Sunday, June 23, 2013

Asparagus with Smoky Lemon Yogurt, Chopped Eggs, and Toasted Almonds


If you're looking for something tasty to make for Sunday supper tonight, then look no further. This dish is everything I love about spring, summer, and fresh ingredients! It's colourful, busy, and my new favourite way to eat asparagus. Paired with some crusty bread or even roasted potatoes, it makes a fantastic vegetarian main, or it's perfect on its own for a hearty lunch or side dish. The smoky lemon yogurt dressing is as addicting as it is simple, and you will want to put it on everything! I'd imagine it would make a great marinade or sauce for chicken, fish, and almost any vegetable. Feel free to halve this recipe if you are only cooking for one or two, or making this as a side dish.

Ingredients:

4 large eggs
2/3 cup whole, blanched almonds
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 pounds asparagus, tough ends trimmed or peeled
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh lemon juice and olive oil, to serve

Yogurt Dressing:

2 cups plain greek yogurt
4 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. smoked paprika
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:

Make the yogurt dressing first so it has more time to marinate and develop a great flavour. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your preference. Cover and set aside until ready to assemble the dish. 

Hard-boil your eggs by placing them in a pot of cold water and bringing it to a boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, set a timer for 10 minutes and reduce the heat to a simmer. When the timer goes off, drain the eggs from the water and plunge them into ice water to cool them quickly and stop the cooking. Set them aside to continue cooling (I place mine in a bowl in the refrigerator). 

Toast the almonds by placing them in a skillet over medium heat, stirring them frequently until they are lightly browned and fragrant. Set them aside to cool.

Once the eggs and almonds are cool, peel the eggs, coarsely chop both eggs and almonds and set aside.

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in the largest skillet you have. Once the oil is hot, add in the asparagus spears, placing half in one direction and the other half in the other direction so they will fit in the skillet more evenly. If you only have a small skillet you may have to do this in multiple batches depending on how much asparagus you are using. Cover the skillet with a lid or aluminum foil and cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove the lid or foil, increase the heat to high, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook the spears until they are tender-crisp and well-browned on one or two sides. This will take about another 5-7 minutes.

Spread about 1 cup of the prepared yogurt dressing over a large serving dish or platter, or spoon a scoop onto each individual plate. Place the cooked asparagus spears on top of the dressing, then sprinkle with the chopped eggs and almonds. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a small drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of kosher or sea salt. Spoon a few additional dollops of the yogurt dressing on top and serve.


*Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Monday, June 17, 2013

Nutella Cheesecake


Oh hey, remember me!? I'm the girl who used to post new recipes like clockwork.. but who got ridiculously busy and abandoned her blog for nearly a month! Things have been a bit crazy for the past couple of months with finishing my final student teaching practicum, graduating from university, moving, job hunting, and starting work - so I had to put blogging on the back burner (pun intended). The good news is that I'm back to apologize for my temporary hiatus and and make it up to all of you amazing people who follow my blog and make these recipes. Although I haven't been blogging about it, I have been cooking and baking more than ever and I have a huge backlog of amazing food to share with you in the coming weeks! And the recipe I have today is the frontrunner of them all. It should make you forget all about my temporary abandonment and have you running to the store for a jar of Nutella. It is the ultimate peace offering and the ultimate showstopping dessert. Best part? It's almost too easy to make (it's no bake!). A friend and I went through an embarrassing amount of Nutella and made two of these in one night! It's definitely the least figure-friendly dessert you can imagine... but you won't care one bit once you taste your first bite. Now I know you come to this blog for the food and not to hear me blabber on, so I'll stop now and let you get to the good stuff - dessert!


Ingredients:

2 and 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs - You can also use chocolate cookie crumbs instead, but I like the contrasting flavour that graham cracker crumbs gives to this already chocolate-y dessert
5 Tbsp. butter, softened
3/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts divided use - After searching for hazelnuts with no luck, we discovered that peanuts make a fine substitute if you don't have hazelnuts; almonds would also be delicious
1 13oz./400g jar Nutella
1 lb./500g cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup icing sugar

Directions:

Prepare a 9" or 10" springform pan by lining the bottom with a circle of wax or parchment paper and greasing the paper and sides of the pan with butter.

Put the graham cracker crumbs, butter, 3 Tbsp. of nuts, and 1 Tbsp. Nutella in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture starts to clump and become a damp, sandy mixture. If it seems too dry add a little bit more butter and pulse. If you don't have a food processor then you can combine the graham cracker crumbs in a bowl with 5 Tbsp. melted butter, 3 Tbsp. nuts that have been very finely chopped, and Nutella. Stir vigorously until no large clumps remain and the mixture is damp and sandy. Again, add a bit more melted butter if it seems dry.

Pour the crust mixture into the prepared springform pan and press firmly and evenly into the pan using your hands or the bottom of a heavy glass. Ensure it is evenly distributed up the sides of the pan. Place in the fridge to chill.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and icing sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add in the remaining Nutella and continue beating until combined. Pour into the prepared, chilled crust and smooth the top with a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the remaining chopped nuts on top. Place the cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. Don't be tempted to eat it right away - it's so much better once you leave it to chill. I promise your patience will be rewarded!


When ready to serve, carefully remove the outer ring of the springform pan and slice, serving it cold from the fridge for best flavour and texture. Store leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator


*Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson