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Quiche – Back with a Vengence!

March 9, 2010

Quiche became fashionable in the 1970s, contemptible in 1980s and now, in my humble opinion, it’s back and better than ever!  I like to make quiche when we’re having guests spend the night so we have a ready-made breakfast for the morning.  It also makes a great light lunch or dinner.  Today’s recipe is for my Arugula and Bacon Quiche.  I am obsessed with arugula, I love it in salads, on sandwiches, in pasta, as a side dish sautéed with garlic and lemon, I could go on and on.  If you’re a regular at my table you better learn to love arugula, ha!  Now if you’re not a fan of arugula (what is wrong with you?) you can feel free to substitute any leafy green (spinach, swiss chard, etc) but you won’t get the same peppery bite.  Also, this is not baking (ok I admit technically you’re gonna bake it) so use this recipe as an outline and substitute at will; any meat/seafood, any cheese, any veg…the combinations are endless.  So let’s begin. (As always, find recipe written in standard form at the bottom)

Like I’ve said before, I’m not a big fan of baking.  When making quiche I always use store-bought, deep dish pie shells.  Who has the time to make pastry from scratch?  And to be perfectly honest, the few times I bothered to make it from scratch I didn’t find it to be any better than frozen store-bought.  So step 1, pre-bake shell according to package directions and set aside.

 

Cook 5 slices of bacon. 

(hint: I cook bacon in the oven on a parchment lined baking sheet, it doesn’t splatter like it does on the stove top and therefore your cleanup consists only of throwing away the parchment.  Place bacon in a cold oven and set for 400 degrees, this way the bacon will heat up with the oven and will stay flat, won’t twist and curl.  You’ll have to ask a scientist to explain why but it works.  By the time your oven is done preheating your bacon will be done.)

While bacon is cooking chop up 1 lg shallot.  (hint: place shallot, or any onion, in freezer for 2 minutes prior to chopping, and you won’t have to worry about crying) Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté shallots until tender, about 2 minutes.  Be sure to season each layer with a little salt and pepper.

Add approx. 6 cups of arugula to pan and cook until just wilted, about 1 min.  This may seem like an enormous amount but it will shrink down to next to nothing.

Place shallots and arugula in pre-baked, deep dish pie shell.

Crumble bacon over shallots and arugula.

Whisk together 4 lg eggs (room temperature), 1 cup half and half (also room temperature), 1/4 teaspoon dried leaf thyme, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and 1 tsp kosher salt. 

Pour into shell.

Top with 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

Place on a baking sheet on middle oven rack in 350 degree oven for 35 minutes.

Enjoy!!!

 

Arugula and Bacon Quiche

1 deep dish pie crust 9”
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lg shallot, chopped (1/3 cup)
6 cups arugula
5 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 large eggs
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Pre-bake shell according to package directions.  Cook bacon.  Heat a skillet over medium heat sauté shallots until tender, about 2 minutes. Add arugula and sauté until just wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Sprinkle arugula mixture, then bacon over crust. Whisk cream, eggs, thyme, salt and pepper in large bowl to blend. Pour mixture into crust. Top with cheese.

Bake quiche until filling is slightly puffed and golden, about 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Cut into wedges.

Most Requested!

February 13, 2010

I make hummous quite often.  It makes a great appetizer, snack, sandwich spread or light lunch.  It is, by far, my most requested recipe.  It is creamy and earthy, yet light and refreshing.  When using a food processor it only takes minutes to make…so easy! (As always, find recipe written in standard form at the bottom)

First throw 2 garlic cloves and about 1 tsp of kosher salt in a food processor.  Using the blade attachment, process until garlic is minced.

Next throw in all the rest of your ingredients. (hint: make sure the tahini is room temperature)
Process until smooth.
That’s it, you’re done!

Now this is a recipe that I make a little different every time.  First off, I never measure anything, I just eyeball it and secondly I vary the ingredients.  Mostly I use 1 lemon and 1 lime for the citrus juice but sometimes I substitute orange juice for one or both or go all lemon or all lime.  If I want it to be lighter and less earthy I’ll substitute regular paprika for the smoked paprika and cut back on the cumin, maybe add some citrus zest.  If you don’t want a spicy kick leave out the hot sauce and use sweet smoked paprika or regular paprika instead of the hot smoked paprika. If you like it thicker add a little more tahini, thinner a little more olive oil. It’s very difficult to mess this one up!

Serve at room temperature with assorted crackers, chips, pitas and or veggies!  (hint: it tastes best if made a day ahead of time)

Citrus Hummous with a Kick

2 cloves garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
1 (19 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup citrus juice (the juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime)
1/2  tsp – 1 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp – 1/2 smoked paprika (hot or sweet)
a few shots of hot sauce

Add garlic and salt to food processor, pulse until garlic is minced.  Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth.  Serve with assorted crackers, chips or veggies.

Tapas Party!

February 9, 2010

I love having dinner parties but when the guest list hits a number that doesn’t comfortably fit around the table for a sit down meal I move on to a menu of tapas.  Such was this past Saturday.  I like to mix and match with tapas,  some cold dishes, some hot…some meat, some seafood, some veggie…some made ahead, some made during the party.  The menu this time was:

  • Hummous
  • Roasted Vegetable Terrine
  • Chile Garlic Prawns
  • Sausage Bites with Apple and Sage
  • Assorted Chips, Crackers and Bread
  • Dessert Platter

In today’s post we will make the Roasted Vegetable Terrine.  (As always, find recipe written in standard recipe form, at the bottom.) You can use any vegetables you like, I chose to go with Swiss Chard, Asparagus, Japanese Eggplant, Zucchini and Red Peppers.  I started by roasting the red peppers.  Now my way of “roasting” red peppers may be considered a little unorthodox but that’s the way I roll.  I roast my red peppers with a crème brûlée torch, I find it faster and easier.  And I have more control to evenly brown.

You can get the same results with your broiler.  You’re looking to brown the skin on all sides, not char and then immediately throw into a sealable bag and allow the steam to build up.  After about 15 minutes or so (when cool enough to handle) remove the peppers and rub them with the back of your knife and the brown and blistered skins should easily slip away.  Then just pull out the stalk and deseed.

Next I prepared the asparagus and japanese eggplant. 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Slice the zucchini and eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. Throw the slices into a bowl, season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and toss with just enough olive oil to coat.

 

Spread the slices out on parchment paper (see I told you I use it everyday) lined cookie sheets.

Roast in preheated oven until soft, about 15 minutes.  Lastly you want to prep the swiss chard and asparagus for blanching. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Trim the stalks out of the swiss chard leaves.

Measure the length of the terrine (or you could use a loaf pan) and trim asparagus to fit.

Blanch the swiss chard leaves for one minute followed by the asparagus for about 2 min and immediately throw into a bowl of ice water.  This will not only stop the cooking but help them retain their bright colours!

Now we’re ready to assemble the terrine.  First line the terrine with plastic wrap, overhanging the sides.

Next lay the swiss chard so it covers the bottom, sides and overhangs enough to be wrapped up and over the top once all the layers are in.  Then start layering your veggies in whatever order you like, I started with the red peppers.

Then the zuchinni.

Asparagus.

Eggplant.

Next will be the centre layer and in my opinion the best one…a layer of goat cheese with herbs and garlic…yum!  Obviously have this at room temperature to make spreading easier. 

Now repeat all the veggie layers and then wrap the swiss chard over the top and wrap the plastic wrap over that.

Top with a piece of cardboard wrapped in aluminum foil.  Place a brick or something equally heavy on top of the terrine and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.   I used a piece of marble on top of a glass dish. 

It will compress to less than half its height.  Slice with a very sharp knife and serve at room temperature.  Enjoy!

 

Roasted Vegetable Terrine 

2 red bell peppers, roasted, cored, seeds and skins removed
1 japanese eggplant, stem and bottom ends trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 zucchini, stem and bottom ends trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper, freshly ground
8 swiss chard leaves, stems removed, then blanched
14 stalks of asparagus, trimmed to fit, then blanched
10 ounces herb and garlic goat cheese, room temperature

Preheat broiler on high. 

Place red peppers directly on oven rack and roast, turning frequently.  When evenly brown on all sides remove from oven and immediately place in sealable bag.  Allow to steam for 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle.  Remove the peppers and rub them with the back of your knife and the brown and blistered skins should easily slip away.  Pull out the stalk and deseed. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Toss the eggplant and zucchini slices in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Arrange in a single layer on the sheets. Roast until soft, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of slated water to the boil. Blanch the swiss chard, 1 minute. Remove the leaves and immediately place in ice cold water to set their colour. Gently lay on tea towels, and pat dry with another tea towel. They should not have any water on them for the next step.  Repeat process with the asparagus, blanching for 2 minutes.

Line a 6-cup terrine with plastic wrap, overhanging the sides. Arrange the swiss chard over the bottom and up the sides, overlapping the leaves to completely cover the terrine. They should overhang the sides of the terrine. Top with thin layers of red bell pepper, zucchini, asparagus and eggplant.  Spread a layer of the goat cheese mixture on top of the eggplant, and repeat the layering with the remaining vegetable slices. Bring the overhanging swiss chard slices up over the terrine. Wrap the terrine with the plastic wrap. Place a brick or heavy pot on top of the terrine and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

Remove the terrine from the refrigerator. Remove the weight and unwrap. Slice with a very sharp knife and serve at room temperature.

 

For The Love Of Lemons!!!

February 5, 2010

I am not a baker!  Don’t get me wrong I can bake, I just don’t like to.  Baking requires that you stick to the recipe, the measurements…basically baking is like colouring between the lines and I’m an outside of the lines kind of gal!

But fear not, I’ve come up with a cake recipe that works every time whether I measure or just eyeball it, whether I mix up the ingredients list or not!  Oh and did I mention it is delicious!!!!  My husband asks for this over and over and over.  I call it Citrus Yogurt Cake and I’ve made it with lemons, limes, oranges, etc.  I’ve added nuts, chocolate chips, you name it…this is one versatile cake.  It is similar in density to a pound cake yet somehow still light and spongy and oh so moist! 

Today’s version is a basic lemon.  Now here is where I could go off about lemons, one of my top 5 ingredients for sure and a staple in my kitchen.  I use lemons everyday, no exaggeration.  But I digress.  (Again find recipe, written in standard recipe form, at the bottom.)  So here’s how we do….

First take all your ingredients out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature.  I may not be big on baking but I know the tricks and this is the big one.  Always, ALWAYS bring your ingredients to room temperature when baking.  It’s the biggest reason baking recipes don’t turn out! Next turn your oven on to 350 degrees to get preheating, this cake comes together uber fast.  In fact it is so quick and easy I can’t even be bothered to use my stand mixer. 

Next butter and grease a loaf pan.

Grab a bowl and sift together 1 1/2 cups of flour and 2 tsps of baking powder.  Don’t skip this step or your cake might be lumpy and gross, in fact don’t ever skip this step in any recipe that calls for sifting.  If you are going to use unsalted butter add 1/2 tsp of kosher salt in here too.  Personally I don’t bake enough to be bothered buying unsalted butter. 

Now grab another bowl and whisk together 1 cup (hint: 1/2 a large container) of yogurt (flavour of your choice, this is where you can really get into mixing and matching, today I used organic vanilla), 1 cup of sugar, 3 eggs, 1 tsp real vanilla extract (or mix it up and try almond extract, etc) and 2 tsps citrus zest (hint: the zest of 2 lemons).

Now here is where I could go on and on about how everyone needs a good rasp in their kitchen tools collection but I won’t, lol! 

Ok now pour the dry ingredients into the wet ones and whisk slowly just until combined.  Melt 1/2 cup of butter and add, again mix just until combined. 

Why, you ask, does the butter go in last…well if it’s too hot and you add to the wet ingredients you run the risk of scrambling the eggs and if you add to the dry ingredients you’ll likely get a lumpy mess.  But add it to the mix and all is well with the world. 

 

It may seem wet for a cake mix but I assure you it’s not.  Ok so now just pour it into your buttered and floured pan.

Throw in the oven for about 1 hr or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

While the cake is baking make the simple syrup to go on top.  Simple syrup is equal parts sugar and “water” heated just until the sugar dissolves and the liquid is clear.  In this case the liquid is lemon juice. 

So in a saucepan combine 1/3 cup of sugar with 1/3 cup of lemon juice (hint: the juice of one large lemon) and cook over low heat just until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Do not walk away while making this, if left to heat too long it will turn into caramel!  Set aside.

When the cake is done, remove from oven and allow it to cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.

Flip out on a plate and stab it all over with a skewer, this helps the syrup flavour get right down into the cake not just sit on top. 

While the cake is still warm, pour the syrup over the cake and allow it to soak in. I flip the cake all around and pour all over to get it evenly distributed throughout.  And voila….

While it is good still warm I actually prefer it when it’s a day or two old, my husband however prefers it when it is in his stomach, so it rarely makes it to day two!
 

  

Citrus Yogurt Cake

Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs
1 cup yogurt
1 cup sugar
2 tsp citrus zest (2 lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup melted butter

Syrup
1/3 cup freshly squeezed citrus juice (1 lg lemon)
1/3 cups sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan.
Sift together the flour and baking powder into a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, 1 cup sugar, citrus zest, and vanilla. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Add the melted butter into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Flip out onto a plate and perforate all over with a skewer.  While the cake is still warm, pour the syrup over the cake and allow it to soak in.

Laying Around!

February 3, 2010

Let’s start out easy….with soup!  I love soup and I always make my own, I don’t think people realize how simple soup is to make! I find that most of my inspiration lays in what I have laying around.  This one certainly did.  I had bought a bunch of celery for a recipe that only required 1 rib and I thought to myself, what am I going to do with the rest of it.  After an examination of what else I had laying around I decided on Celery and Pear Soup.    So here is what I did…. (Find recipe, written in standard recipe form at the bottom.)

First, I can’t stress enough how important it is to prep all your ingredients!  Personally, I’m not big on measuring ingredients (unless I’m baking) but I certainly am big on having everything washed, sliced, chopped and minced before I start cooking.  I started by throwing some olive oil and butter into a dutch oven over medium heat, I like to combine the two because I like the flavour of butter (who doesn’t?) and the olive oil has a higher smoking point and keeps the butter from burning.  Once heated I threw in the onions and seasoned with salt and pepper (salt helps the onion break down more quickly).  And let the onions go a min or two. Next I threw in the celery, green onions and thyme and again seasoned with salt and pepper. Big tip here – season every layer!

 

Then I threw on the lid and let it cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Once everything was soft and translucent I added the stock and brought to a boil over high heat.

Then I let it simmer, on low and uncovered for about 10 minutes.  Next I threw in the pears and let it go another 10 minutes or so, until the pears were soft. 

Then I puréed in the blender in batches.

 

Threw it back in the pot and added the cream.

Gave it a good stir and let it heat through over low heat.  And voila….

We had some leftover Jalapeno Bread so I made some Crostini to go with the soup for dinner.  Tip – don’t ever throw out day (or two) old bread, crostini takes minutes to make, has many, many uses and is delicious!  For those who don’t know the ways of the crostini here’s what I did….

Thinly slice bread.

Brush with a little olive oil.

Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. 

Sidebar - here is where I could go on and on about the virtues of parchment paper, I use it everyday!  If you don’t use parchment paper go buy some right now, you’ll never again understand how you lived without it!  Ok now back to the cooking…

Place in a 425 degree oven for about 10 min, flip half way through cooking.  And you have crostini….

 

Celery and Pear Soup

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
5 cups chopped celery
4 onions sliced
1/4 cup chopped green onion tops
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
6 cups chicken stock
3 ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup 10% cream

In dutch oven heat olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add onions, celery, green onions, thyme, salt and pepper and cook covered for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally,  until softened and translucent.

Add stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until celery is very tender.   Add pears and cook for 10 minutes or until pears are tender.

In batches, purée in blender. Return to saucepan, pour in cream and heat through without boiling.

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