Rustic Asparagus-Mushroom Galette

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On asparagus:  “Europeans of the Renaissance swore by it as an aphodisiac, and the church banned it from the nunneries.”

Barbara Kingsolver

Spring is in the air and tender asparagus abundant.  My cooking is at its creative best when improvising in the kitchen.  With some leftover pastry dough I combined fresh asparagus, mushrooms and shallots to create this tasty little rustic tart, literally, thrown together in the spur of the moment. It was so good, I just had to share it with you!

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Thai Spiralized Zucchini Salad

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The most success I have had with spiralized salads is using zucchini.  My spiralizer is a hand held el cheapo version and does best with soft vegetables.  Good thing we love zucchini!  This version introduces Thai ingredients to the spiralized zucchini for fresh, bold flavor.  It was so good, we fought each other for every last bit of it.

 

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Spiced Rice Pudding with Orange Caramel

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After unseasonal spring-like weather, winter is back with a vengeance. The nesting spirit set in just as a recipe for a very interesting rice pudding from Millie’s Kitchen landed in my inbox and I happened to have all the ingredients on hand.  When life throws you an ice storm, make rice pudding!

This luscious rice pudding fragranced with warming spices is topped with orange segments in a salted caramel syrup.  I  really liked that this rice pudding recipe got extra creamy with the addition of a surprise ingredient, evaporated milk, and only had 1/4 cup of brown sugar in it.  Allspice as well as the traditional cinnamon spiced it up nicely and gave the pudding a rich depth of color.  I added some vanilla bean to mine. I cut down the prep time of the original recipe by segmenting seedless Tangelo oranges instead of the more time consuming supreming.  I substituted the rum for pomegranate molasses and simplified the cooking method.  The caramel got a gorgeous mahogany color and lovely bittersweet notes.   Instead of the original recipe’s candied almonds, I simply toasted sliced almonds  to finish the dish.  I found the pudding and its caramel sweet enough without adding sugared almonds and liked saving a step.  I can’t rave enough about this jazzed up rice pudding and hope you give it a try too. Weathering a storm never tasted or looked so good.

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Philadelphia Flower Show 2017

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The 188th Philadelphia Flower Show opens to the public today and runs to March 19th.  This year’s theme is “Holland: Flowering the World”, celebrating the beauty of the Dutch landscape, the beloved Dutch contributions to the botanical world and highlights the country’s technological advances in green energy, starting with windmills. The show is spectacular.  Set on 10 indoor acres, it is the largest indoor flower show in the world.  Proceeds from the show support the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society urban tree planting programs and City Harvest which grows and supplies food to the underprivileged.

Starting with a rainbow of more than 30 thousand tulips and other bulbs running in carpets, the entrance display recreates the iconic bridges and winding canals of Amsterdam and Delft.  Some bridges are covered in Delft tile with lighting changing from day to night.  Throughout the week of the show every bulb will be replaced with fresh ones, ensuring that no matter when you come, the show will be at prime viewing enjoyment.

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Gratin of Endives with Ham in Béchamel Sauce

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I grew up French.  We spoke only French at home and I attended all French schools.  Yet where ever I find myself in the world, people always comment, “Oh, you’re French Canadian, not really French.”  It is a curious distinction since I feel I am simply, French.  At a recent French conversation lunch, the hostess placed a beautiful casserole of something bubbling under a blanket of luscious béchamel on the table.  As I wondered what this enticingly aromic dish might be, the group erupted in cheers that we were having “un gratin d’endives”.  It was a dish familiar to everyone but me, driving home that my French culture was perhaps a bit different after all.  Oh la la, was I happy to get an introduction to this dish!

Baked endives, wrapped in a slice of ham are smothered in a cheesy béchamel for a family style main dish served in many French and other European homes.  It is quite easy to make, especially once the endives are cooked. Because the endives hold water when cooking, it is imperitive to really squeeze all the water out of them. This is easiest done if they are cooked the day before and left to drain overnight wrapped in a paper towel, in a colander.  The rest of the dish consists of  just making a classic béchamel. Add a green salad, and you have a wonderful comforting French family style meal.

Merci, Christine, for introducing me to this lovely dish.

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