Sunday, August 8, 2010

Smoked Gouda, Bacon, and Spinach Quiche

I've been wanting to make quiche for a few weeks. And then a friend had a baby and gave me an excuse! I don't know why baby=quiche. But it works.

Mom makes sheets of quiche. She always has been good at making a lot of something that takes time, so that we can reap the benefits for more than one meal. I personally don't like the idea of rolling out a cookie sheet sized piece of pie crust. ;)

This one is savory and a good blend of egg and cream. I didn't have the right amount of half and half but I had heavy cream! So adjusted amounts of liquid are accounted for below. And if you have time to par bake the crust, I recommend it. Makes for a flakier version.

I usually make a 2 crust recipe no matter what I am making and either use it for a deep dish version or save the second portion:
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 c plus 2 T shortening
4-6 T ice cold water

Pre-heat over to 425.
Mix flour and salt. Cut shortening into flour mixture until pea sized crumbs form, Add water one T at a time and toss with a fork until mixture can shape into a ball. Cut in half for two crusts.
Line 9+ inch pie plate, set in refrigerator for 10-15 min, and then place a piece of foil over the crust and fill with rice or uncooked beans. Bake at 425 for 10 min, remove foil, bake another 5 min. Let cool.

4-6 strips bacon, cooked for 5 min, chopped
4 oz smoked gouda shredded
small handful of baby spinach chopped
Put these on the bottom of the baked crust.
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
4 eggs
salt, pepper

Whisk together cream, milk, and eggs. Add salt and pepper. Cover the other fillings with this mixture. Bake for 50-55 min, until knife comes out clean. Cover edges during baking if browning too fast.



Campfire Meals

When camping, sometimes, it's nice to eat hotdogs. Because part of being on vacation is not having to work.

But sometimes it's also nice to eat a hot, tasty, and hearty meal, while sitting by the fire. Those can be easy too! Always good to have a simple plan for some potential meals and then wing it. Keeping hotdogs tucked in the cooler for those lazier nights.

Shawnie is the queen of delectable meals while camping. Several years back we had a full thanksgiving dinner, campfire side, thanks to her genius. Pies (pre-made) and fried turkey to boot! The bears thought the turkey was a great idea too. But that's a whole other story.

This is one meal we came up with last week during vacation and it was the best variation yet. Great way to cook and eat leftover scraps or purposeful things without much cleanup. Any meat, potatoes and veggies would work and you don't really have to be camping to try it. It works well that everyone can put in as much of the options as they choose.

We just was cut up left over mushrooms, red onion, sweet corn, and the last few potatoes. Added some apple-chicken sausage…

Laid it out on some cooking spray coated heavy duty foil (oh, and put a few dabs of butter, salt, pepper, and garlic powder on it)…

Then we made little pouches and set them on some hot coals for about 25 min with a few shakes here and there (we left a small gap at the top of each pouch for steam ventilation)…

Ohhh, and they were tasty!

We've done this on previous camping trips with large foil packs of zucchini, yellow squash, and tons of fresh garlic. And the old-stand-by of potatoes, onions, and peppers.

If interested in more camping ideas…

Homemade Mac-n-Cheese: making a cheese sauce takes little time and if you bring a pot big enough to boil some pasta, voila! Just keep the fire at a consistent temperature.

Rice and Bean Burritos: we like to use Goya rice/bean mixes. I think the black bean one is best, and either make it ahead or right on the fire. Stuff a large tortilla with that and some shredded cheese and canned refried beans and wrap it in foil. Put it on the coals long enough to heat it through. This is a great tasting meal!

Ramen Noodles: these don't have to be just boring college food. After a long hike last week, we made up a few packs of these noodles. But we only used part of the included seasoning, preferring our own flavor combination: a can of diced tomatoes, slabs of cheddar cheese, lots of black pepper, and tuna.



Thursday, August 5, 2010

Simple Meals - A Flavorful Life

I've learned many things from my Grandpa Romero. Perhaps the most important is truly valuing the simple things life has to offer; family, friends and good food. Thankfully, he's been surrounded by all three throughout his life.

His food memories are vivid and shared with passion.
Whether it's bringing to life a bowl of oatmeal from his childhood (topped with salt and butter), a roasted chicken from his Mother's kitchen, raw clams from a family reunion, or describing in detail the hearty lunches my grandmother prepared for him while working at the steel mill, his stories bring you back to a point in time when particular foods (and the people who prepared them) brought flavor to his life.

This ability to tie fond food memories to feelings of being cared for, loved and celebrated, allows him to appreciate flavor over lavish ingredients, simplicity over complexity.
It isn't uncommon for my Grandpa to sit down to a PLATTER of corn for a mid-August dinner. He will eat corn - only corn. Because it's what is good and flavorful. Why fill up on chicken, when you can eat chicken any other night of the year? And he doesn't lather it with butter. He thinks it muddles the sweet flavor. I think he's right.

He has also been known to skip dinner on a hot summer night and treat himself to not one, but TWO black raspberry ice cream cones. Because black raspberry ice cream is delicious, and it tastes best eaten outside when you need to compete with the heat to consume it. He likes vanilla as well, or maple walnut if he's feeling sassy. "Who dropped a candy bar in my ice cream?" he exclaims with a sly grin when presented with any other flavor. A purist? Yes. Picky? Possibly.

This is also the man (along with my parents and grandmother) who introduced my sisters and me to the "indoor picnic". Many holidays - long, laborious hours in the kitchen were traded for an extensive list of cheeses, sausages, produce, and artisan breads to be grazed for hours. (How very ancient Rome of us... ;)

Many cooks today are famous for doing what both my grandparents just inherently know...cook good food, with great ingredients, and you'll produce satisfying meals that family and friends can build memories around.

This summer meal was inspired by in-season vegetables, on-hand ingredients and by my Grandpa, lover of all things simple and delicious.

Easy Summer Dinner
Scrambled Eggs (with fresh herbs):
5 large eggs
Dash of cream
Tiny pinch of salt
Tiny dash of garlic powder
Scattering of fresh herbs
Whisk together and cook on med heat in frying pan with 1 tbsp butter - slowly scrapping down pan until desired texture.

Fresh tomatoes, sprinkled with salt, fresh herbs and vinaigrette

Corn on the cob cooked in boiling water with a tablespoon of sugar (approx 10 mins)

Fresh bread - the best you can get your hands on