Easter! A day of joy! A day of celebration! That’s why we have been planning a festive Easter Sunday brunch this year. And that’s why we have been experimenting with a number of fresh new ideas to make this an uplifting meal of praise and thanksgiving that will set the tone for the week ahead.
One of the new dishes we put together is a colorful asparagus fritatta. This starts with a tasty potato and onion crust that is filled with a mixture of eggs, cheese, and bacon bits, and then topped with fresh asparagus spears, strips of zucchini, and colorful peppers. To dress it up we garnished it with a couple of crisp bacon curls. We were very pleased with its appearance and we loved its combination of flavors. It is definitely now on our menu, and I am almost certain once it has made its debut in the convent on Easter Sunday it will return for many repeat performances in the days ahead — not only as a brunch or breakfast dish, but as a lovely spring lunch or light supper.
Festive Asparagus Frittata
- Drizzle oil over the base of a 9 inch quiche dish, then spread with onions and top with potato slices.
- Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes or until potato is tender.
- Steam asparagus until tender.
- Arrange asparagus spears and red pepper and zucchini strips like the spokes of a wheel onto top of potato, then pour over eggs and season with black pepper to taste.
- Scatter with Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until frittata is firm.
Stamping the snow off of my boots I came into the convent from the windy cold outdoors. As I shed my coat, I thought “Nothing could be more comforting than the warmth of being indoors right now.” But then I entered the refectory where I was met with something else even more comforting. It was the unmistakable aroma of one of our favorite meals, simmering in the skillet. Cooked with just the right combination of spices and seasonings, few, if any can resist this Southwestern chili especially on a chilly night like this.
As mealtime arrived the Sisters all gathered in the dining room where a glowing fire crackled in the fireplace. Each of us had a bowl of chili with our own favorite choice of toppings. Nothing could have warmed our hearts or satisfied our pallets more. We ate our meal with gladness and gave God thanks for all His many, many blessings to us.
Make-ahead note: The flavors continue to develop as the chili sits, so go ahead and make it up to 2 days in advance and refrigerate it in a container with a tight-*fitting lid. It can also be frozen for up to 1 month.
- Sauté the vegetables, ground beef, and spices, then put the mixture into the Crockpot or covered skillet along with tomatoes and kidney beans. Simmer until it’s thickened and has a nice beefy flavor, and then stir in jalapeños. We like this served with cornbread.
- To use dried beans in place of canned, start with 1 cup dried beans, soaked and cooked to yield 3 cups.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and bell pepper, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin, stir to coat the vegetables, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ground beef and measured salt and cook, breaking the meat into small pieces, until the beef is browned, about 7 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker or covered skillet, add the diced tomatoes and their juices, tomato sauce, and beans, and stir to combine. Cover and cook on lowest possible heat until the chili thickens and the flavors meld, adding small amounts of the beer and coffee as needed to keep mixture from sticking. Stir in the jalapeños or green chiles. Taste and season with salt as needed.
Sometimes color can be almost as important as flavor in producing a successful recipe. That is one of the reasons I find so much joy in using fresh garden vegetables, whether they are cooked into the dish or simply used as a garnish or an accompaniment. Fresh herbs can also enhance an otherwise plain or ordinary entrée.
Right now our gardens are rich with a profusion of healthy herbs — so lush and fragrant that when I am in the midst of them I understand why Paddington, the cat, would often lie right down and roll around in a bed of them. I love to keep a collection of freshly picked herbs in front of me on the kitchen counter where I can bury my face in them from time to time and remember to include them in whatever I may be cooking.
Today I am making savory herbed chorizo chicken breasts using both garden vegetables and herbs to notify both the eye and the palette.
Savory Herbed Chorizo Chicken
4 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
½ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup Mexican pork chorizo, casings removed
¼ cup sliced onion
2 tablespoons diced carrot
¼ cup diced yellow bell pepper
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
¼ cup white wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
- Sprinkle chicken with ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper.
- Coat pan with cooking spray.
- Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done.
- While chicken cooks, heat a large skillet over medium – high heat.
- Add chorizo; cook 1 minute, stirring to crumble.
- Add remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, onion, and carrot; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add bell peppers; cook 1 minute or until crisp-tender.
- Add wine, cook 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.
- Spoon chorizo mixture over chicken; top with cilantro or any choice of fresh herbs ( rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage)