It’s here! The first of our farm’s produce has been delighting us for the past week. Asparagus is wonderful in and of itself but also as a harbinger of everything to come in the following months. It has been very welcome in what has been another grueling month for the kitchen. In May we were producing meals on 30 of the 31 days which stretched our relatively small staff … and they came through valiantly! So props and respect to Patty, Todd and Shirley and to our stalwart volunteers Virginia, Jerome, Regan and Greg. We can’t forget Theresa who is the entire Housekeeping Department all by herself and calmly works as hard as anyone I have seen!
It’s been a month full of fascinating and wonderful people. Well, ALL our visitors are fascinating and wonderful … but so many of our clients are here for silent, contemplative retreats that we don’t get a chance to interact with them. They are here for a purpose – and that is not to amuse the kitchen staff! When we get workshops and conferences with groups like the Women’s Songwriting Workshop, Guelph Community Health Care or Unitarian ministers from all over the continent who fill the house with talk and laughter, there’s a different vibe to the house. “A change is as good as a rest” some people say …
Asparagus (like many vegetables) is versatile and plays well with others. After you’ve had your fill of eating it plain (steamed or roasted), you can have it as a soup, as a salad, on the BBQ or as the highlight of a quiche. Quiche is a staple here at Loyola House. We love it, clients love it, it’s nutritious, attractive, keeps well and especially good for using up that last little bit of whatever you had last night. We have a good source of pre-made pastry shells too, so that makes it easy to whip up.
Thaw a 9 inch unsweetened pie shell. If you like, flute the edges – this makes it easier to serve and less likely to spill as you move it in to the oven.
Whip together …
5 large eggs
2/3 cup 10% cream
Strain this in to another bowl. This will remove the strange gooey bits of the egg attached to the yolk (called the chalaza, in case you ever wondered).
Whisk in …
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
pinch of nutmeg
dash of hot sauce (more if you like it spicy but the aim here is to have just a touch of undetectable heat to stimulate the taste buds)
Smear the bottom of the crust lightly with Dijon mustard and sprinkle with grated cheddar. Arrange the fillings and then carefully pour the custard over all. Sprinkle again with grated cheddar. This will melt and produce an attractive glaze while protecting the eggs from forming a less palatable skin. Bake at 350 until it starts to puff and the centre is completely firm – about 50 minutes. This is one dish I like to bake on the bottom shelf of the oven to make sure the pastry is completely cooked. Allow to sit 10 minutes before slicing.
Fillings? well just about anything that goes with cheese! Often we use meat – bacon or ham or chicken or sausage … even salmon. Vegetarian is good too – broccoli, spinach, peppers, tomato, onions (caramelized or not) … and yes, asparagus! One of my favourites is a 3 (or 4 or 5) cheese variety sprinkled with fresh chives. Let your imagination (and your leftover shelf) be your guide.
For your gluten-free friends, this is even easier! Simply smear a pie plate or pan with coconut oil, pour in the custard then proceed with fillings, top with cheese and bake … and proudly call it a Frittata.
I’m back to the kitchen … trusting you to take care of yourselves and everyone around you!
PS – Thanks to Mike-the-farmer (a man of many talents) for the first evocative, lovely photo!