Tag Archives: asparagus

Double feature from our friends across the pond: British bird and muffins

10 Aug

Well up came that first cool cat,
He said: “Man, look at that!
Man, do you see what I see?
Well I want that middle chick”
“I want that little chick!”
“Hey man, save one chick for me”

Recipe source: Adapted from Elaine Lemm of about.com, original recipes here and here

Lemon Roasted Chicken

When my cooking club decided to have a British theme last month, I’ll admit, I raised an eyebrow. Among the many fond memories of my college semester in Cambridge, food did not feature. I thought about suddenly coming down with mad cow disease, or staying home to mourn the loss of my chances with Prince William and draw mustaches on the flawless Kate. But my friend Mary would have none of this, so I dubiously began looking up recipes.

This simple roast chicken was one I found, and although I don’t know how famously British it is, it sounded like a good opportunity for me to roast a whole chicken for the first time. Yes, embarrassingly enough, this food blogger had never roasted a whole bird.

Happily, I found the experience to be painless. I did modify the recipe slightly, to make it a wee bit more involved, but still brilliant. (I’m really working on all the English English I know, here.) I added carrots and onion into the pan and drastically reduced the amount of butter. Next time, I think I’ll mash some fresh herbs into the butter as well – perhaps rosemary or herbs de provence.

lemon roasted chicken

Jump to recipe, including my modifications, below.
Asparagus & Cheese Muffins

Although the chicken was lovely, it seemed a little pedestrian by itself, so I decided to make these muffins as well. With milk, yogurt, and cheese, if you’re in the mood to support dairy farmers, this is the recipe for you! It calls for Cheshire cheese, a cheese I’ve concluded is impossible to find in San Diego County. Wikipedia describes it as a “soft crumbly texture,” similar to a Wensleydale. But all the Wensleydale I found included fruit or berries, so I opted for an aged Irish white cheddar instead.

Kerrygold aged cheddar

Before folding the asparagus into the batter, the recipe calls for blanching the chopped stems. I love blanching green vegetables for the vibrant color they get, not to mention crispness. Green is my favorite color!


The sad part about this recipe is that it makes about 20 muffins, although it is written for 12. The 12 spears of asparagus are enough for the batter, but not for decorating each muffin with a tip in the top. My suggestions for remedying this problem are as follows:

1) skip the decoration and just add the tips to the batter
2) cut tips off additional spears to make up for the recipe’s original sin
3) only give the decorated muffins to special people
4) sculpt eight lifelike asparagus tips from leftover green birthday candles
5) abandon recipe entirely and just eat the cheese

asparagus & cheese muffins

These muffins are pretty easy to make and would be lovely served at a brunch, as savory muffins are unusual and these have a slightly dry, biscuit-like texture. Of course, the muffins and chicken, served with a simple tossed salad on the side, would also make a nice dinner.

Jump to muffin recipe.

RECIPE – Lemon Roasted Chicken

1 3-lb 5oz/ 1.5kg roasting chicken
1/2 stick/55g butter, softened
1 medium lemon, halved
1 bulb garlic, skin on and halved across the bulb
2 carrots, scrubbed and coarsely chopped
1 white onion, coarsely chopped
3.5 fl oz/100ml dry white wine
1/2 pint/200ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon cold butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas 6.

Place the chicken breast side up in a deep roasting tin. Massage the softened butter all over the chicken breasts, legs, sides, and under skin. Season with kosher salt and pepper.

Tuck one half of the lemon and one half of the garlic into the chicken cavity. Squeeze the juice of the second half over the chicken breast, and pop the squeezed lemon into the roasting tin with the second half of the garlic bulb, carrots, and onion.

Place the roasting tin into the oven and cook for 1 hr 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 170°F. Remove the chicken from the tin and wrap tightly in aluminum foil and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Place the roasting tin on a medium heat on the stove top and bring the juices up to a gentle simmer. Raise the heat to high and add the white wine. Stir the wine and juices thoroughly and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken or vegetable stock, stir again and simmer until reduced by one third. Mash butter into flour, remove sauce from heat and vigorously whisk in flour-butter mixture to thicken.

Unwrap the chicken and add any juices released by the chicken into the sauce and bring back to the boil. Remove from the heat, and strain into a warmed sauceboat or jug. Serve the chicken immediately with the sauce on the side.

RECIPE – Asparagus & Cheese Muffins

12 spears of asparagus, British when in season
14 oz/400g all-purpose flour (about 2.5 cups)
1 tablespoon baking powder
7 oz/200g Cheshire cheese, cubed
4 oz /125g butter (1/2 cup or 1 stick)
1 small bunch chives, snipped into pieces
2/3 cup/150ml milk
1/2 cup/100ml plain yogurt
1 tsp English mustard
2 eggs
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C/gas 6. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases and spray with nonstick coating.

Cut the asparagus stems into small pieces, about 1 cm in length, leaving the tips a little longer and blanch in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Drain and refresh under cold running water, separating the tips from the pieces of stem.

In a large bowl, mix the flour and baking powder with the cheese. Melt the butter and pour into a jug. Add the chives, milk, yogurt, mustard and eggs. Mix well until combined and season generously with salt and pepper.

Gently fold the wet ingredients into the flour & cheese, and stir through the asparagus stems. Be careful not to over mix and stop as soon as the mixture is combined.

Spoon the mixture evenly between the muffin cases and push an asparagus tip into the middle of each.

Bake in the oven from 15-20 minutes until golden. Best eaten hot out of the oven, spread with a little cold butter.


Springtime Quiche

11 Jul

*** WARNING! ***
This recipe is not for the faint of heart. It is not for the vegetarian.
It’s probably not even for the Californian.
No, this recipe is for Paula Deen.

Recipe source: Mom / Land O’ Lakes cookbook

Don’t y’all just loooove quiche? I do! Because it’s a hearty, filling, one-dish meal. And so versatile! Is it a breakfast food? Is it a lunch or dinner food? It’s anything you want it to be, baby! It’s not for sissies – it’s QUICHE.


There are many ways to make quiche, but this recipe, handed down from my mother, is my favorite so far. It’s got ham…



(not pictured… uhhh, the samples went in my mouth?)

cheddar cheese…

cheddar cheese

and asparagus. (See? Practically a diet food.)


But before you can add any of that, you must start with the foundation: crust. The recipe calls for chives, but I didn’t have any, so I added 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. You can adjust the flavorings to your taste, or make a plain crust. Or you can forget about all this, buy a pre-made crust and skip to the filling part.

To make the crust, you will cut cold butter into a mixture of flour and salt, then add your flavorings and a smidgin of water. The texture will look something like this:

dough texture

Next, turn the mixture out onto a work surface and shape into a ball, before rolling out with a rolling pin. This was as close as I got to a ball…

dough ball

In my experience, rolling out dough is a terribly un-fun, slightly nerve-wracking process that seems to take forever. I stress that I won’t have enough dough to stretch far enough, then I stress about the decidedly un-round shape my dough is taking, then before I know it, I’ve rolled out too far. So around the time I’m well into my worrying tendencies, I stop to put my pie dish on top of the dough. Then I estimate about two inches around the sides, and tear off the sections that are too long to piece them into the sections that are too short.

pie dish

Once your crust is rolled out, fold it in four to make it easier to lift and place into the pie dish. Use your thinnest scraper to slide underneath the dough.

folded dough

Prick the crust all over lightly with a fork, and pre-bake for 10 minutes. Then layer with cheese, ham, and bacon, and top with asparagus in a spoke pattern.

uncooked quiche

Over this, add egg, half & half, and salt and pepper mixture, then return to oven and bake until brown and set in center, about 40 minutes.

finished quiche

RECIPE – Springtime Quiche

Crust Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
(alt: 1 tsp dried oregano and 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
2 tablespoons cold water

Filling Ingredients:
2 cups (8 oz) cheddar cheese, shredded
6 slices crisply cooked bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cup diced ham
pound fresh asparagus spears
1 1/2 cups half & half
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 375°F.

Combine flour and salt in medium bowl; cut in butter with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in flavorings and water just until flour is moistened (mixture will be crumbly). Shape into ball; flatten slightly. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface into 12-inch circle. Fold into quarters.

Place dough into ungreased 10-inch quiche pan or 9-inch glass pie pan; unfold, pressing firmly against bottom and sides. Trim crust to 1/2 inch from edge of pan. Crimp or flute edge of crust. Prick with a fork and bake for 10 minutes.

Layer cheese, bacon, and ham over crust. Place asparagus spears in spoke pattern on top of bacon.

Combine all remaining filling ingredients in small bowl. Pour over asparagus-cheese mixture. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden and set in center. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm.