Salmon, Creme Fraiche and Peas with Penne

“Mama, WHY are we the only ones who take care of the chickens?” say the girls one morning. (They aren’t but who’s counting.)

“I tell you what, I’ll do the chickens both morning and evening if you cook dinner tonight,” I say with complete certainty that they’ll choose chickens.

“DEAL!” they say.

So then goes the conversation about what they’ll make and how they’ll make it all by themselves. Admittedly, they did ask questions and I did hang around the kitchen to field them, but I didn’t touch a pot or a pair of tongs once.

They served it with asparagus from the garden and even figured out how to use the pasta water to blanch the asparagus. The amounts of the peas and the cheese are approximate as I wasn’t in there measuring, but the creme fraiche and the salmon are exact.

It wasn’t just edible; it was GOOD!

Salmon, Creme Fraiche and Peas with Penne
1 pound package of penne
4 oz. creme fraiche
1 1/2 to 2 cups peas. The girls used frozen, but if you have fresh peas? Heaven.
1 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese. I was skeptical but it was great!
salt and pepper
4 oz. smoked salmon

Asparagus with Lemon
If the asparagus you find is skinnier than what I’ve listed, reduce your blanching time accordingly.
1 bunch thick asparagus (about 3/4-inch diam.)
1/2 lemon
salt and pepper

Cook the pasta for 5 minutes in boiling salted water. Add the asparagus for 4 more minutes. Remove asparagus with tongs to a platter and add the peas to the water for 1 minute. Drain and return to the pasta pot. Add the creme fraiche, cheddar cheese and smoked salmon and stir until the cheddar is melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze half a lemon over the asparagus and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Serve the pasta with the asparagus and a lettuce and vegetable salad.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie

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Salami, Tomato & White Cheddar Strata

StrataStratas are pretty common recipes in my family.  Every brunch, holiday breakfast, wedding shower and funeral seemed to include a strata of some sort.  This recipe, of course, reminds me of home and family, which is perfect as I’m suggesting you use it just as my family has for years – to make your life a little easier.  This recipe is one that I’ve used hundreds of times.  It’s extremely versatile.  You can make it the day before or even bake it ahead and freeze it.  If you are looking to go a little more elegant, use 6 to 8 oz. ramekins for individual servings.

Salami, Tomato and White Cheddar Strata

1 one-pound loaf of French or Italian bread, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter, melted
12 eggs
4 cups milk
4 tablespoons fresh parsley
2 teaspoons dried mustard
4 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
2 cups diced tomatoes
8 oz. sliced salami, cut in half and then in 1/4 inch strips, about 2 cups

Place the bread in the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch pan or equivilant.  Beat the eggs and combine with the rest of the ingredients.  Pour over the bread and bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes. 

For baking ahead and freezing:  follow the above directions and cool to room temperature before covering and freezing.  Freeze for up to one month.  Defrost in the refrigerator and then bake at 325° for 20 minutes or until warmed through.

For baking in ramekins:  follow the above directions and bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes.

Variations
Corn, Bacon and Cheddar – Substitute 12 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled, for the salami and 2 cups of corn kernels, cut from the cob or frozen and defrosted for the diced tomatoes.

Smoked Salmon and Dill – Substitute the bacon with 10 slices of smoked salmon and the 4 t. parsley with 2 teaspoons fresh dill.  Omit the corn.  Lay the salmon over the bread and then pour the egg and milk mixture over.

Salsa and Pepper Jack Cheese – Substitute the 1 cup salsa for the bacon and the pepper jack cheese for the cheddar.

Ham and Boursin – Substitute 1 1/2 cups diced ham for the bacon and 2 cups of boursin for the cheddar cheese.  Omit the corn.  Dot the bread with pats of boursin and then pour the egg and milk mixture over.

Serves 10-12

Chef Annie
Thinking ahead

© 2008 Baggywrinkle Publishing