Asparagus & Spring Onion Croque Monsieur

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asparagus and/or spring onions, ends trimmed
olive oil
kosher salt

good bread, cut into thick slices
bechamel sauce (recipe below)
grated gruyère, Comté or Swiss cheese
fresh thyme

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Toss the asparagus and spring onions with olive oil and kosher salt on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the vegetables until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Test with a knife for doneness.

2. Preheat the broiler. Place the slices of bread on a sheet pan and broil them about a minute on each side. Remove pan from the oven. Spread about a tablespoon of bechamel over each slice of bread. Top with the roasted vegetables. Top with grated cheese to taste.

3. Broil until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown. Sprinkle with the fresh thyme and serve immediately.

Bechamel:
Source: Nancy Silverton’s Sandwich Book: The Best Sandwiches Ever–from Thursday Nights at Campanile

Note: This recipe is adapted from Silverton’s recipe for Mornay sauce in her croque monsieur recipe in her Sandwich Book. To make it a Mornay sauce, as far as I can tell, stir in 1/2 cup finely grated Gruyère and 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano at the very end.

Also Note: This makes enough bechamel for about 30 croque monsieurs. I haven’t tried having the recipe, but it likely would work just fine. I don’t use bechamel that often, so I’m short on ideas for using up the remaining bechamel. Thoughts? I just plan on eating croque monsieur every day until I’m out of bechamel.

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 medium white or yellow onion (about 4 tablespoons finely chopped)
kosher salt
4 black peppercorns, crushed (I didn’t do this)
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
1 bayleaf

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, salt, and cracked peppercorns (if using), and cook about 10 minutes, until the onion is soft but has not begun to color. Remove from the heat and add the flour in two batches, whisking to combine it with the onion and butter. Return the pan to the stove and over low heat, cook a few minutes, until the flour is absorbed, stirring constantly so that it doesn’t brown. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the milk. Drop in the bay leaf.

2. Return the pan to the stove, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the sauce from burning on the bottom of the pan. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the taste of raw flour is gone and the mixture is thick, smooth and silky. If it’s too thick and becoming difficult to stir, you’ll need to whisk in a little more milk.

3. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the sauce. (I didn’t strain the sauce — I don’t mind those onion bits, and the bay leaf was easy enough to pull out. Now, if you did the peppercorn thing, you probably want to strain the sauce.)

Asparagus & Spring Onion Croque Monsieur

Honey Lime Tequila Shrimp Tacos with Avocado, Purple Slaw and Chipotle Crema

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Ingredients
  • ~~ For the honey lime tequila shrimp tacos ~~
  • 2 pounds (454 g) raw shrimps, peeled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • juice of 2 limes + 1 lime
  • ½ cup tequila
  • 1 medium onion, finely minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground chipotle (optional)
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • ½ head of red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • ~~ For the slaw dressing ~~
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice [about 2-3 limes]
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup light, neutral oil, such as grapeseed
  • ~~ For the chipotle crema ~~
  • 1 cup (250 ml) sour cream or créme fraîche [low fat can be used]
  • 1 to 2 pieces of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce [canned]
  • ~~ For assembly ~~
  • 12 – 15 homemade or store-bought good quality yellow or white corn tortilla
  • a handful of cilantro, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Wash, peel, devein, and dry raw shrimps. Season with salt.
  2. In a bowl, combine honey, lime juice, tequila, onion, cumin, and chipotle powder (if using). Mix well and toss shrimps in marinade. Chill up to 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  3. Heat grill to 400 F (205 C). Make sure to oil the grilles well. Skewer shrimps in soaked wooden sticks (this will make it easier to handle on a grill).
  4. Grill shrimps until bright or just opaque, about 2 minutes each side. Flip the shrimp skewers and cook for another 2 minutes or until they turn bright orange. Alternatively, you can also pan fry the shrimps. Set cooked shrimps aside.
  5. Dice the avocados and squeeze juice from the remaining 1 lime.
  6. Thinly slice the red cabbage using a sharp knife or a mandolin.
  7. To make the dressing for the red cabbage slaw, put the lime juice, Dijon mustard, sea salt, pepper and oil in a jar or bowl. Whisk vigourously until it emulsifies.
  8. Toss the red cabbage with the lime vinaigrette. Set aside.
  9. Meanwhile, to make the chipotle crema, place the chipotles in the bowl of the food processor and give it a good whirl until it is smooth.
  10. Stir in the sour cream or créme fraîche, mixing well until the colour is even. Transfer chipotle crema in a squeeze bottle.
  11. To assemble the tacos, heat tortilla in a dry pan, about 1 minute per side or until lightly browned or charred. Wrap tortilla in a cloth to prevent from drying out. Set aside, covered.
  12. Place some diced avocados in the middle of the tortilla, followed by the red cabbage slaw. Remove skewers from shrimps and pile on the taco.
  13. Drizzle with the chipotle crema and garnish with cilantro. Serve immediately.
Honey Lime Tequila Shrimp Tacos with Avocado, Purple Slaw and Chipotle Crema

Salmon Burgers

This is a good recipe even if you aren’t crazy about Salmon. It makes 2 salmon burgers, but you can stretch it to 3 if you need to. I made a creamy cocktail sauce that tastes great on the burgers (2 parts catsup, a squirt or 2 of creamy horseradish and a spoonful of mayonnaise).

Ingredients:

1 can drained salmon

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs

1 tsp Italian Seasoning

1/4 tsp salt

ground pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

2 buns, split and toasted

tartar sauce

Directions:

Combine salmon, egg, 1/4 cup of the breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Form patties about 1/2 inch thick.

Spread remaining bread crumbs on a plate and dredge the patties in the crumbs until coated.

Heat oil over medium heat and cook patties 3 minutes on each side

Salmon Burgers

Parmesan Pasta With Chicken and Rosemary

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Ingredients

12
ounces
orecchiette (about 3 cups)
1
2- to 2 1/2-pound rotisserie chicken
2
tablespoons
chopped fresh rosemary
3/4
cup
grated Parmesan (3 ounces)
kosher salt and black pepper

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1 ¼ cups of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, using a fork or your fingers, shred the chicken, discarding the skin and bones.
  3. Toss the pasta with the chicken, rosemary, reserved pasta water, ½ cup of the Parmesan, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  4. Cook, stirring, over medium-low heat, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan.
Parmesan Pasta With Chicken and Rosemary

Tuscan House Italian Pasta Salad

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  • 12 oz. tri-color veggie pasta
  • 1 can (15 oz.) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (2.25 oz.) black olives, drained
  • 1 cup chopped assorted peppers (I used 2 small sweet and 1 Anaheim)
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 1 diced Roma tomato
  • 1-1/2 cups KRAFT Tuscan House Italian Dressing
  • 1 cup KRAFT Shredded Italian* Five Cheese Blend
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 oz. pepperoni (about 35 pieces)

Make It

  • COOK pasta according to package directions. Rinse to cool completely; drain.
  • MIX in kidney beans, olives, cucumber and tomato.
  • ADD dressing and pepper; stir in.
  • SPRINKLE in cheese; blend. Add pepperoni. Refrigerate until serving.
  • Note: After refrigeration, salad may need to be tossed with additional dressing.
Tuscan House Italian Pasta Salad

Strawberry Caprese Pasta Salad

strawberry caprese

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dry pasta (I used farfalle)
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella, diced
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed torn fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic glaze (I used DeLallo, but see instructions below for a homemade alternative)

Directions:

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water al dente, according to package instructions. Drain and immediately rinse with cold water to stop the pasta from cooking.

Toss the pasta with the strawberries, mozzarella and basil. Pour half of the pasta into a serving bowl, and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Then pour the remaining half of the pasta on top, and drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Sprinkle with extra basil if desired. Also, if the pasta seems to dry, you can toss it with a tablespoon of olive oil.

*To make balsamic glaze homemade, whisk together 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced by half. Give it a taste. If you think it needs sweetening, stir in a few teaspoons of sugar or honey.

Strawberry Caprese Pasta Salad

Chicken Caprese

chicken caprese

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to uniform thickness
  • 1/2 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces
  • 1 cup lightly-packed fresh basil, torn

Directions:

To Make The Chicken:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. (You will know that it is ready when the oil is shimmering, or it sizzles when you place a drop of water in the oil.) Add the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until the chicken is fully cooked and the juices run clear. Remove chicken and set aside.

To Make The Balsamic Reduction:

Heat balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes until reduced by half. Remove and set aside.

To Assemble The Dish:

Plate the chicken, then top with sliced tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Serve warm.

Chicken Caprese