the fish version. I figured that any white fish would probably do the trick and the tilapia fillets looked good so I went with them. A reader had suggested that the next time I make the chicken picatta that I try adding peperoncini peppers and I liked the sound of a bit of heat in the lemon sauce. I have never seen a fresh peperoncini pepper so I ended up using some pickled ones that I was able to find. The tilapia piccata turned out great! I think I enjoyed the tilapia version even more that the chicken version as the light flaky fish soaked up more of the tasty buttery lemon sauce with every bite. I also enjoyed the heat and flavour that the peperoncini peppers added to the dish. It is always nice to find ways to change up old favorites and possibly even make them better.

Creamy Asparagus Soup with Morel Mushrooms and Ramps

Creamy Asparagus Soup with Morel Mushrooms and Ramps


One of the things that I like most about Spring are all of the fresh vegetables that start to come in and all of the tasty vegetable soups that can be made with them. It seems only fitting to welcome the Spring vegetable soup season in with an asparagus soup. I had recently come across a new idea for an asparagus soup on Cara's Cravings that included using cottage cheese rather than cream to make a creamy asparagus soup . I really like cottage cheese and I am always looking for new ways to use it so I was immediately sold on the idea of using it in a soup. Luckily there were still ramps (or wild leeks) at the farmers market and I also found some morel mushrooms and I was all ready for a creamy asparagus soup with ramps and morel mushrooms. There was just one last thing to add to complete the soup, miso. I am a big fan of miso and I like to add a bit to soups to add a new depth of flavour to them. The creamy asparagus soup with ramps and morel mushrooms turned out great! What an amazing flavour combination and a great way to welcome in Spring. I really liked the creamy texture that the cottage cheese gave the soup and despite the fact that I accidentally pureed all of the morel mushrooms they added a great flavour. This soup is definitaly a keeper and I will be making it again next Spring.

Mastic Ice Cream

Mastic Ice Cream with Sour Cherry Sauce and Chopped Pistachios


Mediterranean cuisine and Greek cuisine in particular is one of my favorites and I am always on the lookout for new things to try. I recently came across a new Greek ingredient, mastic on two of my favorite Greek food blogs Greek Food R & R and Kalofagas . Mastic is the resin that comes from an evergreen tree found on the Greek island of Chios. When a mastic tree is scored, the resin "weeps" from the tree and the drops are dried by the sun. The mastic resin definitely has a resiny flavour and it has an aroma that reminds me of pine trees. Mastic is commonly used to make gum, liqueur and it is used as a spice in sweet and savoury dishes.

Asparagus and Gruyere Tart

Asparagus and Gruyere Tart

This is one of my favorite times of the year! The days are finally starting to get warm and one of my favorite vegetables, asparagus is plentiful. The farmers market has been full of locally grown asparagus for the last few weeks and I have certainly been enjoying it. I always like nice simple dishes that show off the asparagus and this asparagus and gruyere tart has been on my radar for a while now. It is basically just store bought puff pastry, gruyere cheese and asparagus. The tart is baked until the puff pastry is nice and golden brown and the asparagus has been roasted to perfection. Roasting asparagus is one of my favorite ways to cook asparagus as it seems to concentrate the flavour which makes this tart all the better. I did make one quick alteration to the recipes that I was looking at and that was to add a touch honey dijon mustard to give it some more flavour and a bit of bite. The asparagus and gruyere tart turned out great! I used a medium thickness asparagus and it was perfectly roasted at the same time that the puff pastry had turned gold brown. The melted cheese, roasted asparagus and light, flaky, puffy crust was an amazing combination!

Wild Leek (aka Ramp) Pesto

Wild Leek (aka Ramp) Pesto

Having recently discovered wild leeks, also known as ramps, I was looking for recipes for dishes to enjoy them in. The one recipe that I kept coming across was a wild leek and shallot pesto. Since wild leeks have a taste somewhere between garlic and onions I was thinking that combining the ramps with the shallots might be a bit of an overkill but I liked the idea of a wild leek pesto. I decided to start with a basic basil pesto and I replaced half of the basil with both the bulbs and the leaves of the wild leeks. As most pestos are, this one was quick and easy to make. I always like to try new pestos out in a basic pasta dish with just the pesto and the pasta and that is what I did this time. I quite enjoyed the wild leek pesto and if you like garlic and onions like I do then you will too.

Garides Tourkolimano (Greek Shrimp)

Garides Tourkolimano (Greek Shrimp)


Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Wines from Greece seminar and wine tasting event. I learned a lot about Greek wines and I got to try some really nice ones. Of course the wine tasting only wet my appetite and I had to head out to find some of the wines that I had just sampled. Unfortunately the lcbo did not have any of my favorite wines from the tasting event but I was assured that they would be getting them in. I did find some Greek wines but I am definitely looking forward to the increased selection of Greek wines coming to the lcbo.

Green Mango Salad

Green Mango Salad


I have been wanting to try a Thai style green papaya salad for a while now but I have never been able to find truly green, unripened, papayas. I tried picking up the greenest one that I could find but it was still too ripe and soft. I had all but given up when I was walking through the market I saw some really green mangoes and I remembered that there was a very similar Thai style green mango salad. I figured that even though these mangoes were fully bright green that they would still be soft and too ripe as well, but I picked them up and gave them a squeeze, they were rock solid and clearly unripe! I picked some up immediately and quickly tried to find all of the other ingredients that I thought I would need for the green mango salad.

Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons


I had been wanting to try a Moroccan tagine with preserved lemons for a while but I was not able to as I could not find the preserved lemons anywhere. When I saw that lemons were plentiful and cheap at the grocery stores I thought that it was finally time to just try to make my own lemon preserves. Luckily the preserved lemons turned out to be really easy to make. You pretty much just cut them open, salt them heavily, pack them in a jar and wait. While looking for recipes for the preserved lemons I came across a variety that included spices like cinnamon, cloves, star anise, etc. For my first batch I decided to just stick with the basic preserved lemons and not worry about which spices to use. Some recipes called for waiting up to 2 months for the lemons to do their thing but others said that 3 weeks would be enough. One rule of thumb that I came across was that they would be ready when the white pith was no longer white. I was a bit impatient and I decided that the pith was no longer white and cracked open one of the jars just after the three week mark and I made the tagine with preserved lemons. I quite liked the preserved lemons! The rind had softened up nicely and it had a really nice texture. Of course the preserved lemons retained their lemony good flavour. Now I am looking forward to enjoying my preserved lemons and I am also thinking that I am going to have to make a spiced batch to try as well.

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemons

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemons

I first started coming across recipes that used preserved lemons like this dish for a Moroccan tagine with preserved lemons and olives, about this time last year. The idea of preserved lemons was very intriguing and I just had to try them. Since I was not able to find any preserved lemons I finally decided to just make some myself and my first batch was ready to try. Olives are a food that I really enjoy but I rarely seem to cook with them so this dish was on the top of my list of recipes to try using the preserved lemons. Besides, it was the perfect excuse to pick up some nice quality olives to snack on at the same time. To top it all off this dish is braised so the chickens juices drip into the sauce and all of the flavours have a good chance to mingle and get to know each other including those amazing Moroccan spices.

Date Crumb Bars

Date Crumb Bars


I am not really sure why, but I seem to have been amassing quite the collection of dates. I guess that every time I saw them on sale I picked some more up but I was not using them quickly enough. One of the reasons that I was collecting the dates was because they are naturally sweet and I enjoy baking with them, often replacing some of the sweetener with some dates. One of the dishes on the top of my to try list with dates was date crumb bars. The crumb bars are basically a filling, in this case dates, sandwiched between two layers of crumbs. Given that I was just thinking of dates as being naturally sweet, I decided to use very little sweetener in the date mixture and go with something natural like honey. The crumbs are made from flour, sugar, butter and rolled oats. Of course I took the opportunity to use a little whole wheat flour in the crumb mixture to make these bars just a little bit healthier. The date crumb bars were nice and easy to make and they turned out great! The last time that I made crumb bars they did not hold together too well so this time I made sure to pack the bottom layer of crumbs in really well and this time they held together nicely. The date and honey mixture was amazing! It was sweet without being too sweet and nice and moist and helped to hold the bars together. Now I am looking forward to making more things with all of the dates that I still have left!

Asparagus, Morel and Ramp Quiche with a Brown Rice Crust

Asparagus, Morel and Ramp Quiche with Brown Rice Crust


Spring may have been a little slow in arriving but it is certainly here now. At the farmers market this weekend I found some of the first of the locally grown asparagus. In addition to the asparagus I found some ramps and some morel mushrooms both of which I had been wanting to try. Ramps , or wild leeks are a member of the onion family and they are commonly described as tasting like a cross between onions and garlic. Given that I use onions and garlic so commonly in my cooking, I just had to try the ramps.

Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pancake)

Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pancake)

I had some leftover cabbage that needed to be used and of course the first thing that came to mind was to make a okonomiyaki which is may favorite way to use up extra cabbage. Okonomiyaki is a savoury Japanese style pancake that is made with a batter, shredded cabbage and other grated vegetables. From there you can add meats or whatever else you want. In fact, okonomi translates to "as you like" or "what you want" so the pancakes can differ greatly between cooks. Once the pancake is done cooking it is topped with toppings such as mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce (like Worcestershire sauce only thicker and sweeter), katsuobushi (dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna), etc. When you order okonomiyaki at a Japanese restaurant you are often brought the raw ingredients and you cook it yourself on a hot plate at your table. This way you get even more control to cook it "as you like".

Maple and Miso Scallops

Maple and Miso Scallops


Despite the fact that it is still well within the cool Spring jacket weather here, I have been getting more into the warm weather food mood. I see warmer weather food as generally requiring little or no oven time, being lighter and including more salads. When those lighter meals include pan seared scallops in a maple syrup and miso sauce like this recipe that I encountered on Cook Eat Fret it is not hard to see why I wanted to make it right away. It does not take much to convince me to try a meal with both scallops and maple syrup and I always enjoy finding new ways to enjoy miso. This meal was super quick and easy to make requiring only a few minutes to pan sear the scallops, a few minutes to make the simple pan sauce and a few minutes to throw together a simple salad. I figured that serving the scallops on a salad would be nice as the extra maple and miso sauce would work as a dressing. The maple and miso sauce was really nice. I liked how the salty miso worked with the sweet maple syrup and how the tangy vinegar balanced everything out. What a great way to enjoy both maple syrup and miso!

Curried Red Lentil Soup with Chickpeas and Quinoa

Curried Red Lentil Soup with Chickpeas and Quinoa

Recently I have been enjoying exploring lentils though up until now I have only been using the green du puy lentils. There are many different types of lentils and I wanted to branch out and try a new one. When I was out shopping the bright red lentils caught my attention and I picked some of them up. Despite the fact that we have had a few warm days the weather has gotten cooler again and I was in the mood for a soup. While searching for recipes I came across a few for curried red lentil and chickpea soups that sounded good. Using those two main ingredients as the base for my soup I proceeded to add my favorite soup vegetables; onions, carrots and celery. Next I added some diced tomatoes to add more body and red to the soup. I thought that I was pretty much done but then as I was pulling out the lentils I noticed the quinoa in my cupboard and I recalled that it had worked well in several soups that I had made before and I decided to throw some in as well. I had ended up with a recipe for a nice and healthy sounding soup that also promised to taste great.

Red lentils cook pretty quickly and I only needed to simmer them in the soup for as long as I would have simmered the soup to allow for enough time for the flavours to mingle anyways. The curried red lentil soup with chickpeas and quinoa was nice and easy to make and it did not take long. This soup could easily be made on a week night. I really enjoyed the combination of the red lentils, chickpeas and quinoa and the textures that they added to the soup. The soup was nice and thick and hearty and yet somehow light at the same time. With the curry powder in it the soup was nice and aromatic and it tasted great. I wanted a bit more heat in the soup so I added some chili sauce though you could easily omit it or reduce it or even increase it depending on your tastes. I garnish the soup with some fresh chopped cilantro and a dollop of thick and creamy strained (or Greek style) yogurt.

Seafood Lasagna

Seafood Lasagna


I recently came across this recipe for a seafood lasagna on Confections of a Foodie Bride which sounded so good that I had to make it right away. How could I not make it right away? It contains so many of my favorite foods including cheesy baked pasta, shrimp, king crab and scallops. I also liked that it contained an entire package of spinach for that green vegetable that I like to try to include in my meals. This lasagna starts with a layer of cheese and spinach followed by a layer stuffed with yummy seafood followed by another layer of cheese and spinach and of course it is topped of with a layer of golden brown bubbling cheese. The layers of cheese and spinach reminded my of the green pastitsio that I had made a while ago and that made me think of dill and I decided to add some dill to cheese and spinach layer. One of my favorite ways to enjoy shrimp is to cook them in a buttery garlic and lemon sauce with a bit of wine to deglaze the pan and I figured why not cook the seafood like that and pour the sauce into the lasagna as well?

With my slightly modified version of the recipe done I was ready to go. As with most lasagnas this one took a bit of effort and time to make but it was well worth it. The seafood lasagna turned out great! Bubbling hot cheesy baked pasta with seafood is such a great combo. It smelled amazing while baking and it tasted just as good. Luckily there was a lot of leftovers and I will get to enjoy the rest of it for lunches throughout the week.

Maple Oat Bread

Maple Oat Bread


I had been taking a little break from maple but then I came across this recipe for a maple oat bread that I just had to try. This bread is baked with maple syrup in it and maple sugar is sprinkle on top. The maple-y goodness does not stop there though as I had a jar of maple butter that I was just itching to try. In addition to using the rolled oats this recipe also includes some whole wheat flour which I always like to see. This is a yeast based bread so it takes a bit more effort than the quick breads that I more usually make but it is well worth it. The smell of the maple bread baking was just amazing and only built up the anticipation even more. I could barely wait for the bread to cool down enough to cut of a slice to enjoy. The maple bread was great! It had a nice crisp crust with a light and soft inside and the smelled just like maple syrup. The maple flavour however was more subtle and I really enjoyed it. The maple butter that I served with the bread with added a ton of maple flavour as well. The maple butter tasted just like maple syrup but it had the texture of butter. I will definitely be making this bread again.

Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes


When I was a kid, one of my favorite meals was sloppy joes. It had been a long time since I had last had sloppy joes and I had been craving them for a while. Sloppy joes are basically ground beef cooked with onions, a sweetened tomato sauce and various other seasonings and they are served in buns. After looking at a bunch of recipes the common ingredients in the sauce seem to be ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, mustard and brown sugar. Now a days I like to add vegetables to anything that I can and I wanted to add some to the sloppy joes. I had some celery in the fridge that needed to be used so I decided to go with my three favorite base forming vegetables, onions, carrots and celery. Next up was the bean decision. There seems to be a bit of controversy as to whether beans should be included in sloppy joes or not and I decided to try them both ways and I split the recipe in half and added beans to one and not the other.