Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Quiche by Any Other Name and so on

Dear Blog World, so sorry that I took an unexpected leave of absence from my lovely blog and reading the blogs out there. Life has gotten so crazy, but it's all good with me. But I'm here to share a new recipe with a story!

One time I went to the farmer's market and stopped by the cheese table. I rarely eat cheese, so it was an odd stop. The man behind the table had the most wonderfully charming southern French accent and I melted a little. He even recognized me from being at the market so often, but never stopping at his table. If he was about forty years younger, I would have married him right there, but alas, he was not. I told him about how I avoid cheese, because of the not so pretty aftershock I experience, but his foods just look so delicious I had to stop. After much chatting about how I work around this unfortunate curse, he pointed to his list of quiches. I had flash backs of my youth. I grew indulging in Quiche Lorraine at least once a week. I do not like eggs, but for some reason, mixed into a quiche with yummy toppings, I gobble down piece after piece. My wonderful French cheese man told me I should try a small quiche Lorraine and come back for more the following week. I gave him a few dollars and he gave me a delicious little piece of love.

I came home and could not wait to open it up and indulge into this adorable savoury pie. As soon as I cut into the quiche I saw some slivers of red. A few nibbles later, I realized I was eating sun dried tomato quiche. Quelle suprise! It was amazing. It was delicious. I gobbled it up in two large bites. That quiche had no chance against me. Part of me wanted my quiche Lorraine, because that is what I bought and that is what the little sticker on the package said, but the other part was so overwhelmed with flavour and texture that I didn't care. The next week I told my French man about the mix up and how much it pleased me. He felt so bad that he gave me the wrong thing that I got one quiche for free. But now I'm on a hunt for the most delicious quiche ever made. Sun dried tomatoes were a great addition, but the salty flavour of pork gives the quiche a better balance. I combined them into the ultimate quiche. Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Desert, any time of the day, you will love my quiche. This is the basic recipe I grew up with for years and it's still so perfect and makes a great base for any flavour of quiche. (Next up is a caramelized onion version, with some other type of cheese too, yum.)

Sun Dried Tomato Quiche with Ham

2 frozen pie shells (yes I used frozen and yes I am proud of it)
5 eggs
1 cup half and half
1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
salt and white pepper to taste
16 oz shredded Swiss cheese
8 oz of diced ham
16 oz of sun dried tomatoes, not in oil, coarsely chopped

1. Beat eggs and half and half until well blended. Stir in nutmeg, white pepper, and salt.
2. Split Swiss cheese equally between two shells. Sprinkle ham and tomatoes even on top of the cheese.
3. Pour egg mixture into pie shells.
4. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes and then turn down temperature to 325 and bake for about 30 minutes. Quiche is done when lightly browned on top, but will still have some "jiggle" in the middle (think, pudding).

Hint - if crust starts browning too quickly, wrap the edges in foil.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A little piece of heaven

I think it's pretty obvious that I'm obsessed with Trader Joe's. It's become one of those, if they make it, I buy it, kinds of addictions. But I have an even bigger one that lays silently in all my recipes, Penzey's Spices. I'm lucky enough to live near two of their retail locations and not too far from their main location either. I don't even know where to begin with this addiction love.

First off, their catalogue is great. There are recipes galore along with stories from families. And too makes it better, there are cute pictures from young foodies. The recipes overflow into the store and you can leave there with handfuls of the cards.

Second, the herbs are always at the perfect state. Most chefs know that many dried spices do not measure up to the fresh equivalent. But these are the closest I have ever come. Plus there are usually multiple varieties of a spice or in different forms. Do you want Korintje, China Tung Hing, Vietnamese, or Ceylon cinnamon? Or maybe a blend. Do you want your rosemary whole, cracked, or powdered? These are the important questions you have to consider and Penzey's has you covered. And don't get me started on the salt and pepper collections. I think I have spent multiple paychecks procuring all of the choices in that category.

One of the things that I'm learning to love about cooking that Penzey's offers me is spice blends. I've always been one to think that the best of the cooking world make their own blends, but let's be honest here, nobody has the time for that. Plus I'm  all about trying new things and that's what the blends has given me an opportunity to do. I bought a small jar of the breakfast sausage mix last spring and jar and have come up with my family's favourite breakfast item: apple-shallot chicken breakfast sausage. I never thought about venturing into the sausage making world until I came across this little jar at one of the Penzey's retail outlets. Now I can't live without it.

Last thing I love about Penzey's: the gift giving potential. I have yet to give a Penzey's gift (I know, shame on me), but I'm excited to do it one day! They have loads of gift boxes pre-packaged for particular occasions and for various price ranges. You can also make your own package, which I may do soon. I like the idea of having your own "famous" recipe and then creating a little gift box of four jars of spices for said recipe.

Now to decide, what are my favourite Penzey's products... Like I said, I live off their peppers and salts, because there are a variety and it is an easy way to play with flavour and the breakfast sausage mix. I'm loving on the new Penzey's Cinnamon blend. I put it on my almond butter and toast or my oatmeal for breakfast everyday. We received a few sample of it when it first came out and that little jar lasted me about a week. I have a few jars in my house right now, but I may need a separate pantry just for this yummy cinnamon. For baking, I have the double strength vanilla, which has wowed me with flavour. I can use less than I normally need. I love Mexican food, but need help with balancing flavour, so I have a large jar each of the fajita and taco seasonings. I also have a jar of Chilli 3000 to add kick to anything I cook. And in the land of plain herbs and spices I cannot live without my powdered rosemary, California basil, and whole nutmegs. But as I said, I love all of it, these are just my all time need to have, favs. Try it out everyone!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Happy World Running Day! aka early turkey day

So... did you run today? It is World Running Day after all! I'll be honest, I didn't run today, but that's because I had a race yesterday. I have a whole lot of complaints about the course and poor line up in corrals. I still can't wrap my head around the fact that even running 2/3 the course, I was still running into large groups of walkers. I got myself into the right pace marker and should have been running with with people of similar pace. Yet walkers started very far ahead of me. Ugh. Therefore, my hips hurt from having to run along the side of a hill to avoid all the walkers. I'm not used to running with one side my body at a higher elevation than the rest of my body.

Anywhoodles, the best part of running is the carb loading the night before. I usually stick to basic pasta with loads of tomatoes tossed in. I picked that up back when I was a swimmer in high school. It's not too heavy and easily digested. But today's blog isn't about my favourite carb recipe, because that could takes years to decide, it's about the fact that I accidently made Thanksgiving dinner on a small scale tonight.

Stores are starting to stock their shelves with holiday favourites and my favourite farm had an amazing turkey breast just sitting there waiting for me to buy it. So I made a few favourites and tried out some new recipes. My family is still deciding which side of the family we want to celebrate turkey day with or if we want to do it on our own. But it's never too early to enjoy some of these great foods. As I said, this is small scale and does not include most of my yuumy favs!

Mustard-Cider Turkey Breast

About 3 tbls Coleman's Mustard (the dry flour)
About 1 tbls Dijon Mustard
About 2 tbls poultry seasoning (whatever your fav blend is)
About 2 tbls Apple Cider Vinegar
About 1 tbls Apple Cider
Aoubt 2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

1) Mix all of the above together in a bag. But turkey breast in bag and massage marinade onto bird. Let sit for at least one hour, up to 24 hours.
2) Place turkey into large roasting dish with 1 cup chicken (or turkey) stock and 1 cup apple cider. Cover with foil.
3) Roast at 365 for about 1 hour, basting every 15 minutes with juices from bottom of pan. Uncover for last 10 minutes.
4) Turkey will be done when thickest part of the bird reads 180 degrees.
5) Take out of the oven and recover with foil. Let rest 10 minutes before carving.

Leek and Bacon Cornbread Stuffing
I'm going to preface this recipe by saying, I have always loved cornbread stuffing, but can never seem to pull it off. After looking at hundreds of recipes, I decided to take a little help with this one. Thankfully the best place in the world, Trader Joe's, offered my some assistance with an awesome box mix that even came with seasonings. Now that I have made a great recipe, I'm going to start taking it apart and approaching it from a different angle. So this my dear readers, is my jazzed up version of Trader Joe's Cornbread Stuffing mix.

1 Box TJ's Cornbread Stuffing Mix
3 tbls extra virgin olive oil
3 leeks, chopped and cleaned
4 strips bacon, chopped
1/4 cup beer (I used Leinikugel's Oktoberfest)
3-4 cups chicken stock

1) Saute leeks in olive oil over medium heat with salt and pepper. Once everything is well coated, cover with a lid and let leeks cook for 10-15 minutes until very soft.
2) Remove lid, turn up heat to high, and stir in bacon. Once bacon cooks down, stir in beer. Stir well loosening up bits off bottom.
3) Stir in chicken stock and seasoning packet from box mix. Once everything is combined toss with cornbread cubes.
4) Pour into a baking dish (or do like me and cook leeks in a large dutch oven to take it from stove to oven without dirtying more dishes) cover and bake at 350 for thirty minutes, stirring half way through. Take lid off and bake for ten more minutes or until top is lightly browned and crispy.

The New Green Beans Almondine

1 pound green beans
1 tbls butter
1 tbls extra virgin olive oil
1 small shallot chopped finely
1/4 cup thinly sliced almonds

1) Steam green beans, stopping about one minute before done. I did this in the microwave, just because there was a lack of free burners.
2) Sautee shallot in butter and olive oil. When shallot is translucent, but not browned, toss in almonds.
3) Once almonds are barely toasted and shallots start to brown, take off the heat and toss in green beans. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.

So with all of this I served mushroom turkey gravy (pretty mush sautee mushrooms before making gravy), smashed purple potatoes (bright colours make everything yummy) and roasted sweet potato cubes tossed with maple syrup and salt and pepper. Simple and yummy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Israeli Couscous = YUM

What is it about couscous that makes it so versatile? I have made it so many ways and with basic or Israeli and it is always so good. And it gets eaten up so fast there are never leftovers! I wanted something quick and easy tonight and I had a pork tenderloin sitting in the fridge waiting to be roasted and devoured! A quick and easy side? Israeli couscous loaded with veg of course!

Israeli Couscous with lots of veg

1 large red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbls fresh parsely, chopped
1 1/3 cup Israeli Couscous
1 3/4 cup water
3 roasted bell peppers, chopped (I roasted them the night before, one each: red, yellow, green)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tbls fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper

1) Saute red onion seasoned with salt and pepper in olive oil over low heat about 15 minutes. Stir in garlic and turn heat up and saute for about 5 minutes.
2) Stir in couscous 1 tbls of parsely and saute until couscous is toasted.
3) Add peppers and water to pan and bring to boil. Once boiling, turn down heat, and cover cooking for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
4) Once all the liquid is absorbed, add wine stirring frequently until absorbed. Take off heat and add the rest of the parsley and basil. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...