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Welcome to April, with its showers, occasional shivers and promising sunshine. And here come the questions.

Some very prolific hens in a certain neighborhood produced enough eggs for the whole block, and that left One Neighbor searching her recipe box. "I am missing a recipe that I believe had only three ingredients: a dozen eggs, canned green chilies and cheese. There may have been milk or cream as well. It was suggested for a brunch dish. Can anyone help me?"

Here's a repeat request for the best wire whisks, including flat whisks. And how about telling us your indispensable kitchen gadget or gadgets? (For Easter dinner at our house, it was the potato ricer.)

If you have been to Camden, South Carolina, and eaten at The Loopy Lemon café, you might have a tip for how to make the soup a former Chattanoogan requested. If not, perhaps you can help her figure out how to prepare something similar. She wrote, "Their soup of the day was a zucchini, pea and basil soup garnished with green chili oil and goat cheese. The vegetables and basil were puréed, I assume, because it was creamy. Must have also had cream."

Doesn't that sound delicious, and copy-worthy? And can you help?

 

FESTIVE CASSEROLE

Betsy Alderman's chicken casserole is special-occasion-ready, with the addition of mushrooms and a whole pound of cream cheese.

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

1 cup butter (do not substitute margarine)

2 cups fresh broccoli (florets only), chopped

2 cups diced celery

1 cup diced onions

1/4 cup diced green pepper

8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 1/4 pounds cooked chicken

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1 pound cream cheese

In melted butter, sauté vegetables until tender. Add meat and seasonings. Add cream cheese to mixture, and blend over low heat until melted.

Pour mixture into a buttered casserole dish, and heat in the oven at 350 degrees until top is golden brown. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

 

AVOCADO TOAST

You first read Fare Exchange recipes from Bob Bires when his wife, Robin Miller, shared favorites from her husband's cookbook. Since then he has expanded that culinary compendium to Instagram, where he is Robert Bires, cook_with_bob.

The intriguing tagline, which seems to mark the contributions many of you make to Fare Exchange as well, is "simple ways to make good food, using what you probably have."

Avocado toast is a recent example, recommended as a workday breakfast.

"The expensive restaurant trend has cooled down; the idea is still a great one. It's not guacamole on a slice of bread." Here is his current — and yes, simple — version.

Bob's Avocado Toast

Good-quality multigrain bread without preservatives, toasted (like eight-grain from Whole Foods)

1/2 very ripe avocado

Olive oil

Fresh orange juice

Salt

Pepper

Hot sauce

While the bread is toasting, make the avocado spread — and it should be mostly avocado.

Mash together the filling ingredients, and spread on toast. This is a quick, on-the-go filling that is nutritious and provides salt, fat, acid, heat and crunch.

P.S. Two of Mr. Bires' readers recommended additions: a little goat cheese and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds.

 

FAVORITE QUICHE

It's hard not to think of food constantly when one is on a diet. So it is with D.K.G., who is a couple of weeks into the Optavia diet.

He is a man who likes to share food and share meals, so of course, he has been making quiches. He tries a different recipe every few days and exports generous slices to loved ones — after taking a very small testing taste himself. The first one, and still the favorite of recipients, is this one.

Clark's Quiche

1/2 pound thick-sliced bacon

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, finely diced

2 cups finely diced smoked ham

1 (8-ounce) container sour cream

Salt and pepper to taste

2 (9-inch) unbaked pie crusts

8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded

4 ounces parmesan cheese, grated

8 eggs

1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream

1 tablespoon dried parsley

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside. Cook spinach according to package instructions. Allow to cool, then squeeze dry.

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions until soft and translucent. Stir in mushrooms, and cook for 2 minutes or until soft. Stir in ham and cooked bacon. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine spinach, sour cream, salt and pepper. Divide, and spread into pie crusts. Layer with bacon mixture. Mix together Monterey Jack, cheddar and parmesan, and sprinkle over pies. Whisk together eggs, half-and-half and parsley. Season with additional salt and pepper, and pour over pies.

Place pies on baking sheet, and bake on middle shelf in preheated oven for 40 minutes. The top will be puffed and golden brown. Remove from oven, and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.

Makes 16 servings.

 

CAULIFLOWER STEAKS

A.H.L. added this recipe to our ongoing discussion of healthful foods. "I found it on Serena Wolf's blog (domesticate-me.com), and it works for my family of mostly vegetarians, including kids."

Roasted Cauliflower Parmesan

2 large heads cauliflower

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced

1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed pepper

Kosher salt

1/4 cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1 1/3 cups Prego Farmers' Market tomato and basil sauce

1 (4-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced into 8 rounds

Fresh basil leaves for serving (optional)

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil. (The foil is optional, but will make for much easier cleanup.)

Prep your cauliflower "steaks." Remove any leaves, and trim the stem end of the cauliflower heads, making sure to leave the cores intact. Using a large, very sharp knife, slice two 1-inch thick "steaks" from the center of each head of cauliflower. Reserve the outer slices for another use. (The outer slices will likely crumble into florets, which is why you want to use the sturdy center slices for this recipe.) Carefully transfer the cauliflower steaks to the prepared baking sheet.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper and a good pinch of kosher salt. Brush this mixture on both sides of each steak.

Transfer the cauliflower to the oven, and roast for 20 minutes. Carefully flip the "steaks," and roast for another 20 minutes until tender and golden brown.

In a bowl, combine the panko and parmesan. Briefly set aside.

Heat the broiler on high.

Top each cauliflower steak with 1/3 cup of Prego Farmers' Market tomato and basil sauce and 2 mozzarella rounds. Transfer to the broiler, and broil until the cheese is just melted and starting to bubble, 1-2 minutes.

Remove the cauliflower from the broiler, and sprinkle with the panko mixture. Return to the broiler just until the breadcrumbs are nicely browned. This will happen quickly (I'm talking 30-60 seconds, people), so keep watch.

Serve immediately garnished with fresh basil (if using).

Thanks to all, and do come back.

 

REQUESTS

* Mystery brunch dish

* Best wire whisks

* Indispensable kitchen gadgets

* Loopy Lemon's soup

 

TO REACH US

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750

Email: chattfare@gmail.com

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Jane Henegar
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