Cedar Smoked Asparagus Soup


Cedar planks, not just for salmon anymore. Really.
Our last guest came with the spring and with that, sparks the BBQ. It might still be a bit early to eat outside, but who can resist the flame that is the official call of nicer weather?

Having grilled on cedar planks before, I’m already fond of the fantastic smell and extra flavour it lends to food. They seem to be gaining in popularity so finding a board isn’t nearly as difficult anymore asmost grocery stores with a fish department tend to carry them.

The idea for the smoked asparagus soup came a little haphazardly. I was planning on grilling the asparagus with a drizzle of balsamic and olive oil but as it was the first grill of the season the flames were uneven and the safest place not to char my freshly picked spears was up on the board.

The flavour was subtle and amazing, a perfect enhancement for an already pretty great vegetable. The soup came from the left overs of the greedy three bunches that I decided to cook up for a dinner of four. After tasting it, I’m not only going to be trying this asparagus in other things like quiche, but with other vegetables too!

SMOKED ASPARAGUS SOUP

1 Bunch of Asparagus, 20-25 medium sized stalks, trimmed
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
2 Leeks, white and light green parts only, well washed and finely diced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 Cups Vegetable stock
1 Medium Yukon Gold or Russet Potato, peeled and diced
scant 1/4 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice or to taste, optional.

Submerge your cedar plank in water anywhere from 20 minutes to 4 hours, depending on the thickness and your timing.
Preheat the grill over a medium high heat.
Trim asparagus and lay in aluminum foil.
Drizzle over balsamic vinegar and 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil; wrapping the foil to cover.
Place the asparagus package on the cedar plank, reduce the flame and close the lid of the bbq.
Grill for about 10 – 15 minutes, checking intermittently until tender.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large stockpot to sweat the leeks and garlic until soft and translucent but not browned; about 3 – 5 minutes.
Add the diced potato and cover with the stock.
Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are softened.
Remove the best spear tips from the asparagus and reserve for garnish.
Roughly chop the remaining smoky asparagus, add to the simmering soup.
Continue for another 3 – 5 minutes to cook through to merge flavours.
Transfer soup to a food processor or using a immersion blender, combine until smooth.
Season to taste with salt. Stir in lemon juice, if using.
Top each serving with reserved asparagus tips and drizzle over extra virgin olive, basil or leek oil.

Sushi Nights & Wasabi Fights


Back when I was younger and maybe a little more daring, dinners at home were sure tear jerkers.

My room mate and I at the time would frequently bring home or make our own sushi. In fact, it was our equivalent to most other twenty something’s macaroni and cheese.

About a bottle of sake later, the games would begin….
Starting with a fleck, then working up to a gob, we would up each other’s wasabi intake. For those unfamiliar with the powers of the great green Japanese horseradish, wasabi most closely resembles a spicy hot mustard sensation.

Serving our sushi with it’s typical Wasabi-joyu, soy sauce combination for dipping, we embraced the festivities, upping the ante with the additional blob atop the sushi itself. You see, when wasabi is a even a little over loaded, the sensation is nothing like the burning tongue of a pepper. Starting with a tingle, it continues, flurrying up your nasal passage, stopping only at the bottom of your eye, usually finishing with a tear and a jolt of adrenaline.

Watching someone suffer is not only entertaining, but addictive, which, I suppose is why we did it. As juvenile foodies, I’m sure there is much more mischief we could have been getting ourselves into. But oh, it hurt so good.


Continue reading Sushi Nights & Wasabi Fights

Eggless Asparagus Quiche


It finally rained – in two ways.
Thankfully the ground is now moist, our tomatoes will grow and the grass might turn away from it’s current shade of tan. Yay!
Yet, unfortunately, during our trip to the farmer’s market yesterday, we were informed that the asparagus must be left to shoot up into it’s destined willowy trees, bringing an end to our supply for the season.
Asparagus is one of my favourite summer vegetables, so I’ll be sure to freeze what I can. The rest inevitably became lunch for today in this vegan version of a classic, light meal.

EGGLESS ASPARAGUS QUICHE

1 Package, Firm Silken Tofu
2 Tablespoons Arrowroot Powder
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast Flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Thyme, dried (or a good sprig of fresh, chopped)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Zest of 1/2 Lemon (about 1 Tbsp)

1 Pre-made Pastry Shell, Tenderflake (I know, not me, but they’re such a time saver.)

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Bake the pastry shell for about 10 – 15 minutes or until the crust is firm and light golden. Set it aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350º.
Snap the ends and blanch the asparagus in boiling water for about 2 – 3 minutes or until bright green. Rinse in cold water, then trim tips to 3″ and reserve. Trim the ends to 1/2″ pieces.
Drain the tofu and add it to the bowl of a food processor. Blend it to a smooth consistency.
Add the nutritional yeast flakes, salt, pepper and spices, mixing well to incorporate everything.
With the motor running, sprinkle the arrowroot powder through the feed tube, combining well but not over mixing.
Finish with the lemon zest and stir in the 1/2″ asparagus pieces.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pastry shell and top with the reserved asparagus tips.
Bake uncovered at 350º until set, about 20 -25 minutes.

Great warm or chilled.
Serve with a salad.