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Chef Bruce - Rhubarb and Asparagus

Chef Bruce Wood from Bruce's Kitchen on Salt Spring Island always makes me so hungry when we talk. The way the man describes food is magical.

You'll have to hear what he has to say about rhubarb and asparagus!

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Pan roasted asparagus with old Balsamic vinegar, brown butter, prosciutto & organic greens
I love following the edible calendar. As things come into season you eat yourself stupid for a short time and than move on. The idea of eating out of season fruit and vegetables from places like Peru just seems foreign to me. I believe we have spoiled ourselves with the wide availability of anything anytime, and although even I get tired of turnips and carrots at this time of year the anticipation of that first taste of asparagus makes up for it.

One pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
2 tbsp. organic Quebec canola oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 tbsp. good quality balsamic vinegar
4 slices prosciutto or serrano ham, slivered
two handfuls local salad greens
sea salt & freshly milled black pepper

Snap the asparagus stalks and soak the asparagus in cold water for 30 minutes.
Heat a heavy bottomed frying pan until hot, add the canola oil.
Add the asparagus and cook until tender, approx. 4 ~ 5 minutes.
Careful it will hiss and spit a bit.
Remove the asparagus to a plate and keep warm.
Return the pan to the heat and add the butter, when it begins to turn brown add the balsamic vinegar, add the ham and season to taste.
Divide the greens between four salad plates and spoon the asparagus and sauce over top N.B. ~ for a more substantial meal I like to top the asparagus with a soft poached egg and a slice of toast
Salt Spring Chevre & rhubarb clafouti with a rye caramel

Rhubarb is one of the glorious harbingers of spring, With it's first entry into the garden we know that a world of culinary treats are unfolding. The chevre from SSI cheese gives the dish a lovely tang and is better than any cream cheese you can find.

For the chevre custard:

12 ounces soft chevre, such as Salt Spring chevre absolutely fresh
3 tablespoons white sugar
4 large eggs separated
2 teaspoons flour
4 ounces whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

In a bowl cream the chevre with the sugar and vanilla.
Add the egg yolks and beat to combine.
Whisk in the flour and whipping cream.
In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff.
Fold the egg whites into the chevre mixture.
Reserve the mixture.

For the rhubarb:

6 cups fresh rhubarb, thinly sliced
1 cup cane sugar
2 tablespoons minute tapioca

In a bowl combine the rhubarb, tapioca, and sugar and mix to coat the rhubarb.
Allow the mixture to sit while you prepare the chevre custard.

To assemble the clafouti's:

the reserved rhubarb, you can also use berries or cherries in season
the reserved chevre custard
4 biscotti, ground into crumbs
1 tablespoon soft butter

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Rub the inside of six 8 ounce ramekins with the soft butter.
Place some biscotti crumbs in each ramekin and tilt and swirl until the insides are coated with biscotti crumbs.
Combine the rhubarb and chevre custard and divide the mixture between the ramekins.
Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in the pre heated oven.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the custard is brown, puffy and set.
Remove from the oven and serve warm with the caramel and biscotti.

for the caramel sauce ~

1/4 cup raw sugar (demerara or turbinado)
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
one cup whipping crème
one half vanilla bean, split
2 oz. rye whisky

In a large heavy bottomed pot melt the sugar with the butter.
When the sugar has melted add the vanilla bean and carefully add the rye to the mixture it will steam and hiss don't worry.
Add the cream and stir well.
If the sauce is lumpy don't worry continue stirring the sugar will melt and the sauce will become smooth.
Bring to a boil and cook for 3-4 minutes remove from the heat and serve with the clafouti.


Mixed fruit chutney ~ this recipe is incredibly versatile you can use almost any fruit, I have even been known to used tinned fruit in the winter.

one pound fresh rhubarb
6 fresh pears ( preferably Canadian ), peeled and cored
6 apples, peeled and cored
one half cup pitted prunes
1 small red onion 1 piece fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves
one quarter tsp. Ea. dried allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander and cloves
one quarter cup red wine vinegar
one quarter cup maple syrup or brown sugar
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Dice the fruit in one half inch pieces.
Place the peeled onion, garlic and ginger in the work bowl of a food processor with the red wine vinegar.
Blend until smooth.
Place the maple syrup(or sugar), spices, onion/garlic mixture and fruit in a large non-reactive pot.
Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
Cook for 45 minutes or until the mixture is thick and jammy.
Season to taste and pour into hot sterile jars.

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