Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Haskap & Dried Apple Pie

For the first time we picked enough haskap berries to be able to make a pie. Since they are so tart, I decided I would cut them with some apples. Because they are very juicy, I thought it might help if the apples were dried.

This is the first haskap pie I have ever made, and while the results were good and were consumed with enthusiasm, there were some minor points for improvement. I did not add the sugar suggested in the recipe, just the honey, but next time I would. They really are SO SOUR.

The other problem was that it leaked all over. Bake this pie on a tray! This site notes that haskap pie may leak less if the berries are frozen then thawed. Since even with 5 haskap shrubs it took me about a week to accumulate enough berries, that may not be a bad idea. However, the pie was fine with fresh berries - just messy. I used ready-made pie crust for this, which perhaps was not quite as robust as if I had had time to make my own.

People really liked the texture of this pie as well as the flavour - mincemeat was the comparison that kept coming up. Also like mincemeat, it is rich and intensely flavoured. Smaller pieces than usual may be in order. 

8 servings
1 hour prep time; 1 hour bake time

Haskap & Dried Apple Pie

pastry for a double pie; maybe this one

60 grams (2 ounces; 1 cup) dried apples
2/3 cup honey
1/3 cup sugar, OPTIONAL
1/4 cup water
4 cups haskap berries
1/4 cup minute tapioca

Make the pastry and let it rest.

Put the apples, honey, sugar if using, and water into a pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, then cover and let cool.

While the apples cool, wash and pick over the berries. Stir them into the cooled apples, then the tapioca. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Roll out the pastry as described in the recipe, and scrape in the filling. Top with the remaining rolled out pastry, and seal it well. Cut some steam vents and bake the pie for 50 minutes to an hour, until well browned.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Quinoa Salad with Peas & Strawberries

Third salad in a row - no apologies! It is June, after all. We had this with a chicken salad and they went together very well.

Peas and strawberries are now streaming into the kitchen; I don't know for how much longer. It is SOOOO hot and dry out there. Lettuce is rapidly going bitter. Get 'em while you can.

6 servings
20 minutes to cook the peas & quinoa, plus cooling time
20 minutes to assemble the salad

Quinoa Salad with Peas & Strawberries

Cook Quinoa & Peas in Advance:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups shelled peas (about 6 cups before shelling)

Put the quinoa with the water and salt into a rice cooker and cook. Alternatively, put them into a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Let cool.

Shell the peas and blanch them in boiling water for 2 or 3 minutes. Rinse in cold water until cool then drain well.

Both of these can be done up to a day in advance; keep covered in the fridge until needed.

Make the Salad:
2 cups strawberries
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
2 or 3 tablespoons finely minced chives
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds OR sliced hazelnuts or almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sunflower seed oil OR hazelnut or almond oil
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Fluff up the quinoa and put it in a salad bowl with the peas. Wash and hull the strawberries, and cut them in halves or quarters so they are not too much bigger than the peas. Wash, dry, and mince the parsley and chives and add them. Add the sunflower seeds (or nuts) and the dried cranberries.

Drizzle the oil and vinegar over, and season with salt and pepper. Toss well.

Last year at this time I made Haskap Jam

Friday, 17 June 2016

Knight Peas

One pod of Strike, with three pods of Knight peas

As I've mentioned before, we plant 2 beds with determinate peas as early in the spring as we can. They should then produce heavily for 2 weeks in the middle of June, after which they are pulled out and replaced with short season dry beans for the rest of the season. Thus we get 2 crops from 1 bed; well, okay, 2 beds. The peas we have been  using are Strike, which are rated at 55 days to maturity - the fastest pea we know.

This year we planted a section of Knight. Knight is also very early, rated at 59 days to maturity. We thought that since they were that close, they were worth a try. So far though, we are more than 4 days past our first picking of Strike and Knight has only produced a few pods of mature peas (with many more plainly to come). But wow, what pods!

The pods of Knight are almost twice as long as the pods of Strike. (The pod nearest the peony* is a Strike, for comparison.) There aren't twice as many peas though. Eight seems typical, although as they get going I can hope for up to 10. The peas are a little larger, very similar in colour even though Knight as a plant is a pale green all over where Strike is a very deep blue-green. The plants definitely grow longer, and have much denser leaves. They might benefit from some pea sticks, which is a bit of a pain for half-season peas. They are doing alright without any. I found them to be very tasty and tender, and a little sweeter than the Strike. Of course I don't know how they freeze yet.

Knight peas were bred by Dr. Gerald A. Marx at Cornell University in New York state. They should have tolerance to common wilt, powdery mildew (uh huh, we'll see) and some of the mosaic viruses. I can't find an exact date of introduction, but it would have been some time between 1970 and 1988.

There were (are?) a number of older peas with "Knight" included in the name, such as Knight's Dwarf White Champion of England named after a late 18th - early 19th century pea breeder, Thomas Andrew Knight, but as far as I can see this is the only pea which is simply called Knight. Perhaps Dr. Marx named his pea after Thomas Knight.

So far these are good and interesting enough that we hope to continue to grow them. The main question is whether they will be finished by June 30, which is the last possible date... It seems possible, and given their larger size, more peas per pod, and very good flavour I'm really rooting for them. Of course, if you are not double cropping, you can just grow them! In which case they are highly recommended. 

*And the peony is Athelstane in case you wanted to know.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Radish & Blue Cheese Salad

Not too much to say about this; it's a quick and simple salad that plays off the bite and crunch of radishes against the creamy but assertive flavour of blue cheese. 'Tis good.

2 servings
15 minutes prep time

Radish & Blue Cheese Salad

Make the Dressing:
3 tablespoons sunflower seed oil
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Shake together in a small jar or whisk in a bowl.

Make the Salad:
4 cups mixed salad greens
1 small bunch (10 to 12) radishes
6 to 8 small button mushrooms
AND/OR 1 small greenhouse cucumber
60 grams (2 ounces) blue cheese
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds OR pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Wash, trim, and tear or chop up the salad greens. If your radish greens are nice and fresh, you can use some of them as part of the greens. Dry them well and arrange them in salad bowl(s).

Clean, trim and slice the radishes, the mushrooms, and the cucumber. Arrange them over the salad(s), and sprinkle over them the crumbled blue cheese and the sunflower seeds or pepitas. Toss with the dressing.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Still in Pursuit of Dau Miu

I've mentioned before that one of my favourite vegetables is dau miu. I have yet to see any locally grown dau miu, though.

Usually the name is translated as pea shoots. At various times I've been able to buy things labelled pea shoots, but they have not been dau miu. They have been sprouted peas, grown to 4" or 5" in height, then mowed down and used. The leaves are small and the stem is the main stem of the plant; tougher and stringier than you would expect in well-grown dau miu, even at a smaller size.

On a whim I wandered through the garden today, and picked a bunch of the youngest leaflets from my Norli snow peas. These are not really proper dau miu either, since they are not the growing tips of the plants. Unfortunately, if I wanted dau miu I had left it a bit late, as the Norli is starting to flower - I should have been out there a week ago, at least. And of course, I would lose the chance to have snow peas by picking the growing tips.

The resulting vegetable was okay, but still stronger tasting and stringier than proper dau miu. I may have to bite the bullet and order some seed from Agro Hai Tai next year. They sell a pea specially for dau miu. I'm sure I can find some space somewhere! Especially since they would be a quick spring green, finished and out right around now.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Taco Salad

Been a while since there's been a salad around here! This one was a big hit and should be do-able all summer. The tomatoes are greenhouse ones at this stage of the season, but soon there will better ones from the garden.

This is really a meal-in-itself salad, although you could serve it as a side salad, I suppose. In that case I might control access to the corn chips, and sprinkle some crushed ones in with the salad instead of passing them to keep them down to a dull roar. And you didn't hear it from me, but if you don't have pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds, those nasty little fake bacon bits work quite well in their place. Ahem.

Also, don't I usually have a bean salad in the spring? I guess this one is this years, albeit a bit late and a little skimpy on the beans. You can certainly add more if  you want.

4 servings
20 minutes prep time, not including cooking the beans

Make the Dressing:
1 green onion
1 clove of garlic
2 to 4 slices of pickled JalapeƱo pepper
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup or sauce
3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Clean and slice the green onion. Peel and slice the garlic. Put them, with the remaining ingredients, into a blender and blend until very smooth. Scrape out into your serving dish.

This can be done up to a day ahead, and some time for the flavours to blend is not a bad idea.

Make the Salad:
8 cups loosely packed lettuce or mixed salad greens
1 cup cooked, drained beans
1 cup grated old Cheddar cheese
1 medium tomato
1 ripe medium avocado
2 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup salted roasted pepitas or sunflower seeds
corn chips ad lib

Clean and chop the lettuce; wash it well and dry it thoroughly. Arrange it in a salad bowl or individual serving bowls. Spread the beans and the grated cheese evenly over it.

Chop the tomato and avocado fairly finely, and sprinkle them over the salad, along with the cilantro.

Serve; pass the dressing and also a bowl of corn chips. Some people just eat chips with the salad; some will crumble them in; some will pile the salad on the chips like a lettucey dip. You could put the salad in actual taco shells, I suppose, but at that point you might as well cook some ground beef and have tacos.

Monday, 6 June 2016

High Panic Season Garden Post

The last week of May through the first week of June are peak garden crazy for the entire year, so of course I came down with some kind of tummy bug that had me eating a bland diet and sleeping whenever I wasn't out in the garden. Seems to be over though, so let's catch up on what's happening.

Those seeds above are from my treasured yellow-ripening gene watermelon hybrid from last year. This project is already running into a minor snag; the seeds may be very attractive, but they have the hides of rhinoceri. It took a month for them to come up. I got alarmed, and started soaking a few seeds to see if they would germinate. A couple have, and I suspect more may, but they are SO SLOW. Going to have to select against this... but at least they are germinating.

The collection of trays of started plants is starting to noticeably shrink, as we get them planted out. This photo is now out of date, as the brassicas all went in yesterday as did the leeks and shallots.

First couple of trellises are up... I think that means just 5 more to go...

When did Mr. Ferdzy get the time for trellises? He's been working on getting gravel paths down, after no action on that front last year. Progress is really happening! Soon the main central path will be done and that is a landmark. We're finding the paths do need weeding, but compared to the encroaching twitch grass that used to surround everything they are so nice and easy.

The good news is that I do not have to haul gravel. The bad news is that the weeding is pretty much mine, all mine... I am falling behind. What else is new?

Our first 2 beds of peas for freezing are blooming and starting to form pods. I hope we can pull them out by July 1st and replace them with short season beans. They got off to a slow start this year as it was so cool for a while there.

We are trying a new type of pea this year; most of the peas are Strike but one section is Knight, which is also supposed to be ready in the same short time period. So far, they seem to be a couple of days later... which will be okay if they are better peas. Not that the Strike aren't fine; it's just nice to have an alternative.

The garlic is looking excellent. They are planted in alphabetical order which amusingly is also in order of size. Soon we will have scapes.

To facilitate the hauling of tons of gravel (when we, and by we I mean Mr. Ferdzy, are finished with this lot it will be 30 tons; probably about halfway done so I really do mean tons) we splashed out and bought a new wheelbarrow. This is our third. Apparently we are death on wheelbarrows. I have NO idea why. They just don't build things like they useta, etc etc.

Intelligently applied laziness is one of my goals in life, and our brainwave this year was to leave the carrots we want to go to seed in place, and just plant the new crop (beans) around them. Some of the beans don't seem to be coming up but I think it is because they are old. We will find out if this works or if it is all too crowded. The other bed where we did this sort of thing was the tomato bed, where we left a bunch of leeks to go to seed. 


 And in fact, there they are; much more visible than the tomatoes which are still pretty feeble looking. All our starts seemed a bit sub-par this year but as ever once they get into real dirt we expect they will perk up.

Mr. Ferdzy waters; it has been dry dry dry already and much time is being spent watering when we would rather be getting the planting done.

And then, on Sunday if finally rained a decent rain overnight. We got a bonus surprise shower in the evening which was a little funny because it was bright sunshine out at the same time. Between the 2 rainfalls we got 17mm which should allow us to stagger  happily into next week and get the rest of the planting done in the next few days. After that we are off for a week in the Ottawa area to visit Mr. Ferdzy pater, and also my aunt and uncle. Cousins? Maybe.

And then we will be back and it will be the next stage of the garden season, known to me as Weeding, Whacking, and Watering. 

Friday, 27 May 2016

Stracciatella with Sorrel, Spinach, and Shallot Greens

And here is this years installment in my attempt to get people to eat more sorrel. This is probably this years only installment because, believe it or not, I let the perennial herb bed go to weeds and it is being crowded out. I would have supposed it was a bit of a weed itself but apparently no such luck. Anyway, what little I was able to scrounge was absolutely delicious in this soup, along with spinach and some shallot greens. Shallot greens are something that you have to grow your own to get, and that just isn't right. They are so good! But you could use green onions, or even wild leeks if you can get your hot little hands on some.

For a soup that took 15 minutes to make - or even for a more labourious soup - this was delicious. Note that I'm not calling for any salt; I thought the cheese added plenty and if people want more they can add it at the table.

This served the 2 of us for lunch with a sandwich; if I wanted it for a starter to a meal I would add another 3 cups chicken broth, make sure the greens were chopped quite fine, whisk faster, and serve 4. 

2 servings
15 minutes prep time

Stracciatella with Sorrel, Spinach, and Shallot Greens

3 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 1/2 cups lightly packed chopped raw sorrel leaves
1 1/2 cups lightly packed chopped raw spinach leaves
3 green shallots or onions
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put the chicken stock in a 2 quart soup pot, and bring it slowly up to a simmer. Slowly mostly to give you time to wash, trim, and chop the sorrel, spinach, and green onions. Chop the green shallots or onions fairly finely; the greens can be a little coarser.

Break the eggs into a small bowl and whisk the Parmesan cheese into them. Season with a little pepper.

When the chicken stock is simmering, pour the egg and cheese mixture slowly into it, whisking it in as you go. The faster you whisk, the finer the shreds will be. I wanted mine fairly substantial so whisked slowly. Scrape in the last of the egg, and maybe swirl out the bowl with a little of the stock if it is sticking.

As soon as the egg and cheese are in, add the sorrel, spinach, and onion or shallot greens. Mix in well and let simmer for 2 or 3 minutes, then serve.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Leeks & Asparagus

Well, you know how it goes; we ate it all. Still, I hear there are people out there who think 3 spears of asparagus is a serving, so this would serve 4 such people, if you can round them up all at once. Better to serve this to 2 people and if there are any leftovers you could always run them through the food processor, thin them with chicken stock, and reheat it as soup. I think that's pretty theoretical, though.

You will have a hard time finding leeks in the market right now but they may turn up at farmers markets. We have them because we grow our own. We just thinned them out, leaving only the ones chosen to go to seed in the bed. Spring leeks require more trimming than they do in the fall, as the leaves can look a bit ratty. They looked especially ratty this spring, given all the freezing and thawing that went on, but there's still lots of good eating on them. I did see that some of them are starting to form their flower stalks, which are tough and inedible and must be removed. All these things are why they rarely get sold in the spring, but for us they are an excellent vegetable and a little different from the parade of green leafy things that is the rest of the May vegetables. And they go very, very well with asparagus.

I'm saying 3 or 4 leeks which is a bit vague, but basically once your veggie are chopped, both piles should be roughly the same size.

2 to 4 servings
30 minutes prep time

Leeks & Asparagus

3 or 4 leeks
10 to 12 asparagus spears
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 tablespoons soy sauce
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Trim the leeks, and cut them in half lengthwise. Check for the blossom shoot and remove it if it is present. Cut the leeks into 1" pieces, and rinse and drain them well.

Wash and trim the asparagus, and cut each spear into 3 equal pieces. 

Put the butter in a medium sized skillet over medium-high heat. When it is beginning to bubble, add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until they are softened but not browned. Reduce the heat if they show signs of browning.

Add the chicken stock to the leeks and simmer them for another 5 to 10 minutes, until quite soft. Add the asparagus pieces and the soy sauce, cover the pan, and cook for another 5 minutes until the asparagus is just done.

Lift the leeks and asparagus out of the pan with a slotted spoon, and put them in their serving dish. Boil the remaining chicken stock in the skillet rapidly until it reduces to a syrup, and pour it over the leeks and asparagus. Season with a little pepper.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Pork Loin Stuffed with Spinach & Mushrooms

Here is a rather glamourous dish but very simple to make. By far the most laborious part is preparing the spinach. I've actually been making this fairly regularly throughout the past winter, using my own frozen spinach which really made it a cinch.

This is an excellent dish for entertaining, especially as you could prepare it a few hours in advance and keep it in the fridge until the right time to cook it. In that case I would add another 5 minutes or so to the cooking time, but then there is nothing to do but put it in, take it out, slice, and serve. Very low stress to wow-factor ratio. 

4 to 6 servings
1 hour 30 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

Pork Loin Stuffed with Spinach & Mushrooms

8 cups packed raw spinach leaves
8 to 12 button mushrooms
3 medium shallots
3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons bacon fat
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon rubbed savory
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 700 to 900 gram (1 1/2 to 2 pound) pork loin
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
a sprinkle of paprika

Wash and pick over the spinach, discarding any bad bits or tough stems. Drain well, chop, and steam until just limp. Let it cool enough to handle, then squeeze out as much liquid as you can from it, and chop it well.

Clean and chop the mushrooms fairly finely - I slice them one way, then turn and slice the other way. Peel and mince the shallots and the garlic.

Heat the bacon fat in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the shallots until just soft. Add the mushrooms, and cook until they too are softened and reduced. Stir often. Add the garlic and seasonings, and stir for a minute more. Mix in the bread crumbs and the chopped cooked spinach, and remove the pan from the heat. Let cool enough to handle.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the pork loin with a large, sharp knife along the long side, working about 1" from the outside of the roast, to create a spiral cut that opens the loin into a flattenable oval. Lay 3 pieces of kitchen twine on the board you are working on, and lay the roast on top of them so the roast is longest up and down, and the strings run horizontally under it at even intervals. Pile the filling over the loin, covering it to within about an inch of each side. Use the strings to tie it closed into a neat sausage shape. If the long ends are a little pointy, it may be possible to tuck them up to be tied in place - a good thing if so.

Place the stuffed and tied pork loin into a fairly snug roasting dish, and pour the water, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar over it. Sprinkle it with a little paprika. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes at 350°F, then remove the pork loin from the oven, cover it, and let it sit for about 10 minutes before carving and discarding the strings. Once the loin is sliced into serving portions, drizzle any liquid remaining in the roasting pan over them.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Cheesy Rhubarb (or Raspberry) Bread Pudding

Very rich! Very delicious! In spite of being a rather homely bread pudding, this is really something for a special occasion. It's basically bread pudding with gobs of cheesecake in it. It's also kind of big, and easily could be cut in half for a smaller special occasion. 

I did bake mine in 2 pans, because I made one half with rhubarb and the other half with (frozen) raspberries, as Mr. Ferdzy loathes rhubarb. I haven't had a chance to try the raspberry version myself yet, but the noises I was getting were very enthusiastic. The puddings took 50 minutes to bake; the full recipe in one pan will take just a little longer. To make 8 cups of bread cubes, by the way, you will require pretty much a whole loaf of bread. You can trim off the crusts or not, as you like; however you should pick up your loaf of bread from the day-old rack.

Makes 12 servings
1 1/2 hours - 1/2 hour prep time

Cheesy Rhubarb Bread Pudding

Cook the Rhubarb & Prepare the Cheese:
4 cups sliced rhubarb
1 cup sugar
2 cups mascarpone or other soft cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Wash, trim and slice the rhubarb. Put it in a pot with the 1 cup of sugar and simmer until the rhubarb is cooked and at least partially falling apart. Let cool.

Mix the remaining sugar and vanilla extract into the mascarpone or cream cheese.

Make the Pudding:
4 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons sherry
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 cups of cubed stale bread
1 tablespoon butter

Whisk the eggs, sugar, milk, sherry, and salt together in a mixing bowl. Cut the bread into about 1" cubes. Use the butter to grease an 8" x 10" baking pan.

Put half the bread cubes into the pan and spread them out evenly. Dot the cream cheese mixture around by spoonfuls, evenly spaced. Set aside about 1 cup of the stewed rhubarb to use later as a sauce, and drizzle the remaining rhubarb over the bread and cream cheese. Spread the remaining bread cubes evenly over the top. Ladle the egg and milk mixture over the pudding, making sure to soak all the bread cubes.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Put the pudding on a baking tray with sides, and put it in the oven. Pour enough water into the tray to fill it about half an inch deep. Bake for 1 hour.

Serve warm or cool with the extra stewed rhubarb as a sauce.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Chicken, Asparagus & Mushroom Casserole with Wild Rice

A simple dish, but a bit luxurious it has to be admitted. On the other hand, it can be made mostly in advance which makes it great for entertaining.

Wild rice makes it into my diet when I buy a bunch in a fit of recklessness, after which it sits in the cupboard for a year or so while I forget just how much it cost. Then at last I can use it. I hadn't completely forgotten the price though, and I started off with 3/4 of a cup of it. When it was cooked, it looked so skimpy in comparison to the sauce that I mixed in a quarter of a cup of raw buckwheat groats with the cooked rice. I was very nervous but it cooked up nicely and the 2 flavours combined excellently. So you can do that too, if you like; or just cook more wild rice to start with.

Half a pound of asparagus is not nearly enough for 4 people, at least no 4 people that I know, so cook up at least the other half pound, or better another pound, and serve it with the casserole.

4 servings
1 1/2 hours - 1/2 hour prep time
not including cooking the wild rice

Cook the Wild Rice:
1 cup wild rice
and 3 cups unsalted chicken stock or water
2/3 cup wild rice
and 2 cups unsalted chicken stock or water PLUS 1/3 cup buckwheat groats
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put into your rice cooker; cook. This can be done up to a day in advance. Cool and keep refrigerated until needed.

If you wish to cook it in a pot, likewise put it all into a pot - except for the buckwheat if using, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. You will need to watch this more carefully than if you use a rice cooker.

If you wish to use buckwheat as part of this dish it actually gets used in finishing the casserole.

Make the Sauce:
3 or 4 green onions
250 grams (1/2 pound) button mushrooms
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rubbed savory
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups milk
1 cup chicken stock

Wash, trim and chop the green onions. Clean and slice the mushrooms.

Heat the butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and slightly browned. Add the green onions and cook for a minute or so longer. Mix in the flour, salt, savory and pepper. Once it is well in and no white spots remain visible, mix in the milk and the chicken stock. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. 

Finish the Casserole:
250 grams (1/2 pound) asparagus
4 small skinless boneless chicken breasts
OR 8 small skinless boneless chicken thighs.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Wash, trim, and cut the asparagus into 1" pieces. Blanch it by pouring boiling water over it, in a colander in the sink, or drop it into boiling water for 1 minute. Drain well. Mix it into the sauce. Mix the cooked wild rice into the sauce as well. If you are using buckwheat as part of the recipe, mix it in now as well -  yes, raw.

Pour most of the sauce into an 8" x 10" shallow baking (lasagne) pan. Nestle the chicken pieces into it, then pour the rest of it over the top. Spread it out so the rice/buckwheat is all down in the sauce. Bake for 1 hour.