Dec 272016
 

Here’s an easy one for ya, QUICHE!

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The woman I work with shared a small, Citarella,  prepared quiche, w/me for lunch the other day. She warmed it in the microwave here at work and boy was it good. Having half had me ravenous for more, then I started thinking about the best quiche EVER, that being made by, drum roll please, the illustrious and fantastic Balthazar. Their quiche is like none other, the crust perfect, buttery & slightly salty, flaky & crisp at the same time but it’s the custard that slays me. It ain’t just scrambled eggs with your favorite variety of steamed or sauteed vegetable, cheeses or cured meats.

I have searched out, relentlessly, countless bookstores to find the Balthazar recipe, my home collection of cookbooks which is quite extensive & of course an number of internet searches of primarily French recipes but to no avail. Recently I found a ‘blogger’ claiming to have made a Balthazar’s quiche but it’s the goat cheese & caramelized onion tart recipe she used. WRONG. Does not work.

Here’s the trick: you must scald the milk then temper that into the eggs. The basic rule of thumb is 1/2 C milk to one egg. Now here’s where the fun comes in. I started this most recent test because I had a little bit more than a cup of milk left over from a quart &half a pint of heavy cream – from my last ice cream making episode. So what I had went into a pot for scalding. Scalding milk is a very mindful act. I no longer wait for the bubbles to form along on the edge of the sauce pot, I stir constantly and LOOK for STEAM to rise from the pot of warming milk. The flame or temperature should be at a low to medium. I feel that by the time the bubbles have made their appearance, the milk is just about to break. It’s true. It doesn’t take much time before you’ll see the steam, it’s hot but nothing a cook can’t take when testing with a clean finger. Pull the pot off the heath and whisk well. The eggs must also be well scrambled, but not scrambled the hell out of. Gently pour a stream of the warmed milk into the eggs, whisk & repeatimg_1832. I use 3 eggs & 1.5 Cs of milk for one pie crust. img_1835

When it comes to crust, I don’t do pastry in my East Village apartment so I buy the best quality prepared crusts but most recently I used a puff pastry which I had left over from when I made my tomato tarte tartin.

Having looked at so many French recipes for the quiche custard I ended up filling my quiche w/steamed sliced potato, caramelized onions & anchovies.

Let me put this out therefor ya. Quiche is a fantastic go to for holiday bites. It can accompany so much: Welsh Rarebit, baked brie & cranberries, ham any way, charcuterie plates, & salads galore. Just ask me, I’ll come up with a great menu for holiday bites.

Oh right, I made a vegetable puree soup, (in the background) with carrots, red peppers & celery & grape tomatoes I nicked from a crudite display left over from a holiday party at work.

 

 

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Apr 212016
 

Passovernutloaf

In preparation for Passover I went through my refrigerator & cupboards to search & Dstroy all neglected, forgotten, leftover ingredients taking up space only to realize they would all be perfect to make a nutloaf with.

Here’s what I scavenged: 1 Portabello mushroom which a friend gave me since she signed up for one of those meal delivery plans & can’t stand mushrooms. A red onion that needed to go to good use & I had 1/2 a plastic bag of faro & some cooked off oatmeal that would have gone right down the toilet had I not used it in this dish. I can see this being a stretch for some folk but it really worked. The nut loaf cooked beautifully and was very moist. This goes to show how forgiving this ‘recipe’ is.  I had 1/2 a dozen eggs so using three rather than the called for 5 was a no brainer and I had a heel of smoked gouda that had seen better days.  The only thing(s) I purchased was a 2nd Portabello mushroom & some gorgeous farmers cheese which had I remembered I had the cooked oatmeal I would have forgone this ingredient.

If you have cooked rice, or any grain for that matter, putting a nut loaf together takes almost no time at all. Let’s say 20-30 mins prep & 40 – 50 mins baking time.

Here’s what I did to make this nut loaf.

Preheat the oven to 350°

2 – 3 Cs of a cooked grain –  faro, short grain brown rice, quinoa, cous-cous, oatmeal, …

1/2 large Onion – diced

2 dents of Garlic – minced or diced

2 Portabello Mushroom tops & 1 stem – chopped or pulsed.

sherry – splash – 1/4 cup.

1 C slivered Almonds – toasted

3 eggs – beaten

1 C – farmer’s cheese

1 C or more of cheese – Smoke Gouda, Gruyere, or cheddar – grated

1/2 apple –  grated

I used nuts that are staple ingredients for me and I believe everyone should too. I have 1/2 a bag of  walnuts but I’m going to use them in the beet, apple & orange salad I bring to my cousin’s Sedar.

I cooked off about a cup of the faro which is completely painless. It cooks in boiling water in under 30 minutes.

Then I quickly diced 1/2 of the red onion, pulsed each of the Portabello mushroom tops & stem in my small food processor then cooked them off in a heavy bottomed pan with just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, 2 good sized dents of garlic roughly chopped  & 1/2 an onion diced.  I added various pinches of dry herbs, primarily thyme & sage which probably equal about a teaspoon each.  When the mushroom liquid evaporated I splashed in some sherry – a staple for me and let that cook off. Turn off the heat & let the mushroom mixture cool in a bowl. The recipe calls for lots of herbs to be added to the sautéd mushrooms.

Next I toasted the nuts, 1 C of  almonds. This takes no time at all, just until you smell the aroma of the nuts by wafting the air over the pan. I tossed those into small food processor and pulsed.

In a large bowl combine the nuts & whatever cooked grain you’re using  IMG_8874

In another bowl beat 3 eggs to which the farmer’s cheese,cottage or pot cheese will be mixed into. If I hadn’t been able to get the freshest most beautiful farmer’s cheese I would have left it out. Season with Salt of D Earth or S & P.

Add sauteed mushrooms to the nut & rice mixture and stir to incorporate well, then the egg & cottage cheese.  This is when I added the smoked Gouda & the grated apple. Mix well. Only because I have flat leaf parsley around from having made anchovy butter toast for my cheese souffle I roughly chopped about 1/4 cup of flat leaf parsley and mixed that in at the very end then poured the mixture into a greased 9″ Pyrex loaf dish IMG_8877 I slid this into the preheated 350° oven and let it cook for 40 minutes, turned the heat off & left the loaf in the oven another good 10 minutes.

Nut loaf is so great on so many levels. It travels well. It’s a great pot luck dish for a party, it’s filling and again, oh so NUTritious. I blanched a handful of string beans and ate 2 almost piping hot slices in a bowl never taking the time to plate the dish and take a snap for a blog entry – GREAT – NOT…

So the following day I cut out of work & came home and served myself the beautiful dish you see uptop, the nut loaf with steamed corn & Ceres pear juice. Now here’s a funny one for ya; I am not a ketchup person but I remembered I picked up a bottle of Rhode Island’s own Cowboy sauce which is more a BBQ sauce than a ketchup and poured that on. Oh My God – again, I ate this so fast I could have choked.

I can’t speak more highly of this dish. A true new specialD!

 

There’s sO much one can do to make this dish their own it’s NUTS.

 

 

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