Archive for January, 2012
When I was a kid, there were certain foods that I always hoped I’d see when I went to a family gathering. One of those was my Aunt Kay’s quiche. I woke up yesterday craving quiche, so I made one and took some pictures along the way. Here is my recipe:
This is another recipe that you can really customize to make it your own. It’s awesome with a variety of vegetables, meats, cheeses, and spices. Imagine sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and gouda or feta. Or perhaps sausage, bacon, and cheddar. Asparagus, mushroom, and swiss/provalone? Quiche is comfort food at its best, as it conforms to your individual taste as you put into it whatever will make you happy. All you need to do is place whatever fillings you want into the crust, top with cheese, and pour over the egg mixture. It works best if you place the largest pieces (for instance, broccoli) on bottom, followed by smaller pieces. This will fill in the space between the larger pieces and make sure your fillings don’t take up too much space and burn above the egg mixture. Filled, it should look about like this picture with a little bit of space between the top of the fillings and the top of the crust. If yours has more filling in it, just place it on a cookie sheet before baking in case it bubbles over (otherwise you may be cleaning burnt cheese and egg from the bottom of your oven).
For the crust, I use an Oil Pie Crust Recipe from AllRecipes.com. Now – I love a crust made with butter as much as the next Southerner, but quiche is very rich with the eggs and cheese, and the oil-based crust really does complement it well without stealing the show. If you use this recipe for crust, take the recommendation of the reviewers and roll it out between plastic wrap or wax paper. Since it’s oil-based, you don’t want to get the oil all over your rolling pin and yourself, and if you add enough flour to soak up all the oil, you’ll have way too much flour and it will be tough (speaking of which, make sure you sift the flour before measuring or it will be too much). The best thing about this recipe is how forgiving it is. It is much easier to press seams together if you rip this dough than a traditional pastry is.If you don’t want to make your own crust, there’s nothing wrong with buying a pre-made crust.
With that, I’ll leave you to your own devices to create your perfect quiche. Come back and let me know what you put in yours and how it tasted!
If you’re keeping score, mark last night as another night with a dream you’d have thought was induced by tizanidine, if I was still taking it.
I was in the UK, staying with Jethro and Emily. I’m not sure if it was a house or a flat, but I’m sure it was quite old. It was a quaint and comfortable place with 2 dogs and several cats (No, Emily, I did not just call you a cat lady). I was cold, so I attempted to raise the temperature on the thermostat. This was a device installed on the wall so that the top was about eye level and about the size of a pillow. While it had visible signs of wear that would date it to be at least 30-40 years old, it had a digital display and buttons retrofitted into it. Three buttons, in fact: Up (+), Down (-), and Mode (M). When I approached it, it displayed “62.5°F” (Yes, Fahrenheit). I pressed the Up button, and it incremented by .5°F until it reached 64.0°F, where it then jumped to 98.5°F. I pressed the Down button, but saw it jumped right back down into the 60s.
Emily and Jethro both sat on the sofa laughing. Emily suggested I try the Mode button. I did so, and it turned off. Another press, and the lights dimmed. Another press, and music started playing – the soundtrack from Kinky Boots, a movie (based on a true story about a shoemaker from Northampton) I highly recommend if you haven’t seen it. Another press, the lights returned. Another press, and the temperature flashed, indicating I was back in temperature control mode. Pressing Up and Down however yielded the same results. Finally, through fits of uncontrollable laughter at my lack of understanding of English technology, she cackled “Just add nutmeg! Don’t you know only a cat can fine-tune the temperature the way you want it from inside?”
I inspected the device further, and there was a micro grater above the controls, and on the side of the device was a cutout, showing a hollow interior with a carpeted bottom. Inside on the front were several lights and buttons with no labels; I had no clue what they were for. It reminded me of the Wizard’s secret control room behind the curtain on The Wizard of Oz. Emily repeated that I should add nutmeg, and handed me a whole seed. I grated it using the micro grater, and a black cat came running and jumped through the opening on the side. The cat made some huffing noises, then purred and jumped around.
“Tell it what you want,” Emily said. So I said, “Sixty-nine and a half degrees, please.” Several beeps later, the display read exactly as I had requested, and the cat jumped back down to the floor and made a figure eight between my legs, spreading brown dust on my jeans.
Then, I woke up. With “Yes Sir I Can Boogie” from Kinky Boots stuck in my head. 0_o
Now, I’ll admit, I don’t actually have any idea if thermostats are similar at all in the UK to those here in the States, but I’ll look that up later. I am pretty sure, however, they probably aren’t as big as this was, aren’t powered by cats, and don’t require nutmeg. Also - Celsius.
I also know that after waking up thinking about nutmeg, I can’t get the idea of baking a quiche out of my head, and I have plenty of eggs. So, as soon as this is published, I’m off to cook!
I approach cooking in a way similar to how I approach many things in life. I tend to strip things down to a pattern or template, then rebuild them in my own style. Such was the case this New Year’s Eve when I came up with a recipe for Baked Artichoke Dip that I can’t wait to make again.
It started as a recipe for pizza dip, where you press cream cheese into the bottom of a glass pie pan, top with a jar of pizza sauce, then the pizza toppings you like, finish with cheese and bake. Thinking about the people that would be at the party, I realized my friend Coral was bringing her mom, who is allergic to tomatoes, chiles, and bananas. Matthew suggested an artichoke dip instead, so I thought I’d make it in the same format and see what happened.
I used a baking dish slightly larger than a pie pan for this, so if you’re trying to follow this recipe exactly, pay attention to how much of each ingredient you think will fit into your dish. As all of these ingredients taste great on their own, and there aren’t any spices added, all of the amounts are versatile. That being said, don’t be afraid to add some kick with herbs and spices you enjoy. The great thing about making a dish like this is how personal it can be. Don’t like artichokes? Replace it with something you do like. Or, use the artichokes, but add spinach and mushrooms. Perhaps make your own Alfredo sauce, and add some roasted garlic. The possibilities are endless. All you need to remember is to (1) press cream cheese into a baking dish, (2) top with a sauce and some toppings you like, (3) add cheese, and (4) bake. Adding the things you like means you’ll be able to enjoy something truly yours, or share something with someone made especially for them.
What would you do different to this recipe to make it perfect?
It never ceases to make me laugh when I awake from a dream and am able to deconstruct why pieces of it were in my mind. I recently flew to North Carolina to see my family for a few days near Christmas. On our way to get some pit-smoked barbecue from my favorite place, we passed a place very familiar to me that was entirely different. A building that used to house a second location of my favorite seafood restaurant and a skating rink named imaginatively ”Footloose” had become a Mexican restaurant and a newly-named skating rink “Wayne’s World.” Come on, now. You have to give the Albemarlians credit for being imaginative. It’s not like this new name was *also* a movie, right? I went to the skating rink once, and my sister broke her ankle within a few minutes. That was my full life experience of skating. Here’s the building: http://bit.ly/yZb91Z. I forgot to mention – there’s a healthcare something something in the middle of the two. I digress.
What did this building become in my dream? The restaurant portion was replaced by a sushi place. Still a restaurant, but I distinctly knew in my dream that I was in Minneapolis, even though this building looked almost exactly like the building in Albemarle, down to the street and setting. The skating rink? That became, of course, a theater. As I walked in (with Matthew and his mom) I noticed a poster for the show: The Kids in the Hall – On Tour! I took off my overcoat slowly and peered at Matthew. In my dream, I hadn’t heard of The Kids in the Hall, but Matthew assured me it was one of his mom’s favorites and that I would absolutely love it. It turned out that only David Foley made it to the show, and he showed up too drunk to be funny; we ended up leaving halfway through the show. At that point in my dream, I woke up.
It was then I realized how many things my brain was piecing together. I had just gotten a Boxee Box (LOVE, by the way – if you’re thinking about getting one, do it! http://bit.ly/wWEEsa). One of the shows I saw available right before bed was The Kids in the Hall. I had also just spent a very hectic week between North Carolina and Minnesota, with lots of traveling and visiting friends and family. My mind totally mixed up which things go where, and planted that building in Minnesota. I did seem to remember, however, that we had recently gone to see A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie together, which turned out much more delightful than this show did in my dream.
Every detail I considered from my dream had been somehow on my mind in the past week. It kind of made me wonder – If I can pinpoint where all the details of my dream came from, is it possible a completely different life experience could be had with all the same details, just jumbled around in a different order? Which also made me think of all the hypotheses swirling around regarding our understanding of the cosmos. Perhaps the dream I had really happened in another universe (queue the Twilight Zone music)? Perhaps I’ve been watching too much PBS lately. Whatever the case, it’s certainly fun to discover my life on shuffle, in my dreams!