Category Archives: asparagus

Here’s how to have a gluten-free book club tea party

It was my month to choose a book and host book club in November. Not only do I love reading, but I also love hosting parties. The book I chose was Remarkable Creatures, by Tracy Chevalier. And since the book is based on the lives of spinster women searching for fossils on the coast of England in the early 1800s, (yes, it really is), I chose a tea-party theme with seashells and dinosaurs thrown in for fun.

Tea Party with sea glass, shells and dinosaurs
Tea is served

First let me note that I am the only GF eater in the group. It’s been my mission to prove to them all that GF cooking is just as good and that the wheat is not missed. Top that with the fact that we’re vegetarians and there isn’t any meat at our house and I’ve got a real challenge, but I’m always up for a challenge, Dear Chef.

The dinosaur is there for a reason, trust me.

I decided on making two veggie tarts, (basically quiche without the crust). The first was made with carmelized leeks, browned mushrooms, mozzarella and goat cheese. Carmelize one onion and two leeks, then add mushrooms and brown them with the onions. When they’re done, place them on the bottom of a tart pan and spread out evenly. Cover with a layer of shredded mozzarella and about 3 TBS of shredded Parmesan. Sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme and parsley. In a separate bowl, mix together about 4 egg whites and 3 eggs. Add about 1/4 cup of goat cheese and whisk it all together with a pinch of salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried mustard and nutmeg. Pour evenly over the tart and bake in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes. Don’t let it get too brown. Slice when cool and enjoy. I’m always apprehensive about using goat cheese since even though I love it, I have found that people either love it or hate it. But this was first plate to be empty, so I suppose this wasn’t anything to worry about.

Another dinosaur, representing the fossils in the book.

The second tart was onion, spinach, asparagus and Swiss cheese. Start with the onions in a bit of olive oil and butter (as above) and cook till brown and sweet. Add about 2 cups of fresh spinach and cook until wilted. Turn the heat on low and cook for about 10 minutes until the liquid has cooked out of the spinach. Add 1/2 tsp fresh garlic, pinch of salt and pepper. spread evenly into a pie/tart pan. Cover with 1 1/2 cups of shredded Swiss cheese. Take asparagus and arrange in a patter on top of the cheese. In a separate bowl, beat together 4 egg whites, 3 eggs, 1/4 cup half and half, salt, pepper, pinch of both nutmeg and dried mustard. Chop about 1 TBS fresh parsley and add to the mixture. Beat and then pour evenly and gently over the veggie/cheese mixture. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, but don’t let it get too brown. Slice when cool.

Thanks to Udi’s for the fabulous bread used to make the cucumber sandwiches and the egg salad sandwiches. They were the first to go and not one was left on the plate. Daughter and I kept eating them while making them, we love them that much. Simple to make, really. For the cucumber sandwiches, just cut the crusts off the bread, then spread with cream cheese and layer with strips of cucumber (use a veggie peeler for strips) and slice. Sprinkle with a little salt and a bit of chopped fresh parsley. For the egg salad I used chopped egg, mayo, apples, celery, salt/pepper and chopped parsley. I didn’t cut the crusts off of these and they were yummy .

In keeping with the fossil-hunting theme, Daughter actually made a wonderful GF coffee cake and placed a small dinosaur in one of the pieces while plating the cake. (Fossil hunting in the dirt? Too much of a stretch?) The cake was gone quickly, and worked perfectly with the tea after dinner.


And believe it or not, I found the perfect wine in the spirit of the fossil-hunting theme of the evening. Thanks Trader Joe’s.

I was depending on Trader Joe’s for their lovely shell-shaped chocolates to round out the decor. And wouldn’t you know it, they don’t have them yet for the holiday season. What’s a girl to do? Ask her teen to make some chocolate, that’s what. Darling daughter actually melted white and dark chocolate and poured it into molds to give us our shell chocolate. What a doll! The night was rounded out with cheese/pesto/sun-dried tomato torte with rice crackers, caramels with sea salt and a lovely salad of spring lettuce, roasted beets and candied pecans in a balsamic dressing.

I’m sad the night is over, but I can’t wait for next month. Try reading the book and see what it inspires you to cook. Enjoy!

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Filed under asparagus, cake, cheese, chocolate, cucumber sandwiches, eggs, gluten free, leeks, quiche, sandwich, spinach, tart, vegetarian

Summer means cherries & grilled corn and asparagus salad

Rainier cherries…get ’em while you can!

I love summer for one reason…the food. Living in Phoenix means we hibernate right about now and stay within AC at all times. And with the recent haboobs we’ve had (technical term for big damn dust storms), it’s getting to be a real pain to leave the house. Saturday morning outings to the farmers market is the only think I look forward to takes place outside. Asparagus, fresh corn, summer squash, oh my… Then the Ranier cherries hit the shelves and I’m in heaven.

Taking inspiration from the fresh veggies available right now, I searched for ideas on what to do with the veggies I had in the fridge. I had a large bunch of asparagus and 8 ears of fresh corn. I gave mom a few of the ears of corn and a handful of the asparagus, then set out to make a salad from the rest.

Grilled asparagus and corn salad

I decided to grill inside instead of standing outside in the 110-degree heat. If you’re someplace else in the country, you may be OK with standing outside. It still went pretty quickly. First, I grilled the corn a few at a time for just about 10 minutes…enough to grill and cook, but not overcook. Keep turning them and put a little olive oil and salt on it to keep it from burning.

Grilling brings out a fabulous smokey flavor!

Next, wash and trim the asparagus. These take a little less time and you just have to flip them once after about five minutes. Then another few minutes and they’re done. I did mine in two batches since I had so much. I love watching them get brown and lovely. It’s all I can do not to eat them right out of the pan.

Cut the corn off the cob, chop the asparagus into bite-sized pieces and mix. I added about a Tbs of olive oil, the juice and zest of one medium lemon, pinch of parsley, oregano and basil. A little more salt and pepper to taste and you’re done. Dear chef, don’t fret over it, just keep tasting till you get the right mixture. This is a light summer dish, so go easy on the lemon and keep adding a little more till you get it right. This was wonderful a little bit warm, and even better the next day after it cooled in the fridge. The lemon had a chance to settle into the asparagus, which was smoky and grilled and still crispy to the bite.

Enjoy your summer.

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Filed under asparagus, corn, fruit, gluten free, salad, vegetarian

Easy Peasy Asparagus Soup


It’s one of those days where I just don’t feel like cooking, but I don’t want to open a package. Unfortunately, being GF and vegetarian means I can’t just make a turkey sandwich, which is what my husband just did.

However, I know how to make soup, and quick soup. I love soup…it’s comforting, smooth and yummy. While visiting California Pizza Kitchen recently, I ordered the asparagus soup, creamless and vegetarian, yet smooth with a powerful asparagus flavor. It was grand. So I came up with a simple recipe and here it is, a compilation of things I’ve learned. I call it easy peasy asparagus soup since it’s got peas and asparagus in it. Remember, one pot, simple ingredients, blend…

Easy Peasy Asparagus Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbs olive oil
2 bunches of asparagus (about 45 stalks)
1 cup frozen peas
3.5 cups organic veggie broth
salt/pepper

The ingredients are that simple. No kidding.
1. Saute onion in olive oil in a large soup pot until soft and translucent.
2. While onion is cooking, snap ends off of asparagus and cut stalks into 1-inch pieces. Save a few of the tops for garnish.
3. Add asparagus, peas, salt and pepper to onions. Let cook for about 5 minutes to bring up the temperature.
4. Add veggie broth, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
5. Check to make sure asparagus is cooked to tender.
6. Blend soup in a blender till smooth. Remember to do this in batches, and start slowly each time blending since the soup is hot and can create steam in the blender.
7. Pour into bowls, garnish with asparagus tops.

You can use any kind of veggies for this, dear chef. Broccoli works great, cauliflower, peas, asparagus (on their own), carrots… the possibilities are endless. Mix and match or let them go solo. Give it a try and your veggies go down real smooth. It’s comforting and yummy.

Enjoy!

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Filed under asparagus, gluten free, peas, soup