Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Most Custardy Quiche

I did not see this coming.

That somehow, Food52 - where I am a contributor to Halfway to Dinner and Heirloom Recipes, including delicious stories such as this, this, this, this, and this (and a fab new one on the way….) - would share my little ole Saturday evening quiche with the Instagram Universe.

And then I would be demanded (well maybe not demanded) to share the recipe. It isn't a story I made for the camera. I just made it for my mouth, trying to use up a surplus of goodies in the fridge.

Good thing you all have asked for this recipe though, because it is SO GOOD. Once you have the groundwork laid, you can sub out the fillings of your choice. I had done roasted squash before (albeit with kabocha instead of delicata), and used pan fried speck instead of caramelized onions. Both are wonderful, so either works just as nicely.

I also happened to have handfuls of garlic chives available and so I thought, why not?

Here it is -

Roasted squash, caramelized onion, and garlic chive quiche
Serves 6-8

for the filling-
5 eggs - use only pasture-raised eggs if at all possible - the custard will be so much more dynamic
3 or 4 egg yolks, depending on how rich you're willing to go (same as above)
1 1/2 cups delicata or other pumpkin squash, halved, insides scraped out, and coarsely chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup heavy cream - use pastured milk, as it will be more flavorful
1/3 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems
2 tbsp garlic chives, finely chopped - regular chives, or roasted garlic cloves work just as well
good olive oil 
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

for the dough - I adapted the Four and Twenty Blackbirds cornmeal crust, which was deeelicious
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup stone-ground cornmeal
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoons granulated sugar
¼ pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
½ cup cold water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
a few ice cubes
Pulse the flour, cornmeal, salt, and sugar together in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and pulse briefly to coat.  Pulse at 5 second intervals until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay; be careful not to overblend). 
Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a measuring cup or small bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture, and pulse until it is fully incorporated. Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining.
Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture, if necessary, to combine. Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to give the crust time to mellow. Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.
Bring disk out of fridge and remove plastic. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough  to 1/4-inch thick, turning 1/4 turn with each go of the rolling pin for evenness. Drape into an 8-inch springform pan, freeing dough from edge as you press it down with the back of your finger, flush to base of pan. 

Use any particularly high or thick points to patch thin areas or mend cracks. Prick all over with a fork and chill in the refrigerator.

Sauté the onion over medium low heat in a cast iron skillet, using good glug or two of olive oil. Stirring occasionally, you don't want the onions to brown, rather to sweat them and then allow them to slowly give way to the pan. This is a 20 minute or so process of occasionally stirring and then going about the rest of the work. If you don't have that time, many groceries carry onion jam or a package of caramelized onions in the specialty department. 

Meanwhile, roast delicata (or other squash) tossed in olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper on the stovetop or in the oven. For the oven, I do about 40 minutes at 325 (F) until the bottoms are dark but the flesh is still soft, or in a cast iron skillet over medium heat for the same result. This can be done a day or two in advance and refrigerated until needed.

If you did the above in advance, preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). Place a sheet of parchment over dough and weight with baking weights, beans, or rice. Blind bake for 15 minutes, or according to your oven. Check after 10 minutes and see that the dough is not wet or particularly soft. Remove weights and paper and bake for a further 10 minutes or until crust is golden. Remove from oven, lower oven to 300 degrees.

Whisk together eggs, cream, nutmeg, thyme, garlic chives, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the squash and onions, and pour mixture into pastry. Top with grind or two of pepper and bake for 30 minutes, or until custard has *just* set. There should be the slightest jiggle in the center when agitated. Cool inside the oven with the door ajar for 10 minutes or so, and then fully cool on a wire rack. 

Release spring collar from around pastry. Use two spatulas or palette knives to transfer quiche to a serving platter. Serve with a shaved brussels sprouts dressed in lemon juice or with a mixed green salad, and enjoy!

If you are new to my blog, I am so pleased this is our first meeting! Welcome. Please have a look around and if you feel like it, leave a comment or reach out and say hello!

To that end, you also need to know about my latest giveaway, which is still happening. Scroll down to the giveaway part and enter - there's still a week left!

I'm in the middle of five (!) fantastic food projects and working my way through the fridge, bit by bit. Tough life. If you already follow me on Instagram, you'll see plenty more of the fun I have in the coming days…. More wonderful, delicious things soon… XO ;) 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Banana Salted Caramel Pie at Anthology & Chef Frank and Pardis Stitt for The Local Palate

Happy Halloween! If regular trick or treatin' isn't your bag, consider this magical pie. I didn't realize at the outset that I'd be willing to fight over it. Share it (and covet it)! This banana salted caramel pie is that good.

The combination of salty, crunchy pretzel bits and the brown sugar crystalized crumbs of digestive biscuits comprise the crumb crust. That's where the magic begins. I used Martin's Pretzels, a Pennsylvania Dutch style which is crisp, airy, and perfectly salty. Having made this pie once before and knowing I needed the win of a similar experience this time around, they shipped me an awesome package of pretzel bags. They'll do it for you too. Reason #11 (or 28, or 35…..) why You Need to Make This Pie.

Plus, with any leftover pretzels you may have, you can enjoy them with grain mustard and a nice beer….

Back to the pie.

Making [salted] caramel is so easy, and it, paired with the creamy bananas and tangy creme fraiche-cream mixture is pretty damn great. It's not really possible to imagine how good the combination of all this is. You just have to do it and experience it for yourself.

The story is now available - recipe here - as this month's Anthology feature. I hope you love it. When you've made it, come back and thank me….. :)

In the October Local Palate Magazine - still available! - is this wonderful story of an all-together different magic. It shares the story of Chef Frank and Pardis Stitt, and some insight to their beautiful hamlet in the country, Paradise Farms.

Here are some favorites from that day together -

adorable pooches, Fernando and Fiona

This gentleman, Freddy, is a former professional polo star and coaches Frank, as well as takes care of the horses and farm

Some very well-taken-care-of and happy horses

kitchen banter while prepping the dishes for shooting

a new drink created on the spot, incorporating one of my favorites, dry curaçao - recipe here

sardines and skordalia

a most delicious kuku sabzi - Persian herb frittata

a plate of everything good - click here for the recipe

pear and almond tart 

We had a fantastic day together and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you Amy, Carter and the whole Local Palate gang! And a special thanks to Frank and Pardis, for welcoming me into your world with such authenticity.

I'm off to create some more magic with The New York Times. Think turkey…...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Perfect Cheese Straws, My Trip to Norway (part 1), and a Giveaway

The sweet team at Cup of Jo asked me to guest blog during their month of easy-peasy appetizer features, and when I thought about fantastic-tasting treats to whet the appetite, puff pastry inevitably entered my brain. Especially because the results are SO good without a huge amount of effort (unless you made that puff pastry yourself…next week).

This version is seasoned with cayenne and nutmeg and finely shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. YUM. I made a quick harissa mayonnaise for dipping, but these cheese straws are just as good all by themselves. Full recipe and more drool-worthy images, here.

With only a few tools needed and many options for toppings, making these cheese straws is a cinch. Let the party begin!

As detailed in this story's title, there's also a giveaway going on. Please scroll down for more news on that….

You may or may not know that I just returned from a breath-taking trip through Norway. And, a way-too-brief stop-off in Amsterdam. Seriously, you cannot imagine the intense beauty of the landscapes in Norway until you have seen them for yourself. Now I can knowledgeably mark the must return to points when I have more time to get lost and explore, as well as offer solid recommendations should you find yourself going that way!

I've been quite busy since the return. Sorting the gajillion images will take time, but here is a first glimpse -

this quiet, mesmerizing abode, on the coast in Aurland

first night's stay during my solo tour, in Voss
hairpin turns along a fjord hike in Aurland

rainy day means a gorgeous still life at the Oslo bric-a-brac market

beautiful spent fern stems

I fell in love with the austere wildness of Finse. At 1222 meters above sea level, it's the highest elevation in all of Norway

from a train window, passing through Finse
later in the trip...see that little red cottage off to the left? that's the same as the above from the train window
long blown grasses, wet with raindrops 
wild tundra blueberries, juicy and sweet
a kind of chanterelles, chosen by Ilse at the market for that night's dinner
Reviewing these brings me back a little. How wonderful it all was. I plan on writing about each aspect of the adventure, so stay tuned for more photos and their stories…

And now for the giveaway. Which is actually THREE giveaways, so everyone has a greater likelihood of winning something! :D

The folks at GIR gifted me a variety of their just-released and not-yet-released (!) kitchen tools, and I am pairing them with a few latest yummy books sent my way. The ladle and handy spatula speak for themselves, but the geometric-patterned lid in the center is new and super cool. It makes cellophane or other means to seal a bowl or other container unnecessary, creating its own vacuum to preserve and store food. And comes in all kinds of cool sizes. I'm using a few right now and I'm liking the results.

Mason Jar Salads is great for anyone on the go who doesn't feel like compromising on real food's flavor and nutrients. Great tips, attractive and delicious mixes to add to your repertoire, there's a lot to love here.

100 Days of Real Food brings kids to the proverbial table, sharing whole food recipes which score points with both kids and adults alike. Lisa also guides readers on how to source real foods - for seasonality, too - at your local grocery.

Camille Styles is hot off the presses - today is the launch, in fact! In her self-titled book, find inspiration page-after-page, with beautiful photography of food, home, garden, and more.

Which set speaks to you?

In order to win, please follow me on Instagram if you're not already, and leave a comment below telling me 1. What foods from my blog inspire you most (whether you've made them or not isn't as important, but I would love to know that too!) and, 2. Which set here you'd like, should you win! If you tag me in comments on Twitter or share on Facebook, your name will be added again for each extra mention. Thanks!

To be eligible, you must live in the US and add your comments by 11:59 EST, Monday November 17th.

I cannot wait to send these goodies to new homes!

It is wonderful having you join me along the adventure. Stay tuned - my newest story with Anthology arrives Friday, and a there's a bunch of work in print to share. And Norway. More divine and wild Norway….. xo

Friday, September 26, 2014

Smoked Paprika and Saffron Mussels at Anthology, Spaghetti and Meatballs and a Fantastic Choucroute at the New York Times

These are a few of my favorite things. Plump mussels shipped to me overnight by my friend (an oyster, salmon, and seafood expert) Jon Rowley. A richly fragrant broth in which to serve them. Conveniently morsels of crusty bread to sop up every drop. And, friends gathered close to revel in just how plump and juicy mussels can be, when they are harvested from clean waters at just. the. right. time.

I could make a list a mile long of favorite things, no doubt. But this is a good start. And the meal was so good. If you choose to make this savory, juicy dish, please follow back and tell me how much you loved it! See the full story and recipe at Anthology.

Many things have come to print since my last post here, so I'll use this as an opportunity to share the wonderful work I've done most recently for the New York Times, out on Wednesday.

This super no-fuss meatballs and spaghetti story, by my no-nonsense favorite, Mark Bittman -

That's me!

Also from that story, a much more labor intensive - but worth every moment - choucroute preparation -

This was so good I've made it twice since. SO good.

The pork shoulder is pasture-raised heritage Berkshire/Tamworth breed, by my friend Farmer Brad at Mountain Song Farm, and the wonderfully tangy sauerkraut is from my farmer friends Lindsay, Pete, and Benford at Harvest Roots Farm and Ferment. Support your local farmers and eat well.

Here is a wonderful spin on pan-fried fish, served with an asian ragout that offers both crunchy and velvety notes -

the red snapper I used for the story

There's more. But I am being stared at by the next to-dos on my lists. Those left undone stare at me, and whether or not I've crossed a bunch off in a day, those which remain bore holes I cannot bear…. Some of those to-dos include tasks to prepare for a trip: I am traveling to Norway next week!!!

If you have recommendations of places to go and things to do, please tell me in the comments. Thank you!

It will be splendid. I know I cannot conceive to what extent. But I am certain this travel will provide much inspiration. I plan to tuck real and experiential pieces into my bag to bring back and share with you all…. For in-the-moment beauty on this adventure and everyday, follow me on Instagram.