Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Basic Quiche Recipe Can Save The Day

Sometimes, in my cooking and looking for unique food ideas, I forget about the classics. Quiche is one of those classics. Knowing how to make a great quiche means you have a Go-To recipe for a great all-in-one breakfast, Lunch, Snack or Light Dinner.

This week I'm spending time out of town, in a rented condo with my sister-in-law while she heals and recovers from surgery. My mother-in-law has been here for a few days already, taking care of her daughter and cooking all the meals. The surgery went great, we're all feeling positive and honestly a little time to sit, chat and laugh with some of the people we love in life is a good thing.
Cooking when you're away from home is a challenge, though. It's not your kitchen, you try not to spend too much money or buy things you can't use completely, and learning new equipment can be frustrating.

When I arrived, after a tiring day of winter airplane travel, I was so hungry. This plate of savory custard pie with chucks of honey ham, sauteed onions and cheese, warmed up til the home-made pastry returned to a flaky melt-in-your-mouth finish was exactly what I needed. Outside the windows of the upstairs condo were dripping in windy cold rain while I sat in warmth, savoring every fork of this thick french style quiche and catching up with stories of the past few days.

My mother-in-law had not planned this meal. She said she opened the refrigerator, thought how much she didn't want to go out in the rain for lunch and tried to come up with something that used whatever she already had there. Knowing the basics for making a good quiche were so handy.

I didn't plan on writing a post while I was here, but I thought this was worth sharing. There are a few everyday recipe basics that can really pay off; Quiche is one of them.

Recipe: Basic Quiche-

8 ounces Egg (4 eggs)
16 ounces Heavy Cream or Half-and-Half
8 ounces cheese
4 ounces ham, bacon, or vegetables (chopped)
1/2 onion chopped (raw or sauteed)
Pinch of ground red pepper or paprika
salt/pepper to taste
Pre-Baked 8-9 inch Pie Shell

1) In a bowl, beat the eggs and cream together. Add the seasonings (red pepper, salt, pepper)
2) In a pre-baked pie shell, spread the cheese, onions and chopped meat or vegetables.
3) Pour over the egg/cream mixture and bake in a 325F oven for about 45-50 minutes just til the eggs are set.

Let the Quiche set for a few minutes, then slice and serve warm, or chill for later to serve cold, room temperature or reheated.

Wishing you good food, good family times and good news.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Butternut Butter, But No Butter - Simple Saturday

Butternut Squash Butter does not contain any butter, or even dairy. In fact, it's pure roasted Butternut, a dash of cinnamon, a squeeze of orange, and a drizzle of real Maple Syrup. Doesn't that already sound so darn good?It's also very addictive and you'll find yourself spreading it on a biscuit, a crostini or stirring it into a bowl of rice and then sneaking a spoonful of it just for the joy of eating it plain (yeah, I did.) There are jams, jellies, conserves and preserves and there are also butters. Fruit butters are usually made with apples, pears, peaches and sometimes pumpkins.

The butters are less sweet than jams or jellies. Butters are made by heating up the fruit (or vegetable), pushing it through a sieve or using a blender to puree the pulp, then cooking it with a bit of sweet and sometimes citrus on a fairly high heat and quickly until it is thick and spreadable. There should be no left-over liquid, and stirring is important so it doesn't burn. It takes very little time, and it keeps in the refrigerator for a couple weeks at least.
I think it's called a "butter" because of the smooth, buttery feel in your mouth. If you've ever had Apple Butter you know about the full flavor of pure apple that it gives to just a simple slice of toast, or how it brings an extra zing to a peanut butter sandwich or a bran muffin. This Butternut Butter is like that, but with the warm, cozy, earthy taste of roasted Butternut Squash.
Besides a biscuit or scone topper, this wintery colored spread is also an easy Bruschetta appetizer. Swirl it on top of crostini, add a dollop of goat cheese, sprinkle on crispy bacon and toast on Medium. I ate a plate of these before my friends arrived and I had to make another plate (shhh, don't tell them.)

RECIPE: Butternut Squash Butter

1/2 Butternut Squash (Roasted, seeds removed and pulp scooped out)

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla

Juice of 1/2 Orange

2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

pinch of salt

1) In a saucepan, heat and stir the pulp from the roasted Butternut Squash with all the other ingredients, just until combined and very warm.

2) Carefully, pour all into a blender and puree until smooth, then return to saucepan.

3) Heat and stir the puree on Med. for about 10-15 minutes. Most of the liquid should be gone and the mixture will mound into a smooth spreadable consistency.

4) Taste a cooled portion and adjust seasoning to your desire.

5) Allow to cool, then store in a clean container in the refrigerator. It will last for a couple weeks.

I've been trying this Butternut Squash Butter in so many different things: Stirred into Quinoa, added to the center of cornbread muffins, and mixed into a chicken salad.

If you think of other ways or try them, please add it to the comments here or on the ShowFood Chef Facebook page (HERE.) Thanks for stopping by~

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Elvis Macarons - Banana, Peanut Butter & Jelly

I doubt Elvis Presley ever tasted a French Macaron,
but if he had I bet he would've loved this

Banana Macaron filled with Peanut Butter and Jelly.

As Rockabilly legend has it, Elvis loved Peanut Butter Sandwiches with banana. So, this is a tribute to his flavor combo. Today (January 8th) is Elvis's birthday. Of course, being from the South, I grew up hearing a lot about the "King", his music and his movies. However, I can never forget his birthday because it's the same as my daughter's birth date.She has heard "Oh, you have the same birthday as Elvis Presley" since she was very young. Since her birthday was so close to the holidays, I always tried to give her birthday a theme, so it would stand out separate from the seasonal celebrations and be it's own personal event. One year, we made it all about Elvis love. We put up a large poster of Elvis on the garage door and the girls played "Pin the paper kiss on Elvis" while blindfolded. It was our version of "Pin the tail on the donkey". We also had a guitar shaped pinata filled with favorite candies, and little plastic take-home bags with postcards of Elvis and 1950's themed toys. I even made a cake in the shape of an old record, we rented Jail House Rock, and they all danced to his music. My daughter is a beautiful grown woman today (her birthday) and in a couple months she will be giving birth to her very own baby girl. Can you tell I'm so excited?In honor of the memories of Elvis and childhood flavors that always taste good together, I hope you'll enjoy making these Banana Macarons filled with Peanut Butter and Jelly.The recipe for the macarons is based on the original recipe I've used from Sweet Tartelette since I learned to make macarons in a class with her in Los Angeles. I've tweaked it just a bit to include Dried Organic Banana Chips. Even though the flavors of Peanut Butter and Jelly may bring back childhood fun, the elegance of Macarons are very adult. Happy Birthday to Elvis, but especially my sweet first born baby girl.

How-To pictures can be found by clicking HERE or HERE-

RECIPE: Banana Macarons with Peanut Butter & Jelly
(Macaron ingredients are adapted from "Tartlette" and the ingredients are in weights as that's the most accurate measure here, but you can also use a conversion chart online : here is one)

200 grams Powdered Sugar
110 grams ground almonds
18 grams Ground Dried Banana Chips

90 grams Egg Whites
25 grams Sugar
1/4 cup Peanut Butter
1/4 cup Jelly or Jam

1) In a large bowl, sieve the ground almonds, ground banana chips and powdered sugar.
2) In a mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy and slightly stiff, then add in sugar and continue to whip until stiff.
3) Fold the dry ingredients into the whipped whites, incorporating completely until the consistency is like lava.
4) Fill a large pastry bag with the macaron lava and pipe small even rounds onto a silpat or parchment covered baking sheet.
5) Allow them to set out to dry the tops for 30-45 minutes.
6) Cook in a preheated oven 300F for about 18 minutes.
7) Allow to cool, then spread one underside of a macaron with peanut butter and another macaron with jelly. Sandwich together.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Cowboy Chili - Chunky Style

Nothing says party like a bowl of Cowboy Chili - Chunky Style. It's easy to make ahead for a crowd, but also makes a cozy solo bowl on a lap tray in front of your favorite movie. There are so many people, cities and states that claim to make the "Best Chili." For a brief time, a few years ago, I lived in Texas. I can tell you, Texas pride is alive and well. In fact, Texas is the only state that petitioned to have Chili be the state food, and won. There is a Terlingua song that includes the lyrics: If you know beans about chili, you know that chili has no beans. In Texas it's often called "A Bowl of Red".

However, I grew up in North Carolina where the best chili I ever had included many types of beans and three kinds of meat. Even the cut of the meat varied from city to city.
Another style, called Cincinnati Chili, is mixed with warm spices including cloves and cocoa. It's often served over spaghetti or as a hotdog topping. When patrons order they say one of these:

Bowl: chili in a bowl
Two-way: Chili and spaghetti
Three-way: chili, spaghetti and cheese
Four-way: chili, spaghetti, cheese and onions
Five-way: chili, spaghetti, cheese, onions, and beans

The origins of chili have just as many varied claims, but most credit the cowboys and pioneers of Texas. As the case for a lot of stews, it probably began as a poor man's way of making the most of the meats, spices, herbs and dried products available.
The chili recipe I've been making for years is a combination of my favorite bowls of chili across the United States and a recipe from a paperback book called "Cookery for Entertaining" by Marlene Sorosky.

I was given that book in North Carolina when I was in college and by the time I was married and had my first baby girl I had made almost every recipe in the book. The other day I saw it was selling on Amazon for $200.00. My copy is in pieces, held together with tape, and some recipes only legible to me and my memory. I've tweaked it a bit to fit my taste and to add some of the warm spices I love, including a little beer sometimes to keep it interesting.
I hope you'll try it, and I know you'll love it. This is one of my most requested party foods. I highly recommend a nice slab of skillet corn bread to sop up the bottom of the bowl.

[Today's chili is one of the recipes included in our Let's Lunch bunch (a group of bloggers all over the world having a virtual lunch together.) So, you are in luck -- click on these other sites to see a whole world of Chili recipes and ideas, too. The recipe for my Cowboy Chili-Chunky Style can be found at the bottom of the page~]

Let's Lunch on Chili:

Zest Bakery -Charissa‘s Clean Out Refrigerator Night Cassoulet

Cowgirl Chef - Chicken Tinga Chili

Dreaming of Pots and Pans -Dave's Chili

Burnt-Out Baker - Vegetarian Chili

HapaMama - Chinese New Year Chili

GeoFooding - Hawaiian Chili

Spicebox Travels - Vegan Vaquero Chili

A Cook And Her Books - Full of Beans Chili

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan - Keema Chili

RECIPE: Cowboy Chili - Chunky Style

(makes about 8 servings)

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs. Stew Beef, bite-size cubes
2 lbs. Sausage meat
1 can (28oz) Whole Tomatoes
1 can (6oz) Tomato paste
3 Tablespoons Chipotle Chili powder
2 Teaspoons Cumin
2 Teaspoons Dried Thyme
1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Sugar
*optional* 4 oz. Dark Beer or Ale
1 can (15oz) Organic Baked Beans
1 can (15oz) Kidney Beans
1 can (15oz) Pinto Beans

1) In a deep pot, heat the oil on Medium. Add the onions and garlic, cooking just until soft.

2) Add the beef and sausage and cook until all pink is gone. Stir and break up sausage to cook evenly.

3) Pour the whole tomatoes into a bowl and hand crush them, then add them to the meat in the pot, along with tomato paste, chipotle powder, cumin, thyme, cocoa, salt, sugar, baked beans and beer (if using.)

4) Stir, cover the pot, and simmer on low for about 2 hours. Stir occasionally and add a little water if needed.

5) Stir in the kidney beans and pinto beans and continue to cook for about another 30 minutes. The beef should be very tender.

This tastes even better the next day after the flavors have combined in the refrigerator. This also freezes really well and can be reheated til bubbly hot on the stove, or in the oven at 350F.