Parsnip, Aged Cheddar and Chard Frittata

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“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.”
― John Lennon

I was looking at some material online and I came across this quote. It reminded me of this past few weeks and made me smile.

I have been having hard time, lately, and a few of my close friends and family have rallied around to help me through and make sure that I am okay. The great thing about friendship is that a good day with a close friend can have great healing powers.

I spent yesterday with a girlfriend helping her choose a dress for her son’s upcoming wedding. We wandered for hours from shop to shop looking for the exact style and colour. We found a wonderful gown for her to wear and then celebrated over a long lunch on a patio while watching the world go by.

My friend did not need me to help her find the perfect dress, but instead, she knew that having a project would stop me from feeling sorry for myself. I started my day with a mission of helping her. By focusing on someone else’s needs, I forgot my own troubles and had a fun day. It was about the friendship, not the shopping.

I know that keeping busy is good therapy. Whenever I am stressed, I throw myself into a project and the next thing I know is that I am content, again. Maybe it is that sense of accomplishment when you create something that you enjoy.

I also know that good friends are for a lifetime.

I cannot see all of my friends as often as I would like so I am hoping that each of them will make this recipe for their families and friends so we can all celebrate life together. I hope to hear the stories about how you chose to make it and how you enjoyed the flavours.

I am including all of my online friends in this invitation as well. The makes a wonderful brunch for a lazy Sunday either at home or at the cottage.

I hope you enjoy it!

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Parsnip, Aged Cheddar and Chard Frittata

Ingredients:

1 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp. (15 mL) olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped ham
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
1 bunch of rainbow chard, drained well, leaves removed from stems and chopped
1 red pepper, finely diced
8 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) 18% cooking cream
2 tbsp. (30 mL) Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. (30 mL) fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup (175 mL) Canadian Aged Cheddar, grated

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
In an oven-safe, non-stick pan over medium heat, sauté onion in olive oil until softened.
Add the ham, garlic and parsnips, and cook until parsnips soften.
Add the chopped chard leaves and red pepper. Stir to evenly combine and set aside.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs, cream, Dijon mustard and fresh herbs in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Lower the heat, pour egg mixture over vegetables and cook for a few minutes. Sprinkle Cheddar over the top and keep cooking on low heat until edges are just set.

Transfer to oven and cook until centre is set, about 10 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, invert onto serving platter and serve.

Cooks Note: You can omit the ham and make this a delicious vegetarian frittata.

Recipe adapted from http://www.dairygoodness.ca

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Salami, Bacon and Spinach Breakfast Hash

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It is time to say good-bye to a dear friend, my wonderful bike Victoria. I bought her 2 years ago so I could get back into cycling after many years. She was a second-hand bike listed on Craigslist that was built from some very oddly matched components. Quite honestly, she is a Frankenbike!

Did I just say that?

The truth is, I have really enjoyed spending time with her riding the bike paths of our city. She has taught me that no matter how out of shape and tired you may feel, you can still get out and have fun. There is nothing like that feeling when you catch a breeze in your hair or when you coast down a hill feeling as though life is filled with laughter. It is a very childlike feeling. Victoria and I shared many days filled with fun and challenging rides, picnics and adventures.

So why am I saying so long to Victoria? I am ashamed to say that I have cheated on her by purchasing Victoria 2. I felt I had to move on. I needed more bells and whistles and speed. I was enticed by a newer model. Oh My!

Thankfully, my oldest daughter has offered to give Victoria a loving home. She is also hoping to get back into cycling and was looking for a nice bike. Now when she and I go for brunch in the neighbourhood we can ride our bikes and meet up at a local bistro.

If there is one meal that I love, it is Brunch! Our neighbourhood hosts a number of quaint bistros and cafes that specialize in all day breakfast or wonderful weekend brunch. Some of these cafes are so popular, they are lined up all day on Sunday.

Often, I will make something delicious for brunch at home. I recently saw Giada De Laurentis make this Sausage, Bacon and Spinach Breakfast Hash on TV and decided it looked good enough to try. It turns out to be a hearty recipe that works well for a group of 3-4.

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Salami, Bacon and Spinach Breakfast Hash

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

8 oz. bacon (5 to 6 slices), cut into ½-inch pieces
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into ½-inch pieces
3 cups baby spinach leaves
5 oz. dry salami, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
zest of ½ medium orange
4 large eggs, at room temperature

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Directions

Cook the bacon over medium-high heat in a 12-inch nonstick skillet, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the bacon using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Add the potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the pan juices. Cook, stirring frequently, until brown and crisp, about 25 minutes. Remove the potatoes using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Add the oil, onion, bell pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach, salami, nutmeg, orange zest, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Cook until the spinach is wilted, about 4 minutes. Stir in the bacon and potatoes.

Make 4 indentations in the hash and break an egg into each. Cook until the eggs are cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes.

Recipe from Giada De Laurentis

Sausage and Broccolini Frittata

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What is it about the cooler weather that makes us crave comfort food? I have worked so hard to get in shape for the past 2 years but this last month I have been craving all of the foods that are bad for me. I find myself dreaming of pumpkin pie smothered in whipped cream and heavy foods like burgers and fries. I am trying very hard to ignore my cravings and get back on track.

This weekend I plan to go ice skating in order to train for skating the Rideau Canal again this year. Being outdoors and having fun makes the long, cold winter much easier to live with.

When I am not out exercising I try to take some time to relax on weekends. Usually, I am cooking, reading, photographing, writing and spending time with my close friends and family.

I also love having Sunday Brunch. I love getting up out of bed a little later than usual and going out for eggs and lattes. I also love making brunch at home. It is a great way of entertaining friends without too much fuss.

Frittatas are always a hit at brunch and they are relatively easy to make. This one is light and fluffy yet still packed with the rich flavour of the sausage and cheese.

Sausage and Broccolini Frittata

Ingredients:

12 large eggs
½ cup whole milk
¾ cup grated cheddar, divided
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
½ medium onion, chopped
½ lbs. fresh Italian sausage links, casings removed
1 bunch broccolini, coarsely chopped

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Directions:

Preheat broiler. Whisk eggs and milk in a medium bowl. Mix in ½ cup cheddar; season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium heat. Add onion and sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and sausage is brown, 6–8 minutes. Add broccolini; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8–10 minutes longer.

Reduce heat to low and pour reserved egg mixture over vegetables. Cook, shaking pan occasionally, until edges are just set, 10–12 minutes. Top frittata with remaining ¼ cup cheddar; broil until top is golden brown and center is set, about 4 minutes longer.

Cut frittata into wedges and serve warm or room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine-October 2013

Remembering Nice with Nicoise Salad with Haricots Vert and Yukon Gold Potatoes

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Salad Nicoise is one of my all-time favourite salads. Named after the wonderful french city of Nice, this salad embodies the best of their regional cuisine.

Whenever I am in Nice I love to go exploring. When walking along the Promenade des Anglais I find it a little odd to see such breathtaking sea views only a few steps away from this cosmopolitan city. I think that is one the things that make Nice so special.

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Walking around the city once cannot help but notice the juxtaposition of the traditional architecture with the ultra-modern transportation.

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You can walk to the historic old town where you can experience Nice’s world-renowned flower market or the farmer’s market. There are also some lovely antique shops and bakeries hidden around the old town.

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I love to spend my time wandering the streets to find interesting sights, sample local delicacies and enjoy outdoor cafes. Every time I have this salad I remember my visits to Nice. I remember dinners in lovely open-air restaurants after dark and I remember sipping a glass of wine in a bar on the beach while watching the waves crash on the rocks.

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While recalling trips from years past, I often recall the wonderful meals that we ate along the way.

I decided to pair this salad with an Ontario wine from Hidden Bench winery in the Niagara Escarpment. This wonderful Bistro Rose 2012 has a nose of strawberries, ripe cherries and white flowers. It was a perfect complement to a Mediterranean salad due to its rich, full bodied flavour.

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Nicoise Salad with Haricots Vert and Yukon Gold Potatoes

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

2 lbs. baby Yukon Gold potatoes, halved
Kosher salt
1 lb. haricots vert, trimmed
3 tbsp. red-wine vinegar
1 tbsp. whole-grain Dijon mustard
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, finely diced
1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
1 can white tuna, drained well and flaked
2 tsp. capers, rinsed and drained
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup pitted Niçoise or Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped

Directions:

Set the potatoes in a large (6-quart) pot, cover them with cold water by a couple of inches, stir in 2 tbsp. salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the haricots vert and cook until they turn bright green and tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain well and cool under running water.

In a blender or food processor, blend the vinegar with the mustard. With the machine still running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream so the mixture comes together into a thick emulsion. Add the shallot, 2 tsp. thyme, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper, and purée until incorporated. Taste and season the dressing with more salt and pepper if needed.

Add 1 or 2 tbsp. water if needed to thin the dressing to a pourable consistency.

To plate individually, lightly toss the potatoes, beans, tomatoes, and olives with half the vinaigrette and plate; top with the tuna, capers, and the remaining thyme; and serve the remaining dressing on the side.

Wine Pairing: I paired this salad with a bottle of Hidden Bench Bistro Rose 2012

http://www.hiddenbench.com

Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking Fresh and Quick Magazine

Potato Salad with Peas, Radishes and Eggs- A new twist on a classic

It has been another week of glorious weather! We experienced our Northern solstice a few days ago marking the beginning of summer. As the days slowly grew longer we enjoyed the daylight late into the evening hours. Now the days will gradually get shorter so we will scramble out to enjoy every minute of sunshine before summer ends.

I am continuing on my journey to improve my health through exercise and healthy eating. The other day I rode 31 km on my bike covering a span of Toronto from the east side of the Don River to the west side of the Humber River along the waterfront and Don Valley trails. Every few kilometres we looked up to see a different side of the CN tower allowing us to gage the distance travelled and to see the skyline from many different perspectives.

There is a fairly steep hill near my place that, until now, I have barely been able to scale on foot without breathing hard. At the end of this cycling trip I was able to ride up the hill without stopping. This major milestone has taught me that 2 months after my biking accident I am able to ride with confidence. I am able to face the challenges head on and knock them off the list one by one.

It has been an incredible journey, so far. I am learning to live in the moment and to savour each one. I have renewed my love affair with my city by cycling around her parks and paths. I have taken my life back under my control and I feel great!

Part of this wonderfiul journey is discovering ways to enjoy classic dishes with a lighter twist. Potato salad is a traditional addition to a grilled dinner or picnic. This version is light yet has subtle, balanced flavours. The addition of radishes and eggs add a level of complexity needed to make the dish memorable.

Potato Salad with Peas, Radishes and Eggs

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

2 tbsp. pine nuts
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Sea salt
4 eggs
1 cup frozen green peas
1 ½ pounds organic potatoes, washed and halved
2 radishes, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper

For the vinaigrette:

Sea salt and pepper
1 tsp. French Dijon mustard
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Toast pine nuts in a frying pan for 2 minutes, or until lightly coloured and fragrant. Set Aside.

Soak the onion in a bowl of cold salted water for 20 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Boil the 6 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop them from cooking. Shell the eggs and cut each in quarters.

Boil the green peas in salted water for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse them under cold water to stop them from cooking and let them cool.

Boil the potatoes for 20-25 minutes in salted water until tender to the fork but not overcooked.

To prepare the vinaigrette: In a small bowl combine the ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk together.

In a large bowl combine the potatoes, onions, peas, eggs and radishes. Dress with the vinaigrette, herbs and pine nuts and season with sea salt and pepper. Toss well and serve.

Recipe adapted from La Tartine Gourmand- Recipes from an Inspired Life by Beatrice Peltre

Ricotta Frittata

The further we get into winter the more I crave sunshine, sailing and summer salads.  I have been making some dishes with the seasonal ingredients that are available at my local markets which is helping me to continue on this journey of eating healthier and living well.

Sundays present a different kind of challenge. That is the day when I like to relax, write and spend quality time with family and friends.  On days like this I need to be inspired with new and delicious recipes. Without inspiration I will snack and munch my way through the day with an endless stream of sugary carbs.

This Ricotta Frittata makes a lovely Sunday brunch or lunch. The texture is light and fluffy with little clouds of ricotta cheese floating across the eggs. Sprinkle with fresh chives and you have a tasty treat to start your day.

Ricotta Frittata

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

3 tbsp. olive oil
6 eggs
½ c. onions, finely chopped
3 tbsp. olive oil
¾ c. ricotta cheese
3 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. fresh chives, chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Coat the bottom of a large ovenproof skillet with the olive oil. Add the onions, and salt and pepper to taste and sauté over medium heat until the onions are translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.

In a bowl combine the eggs, ricotta, and Parmesan and stir until smooth.

Add the egg mixture to the sautéed onions and stir. Sprinkle with chives. Cook the frittata on the stovetop until the eggs start to set, then transfer the skillet to the oven.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until firm.

Turn the frittata out of the pan onto a large serving plate. Drizzle with olive oil if desired and serve immediately.

Original Recipe from Epicurious.com