Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sausage Quiche

Imagine that you have just woken on a Saturday morning. The weather is warming, and the sun is out. Sure, there's still a ton of ice and snow covering the ground, but it will be gone soon. Your stomach rumbles, reminding you just how hungry you are. But what to eat? You open your refrigerator to discover lots of food that doesn't necessarily go together, what to do?

This very situation is why I've begun referring to quiches as the garbage disposals of breakfast foods. You want breakfast, and your fridge needs some deep cleaning. A quiche is a great way to load up your breakfast with veggies and good stuff, but keep delicious flavor and filling breakfast. Plus who doesn't love pie, especially a savory breakfast pie?

Making a quiche is almost impossible to mess up. Substitutes and imagination are rewarded with this breakfast food (something you can't say about scones, trust me!). My recipe details the dish we made this last weekend, but you can feel free to adjust and change the ingredient list to suit your own taste and availability.

Sausage Quiche
Serves 4-6
What You'll Need:
a small mixing bowl
a wire whisk
a cheese grater

1 frozen deep dish pie crust and pan
4 eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Jarlsberg (or other Swiss) cheese, divided
1/2 cup half and half
1 spicy sausage, chopped *
4 stalks asparagus, chopped
1 small handful spinach, chopped into ribbons
1/4 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small handful fresh Italian parsley (optional), chopped
2 cloves garlic
Black pepper and salt to taste

* A spicy Italian sausage would really kick this up. Any other leftover meat would be fabulous, especially if well spiced.

What You'll Do:
Preheat oven to 375°.

Remove pie crust from freezer and allow to thaw for 10 minutes. Into bottom of crust, evenly spread chopped sausage, asparagus and spinach.

In a small mixing bowl, combine eggs, cream, spices, garlic, parsley and 1/4 cup of cheese. Beat until well combined. Pour egg mixture over the top of prepared crust and filling. Top with remaining cheese, spreading evenly.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. When the filling is set and the cheesy top is a golden brown, it's time to remove from the oven.

Let cool for 5 minutes, then serve while warm.

Maple Pecan Lace Cookies

You know how families always seem to have the food that just shows up every Christmas? It's not the "family specialty" but it always seems to be there nonetheless. This cookie is just that for my family. Blame it on my grandmother's sweet tooth, but it seems to me that these cookies are always around for the holidays.

I am so not complaining.

Look at these things! Basically just butter, sugar and maple flavoring, these cookies beg you to mush them into your mouth and let them melt, melt, melt away. I would make them once a week, if I wasn't sure that eating that many would render me unable to fit through my doorway. I suppose saving these for special occasions has a bit of practical reasoning.

If you have a special occasion coming up (like birthdays, holidays or a weekend), I suggest these cookies. They are one of the easiest baked goods I have ever come across. Additionally, the time from mixing bowl to hand is remarkably short (just 15 minutes!).

What are you waiting for? Grab your mixing bowl already!

Maple Pecan Lace Cookies
Makes approx. 40 cookies

What You'll Need:
a wooden spoon
a large mixing bowl
a medium bowl
a teaspoon
2 baking sheets (to alternate)
A cooling rack or sheet
Parchment Paper (this is NOT optional, trust me)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg, room temperature
2 tsp maple extract
1/2 cup sifted all purpose flour*
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine grain salt
2/3 cup pecans, very finely chopped

* I used whole wheat pastry flour, but the recipe was originally developed for white. Use whichever you prefer.

What You'll Do:
Cover your baking sheets in parchment paper. Position rack at center of oven, and preheat oven to 400°.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together baking soda and salt into the flour until evenly distributed. Set aside.

Using a wooden spoon, cream butter and sugar together in your mixing bowl. When smooth, beat in your egg and maple extract. Slowly add your flour mixture into the butter mixture and stir until well combined.

Stir in your pecans.

Drop by teaspoons onto your baking sheet. Make sure to space at least 2 inches apart, as these will spread quite a bit.

Place in center of rack and bake until cookies just begin to brown in the center. Your ideal cookie will look slightly undone in the center and a little crunchy around the outside. This will take about 6 minutes. Immediately remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for another 6 minutes. Once cooled enough to be firm, remove cookies with a clean spatula and transfer to rack to continue to cool.

Enjoy warm, crumbled over ice cream or with coffee. Or, if you are like me, you could just leave them out on the table and enjoy them all the time. Yum!

  • You must use parchment paper if you ever want to remove this batter from your cookie sheets. We've battled these sticky little monsters for years before discovering the parchment paper miracle. I'm just saving you the disappointment and heartbreak.
  • Additionally, to help remove these cookies from the baking sheet: Keep your spatula clean of cookie 'gunk', and make sure you let the cookies cool enough on the baking sheet. If the treats are still too warm, the centers will not set and you will end up with scrunched up gooey balls (these are perfect as ice cream topping!).

Spicy Garlic Greens

Hi all! It's been quite a long time since my last post, which means plenty of breakfasts, dinners and delectable desserts have crossed through my kitchen. I have to apologize for my absence. Starting your own business can certainly eat up any free time you thought you had. Geesh. Anyway, to get us started again I have a recipe for a simple meal. It's easy, it's delicious and it's even good for you!

I developed this recipe one morning when my fridge seemed to be overflowing with a multitude of green things. It looked as though we'd been grocery shopping with 4 or 5 shots of vodka behind us and a healthy addiction for the color green. Collard greens, spinach, asparagus, broccoli ... all of it just reached up and whispered, "eat me before you forget I'm in here!" I sighed and reached for the produce and some garlic. Luckily, my improved cooking rewarded me with a tasty meal.

I know what you are thinking. You know you should eat more greens, but you don't like them. Yet, while most people usually make faces of disgust when confronted with cooked greens (or greens of any type!), I'm imploring you to take another look! Far from being bitter or bland, these greens are lent a subtle flavor from the olive oil and a savory taste with the cayenne pepper and garlic. They'll leave you wondering why you never tried this before

I have found that greens can be comfort food, a filling breakfast, or even accompany a dinner meat dish. This recipe goes well with just about anything. My current favorite way to enjoy this dish is topped with a sliced hard boiled egg and a little shaved Romano cheese. What a delicious (and simple!) breakfast!

With any recipe (like this one) relying heavily on the taste of the ingredients, you will want to start with the freshest and highest quality ingredients you can find.

Spicy Garlic Greens
Serves 1-2

What You'll Need:
A small skillet

1 handful Collard Greens (about 4 large leaves, with stems)
1 handful Spinach
4-5 stalks fresh Asparagus (or 2-3 florets fresh Broccoli), roughly chopped
2-3 cloves Garlic, finely minced
1 tsp cayenne pepper, ground
1 tsp (approximate) freshly ground Black Pepper
A dash of sea salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

What You'll Do:
Over a medium-low heat, combine the olive oil and garlic. Add in spices and asparagus and stir. Make sure to watch the garlic so that it does not brown, simply stir occasionally to stop this.

Meanwhile, take your collard greens and remove the stems from the leaf. Chop stems roughly and add into the heated mixture. Stir to coat. Cook on medium-low for 2-3 minutes.

Chop collard leaves and spinach into ribbons. Add them to the prepared mixture and stir to coat with oil mixture. Continue cooking until leaves slightly darken in intensity and slightly wilt. Remove from heat immediately and serve.

If you are sensitive to spice, simply substitute the cayenne pepper for paprika. Additionally, you may substitute any vegetable for the asparagus. Broccoli works extremely well, as does cauliflower. If you wish, you could also leave out the other vegetable and just increase the amount of greens. It's up to you!

Great serving ideas:
  • Top with a handful of grated Parmesan or Jarlsberg cheese.
  • Just before removing from heat, scramble in an egg.
  • Add sliced chicken breast.
  • Top with a hard boiled egg and Romano cheese.