Tag Archives: Asparagus

Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

Seafood Crepes
Asparagus and Lobster Crepes

Springtime in Prince Edward Island on Canada’s east coast means it’s lobster season so it’s a great time to make these delectable lobster and asparagus crepes that combine two of the season’s special treats!

The lobster fishery is a significant industry on the Island and, according to the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website, “lobster is Canada’s most valuable seafood export and an iconic Canadian species exported around the world.” (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/sustainable-durable/fisheries-peches/lobster-homard-eng.htm).

Fresh PEI Lobster
Steamed Lobster in the Shell

The opening of the spring lobster season is a huge deal in PEI. On opening day — the day when fishers head out to sea with boats laden with traps — hundreds of Islanders gather at fishing ports around the province to see the fishers off. Naturally, mouths are watering for the first taste of lobster from the cold Atlantic waters, a taste that is usually satisfied a day or two after traps are set and the “first haul” of lobsters is brought ashore.

Preparing for Setting Day
Eve of Setting Day in the Fishing Village of North Rustico, PEI, Canada
Parade of Lobster Boats
Early Morning Gathering in French River, PEI, to Watch Parade of Lobster Boats on Setting Day

These are so worth the wait!

PEI Lobsters
Fresh Catch of the Day – PEI Lobsters

While I adore lobster straight out of the shell and served with homemade potato salad, I like creating recipes incorporating this tasty seafood as an ingredient.  Asparagus is the first vegetable of springtime on PEI and, for the crepes I am featuring in this posting, I am using asparagus as a complimentary ingredient to the lobster. The earthy undertones of the asparagus pair particularly well with lobster, especially when some mushrooms and a rich cheese sauce are added. Choose small mushrooms, either white button or the cremini variety, for this recipe.

My asparagus comes from the farm of Tim Dixon in North Tryon in central PEI, not far from the Confederation Bridge.  Click here to read the story I previously wrote on Tim’s asparagus-growing operation. For the filled crepe recipe, try to choose the freshest available  asparagus spears that are a uniform size. I tend to choose medium-sized spears. I find that spears that are pencil thin tend to cook up too quickly and become somewhat limp. Thick spears tend to have less flavor because they have gotten too old before they have been harvested. They may also have a somewhat unpleasant woody texture. The key thing to remember about steaming the asparagus is not to overcook it because it will go limp and loose its vibrant green color.

Fresh Asparagus

The crepes for this recipe may be made ahead (by a few hours or even a day or two) and stored between layers of plastic wrap in a tightly sealed bag in the refrigerator. Following the steps I have laid out for this recipe will help organize the process of preparing the filling and steaming the asparagus so that everything is timed to be ready at the same time for the crepe assembly.

I am quite lucky here on the Island as my local fish market, MR Seafoods,  in Charlottetown sells lobster already out of the shell which means they have done the work of removing the meat from the shell and then disposing of the shells. I find this is a quick and convenient way for me to get lobster meat for a recipe.

These crepes can be baked in au gratin dishes, a 7″x11″ baking pan or on a parchment-lined baking sheet which is the way the ones in the photos in this posting were baked. I wanted to ensure that the asparagus would remain intact and clearly visible when the crepes were plated so, by baking them on a rimmed cookie sheet, nothing disturbed the asparagus which could have happened if they were scrunched into a tight baking dish such as an au gratin.

Seafood Crepes
Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

As always, I recommend reading the recipe through a couple of times to ensure a good understanding of the method of preparation and that all the ingredients and cooking utensils and cookware needed to prepare the dish are available.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

Ingredients:

Crepes:
2 large eggs
1 cup flour (to make gluten-free, use 1 cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp melted butter

Sauce:
¼ cup butter
1 shallot, finely minced (about 1 tbsp)
¼ cup flour (to make gluten-free, use ¼ cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
½ tsp granulated garlic
¼ tsp dried dill
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup whole milk or half-and-half
2 extra-large egg yolks, lightly broken up with a fork
2 tbsp dry white wine or cooking sherry
1 cup grated cheese mixture (e.g., mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Filling:
2-3 teaspoons butter
1 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced

8 oz cooked lobster meat, cut into small chunks
40 asparagus spears

Garnish:
3-4 green onions (white and light green parts only) and/or fresh herbs for garnish (optional)

Method:

Step 1 – Make the crepes.  In large measuring cup or bowl and using an immersion blender, beat the eggs lightly.  Combine the flour and salt and beat in to the egg alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the flour (3 additions of flour and 2 additions of milk).  Beat in the melted butter and beat an additional 30 seconds, or until batter is smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate batter for 1 hour.

Over medium heat, melt apx. 1½ tsp butter in a 8” non-stick skillet with sloped sides. Using a ¼-cup measuring cup, scoop up batter. Pour the batter in to the heated skillet while quickly swirling and tilting the pan to ensure batter distributes evenly and completely over the bottom of the pan. Return pan to heat and cook crepe until top loses its gloss, tiny bubbles start to appear, and the edges of the crepe start to slightly curl. Gently lift an edge of the crepe with the tip of a fork and grab the crepe with fingers and flip it over.  Cook the second side of the crepe for 15-20 seconds. Flip the crepe onto a clean tea towel. Repeat for remaining crepes, adding small amounts of butter to the pan, if necessary, to keep the crepes from sticking to the pan.

Step 2 – Make the sauce.  In medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Sauté the shallot until softened and transparent. In small bowl, whisk the flour, granulated garlic, dill, paprika, and nutmeg together. Stir flour mixture into the butter and shallot and cook until frothy.  Whisk in the chicken (or vegetable stock) and milk (or half-and-half).  Cook sauce, until mixture is smooth and heated (but not boiling) and is starting to thicken, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.  Stir 2-3 tablespoons of the hot mixture into the egg yolks then pour egg mixture into the sauce.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened.  Stir in white wine or cooking sherry.  Add the cheese mixture.  Continue to cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is smooth and cheese is melted.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove approximately 3/4 cup of the sauce and set aside.

Step 3 – Make the filling.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  In medium-sized skillet, melt 2-3 teaspoons of butter over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent mushrooms from scorching.  While mushrooms are sautéing, steam the asparagus in a tall pot with a small amount of boiling water for approximately 2 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Swish the asparagus in the cold water for just a few seconds then drain in a colander. This will also help keep the asparagus its vibrant green color. Remove mushrooms from heat and combine with the lobster meat.  Add the reserved ¾ cup of sauce and stir gently to coat mushrooms and lobster meat.

Step 4: Assemble the crepes.  Line 9”x13” rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Lay out 8 crepes on work surface.  Place 5 asparagus spears in the centre of each crepe, extending the asparagus tips by about ½” beyond the edge of the crepe.  Divide the lobster and mushroom filling mixture between the 8 crepes by placing filling down the center line of each crepe on top of the asparagus.  Gently fold crepe over filling, first one side and then overlapping the opposite side over the first. Using large pastry scraper or flat spatula, carefully transfer each crepe to the prepared baking sheet. Pour the remaining sauce over crepes to cover, leaving both ends of the crepes uncovered. Alternatively, the crepes may be baked in either 4 individual greased au gratin dishes or one oblong 7”x11” baking pan.  However, baking the crepes on a baking sheet allows the asparagus tips to stay perfectly intact and attractively visible when plated.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and, if desired, sprinkle with chopped green onions and/or chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or chives.

Serving Suggestion: Serve with favorite green salad.

Yield:  4 servings, 2 crepes each

Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 2 crepes per serving

Delectable crepes filled with fresh asparagus, succulent chunks of lobster, and sautéed mushrooms in a rich cheese sauce.

Ingredients

  • Crepes:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup flour (to make gluten-free, use 1 cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • Sauce:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 shallot, finely minced (about 1 tbsp)
  • ¼ cup flour (to make gluten-free, use ¼ cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
  • ½ tsp granulated garlic
  • ¼ tsp dried dill
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup whole milk or half-and-half
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks, lightly broken up with a fork
  • 2 tbsp dry white wine or cooking sherry
  • 1 cup grated cheese mixture (e.g., mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Filling:
  • 2-3 teaspoons butter
  • 1 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz cooked lobster meat, cut into small chunks
  • 40 asparagus spears
  • Garnish:
  • 3-4 green onions (white and light green parts only) and/or fresh herbs for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Step 1 - Make the crepes. In large measuring cup or bowl and using an immersion blender, beat the eggs lightly. Combine the flour and salt and beat in to the egg alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the flour (3 additions of flour and 2 additions of milk). Beat in the melted butter and beat an additional 30 seconds, or until batter is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate batter for 1 hour.
  2. Over medium heat, melt apx. 1½ tsp butter in a 8” non-stick skillet with sloped sides. Using a ¼-cup measuring cup, scoop up batter. Pour the batter in to the heated skillet while quickly swirling and tilting the pan to ensure batter distributes evenly and completely over the bottom of the pan. Return pan to heat and cook crepe until top loses its gloss, tiny bubbles start to appear, and the edges of the crepe start to slightly curl. Gently lift an edge of the crepe with the tip of a fork and grab the crepe with fingers and flip it over. Cook the second side of the crepe for 15-20 seconds. Flip the crepe onto a clean tea towel. Repeat for remaining crepes, adding small amounts of butter to the pan, if necessary, to keep the crepes from sticking to the pan.
  3. Step 2 - Make the sauce. In medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sauté the shallot until softened and transparent. In small bowl, whisk the flour, granulated garlic, dill, paprika, and nutmeg together. Stir flour mixture into the butter and shallot and cook until frothy. Whisk in the chicken (or vegetable stock) and milk (or half-and-half). Cook sauce, until mixture is smooth and heated (but not boiling), and is starting to thicken, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Stir 2-3 tablespoons of the hot mixture into the egg yolks then pour egg mixture into the sauce. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened. Stir in white wine or cooking sherry. Add the cheese mixture. Continue to cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is smooth and cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove approximately 3/4 cup of the sauce and set aside.
  4. Step 3 - Make the filling. Preheat oven to 350°F. In medium-sized skillet, melt 2-3 teaspoons of butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent mushrooms from scorching. While mushrooms are sautéing, steam the asparagus in a tall pot with a small amount of boiling water for approximately 2 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Swish the asparagus in the cold water for just a few seconds then drain in a colander. This will also help keep the asparagus its vibrant green color. Remove mushrooms from heat and combine with the lobster meat. Add the reserved ¾ cup of sauce and stir gently to coat mushrooms and lobster meat.
  5. Step 4: Assemble the crepes. Line 9”x13” rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay out 8 crepes on work surface. Place 5 asparagus spears in the centre of each crepe, extending the asparagus tips by about ½” beyond the edge of the crepe. Divide the lobster and mushroom filling mixture between the 8 crepes by placing filling down the center line of each crepe on top of the asparagus. Gently fold crepe over filling, first one side and then overlapping the opposite side over the first. Using large pastry scraper or flat spatula, carefully transfer each crepe to the prepared baking sheet. Pour the remaining sauce over crepes to cover, leaving both ends of the crepes uncovered. Alternatively, the crepes may be baked in either 4 individual greased au gratin dishes or one oblong 7”x11” baking pan. However, baking the crepes on a baking sheet allows the asparagus tips to stay perfectly intact and attractively visible when plated.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and, if desired, sprinkle with chopped green onions and/or chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or chives.

Notes

Serving Suggestion: Serve with favorite green salad

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Seafood Crepes
Lobster and Asparagus Crepes
Seafood Crepes

Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

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Lobster and Asparagus Crepes
Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

Asparagus-stuffed Chicken Breasts Recipe

Asparagus
Asparagus-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Asparagus is one of the most versatile vegetables, both in the ways in which it can be prepared and the ingredients with which it can be paired. Locally, in Atlantic Canada, asparagus has a very short growing season in late May/early June and it is a harbinger of wonderful produce to come from the land. And, as we all know, fresh, locally-grown produce is always best.  I am very lucky to live not far from an Island farmer, Tim Dixon, who grows asparagus and sells it at the farm gate – this means I’m buying produce that has just been harvested and has not lost its freshness through several days of transit to reach me. It also means I know where my food is coming from and, at the same time, I am supporting the local food movement with no middle men involved.

I like to feature asparagus in springtime on my dinner table and, this year, I have chosen to combine Boursin cheese, prosciutto, and chicken breasts with the asparagus.  This stuffed chicken breast can be served whole or it can be sliced into 3/4″ slices and served on either a bed of rice or on a green salad.  The latter is quite colorful as it shows the green asparagus stuffing.

asparagus
Slices of asparagus-stuffed chicken breast

This is not a difficult recipe to make and I hope you enjoy it, especially when the flavorful local asparagus is available in your region. I chose to pair this entrée with New Harbour Sauvignon Blanc (NZ 2013). This wine with its citrus, passionfruit, and guava notes, has a lovely crisp finish that compliments chicken quite well.

Asparagus Stuffed Chicken Breasts Recipe

(printable version of recipe follows at end of posting)

Ingredients:

2 medium-sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp Boursin cheese (French cream cheese), garlic and herb flavor
1 – 2 tsp olive oil
10 fresh asparagus spears tossed lightly in apx. 1 tsp olive oil
2 thin slices prosciutto
3 tbsp flour
1 extra large egg, beaten
¼ cup fine bread crumbs
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 tbsp cooking oil

Method:

Preheat oven to 375° and grease an 8”x8” baking pan.

Individually, place each chicken breast inside a plastic freezer bag and, using a meat mallet, flatten the chicken breast to approximately ¼” thick.  Season both sides of each breast with salt and pepper.

In small bowl, mix the Boursin cheese with just enough olive oil to make the cheese barely of spreading consistency.  Leaving about a ½” border on the edges of each chicken breast, divide the cheese equally between the two chicken pieces and evenly spread the cheese on each chicken breast.

Snap off the woody ends of each asparagus spear at their natural breaking point and discard. In medium-sized bowl, lightly coat the  spears with a teaspoon of olive oil (focus mainly on coating the tips of the asparagus that will be exposed during the baking). Lay five asparagus spears on each piece of prosciutto and roll the meat tightly around the spears.  Lay each bundle of spears on one long side of each flattened chicken breast and roll the chicken around the bundles tightly, leaving  the tips of the asparagus exposed .  Secure chicken pieces with two lengths of baker’s string.

In separate shallow bowls, large enough to accommodate the chicken pieces, place the flour in one bowl, the beaten egg in another, and mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in the third bowl.

Heat cooking oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Dip each chicken breast in the flour, then in the egg, and then roll in the bread crumbs-parmesan cheese mixture, being careful not to coat the tips of the asparagus spears.  Transfer chicken pieces to hot skillet.  Reduce heat to medium and brown the chicken pieces, turning them so that all sides of the chicken breasts brown evenly, about 1 minute per side.  Transfer chicken breasts to prepared baking pan and bake in pre-heated oven until internal temperature of chicken registers at least 165°F on an instant read meat thermometer.

Remove baker’s string from each breast. To serve, lay chicken breast over steamed rice or, alternatively, let the chicken pieces rest for 5 minutes on a cutting board then, with a sharp knife, cut into slices, approximately ¾” thick and serve over rice or a green salad.

Yield:  2 servings

Asparagus-stuffed Chicken Breasts by My Island Bistro Kitchen
Chicken Breast Stuffed with Asparagus

Asparagus-stuffed Chicken Breasts Recipe

Yield: 2 servings

Tasty chicken breasts stuffed with asparagus, prosciutto, and Boursin cheese - easy enough to make for weeknight dinners but fancy enough for company fare!

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp Boursin cheese (French cream cheese), garlic and herb flavor
  • 1 - 2 tsp olive oil
  • 10 fresh asparagus spears tossed lightly in apx. 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 thin slices prosciutto
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 extra large egg, beaten
  • ¼ cup fine bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 tbsp cooking oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° and grease an 8”x8” baking pan.
  2. Individually, place each chicken breast inside a plastic freezer bag and, using a meat mallet, flatten the chicken breast to approximately ¼” thick. Season both sides of each breast with salt and pepper.
  3. In small bowl, mix the Boursin cheese with just enough olive oil to make the cheese barely of spreading consistency. Leaving about a ½” border on the edges of each chicken breast, divide the cheese equally between the two chicken pieces and evenly spread the cheese on each chicken breast.
  4. Snap off the woody ends of each asparagus spear at their natural breaking point and discard. In medium-sized bowl, lightly coat the asparagus spears with a teaspoon of olive oil (focus mainly on coating the tips of the asparagus that will be exposed during the baking). Lay five asparagus spears on each piece of prosciutto and roll the meat tightly around the asparagus. Lay each bundle of spears on one long side of each flattened chicken breast and roll the chicken around the bundles tightly, leaving the tips of the asparagus exposed. Secure chicken pieces with two lengths of baker’s string.
  5. In separate shallow bowls, large enough to accommodate the chicken pieces, place the flour in one bowl, the beaten egg in another, and mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in the third bowl.
  6. Heat cooking oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Dip each chicken breast in the flour, then in the egg, and then roll in the bread crumbs-parmesan cheese mixture, being careful not to coat the tips of the asparagus spears. Transfer chicken pieces to hot skillet. Reduce heat to medium and brown the chicken pieces, turning them so that all sides of the chicken breasts brown evenly, about 1 minute per side. Transfer chicken breasts to prepared baking pan and bake in pre-heated oven until internal temperature of chicken registers at least 165°F on an instant read meat thermometer.
  7. Remove baker’s string from each breast. To serve, lay chicken breast over steamed rice or, alternatively, let the chicken pieces rest for 5 minutes on a cutting board then, with a sharp knife, cut into slices, approximately ¾” thick and serve over rice or a green salad.
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Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Asparagus by My Island Bistro Kitchen
Asparagus-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Asparagus Quiche

Asparagus Quiche
Asparagus Quiche

One of the first local veggies to appear on PEI each year is asparagus.  This vegetable is very versatile and is often used not only for its earthy flavor but also for its presentation.  With its long straight stems with a texture tip end, asparagus turns a bright green color when cooked so it plates well and makes a meal attractive.

A few years ago, I paid a visit to local asparagus grower, Tim Dixon in North Tryon, PEI, and you can read about my visit to Tim’s farm here.  Each year, I get a supply of asparagus from Tim and create a new recipe using this springtime vegetable.  Last year, I posted my recipe for asparagus soup which you can access here.

This year, I created an asparagus quiche that can be eaten warm or at room temperature which makes it a good buffet or picnic food.  Pair it with a good green salad and it is suitable for brunch, lunch, or an informal supper.

What makes a quiche flavorful (in addition to the primary ingredient(s)) is the egg-milk filling.  The contributing factors to the flavor depend on what cheese blend is used and the choice of herbs and spices.  In fact, I often use my basic quiche filling and change up the cheeses and seasonings and end up with a brand new quiche.

I recommend using at least whole milk (or, if you want to make it really rich, either cream or blend) in a quiche.  Using skim or partly skim milk will not give the creamy texture that is characteristic of quiches and I find the no-fat/low fat milk makes a more runny filling.

For the asparagus quiche, I chose to use a blend of six cheeses:  Onion and red pepper Gouda from PEI’s Glasgow Glen Farm in New Glasgow, marble cheddar cheese from Summerside’s ADL Dairy, mozzarella and a three cheese blend of Parmesan-Romano-Asiago from Kraft. I chose to lightly season the filling with dried dill, basil, garlic powder, and just a hint of nutmeg. Now, you don’t have to use all six cheeses.  The quiche is quite tasty with just a cheddar-mozzarella mix of cheeses. But, the six-cheese blend steps it up a notch and makes a lovely rich quiche!

I used cremini mushrooms because of their flavor which pairs really well with the earthy flavor of the asparagus.  However, white button mushrooms would also be fine.  Add a bit of onion and you have the makings of a tasty quiche.  Adding the prosciutto is optional to this quiche but it adds a taste  dimension.

I always par-bake my pie shells – usually 10-12 minutes in all that is required.  Be sure to lightly fork-prick the shell bottom and sides so the shell doesn’t rise up with an air bubble underneath.  I also line the shell with parchment paper and place  a layer of beans on top to help keep the shell flat during par-baking. This process is often referred to as “blind baking“.  I make my own pastry because I love making pastry but a frozen pie shell would work fine, too.

Asparagus cooks super quick and it is easy to overcook it and end up with limp, soggy asparagus.  For this recipe, the asparagus only needs to be par-cooked by placing it in boiling water for 2 minutes then quickly rinsing it under cold water to stop the cooking process.  Be sure to let the asparagus drain well and cool completely before slicing it into 1/2″ – 1” diagonal pieces.

Asparagus Quiche

Ingredients:

1 – 9” pie shell, partially baked
1½ cups fresh asparagus, par-boiled and sliced diagonally into ½” – 1” pieces (apx. 6 oz after the woody ends have been snapped off)
½ cup onion, finely chopped
3 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 extra-large eggs, beaten
¾ cup whole milk or cream
¼ tsp dried dill
¾ tsp. dried basil
¼ tsp. garlic powder
Pinch nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 oz. grated cheddar cheese
2 oz. shredded Parmesan-Romano-Asiago mix
2 oz. grated Gouda
1 oz. grated mozzarella
2 oz. prosciutto, chopped or shredded into bite-size pieces

Instructions:

Assemble ingredients.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

With fork tines, lightly prick the bottom and sides of the pie crust and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside while preparing quiche ingredients.

In pot of boiling salted water (you only need a small amount of water, not a full pot), steam asparagus spears for 2 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain well and let cool before cutting into ½” – 1-inch diagonal pieces. Reserve the tip ends of the asparagus, about ½ cup, for top of quiche.

In medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the milk. Add the dill, basil, garlic powder, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Mix well.

In separate bowl, combine the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses together.

Sprinkle cheese over bottom of par-baked pie shell.

Sprinkle onion on top of the cheese.

Add the sliced mushrooms and then the asparagus pieces.

In small bowl, combine the Parmesan-Romano-Asiago cheese mix with the Gouda.

Set aside ⅔ cup of the cheese for the top of the quiche. Sprinkle remaining cheese over vegetables.

Next, sprinkle on the prosciutto.

Arrange the ½ cup of reserved asparagus tips on top in desired design.

Pour the milk-egg mixture over the cheese and vegetables.

Sprinkle the remaining ⅔ cup of cheese over the entire quiche.

Place quiche on baking sheet on rack positioned in the middle of the oven. Bake for 5 minutes then immediately reduce the heat to 375°F. Bake for approximately 50-55 minutes or until knife inserted into centre of quiche comes out clean and centre is set.

Let quiche stand for 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving. May be served warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 6-8 servings

My featured PEI products in this recipe were:

Island-grown asparagus – from the farm of Tim Dixon in North Tryon

Mushrooms – purchased from Paul Offer’s booth at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market

Cheddar Cheese – ADL Dairy, Summerside PEI

Gouda Cheese – Glasgow Glen Farm, New Glasgow, PEI

Milk – Perfection Foods, Charlottetown, PEI

 

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Asparagus Quiche

Yield: 6-8

A delicious quiche featuring fresh asparagus and a blend of cheeses

Ingredients

  • 1 – 9” pie shell, partially baked
  • 1½ cups fresh asparagus, parboiled and sliced diagonally into ½” – 1” pieces (apx. 6 oz after ends have been snapped off)
  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 3 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 extra-large eggs, beaten
  • ¾ cup whole milk or cream
  • ¼ tsp dried dill
  • ¾ tsp. dried basil
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 oz. grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 oz. grated mozzarella
  • 2 oz. shredded Parmesan-Romano-Asiago mix
  • 2 oz. grated Gouda
  • 2 oz. prosciutto, chopped or shredded into bite-size pieces

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. With fork tines, lightly prick the bottom and sides of the pie crust and bake for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and set aside while preparing quiche ingredients.
  4. In pot of boiling salted water (you only need a small amount of water, not a full pot), steam asparagus spears for 2 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain well and let cool before cutting into ½” – 1-inch diagonal pieces. Reserve the bud ends of the asparagus, about ½ cup for top of quiche.
  5. In medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the milk. Add the dill, basil, garlic powder, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  6. In separate bowl, combine the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses together. Sprinkle cheese over bottom of par-baked pie shell.
  7. Sprinkle onion on top of the cheese.
  8. Add the sliced mushrooms and then the asparagus pieces.
  9. In small bowl, combine the Parmesan-Romano-Asiago cheese mix with the Gouda. Set aside 2/3 cup of the cheese for the top of the quiche and sprinkle remaining cheese over the vegetables.
  10. Next, sprinkle on the prosciutto. Arrange the ½ cup of reserved asparagus tips on top of quiche in desired design.
  11. Pour the milk-egg mixture over the cheese and vegetables.
  12. Sprinkle the remaining 2/3 cup of cheese over the entire quiche.
  13. Place quiche on baking sheet on rack positioned in the middle of the oven. Bake for 5 minutes then immediately reduce the heat to 375°F. Bake for approximately 50-55 minutes or until knife inserted into centre of quiche comes out clean and centre is set.
  14. Let quiche stand for 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving. May be served warm or at room temperature.
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Roasted Cream of Asparagus Soup

Do you have certain foods you like to have in the different seasons?  One of the springtime treats in my house is asparagus.  Last spring I paid a visit to local asparagus grower, Tim Dixon, of North Tryon.  You can read the story here.  There is something about buying locally-grown foods at the farm gate – the freshness can’t be beat.  I recently dropped by Tim’s farm to pick up my taste of Island-grown asparagus.

Asparagus is a very versatile vegetable and one of the first available in spring in our Maritime climate.  Asparagus is lovely served with a Hollandaise sauce, in a quiche, wrapped with goat cheese in proscuitto and roasted, or in a myriad of other ways.  One of my favorite ways to serve asparagus is as a cream soup.  I like to roast the asparagus first as I find the roasting brings out the nutty, earthy flavors in the asparagus.  Today, I am sharing my recipe for this soup.  While it does take a bit of time to make, the end result is so worth the effort.

Roasted Cream of Asparagus Soup

Ingredients:
1 lb asparagus
1 leek, white and light green parts only
1 stalk celery
1 garlic clove
1 potato
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1 bayleaf
¼ tsp dried dillweed
¼ tsp dried basil
¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup evaporated milk
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
½ cup grated cheddar cheese

For garnish:
Croutons
Asparagus tips
Olive oil

Method:

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Assemble ingredients.

Trim asparagus ends. Cut leek in half. Cut celery stalk and potato into 2-4 chunks.

In large bowl, combine asparagus, leek, celery, potato, and garlic clove. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and toss vegetables to ensure they are well coated with the oil.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place oiled vegetables, single layer, on foil-lined cookie sheet. Roast in oven for about 20- 30 minutes or until vegetables are fork-tender. Remove vegetables from oven and cool slightly.

Loosely chop vegetables into chunks and place in bowl of food processor.

Pulse until vegetables are puréed.

Transfer puréed vegetables to large pot.

Add chicken stock, bayleaf, dillweed, and basil.

Whisk flour into milk until smooth. Pour into soup mixture.

Season with salt and pepper.

Mix ingredients well over medium-low heat, stirring regularly to ensure mixture does not scorch.

When hot and thickened to desired consistency, add Parmesan and grated cheddar cheese. Heat just until cheeses are melted.

Serve hot garnished with croutons and 2-3 steamed asparagus tips. Lightly drizzle a good quality olive oil around the garnish.

Yield: 4-6 servings

This soup is lovely served with a good quality rye bread.

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Asparagus Bundles and a Visit to an Island Asparagus Farm

Asparagus Bundles

Yesterday, I paid a visit to Tim Dixon in North Tryon, PEI.  Amongst other crops grown on the family farm, Tim grows a small acreage of asparagus which he markets to Island restaurants and also sells at the farm gate.

Tim Dixon with freshly picked asparagus from his North Tryon, PEI Farm
Tim Dixon with freshly picked asparagus from his North Tryon, PEI, Farm

Below is a photo of an asparagus spear just about ready to be harvested.

Asparagus Spear

Tim has been growing asparagus since 2000 and presently has acreage that yields between 500-700 pounds of this spring vegetable annually. I asked Tim why he decided to grow asparagus and he tells me he was looking to diversify his crop planting and was also looking for a market niche.

There are several varieties of asparagus but the bulk of Tim’s crop is the Jersey Giant variety.  The asparagus is planted in springtime and is grown from crowns planted 1 foot deep in the rich red soil not far from the Tryon River.  It usually takes a couple of years for the asparagus from a crown to be fully ready to be harvested.

Despite its Mediterranean origins and liking heat, Tim says asparagus is a hardy plant that only requires a light discing in the spring, a coating of manure, and some weed control.  Tim says winter kill is not an issue for asparagus and a crown will generally produce spears for about 15 years.

Asparagus is one of the first vegetables of spring on PEI.  Harvesting usually begins around Victoria Day in mid-May and continues until the end of June/first of July.  When the spears are 6”-8” tall, Tim hand-picks them by snapping the spears off the stock, not cutting them.  He tells me that the rule of thumb for harvesting asparagus is to pick for one week in the first year after planting, then 2 weeks the next, 3 weeks in year 3, up to 6 weeks of harvesting for mature asparagus.

Tim says the local community is very supportive and neighbours are amongst his best customers.  On the farm, he sells both 1-pound and 2-pound bags of fresh asparagus.  I asked him if he knew how his neighbours were preparing the asparagus and he says, typically, many steam or sauté the spears.

Fresh Asparagus
Fresh Asparagus

A standard-sized portion serving is 5 spears.  Asparagus plates well because of its long, slender, vivid green spears and pointed flower heads that can range in color from dark green to tints of deep purple.  It adds presentation, texture, and flavour to a meal.  Asparagus has an earthy, unique taste and pairs well with poultry, seafood, and pasta.  There are endless ways to prepare asparagus.  One of my favourite ways to prepare asparagus is to mist it with a good quality olive oil, sprinkle it with freshly ground pepper, sea salt, and finely grated parmesan cheese and then barbeque it in a veggie basket over the open flame.

For maximum freshness, this vegetable is best used within 2-3 days of picking; however, asparagus will last up to near a week if stored in an open-ended plastic bag in the refrigerator.  Wrap the woody ends of the spears in a damp paper towel to prolong their freshness.  Be sure to trim off the woody ends before cooking.

Freshly picked Asparagus Spears Stored in Refrigerator to Maintain Freshness

My feature recipe today for asparagus is very simple.  I tossed the spears with a light drizzle of Liquid Gold’s Arbequina extra virgin olive oil.  Make sure you use a high quality olive oil for this dish.

For each serving I used a super-thin slice of prosciutto onto which I carefully spread a thin layer of spiced garlic and herb soft goat cheese.  Be very gentle and careful with this step as prosciutto is very delicate and breaks apart easily.

Bundle together five spears and place them on the prosciutto slice.  Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and sea salt.

Gently wrap the prosciutto around the asparagus spears.

Transfer each bundle to a lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake at 375F for about 15 minutes.

I served the asparagus bundles with an almond-crusted stuffed chicken breast and duchess potatoes.

The Dixon Farm is located at 140 North Tryon Cross Road in North Tryon, PEI.  To make arrangements to buy fresh Island asparagus, visit the farm or contact Tim Dixon by phone at 902-432-4771 or by email at dixonfarms1@live.com.  Be sure to visit Tim’s website to learn more about the Dixon Farm.

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today. There are lots of ways to connect with “the Bistro” through social media:

Join My Island Bistro Kitchen on Facebook
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