Garlic Scape Scampi

Garlic Scape Scampi


Garlic scapes or the green tops of the garlic plant are often cut off while they are still immature to encourage the bulbs to grow larger. The garlic scapes are edible and generally have a milder flavour than the garlic cloves themselves. I first heard about garlic scapes last year but I had just missed them and I have been patiently waiting to try them since. This weekend I was lucky enough to spot some and I immediatly picked them up. While I was thinking about what to do with the garlic scapes the first thing that came to mind was a variation of one of my favorite dishes, scampi , with the garlic replaced with fresh chopped garlic scapes. Scampi is shrimp dish served in a garlic, butter and white wine sauce. Normally when I make scampi I toss the shrimp and sauce with pasta but this time I decided to serve the shrimp with some crusty bread to soak up all of the buttery, garlicky, sauce. I had heard that cooking garlic scapes would reduce their flavour or make them milder so I changed the recipe up a bit and added the garlic scapes closer to the end to try to retain as much flavour as possible. The garlic scapes did not disappoint! They had the garlic flavor that I enjoy so much but it was some how fresher and it went well in the scampi with the shrimp. With my first experiment with garlic scapes such a success I am looking forward to trying something else with them.

Roasted Asparagus with Poached Egg

Roasted Asparagus with Poached Egg with Runny Yolk and Parmigiano Reggiano


One of my favorite ways to cook asparagus is to roast it as roasting seems to concentrate the flavour. Simple roasted asparagus seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper is makes a great side dish and you can easily top it with various things to change it up from meal to meal. You could also top it with something more substantial, like an egg, and turn it into a light meal. Though I have done roasted asparagus topped with fried eggs, scrambled eggs and even chopped up hard boiled eggs my favorite is a poached egg. Roasted asparagus topped with a poached egg makes for a really nice light and healthy meal that I have been enjoying often on weekend mornings over the last few weeks. Really, how can you go wrong topping anything with an egg with a nice runny yolk? I also like to top everything off with some freshly grated parmigiano reggiano and sometimes even a splash of balsamic vinegar.

And the winner is...

The winner of the Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone: Recipes to Put You in My Favorite Mood cookbook and Curtis Stone apron and Curtis Stone shoulder bag is commenter #176 (via random.org) or Gee of You had me at Ciao Bella!. Gee, please contact me by email lynch.kevin@gmail.com with your address so that I can get the package in the mail as soon as possible.

If anyone knows how to get blogger to add numbers to the comments, please let me know. It took me 30 minutes to write an application to extract the names and number them in order.

Strawberry Balsamic Jam

Toast with Strawberry Balsamic Jam and Scrambled Eggs with Asparagus


Ever since I started making my own jams I have been making a strawberry jam every year when the strawberries are in season. With strawberry season now in full swing it was the perfect time to make some more strawberry jam and I was also running a bit low on supplies from previous years. I like to change things up a bit each year and try something a little different. This year I was thinking that if a touch of balsamic vinegar goes well with and enhances the flavour of strawberries then a strawberry balsamic jam would be a good idea. I pretty much just took the original strawberry jam recipe and added some balsamic vinegar.

After making the jam last weekend I could not resist opening up a jar to try it. My favorite way to taste test a new jam is to have it simply on a slice of toast. The strawberry balsamic jam did not set quite as much as some of my other jams have but it set well enough and it tasted great! You cannot taste the balsamic vinegar in the jam but there is that something extra that you just can't quite put you finger on. When I did a side by side comparison with a plain strawberry jam the strawberry balsamic jam seems brighter and the strawberry flavour seems to be stronger. I have been enjoying the strawberry balsamic preserves all week for breakfast on toast along with scrambled eggs and the still in season asparagus. Another one of my favorite ways to enjoy jams is on plain yogurt as a simple parfait. With fresh local strawberries available I have been enjoying the strawberry jam and yogurt parfait with fresh strawberries and some chopped pistachios.

Thai Pineapple Fried Rice

Thai Pineapple Fried Rice


When I was at the grocery store I noticed that they still had a lot of cheap pineapples and I remembered that I had recently come across a recipe for a Thai pineapple fried rice in my bookmarks that sounded really good. I had not thought of adding sweet, juicy and tangy pineapple to a fried rice dish but the idea immediately stuck in my mind. I also noticed that the recipe called for a healthy dose of curry powder and combo'd with the pineapple it kind of reminded me of the curried pineapple banana bread that I had recently made and really enjoyed. I was already sold on the dish and the shrimp, cashews and raisins just took it over the edge! I only made a few changes including using brown rice and fresh peas since I had already picked some up at the farmers market. Whenever I make stir-fries, I clean, slice, chop and make sure that I have everything ready and on hand before turning the heat on as things move quickly after you start. The Thai pineapple rice was pretty easy to make after the prep work was done and the results were fantastic. The finished dish was so vibrantly colourful and the curry gave it an amazing aroma. The juicy pineapple and succulent shrimp worked really well with the curry flavours in this fried rice. The curry and chilies added the perfect amount of heat that was balanced by the pineapple and the raisins while the cashews added a nice contrasting texture. I have been raving about how good this fried rice was since I made it. I have a feeling that this dish will enter my regular rotation and given that you could easily use canned pineapple you could easily make this dish year round. You could also easily make a vegetarian version by omitting the shrimp and making a few ingredient swaps.

Prosciutto Wrapped Halibut on Asparagus Sauce

Prosciutto Wrapped Halibut on Asparagus Sauce


After posting about two desserts in a row I was looking for something a bit lighter and I was thinking that I should enjoy the asparagus as much as possible while it was still here. On the top of my list of asparagus recipes to try was this recipe for prosciutto wrapped halibut on asparagus sauce originally from Food and Wine that I found on Cook Local . I liked the sound of the simple pureed asparagus and leek sauce as I would get to enjoy the asparagus and I would get to use leeks which I don't seem to use all that often. And then there is the halibut; halibut is one of my favorite fishes but it is a bit expensive so it is always a treat when I do have it. The fact that the halibut was wrapped in sage and prosciutto reminded me of saltimbocca alla romana which is really tasty with those simple ingredients. The prosciutto wrapped halibut on asparagus sauce was really easy to make and it turned out great! The prosciutto wrapped halibut is fried in butter first until the prosciutto is nice and crispy on the top and bottom and then it is finished off with a few minutes in the oven ensuring that it does not burn in the frying pan. The crispy, salty prosciutto wrapping was so tasty and the combo with the sage made it even better and then there is the warm perfectly fall apart tender and moist halibut on the inside finishing it off perfectly. The asparagus sauce was surprisingly tasty for being so simple and it worked well to cleanse your palette between each bite of the tasty prosciutto wrapped halibut. Overall this was a really nice light meal and I will definitely be making it again!

Blueberry Clafoutis

Blueberry Clafoutis


Last week I had the pleasure of attending The Ultimate Chef's Table with Chef Curtis Stone food event put on by The Bay and Curtis Stone to promote his new line of cookware . At this event Curtis Stone showed off his new line of cookware by using it to cook his guests dinner. Of course all of the dishes that he made came straight from his most recent cookbook Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone: Recipes to Put You in My Favorite Mood and included a Tuna Ceviche, a Shrimp and Pesto Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes, a Fresh Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb and a Blueberry Clafoutis. The event took place at Dish cooking studio here in Toronto where it was set up such that all of the guests could sit at tables surrounding the cooking area and watch chef Stone prepare the meal.

Strawberry Souffle

Strawberry Souffle


Souffles can seem pretty intimidating and despite the fact that I had successfully made a savoury asparagus and gruyere souffle a while ago, I still had not tried sweet dessert souffle. I was looking for a nice and light strawberry dessert and a strawberry souffle seemed to fit the bill perfectly. After looking at several recipes I came to the conclusion that the base recipe for a strawberry souffle is simply pureed strawberries, egg whites and possibly some sugar to sweeten it up a bit. From there you can add other things citrus zest, liqueurs, etc. I decided to keep mine pretty simple and just went with some vanilla extract. The strawberry souffle was even easier to make than the asparagus one was which is to say that it was dead simple. You simple beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks, fold in the strawberry puree and bake. The biggest problem that I had was trying to photograph them before they deflated. The strawberry souffles were amazing light and fluffy and full of the strawberry flavour. I was quite pleased with the shade of red that I got the insides were even darker. What a really nice light way to enjoy strawberries!

Singapore Chili Prawns

Singapore Chili Prawns


As you probably already know, I am a bit of a shrimp fanatic and I am always looking for tasty new ways to enjoy shrimp. I recently came across a really interesting recipe for Singapore chili prawns on Almost Bourdain that sounded so good that it quickly pushed its way to the top of my to try list. Not that it takes much to get me interested in a shrimp dish but the two things that caught my attention with this recipe were the use of the sweet chili sauce and the egg drop. I picked up a bottle of sweet chili sauce a while ago and I really liked it but I have only used it a few times since. I was looking forward to using the sweet chili sauce with shrimp! A while ago, when I made the Chinese hot and sour soup I was introduced to the concept of slowly pouring an egg into a hot liquid while stirring. The egg quickly cooks into little particles that give the liquid an amazing texture in addition to adding some protein to the sauce itself. Speaking of hot and sour, these chili prawns have both hot and sour elements along with sweet elements.

The Singapore chili prawns were really quick and easy to make and they turned out great! The sweet, hot and sour tomato sauce was so tasty and it went really well with the succulent prawns. I liked this dish so much that I have already made it a second time. The first time I served it with some cilantro and lime rice and the second time I served it with some crusty bread to soak up the extra sauce which saved me from having to lick the plate clean. :)

Chicken and Asparagus Salad with Creamy Tarragon Dressing

Chicken and Asparagus Salad with Creamy Tarragon Dressing


With the days getting warmer I find myself turning to salads more often and with the fresh local produce starting to come in it is getting easier. I came across this recipe for a chicken and asparagus salad with a creamy tarragon dressing in the latest issue of Food and Drink. Several things about this salad caught my attention with the primary one being how green it was and how perfectly Spring that was. With the local asparagus coming in already I just had to wait a bit for the local peas to show up at the farmers market and I was all set to go. In general I really like salads like this where you can easily add some meat and turn it into a light meal. I also liked the sound of both poaching the chicken with tarragon and the creamy tarragon dressing as tarragon is a herb that I enjoy but rarely use. Salads are generally pretty easy to make and this one was no exception. The chicken and asparagus salad with a creamy tarragon dressing was really good and I certainly got my tarragon fix. The tarragon dressing was nice and creamy and and I enjoyed the use of the capers in it. During the Spring/Summer when I can get fresh peas I like to use them in salads like this straight from the pods without any cooking and that is what I did this time. This salad was a really nice light Spring meal!

Strawberry Tart

Strawberry Tart


When I made the asparagus and gruyere tart a while ago I was amazed at how easy it was to work with frozen puff pastry and how great the results were with so little effort. When I made the tart I was eagerly awaiting the start of the strawberry season and I was thinking that a similar sweet version of the tart with strawberries would also be great! While I was waiting for the strawberries I came across a recipe for a strawberry tart on The Hungry Mouse that was just what I was thinking. Now that the strawberries are finally here, the strawberry tart was at the top of the list of things to make. I still had some of the strawberry and rhubarb jam that I had made last year and I thought that the hint of rhubarb would be great on the tart so I went with that for the jam. The strawberry tart was just as easy to make as the asparagus tart and the results were even better. How can you go wrong with a buttery, light and flaky crust topped with slightly roasted strawberries covered in strawberry and rhubarb jam? The only thing missing here is a scoop of melting vanilla ice cream. One thing to watch out for in this recipe is to taste test the strawberry and jam mixture for sweetness ahead of time. If it is a little on the tart side add some sugar to sweeten it up. I am thinking that the next time I make this I might add a layer of cream cheese between the pastry and the strawberries.

Asparagus, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Egg Breakfast Casserole

Asparagus, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Egg Breakfast Casserole


We are still right in the middle of asparagus season and I have been enjoying the asparagus every week. One of my favorite flavour combinations with asparagus is asparagus and mushrooms. I also really like a nice tangy goat cheese so when I saw a recipe for a breakfast casserole with asparagus, mushrooms and goat cheese on Kalyn's Kitchen I knew that I would have to try it when the asparagus was in season. The last egg breakfast casserole that I made had cottage cheese in and I really enjoyed it so I added it to this one as well. The asparagus, mushroom and goat cheese egg breakfast casserole was super easy to make and it turned out great. I really liked the way the asparagus, mushrooms and goat cheese were layered in the egg casserole. The goat cheese layer was of course on top so that as the casserole baked it got nice and golden brown and good. The juicy asparagus went well with the tangy goat cheese and the mushrooms rounded everything out. One of the things that I like about these egg breakfast casseroles is that the leftover keep well and they are just as good cold as they are after a minute or so in the microwave. This recipe easily makes 6 servings so I have tasty breakfasts to look forward to for the rest of the week.

Strawberries in Sweetened Condensed Milk

Strawberries in Sweetened Condensed Milk


The first of the seasons strawberries are often a bit on the tart side. Normally I would sprinkle a bit of sugar onto the strawberries and macerate them but I recently came across a new way of sweetening them up a bit; by adding a spoonful of sweetened condensed milk. The sweetened condensed milk sweetens the strawberries without overpowering them and it adds a bit of a thick and creamy texture to them which is really nice.

Penne with Asparagus and Mushrooms in a Gorgonzola Sauce

Penne with Asparagus and Mushrooms in a Gorgonzola Sauce


I tend to do my grocery shopping on Saturdays so Friday nights dinner very often turns into a clean out the fridge meal. This week I was enjoying the flavour combos of mushrooms and gorgonzola in the burgers smothered in a caramelized onion, mushroom and blue cheese sauce and asparagus and gorgonzola in the asparagus in gorgonzola sauce and I had some of each of the ingredients left over. Pastas are great for clean out the fridge meals and I immediately decided to make a pasta with asparagus and sauteed mushrooms in a gorgonzola sauce. My choice of pasta when using asparagus is penne for its similar shape and I had some whole wheat penne in my pantry that sounded perfect. Pastas like this are a breeze to make and this one turned out great! The gorgonzola sauce was so tasty and it went really well together with the asparagus and sauteed mushrooms. The juicy asparagus seemed to just burst in your mouth and cut through the creaminess of the sauce providing a nice contrast and cleansing your pallet for the next bite. I really like how these throw together, clean out the fridge, type of meals can turn out to be some of the best.

Thai Peanut Pork Noodle Saute

Thai Peanut Pork Noodle Saute


I never really though of using peanuts and in particular peanut butter in savoury dishes until I started food blogging. Since discovering the savoury side of peanut butter I have been thoroughly enjoying it! By far, my favorite savoury way to use peanut butter is a spicy Thai peanut sauce that also includes other Thai flavours such as freshly made Thai red curry paste , coconut milk, fish sauce, palm sugar and lime juice. I am always keeping an eye out for new ways to enjoy this peanut sauce and inspiration struck in the most recent issue of Food and Drink magazine in the form of spicy peanut pork dish. I really liked the idea of the dish but I found the recipe a bit lacking so I took the main ingredients including the rice noodles, the pork tenderloin, the peanut sauce and the red peppers and went from there. The first thing that I did was swap in my favorite peanut sauce for the one in the recipe and then I added more vegetables. Given that you are only sauteing the pork for a few minutes you want to start with a nice tender cut like the tenderloin.

Like most sautes, things move quickly once you start cooking so you will want to have everything cleaned and chopped and really to go before you turn on the heat. Once your prep work is done the rest is really quick and simple. The spicy peanut pork noodle saute turned out great! The tasty peanut sauce covered all of the noodles, pork, and vegetables ensuring that every bite was full of flavour and a bit of heat! The pork cooked up nice and tender and I really enjoyed the vegetable combination. Of course the chopped peanuts added a great crunchy texture to the dish. This turned out to be another great way to enjoy peanut butter in a savoury dish and I will definitely be making it again!

Rhubarb Sour Cream Pie

Rhubarb Sour Cream Pie


While I was looking for rhubarb recipes I came a cross a really interesting one for a rhubarb sour cream pie . I had never had a pie that used sour cream as its base filling but it sounded nice and I wanted to try it. I also liked the fact that the pie had a crumb topping as you can never go wrong with crumbs! This rhubarb sour cream pie was really easy to make and the results are certainly worth it! The sour cream filling was nice and sweet and oh so creamy and good! The sweetness of the creamy pie filling was interupted by pockets of tart rhubarb which ended up balancing out nicely. The buttery pie crust added a nice light, crispy and flaky texture which also went well with the creamy filling. I have a feeling that I will be making this wonderfully creamy sour cream rhubarb pie at least once each year while the rhubarb is in season!

Burgers Smothered in a Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Blue Cheese Sauce

Burgers Smothered in a Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Blue Cheese Sauce

Burger season is finally here and I have been waiting for it! A while ago I made a steak tenderloin in a mushroom and blue cheese sauce and while I was eating it I thought that the sauce would go great on a burger. I have just been itching to try the burgers with caramelized onions, mushrooms and blue cheese sauce ever since. Normally when I make burgers I make them with a theme where I add lots of flavours and ingredients directly to the burgers to add flavour and help keep them moist when they cook. This time however I wanted a basic, unflavoured burger so that the flavours of the sauce would not get lost. In an effort to make sure that the burgers stayed nice and moist I went with a fattier ground beef at about 70/30. The burger recipe itself is quite basic, being just the ground beef seasoned with some salt and pepper. The key to adding flavour here is to cook the burgers on high heat to caramelize or slightly char the outside while leaving the inside nice and moist. The burgers with caramelized onions, mushrooms and blue cheese sauce turned out nicely! The sauce was so tasty and it went really well on the burgers. Caramelized onions, mushrooms and blue cheese is such a great flavour combination! The burger patties themselves were nice and moist despite the high heat cooking. I served the burgers on slightly grilled whole wheat buns with a side of sweet potato fries.

Rhubarb Muffins

Rhubarb Muffins


Last week I saw rhubarb in the farmers market and I made sure to include it in this weeks meal plan. I was thinking that rhubarb muffins would make for a great breakfast this week. I really like the way that the tart rhubarb works in sweet baked goods like these muffins. I decided to start with my favorite muffin recipe which includes some whole wheat flour and rolled oats in an attempt to make them bit healthier. It uses maple syrup, vanilla yogurt and an overripe banana to keep the muffins nice and moist while reducing the amount of butter. I did change the recipe a bit by increasing the amount of sugar as I figured that the tart rhubarb would require it. Normally I would spice these muffins with a bit of cinnamon but I thought that cardamom would work well with the rhubarb and I went with that. The rhubarb and cardamom muffins were a breeze to make and they turned out very well. The muffins were nice and moist and the cardamom paired well with the rhubarb and added an amazing aroma both while baking and after. The rhubarb worked really well in the muffins and their tartness balanced out the sweet muffins nicely. The rhubarb muffins were nice all by themselves or with a bit of butter but they were even better with some homemade strawberry jam !

Asparagus in Gorgonzola Sauce

Asparagus in Gorgonzola Sauce


Asparagus season is in full swing and I have really been enjoying it. Every week I pick up a lot of the asparagus at the local farmers market. Mostly I have just been enjoying it steamed as a side dish but I wanted to try something new. I remembered having seen several asparagus gratins in the past and I could not pass up on the chance of smothering some asparagus with cheese. After a little searching I came across this recipe for asparagus in a gorgonzola sauce . Gorgonzola is one of my favorite cheeses and I was immediatly sold on the concept. Another thing that I liked about this recipe is that the sauce includes leeks as I have been wanting to use leeks more often. This dish takes a bit more time to make than many side dishes but it was well worth the effort. The asparagus in gorgonzola sauce was amazing! The creamy and tangy blue cheese sauce was perfectly balanced by the juicy and slightly sweet asparagus. Each bite was like a melody in your mouth. The topping of bread crumbs and parmigiano reggiano was nice and crispy adding another layer of texture in addition to flavour. I think that this asparagus side dish will become a staple on my table during asparagus season.

Mango and Vanilla Jam

Mango and Vanilla Jam


When I got the mangoes earlier in the week for the jerked pork wraps with mango and banana salsa I could not resist getting a full case. Even with snacking on them during the week I still had a lot left over and the first thing that came to mind as to how to use them was a jam. I remembered that when I made the mango and cardamom jam I was thinking that the flecks of cardamom looked like flecks of vanilla beans. A mango and vanilla jam also sounded really good and I had wanted to try making some. I used pretty much used the same recipe and replaced the cardamom with the seeds from a vanilla bean. I wanted this mango jam to be much chunkier so I cut the mango pieces bigger and did not mash them up. The mango and vanilla flavour combo turned out to be a great one! For some reason the vanilla seems to make this mango jam seem even sweeter. So far I have been enjoying the mango and vanilla jam on toast and it also goes really well on some plain yogurt for breakfast.

Honey Lemon Chicken

Honey Lemon Chicken


I seem to have been on quite the lemon kick lately! This week it's a honey lemon chicken which is a dish that I enjoy ordering when eating out at Chinese restaurants. I thought that I would try my hand at making it at home and I wanted to try keeping it on the lighter side. Normally the honey lemon chicken comes fried in a crispy batter but I decided to go with simply sauteing the chicken. I cooked the chicken as the full breast and then sliced it as that is how it normally comes but I was thinking that you could easily cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, add some vegetables and turn this into more of a stir-fry. Next up was the sauce which I kept nice and simple with pretty much just the honey and the lemon. I did add a bunch of ginger for a bit of a kick though. The honey lemon chicken was a snap to make and it turned out really well. Lemon pairs well with honey and works surprisingly well in savoury dishes like this. I served the honey lemon chicken with some steamed broccoli and some brown rice which did an excellent job of soaking up all of the extra sauce.

Jerked Pulled Pork Wraps with Mango and Banana Relish

Jerked Pulled Pork Wraps with Mango and Banana Relish


The LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) publishes a regular free magazine called Food & Drink and the latest issue included a recipe for jerked pork with a mango and banana relish that looked good. I really liked the sound of combining spicy pork with a cool and sweet mango and banana relish/salsa.

Curried Pineapple Banana Bread (Siamese Loaf)

Curried Pineapple Banana Bread (Siamese Loaf)


I have experimented with adding curry to quick breads in the past and really enjoyed the results in the form of this curried chocolate chip banana bread and this curried mango bread . The curry adds an amazing aroma and flavour and a nice touch of warmth to the quick breads. A while ago I came across this recipe for a Thai pineapple curry banana bread with coconut on Clever Monkey Studio and I knew immediately that I would have to try it. Recently the the grocery stores have been full of pineapple and I recalled this recipe and set about making it. I had been looking forward to trying this bread because it called for a lot more curry powder than I had used in either of my loaves and I was interested to see how it would work. This tropical quick bread was just as easy to make as any other quick bread, which is to say that it was just a matter of mixing all of the ingredients and then baking until the loaf is perfectly golden brown. Of course the baking of the loaf filled my apartment with an amazing aroma and I was eagerly anticipating the results. The curried pineapple banana bread turned out great! The curry flavour worked really well with the pineapple and coconut though I think I might use a bit more coconut the next time that I make this bread. The increased amount of curry powder in the loaf also worked well. The curry flavour came more to the foreground and there much more heat which I really enjoyed. I am looking forward to breakfasts this week!