it was just a day for quiche

23127011015_b6198c483e_o (1)I just felt like making a quiche and I had made a ham a few days ago, so I pulled out one of my Smithfield Barn vintage pie plates and away we went. And by the way, spend the money to make your quiche with Swiss and Gruyere cheeses…it makes a world of difference.

Here is what I made (my recipe):

Quiche with Ham and Portobello Mushrooms

6 large eggs

¾ cup evaporated milk

1 large shallot

1 small onion

1 8 oz package of baby Portobello or crimini mushrooms sliced thin

2 tablespoons butter

1 deep dish pie plate and one pie crust (I make my own crust or buy refrigerated pie dough in a pinch – don’t like frozen pie crusts)

2 ½ cups shredded cheese – half Swiss and half Gruyere

About 2 cups of minced up ham

Worcestershire sauce

Tabasco sauce

 

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Sauté onion, shallot, mushrooms and ham in 2 tablespoons of butter. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.quiche fixings
  3. Beat eggs in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add milk and mix well. Add a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco.22708578528_dd9d321aaa_z22708494837_30b4350096_z
  5. Place sautéed mixture into pie crust. Then cheese. Finally pour milk and eggs mixture over top.
  6. Place quiche on a baking sheet and bake on the middle oven rack for 15 minutes at 400°, and then reduce heat to 350° and bake another 30-32 minutes.23127011385_63dc503a55_z

When toothpick or knife comes out of quiche clean, it’s done. Allow to cool at least 25 minutes before serving.

 

Enjoy!

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new spin on summer salad staple

 So bean salad is a summer staple. One bean, two bean, three bean and more.

I decided to change it up. I took half a bag each of Goya dried navy beans and pinto beans yesterday and put them in to soak with salt and water overnight. I then cooked them according to directions on their packaging this morning.

While the beans were cooling I minced three large cloves of garlic, chopped fine one large red onion, chopped one fresh red bell pepper, peeled and chopped one fresh cucumber, and tossed into a bowl.

To that bowl I added salt and pepper to taste, 3 tablespoons of white table sugar , a bunch of fresh dill chopped, and a third of a cup of Italian flat leaf parsley chopped.

I mixed the salt and pepper, herbs and spices, along with the vegetables and drizzled olive oil and rice wine vinegar and red wine vinegar over the top of it and stirred some more.  I always add more vinegar than oil to bean salads.

I should’ve measured exactly how much oil and vinegar but I didn’t I’m sorry- you want basically enough that your salad gets coated and sort of pickled  but not enough that it swimming in dressing.

Last but not least I tossed in the beans which I had drained and mixed everything together, as well as adjusted for salt and pepper. I will now chill the salad down until this evening but it looks beautiful and tastes terrific!

simple summer suppers

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When the wether gets warm I like things like simple and fresh pasta salads for supper. So that’s what I’m having this evening and it couldn’t have been easier to make.

I got some beautiful vegetables at the Thornbury Farm CSA Saturday including what I like to call lollipop, or large spring onions and fresh snap peas. I already had some beautiful bright sweet bell peppers in the refrigerator at home and a lot of herbs in my garden and some celery.

All I did was cook a bag of regular frozen cheese tortellini, boil up a couple boneless skinless chicken breasts, steamed my snap peas, chopped up the other vegetables, and tossed together with a honey-herb-mustard vinaigrette that I made. The main herb in the vinaigrette (which also had garlic and a shallot in it ) was fresh dill, but I also to the salad added chopped fresh fennel tops, fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, and basil.

Summer dinners are meant to be easy!

another recipe for the pasta coma category…

pasta coma just made this up….yesterday.  I am sure many people do something similar, but this is all me:

Ragu of Pork and Veal

In a large Dutch oven, sauté one large sweet onion and one medium-sized regular onion cut into very thin rings.

Sauté in a few healthy tablespoons of olive oil and include four cloves of garlic
minced (I just pour oil in the bottom of the pan until it looks right, but not an elephant’s foot bath.)

Add oregano, and basil. A little marjoram. And kosher salt to taste.

When almost at the point of caramelization, add 1/3 cup good balsamic vinegar.

Allow vinegar to mostly cook off, leaving a darkish sauce in the bottom.

Add to this two grated carrots, two fresh bay leaves, and 6 ounces of chopped baby Bella mushrooms.

Next add one package of ground veal.

Add one package of ground pork.

(Both should be no more than a pound.)

yumAs the meat cooks down and browns slightly (ground veal and pork do not brown like ground beef), add one-third of a cup of 2% milk or half-and-half. large

Allow the milk solids to cook off as if you would with a Bolognese sauce, and when all simmered and brown and delicious, add two 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes. One can should contain purée.  (And buy good tomatoes – it does make a difference.)

pasteAdd one small can of tomato paste. (6 oz)

Cook on medium low for about 15 minutes or until it starts to gently bubble up from bottom

Adjust salt and pepper, add rough chopped fresh basil and Italian flat leaf parsley to taste. (for me that means a fistful – love both)

Simmer on very low for a couple of hours

Cook spiral pasta, as in the spiral shaped pasta that is called cavatappi. You can cavatappi_nudoalso use ziti.

Cook pasta according to directions and drain. Do not rinse

Get out your giant pasta serving bowl and ladle some of the sauce into the bottom. Next add on top of that sauce a third of the pasta you cooked – I cook the whole 16 ounce box.

On top of pasta add a healthy sprinkling of shredded Italian cheese – I like the six cheese Italian blend

Ladle more sauce on top, and repeat the layers twice more.

Top off with a little more sauce and cheese and some more fresh parsley.

Served with a salad, pasta coma guaranteed.

risotto with caramelized onions, chicken, and mushrooms

photo5I love risotto.  It takes a bit of time to do it right, but so worth it.  Here is a recipe I have been doing for years.  It has lived in my head because the impetus for it came from one I ate growing up that came out of our family kitchen and not a cookbook.  Intuitive memory cooking if you will. Hope you can follow.

Gently simmer 5 1/2 cups of chicken broth covered on low on the stove. ( I make my own stock incidentally. I find it easier)

Take a smallish sauté pan and cut up into thin rings one medium regular onion and one medium sweet onion and three cloves of garlic (minced).  Toss into a panphoto7 with 4 tablespoons of butter, a pinch or two of sea salt and swirl around and cook until nearly caramelized over medium-low heat.

Add 2 cups of sliced baby bella mushrooms – and yes cut your own, don’t buy pre-sliced. Add 2 medium ribs of celery minced. Add 2 medium grated carrots.  Allow it to cook down.  Remove pan from heat and just move to corner of stove.

I had leftovers from a chicken I roasted, so next I cut up the cooked chicken (skin-photo6free) into bite sized pieces.  I think about 2 cups, maybe a smidgen more.

O.k. now the fun part.  Pull out a large fry pan and put a few tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom.  Add the 1 1/2 cups of uncooked abrorio rice. Stir around on lowish heat until rice grains are translucent.  Add 1/2 cup of rosé wine (NOT white zinfindel – YUCK!), stir around until rice absorbs wine over medium-low heat.

photo2Now start ladling in your simmering chicken broth, one cup at a time.  Last night I only used 5 cups of broth, but sometimes I use 5 /12. The broth needs to be absorbed ONE cup at a time into the rice.  If you just dump all the broth in your risotto will be mushy, gluey and gross.photo4

When you hit the 3rd cup of broth almost ready for the 4th add in the sautéed onions and veggies.

photo1Half way through the 4th cup of broth being absorbed, toss in the chicken. Also toss in a few pinches of tarragon, basil, and oregano.

After you add the final broth and it is almost all absorbed, stir in 1/2 cup of grated parmesan or grated romano cheese. Stir in 1/3 cup rough chopped flat leaf Italian parsley five minutes before serving.

The whole add broth process takes about 30 to 40 minutes. I hope I have not left photo3anything out….again….have never written this down – always just done it.

Serve with additional grated cheese on the side and a nice green salad.

Enjoy!

hello pumpkin…bread

4Cold days are meant for baking, so today I whipped up a couple of loaves of my pumpkin bread – I had a container of Pacific Natural Foods Organic Pumpkin Puree left in the cupboard from Thanksgiving (it really IS the best pumpkin to cook with).

There is just something so homey about the smell of something wonderful baking in the oven, isn’t there? And by the way, one of my secret 3ingredients is Jayshree Spices’ Tea Masala spice blend.  It works well when making chai spiced tea, and you can bake with it too. I wanted something fun to accompany tonight’s dinner which is my hybrid cross between black bean and lentil soup and a spinach salad with a tangy apple cider-mustard vinaigrette salad dressing.  (And no, I have not written down my soup recipe it is a dash of this, a pinch of that, but I can tell you it is quasi pureed, made with tomatoes and my secret to its smokey fabulous flavor is good ham and minced orange peel.)

Anyway, I thought I thought I would share my recipe, which is a constant evolution. Pardon the haphazard way I list ingredients, but when something comes out of my head sometimes the whole codifying a recipe isn’t perfect…

Pumpkin Bread 1

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour two loaf pans and set aside.

1 15 or 16 oz container of pumpkin puree (I have seen both sizes – just pumpkin, no sugar or spice added)

3 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup milled bran (yes that again – love it in baked goods- makes chocolate chip cookies extra yummy too!)

1 cup Smart Balance oil

4 eggs

1 1/4 cups organic white sugar

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2/3 cup of orange juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons buttermilk powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt (regular not sea salt)

3 tablespoons Jayshree Tea Masala Spice Blend

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon green cardamom

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon mace

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon allspice5

shredded coconut, quick oats, and turbinado sugar for dusting tops of batter in pans before it goes in the oven.

1. Mix pumpkin, eggs, oil, vanilla, orange juice, sugars, spices

2. Mix in all dry ingredients except milled bran.  Mix well.

3. Add bran.  Stir again

4. Pour batter into prepared pans and dust top with plain quick cooking oats, turbinado sugar, shredded coconut.

Bake at 350 for at least 60 minutes (my oven went 70 minutes on this recipe today).  If a wood or stainless steel small skewer comes out of center clean, pumpkin bread is baked.

Cool in pans on baking rack about 20 minutes.  Carefully remove loaves from pan and cool completely.  This bread does need to sit at least an hour after coming out of over before slicing. (just my opinion)

Enjoy!

 

 

improving martha

chesterHappy 2013 to one and all!   Let’s start the new year with a recipe!

So this holiday season I broke in a new hot crab dip recipe.  Not everyone in my house like artichoke hearts, so I had to find a recipe without them.

I received Martha Stewart’s cookbook Martha’s American Food as a Christmas present.  Truthfully it is a cookbook well worth purchasing or giving, but I have a habit of fiddling with recipes (even ones uniquely my own).  And I hate to say it because some giant hand bearing a whisk might pop out of the sky and smote me, but I improved Martha…or one of her recipes I should say.

She had a hot crab dip recipe, but looking at it I felt it needed some tweaking and additions, so I did that.  My friends have all been asking for the recipe, so here it is.  Note that my tweaks/additions appear in RED ink:

crab dipHot Crab Dip

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter PLUS 2 Tablespoons

1 RED onion finely chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (NOT whole wheat)

1 1/2 cups of HALF AND HALF(Martha calls for plain milk)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons dry mustard

few dashes of Tabasco sauce

6 oz shredded mixed cheddar (some cheese companies offer a shredded blend of mild and sharp cheddar. Martha calls for 4 oz)

6 oz of soft cream cheese (from the tub but not whipped)

Grated zest of one lemon and juice of that lemon (Martha calls for 2 Tablespoons, I just use a small lemon and call it a day)

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce(Martha calls for 2 teaspoons)

16 oz lump crabmeat, checked for shells (Martha calls for 10 oz, but most crab I buy comes in 16 oz containers, so that is what I used)

4 Tablespoons rough chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley (Martha calls for 2 tablespoons)

2 Tablespoons fresh dill rough chopped no stems

2 Tablespoons minced FRESH chives

4 Tablespoons minced celery

Salt and pepper (fresh ground)

8 oz loaf of rustic bread sliced into small bites  crust removed

English cucumber slices (for serving with dip when finished)

Flat bread or thinly sliced French bread baguettes. (for serving with dip when finished)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a generously sized saucepan (medium to large) melt the 1 stick of butter over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, celery stirring occasionally until soft and translucent (4 to 5 minutes)

Whisk in flour and cook while whisking constantly (or it will stick and burn) (about 3 to 4 minutes – Martha says 4, I found it took a little less. (medium to medium low heat)

Whisking constantly slowly incorporate half and half in a steady stream (I am not Shiva so I don’t have 8 arms or whatever so I did put my measuring cup down occasionally – Martha of course doesn’t do that). Stir and simmer over medium-low heat until thick and smooth (about 4 minutes).

Incorporate cheddar cheese, stirring well so it melts all evenly and then repeat with cream cheese. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, Tabasco, and Mustard powder. Incorporate well.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste. (you won’t need much). You don’t have to over think or over cook this – you just need cheese completely melted and incorporated.

Remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl combine crabmeat, fresh herbs**, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir in the cheesy-oniony mixture and fold together, check for salt and pepper (to taste – I cook with less salt these days so I found little adjustment necessary).

Pour this creamy and goopy deliciousness (it does taste good even at this point) into a buttered one quart oven proof dish.

Set aside.

In a small fry pan melt that 2 tablespoons of butter remaining.  Toss in bread you cut up as per ingredient list, add salt and pepper and cook a little bit (couple of minutes tops) – bread will be goldeny and butter with a light coat of salt and pepper.

Arrange bread bits on top of crab dip in the casserole dish and bake in your pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes – keep an eye on your oven because this stuff can boil over at the end.

Remove from oven and let stand at least ten minutes before serving because when it first comes out of the oven it is like molten lava with a crispy golden crust on top.

Serve with flat breads, crackers, or thinly sliced French bread baguettes.  Place a cucumber on top of cracker, bread slice, or flat bread and then dip on top of that.

I do not think I forgot anything, hope you enjoy this.

**Please note that if you like Cilantro, when you add your herbs to the crab as above, you can add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh cilantro too.