Monthly Archives: June 2013

Mushroom and Leek Quiche

Thru Aug 5 050Although quiche is certainly a year-round dish, I seem to make it more frequently in the summer. It’s great for a light lunch or supper and pairs well with a simple salad. I will often make a double batch when I make quiche – partly because I use store bought pie crust and they come two to a package. On this occasion, I made one full-size quiche and four mini quiches which I shared with friends. Unfortunately, in my rush to package up the quiches for delivery, I failed to take a picture of the finished product – so the picture you see is actually for a similar quiche made with bacon and scallions. One of the greatest things about quiche, in addition to how easy it is to make, is that you can use any combination of ingredients (particularly vegetables) depending on what you have one hand.  I love the flavor of the gruyere cheese – it’s a little nuttier than domestic swiss, but you can purchase pre-shredded swiss cheese which is a big time saver. Quiche freezes well, but it always gets eaten in my house, so I haven’t many occasions to freeze it.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Pie Crust (I used Pillsbury, but if you’d like to make your own, my favorite pie crust recipe is listed below.
  • 1/2 Cup Mushrooms- chopped
  • 1/4 – 1/3 Cup Leeks (white and light green parts only) – chopped*
  • 1-2 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 Large Egg Yolks
  • 1 1/4 Cup of Half and Half (or heavy cream)
  • 1 Cup Shredded Gruyere (or Swiss) Cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 14 tsp. Freshly Ground Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare pie crust and set in a 9″ pie plate. Cover with parchment paper (or wax paper) and add pie weights (or substitute dried beans). Add pie weights before bakingAdd pie weights individualsBake for 12 minutes, remove from oven (remove paper and weights) and allow to cool. In the meantime, in a saute pan heat olive oil and add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are tender, add the leeks, and remove from heat.  Saute mushrooms and leeksIn a medium sized mixing bowl, combine eggs, yolks, cream and salt and pepper. Add mushroom, and scallion mixture to cooled pie crust and spread evenly over the bottom of the crust. Pour egg and cream mixture into crust. Sprinkle cheese on top of combined mixtures, place on a baking sheet Ready for the ovenand bake for an additional 6-9 minutes, or until the custard is set and cooked through (you can insert a toothpick- if it comes out clean it is set). Serve hot or at room temperature with a simple side salad. Quiche re-heats well in the microwave.

Pate Brise (Pie Crust):

  • 2 1/2 Cups All Purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Sticks ( 1 Cup) Unsalted Butter – well chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 – 1/2 Cup Ice Water

The key to a good flaky crust is to use very cold ingredients and don’t overwork the dough.

Add flour, salt and sugar to a food processor and mix until combined. Add butter and pulse for 7-10 seconds until flour mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add water in a steady stream through processor tube, pulsing while adding. Continue pulsing and adding water just until dough holds together. Dough should not be wet or mushy, but must hold together enough to roll out – if it doesn’t hold together to form a ball, slowly add a little more water until it does. Divide dough into two equal parts and form into balls, slightly flatten balls (they will chill faster and be easier to roll out). Cover in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour. Remove 1 dough disc from refrigerator and place on a floured work surface. Flour a rolling pin, and roll dough out to desired thickness or size necessary to fit in pie plate. Repeat process for top crust after filling bottom crust.

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Israeli Couscous and Roasted Beet Salad

Israeli Couscous and Beet Salad

Israeli Couscous and Beet Salad

It’s Tuesday again (time flies in the summer), so it was concert in the park night. As has become tradition, I made a cold salad and sandwiches (pulled pork with pickled fennel). The salad was inspired by my friend Geaneen’s recent trip to her sister-in-law’s organic farm; she returned home with beautiful petite beets and some fabulous green onions. I did have to supplement with extra beets, so I added some gold beets. I tried to use some of my favorite Mediterranean ingredients – including those in my beloved Greek salad. I was a little worried about how the salad would be received, not everyone is a fan of beets, but  it was an instant hit.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Cups Israeli Couscous (regular or tri-colored)
  • 4 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 1 1/4 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 1/4 Cups Water
  • 4-6 Medium Beets (Golden or Red)
  • 4-6 Green Onions (or 1/2 medium sweet onion)
  • 6 Oz. Feta Cheese (more or less to your liking)
  • 3/4 Cup Kalmata Olives
  • 2 TBS. Fresh Mint – finely chopped
  • 1 TBS. Fresh Oregano – finely chopped
  • 1 TBS. Fresh Basil – finely chopped

For the Vinagrette (makes extra – save and use for other salads)

  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • 4-5 TBS. Red Wine Vinegar (adjust to taste)
  • 1.5 tsp. Honey
  • 1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 2-3 TBS. Olive Brine (from Kalmata Olives)
  • 1/4 tsp. Pepper
  • Salt to taste (will depend on your olive brine)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 300 Degrees. Remove stems and any roots from beets – rub with olive oil and add salt and pepper. Place on a foil covered baking sheet and roast for 35-45 minutes. In the meantime, remove the green parts and roots from green onions (or, if using sweet onions, slice into 1/4 inch rounds) and rub with olive oil – set aside. After beets have roasted for 35-45 minutes, add onions to baking sheet and return to the oven. Roast for an additional 10-15 minutes until beets are tender when a fork is inserted. Remove beets and onions from oven and set aside. Prepare the vinagrette by combining all ingredients in a jar or tupperware container with a tight fitting lid; set aside. Heat 1 TBS. olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add couscous and toast, stirring frequently,  for 5-7 minutes until fragrant and slightly browned. Through June 25 2013 078Add chicken broth, water, and salt. Cover and reduce heat to low – simmer for 15-20 minutes until all water is absorbed. In the meantime, when beets are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and cut into 1/4 inch pieces. Cut onions into small dice. Slice kalmata olives in half. When couscous is fully cooked, fluff with a fork and allow to cool slightly. Add 1/2 to 3/4 of the vinagrette (to taste) to the couscous. Add beets and onions. Add feta cheese and fresh herbs once couscous is completely cooled. Through June 25 2013 085Mix well, add more vinagrette if desired and season with salt and pepper. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta SaladMy little city (I like to call it “Mayberry”) has free concerts in the park every Tuesday night in the summer. We often take a picnic dinner – I like to keep it simple; usually a gourmet sandwich and a side salad (often pasta salad). I can’t remember which sandwich I paired with this pasta salad, but I do remember that the pasta salad was a big success. Because this side salad includes meat and cheese, it’s particularly filling and would pair well with a light sandwich. I purchased the provolone and salami from the deli at the grocery store and just asked them for the whole piece unsliced – then cut it into bite sized chunks. Cut into cubesSalami and ProvoloneIt’s super easy to make and is even better if made a day in advance.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Lb. Tri-colored Fusili or other dried Pasta
  • 1/2 Lb. Hard Salami – cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1/2 Lb. Provolone – cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 Cup Cherry/Grape Tomatoes – cut into 1/2s or 1/4s
  • 1/2 Medium Red Onion – roughly chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Black Olives (I like Kalmata) pitted and cut in half
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Sweet Basil – roughly chopped
  • 2-3 TBS. Dried Italian Herbs
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Pinot Grigio Vinegar (can substitute red wine vinegar)
  • 2 Cloves Fresh Garlic – minced
  • Salt and Pepper to tasteChopped ingredients

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cook pasta until al dente (firm to the bite), drain, and run under cold water until completely cooled. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and salt and pepper until well combined. Pour vinagrette over cooled pasta, add remaining ingredients and toss until well-combined. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste (the salami and provolone are quite salty).

Ready for transport

 

Lobster Cornbread Pot Pie

Individual pot pieI am posting this recipe in honor of my friend who loves to vacation in Maine. I was actually suppose to accompany her on her trip this week, but, unfortunately, I have too much going on at home. As I’ve mentioned in some of my previous lobster posts, when I lived on the Seascoast of New Hampshire, live lobster was often cheaper than chicken, so I cooked and enjoyed a lot of lobster. One might wonder how a person could tire of just plain steamed lobster with a side of drawn butter – which is, in many ways, perfection. Well, it happens, and I’ve enjoyed experimenting with different ways to use lobster. Having cooked a lot of lobster, I’ve also become pretty proficient at removing all of the precious meat from the lobster. I have to admit, however, that the process can be time consuming, so it is not often that I will take the time to extract the meat from those tiny little lobster legs, but I do make sure to remove the meat from the body – there are always good chunks of meat where the little legs connect to the body. I’ve also learned the value of boiling the lobster bodies (carcasses) to make a lobster stock – this is great for lobster bisque, stew, or a variety of other recipes. The stock freezes well, so if you’re cooking lobster, it’s worth the extra step of making stock for a future use. I submitted this recipe for a cornbread contest; I didn’t win, but the contest served as a great impetus/inspiration to come up with a good recipe using cornbread. This dish freezes and reheats very well. As you can imagine, a recipe for a contest involves several trials, so many of the “trials” made it into the freezer. You can alter the vegetable ingredients to suit your particular tastes, but the veggies that I used seemed to be a great combination and complimented both the lobster and the cornbread flavors. (Serves 8)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6-8 Cups of Lobster meat (requires about 6-8 1.25-1.50 lb. lobsters)- roughly chopped
  • 2 Russet Potatoes -peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 4 cups)
  • 1.5 Cups Corn (fresh, frozen, or canned)
  • 6 oz. (about 2 cups) Mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 Cup Green Peas (frozen- thawed)
  • 1 Cup Carrots – 1/4 inch slices or small cubes
  • 1 Sweet Onion – finely chopped
  • 3/4 Cup Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 5 Cups Lobster or Seafood Stock (See recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 Sticks (12 TBS) Unsalted Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley – finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. Old Bay (or other brand) Seafood Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper
  • 2 Packages of Cornbread Mix (plus ingredients required to prepare)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 Degrees.  In a medium/large saucepan, heat stock and set to simmer. Add 8-10 cups of water to a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until al dente (firm to the bite) – about 4-5 minutes depending on the size of your cubes. Add carrots to pot and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and rinse with cold water, until completely cooled, to stop the cooking process. In the stockpot, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium low heat until translucent; add mushrooms (if using) and saute until soft. Add the flour and cook for another 5-6 minutes – stirring constantly. Add the hot stock to the pot and simmer (stirring frequently) over low for another 1-2 minutes until sauce is thick. Thickened sauce with mushroomsAdd seafood seasoning, pepper and heavy cream. Add cooked lobster meat, Chop lobster meatall vegetables, and parsley. Add peas, corn, lobster, potatoes, mushroomsSpoon mixture into a 10x13x2 baking dish (I used a cast iron skillet for a rustic presentation) – or use several smaller baking dishes, large ramekins, or small cast iron pans to make individual pot pies- leaving at least 3/4 inch free for the topping. Set the baking dish on a sheet pan or large piece of aluminum foil (to catch any filling that bubbles over) and bake for 15 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the cornbread dough according to the instructions (including allowing to rest for a few minutes). Remove the baking dish(es) from the oven and spoon the prepared cornbread dough mixture over the baking dish(es) in an even layer.Cover with cornbread batter Return the baking dish(es) to the oven and cook until the cornbread is completely baked (use a toothpick to test for doneness) and golden brown – this time will vary depending on the brand of cornbread and the thickness of your layer (10-30 minutes). Remove from oven and allow to set for at least 10 minutes.Cooked in an individual cast iron pan

lobster cornbread pot pie 2

For the Lobster Stock:

  • 6-8 Lobster Bodies (meat removed)
  • 2 Carrots (or 10-12 baby carrots)
  • 2 Stalks Celery
  • 1/2 Medium Sweet Onion (leave skin on for color)
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 Cloves Garlic (smashed to release flavor)
  • 2 Sprigs Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. Whole Peppercorns
  • 1 TBS. Salt

Remove the grey feathery stuff on the outer side of the lobster bodies and the lobster “face” (portion of head with eyes and mouth). Add lobster bodies and all other ingredients to a large stockpot, cover with water (at least by 2 inches) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 90 minutes. Taste and add more salt or cook longer for additional flavor. Strain the stock (remove large pieces with a slotted spoon). Strain lobster stockTaste again and for flavor and season with salt and pepper as necessary.