Friday, May 20, 2011

Francais night at Book Club

My book club met last night to discuss Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. Conclusion: recommended.

We meet at a member's house to discuss the book and have a pot luck dinner. We try to match our menu to the setting in the book so our theme was France. There are some amazing cooks in our group and last night was a foodies dream. We had wonderful cheeses, pate, bread, an onion tart, fresh fruit, roasted vegetables and delightful fruit tarts plus, I'm reluctant to say, much more. I made 2 quiches which even got a thumb's up from our resident French femme, Adeline. We met at her house and were treated to her delightful style and many creative and beautiful touches including an enchanting dinner table.

Though I usually use recipes I really didn't for the quiches and was happy they turned out so well. I made one with bacon and one with asparagus for my vegetarian friends.

Sarah's Key quiche

for the crusts:

1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 stick (8 tablespoons) COLD unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 - 4 tablespoons ice cold water (I put ice and water in measuring cup and used tablespoon to add water to flour mixture.)

Note: the ingredients above make 1 crust. Repeat for a second crust.

Add flour and butter to food processor and pulse until it resembles bread crumbs. Pulse in cold water 1 tablespoon at a time. After 3 tablespoons see if dough holds together. If not add another 1/2 - 1 tablespoon water. Do not overmix. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and mush it together into a rough ball. Divide into several pieces and knead a couple of times. Form it into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Flatten into a disk and chill. If you're like me and in a hurry place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove it from the freezer and place in the refrigerator so that it will not be too hard to work with.

Bacon, Onion and Garlic Quiche

3-4 strips uncured or nitrate free bacon
1/2 large red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled, cored and pressed
~1 1/2 - 2 cups sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup 1/2 and 1/2 or milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
~1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
9" pie pan, greased with butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook bacon until crisp in non-stick pan. Drain bacon on paper towels. Pour out the bacon fat until there is only a thin film left in the pan. Add the chopped onions and saute about 20 minutes until very soft and translucent. Add the garlic and saute a few minutes until it is fragrant and starting to sweeten. Put aside.

Add the 1/2 and 1/2 or milk to the eggs and blend. Add the cheese, salt and pepper and nutmeg. Mix in the onion mixture. Chop the bacon and mix in with the other ingredients.

Take your crust out of the refrigerator and put on lightly floured surface. Roll out the crust thinly until you have a piece larger than your pie pan. Fold in 1/2 or 1/4 to transfer to pan. Open it up and let some hang over the edges. Press it down into pan and using a knife trim off the excess at edge. With your fingers crimp the edges. Poke holes into the bottom of the crust. Pour your filling into the crust.

If making two quiches you can put the 1st one aside to pour the filling into the second one and bake together. Make sure you have both crusts ready before you pour in the filling of the 1st one. Bake for about 25 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling is set. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Asparagus, Green Onion Quiche

~1 pound slender spears asparagus, ends trimmed
4 green onions, thinly sliced
~2 cups Gruyere, grated
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup 1/2 and 1/2 or milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon thyme
9" pie pan, greased with butter

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Blanche the asparagus for about 3 minutes. Drain thoroughly and let cool. Chop asparagus into small pieces.

Add the 1/2 and 1/2 or milk to the eggs and blend. Add the cheese, salt and pepper and thyme. Mix in the asparagus and green onions.

Use the method above for the crust, adding the filling and baking.

The nice thing about quiche like fritatta is that you can use any vegetable like spinach or artichokes even leftovers. I like the veggies cooked even though you cook the quiche. Just make sure the vegetables are cut into bite size pieces. You can also experiment with different cheeses. Half of the cheddar I used was lite. I wasn't crazy about the texture so I added 1/2 regular cheddar. You can even make them crustless to save on calories or carbs.

With all the spring and summer vegetables coming make quiche.,, and the New Basics cookbook,, have good ideas for fillings if you're stumped. Or leave me a comment and I'll answer you back. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

White Turkey Redux

I made the white turkey chili this week because it's been cold (relatively) and rainy here but I tweaked a couple of things that I thought I'd share.

In the original recipe it called for ground turkey and cubed turkey breast. I omitted the turkey breast when I posted the recipe. When I made the chili this week I used ground turkey and meat from a smoked turkey leg. It added a nice smoky meatiness. I also mistakenly bought lima beans instead of butter beans. You would think a girl from the South would remember the difference but my white turkey chili was Green & White Chili. Oh well, Mike & I like both. If you don't like butter beans (or limas) substitute white, navy or cannellini beans. The point is play with your food. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Taco Night

Last week the company I work for had a pot luck lunch on our roof top deck. We pick a theme and everyone contributes. We even have a grill and 2 guys who love to man it. The grill guys, Mike and Sonny, brought al pastor, marinated pork, that they had bought at a Mexican market. It was delicious!

I thought about buying some for dinner this week and decided I could make it myself. I googled al pastor and was inundated with recipes. Most included surprisingly, pineapple in some form. I ended up combining 2 recipes, 1 from Rick Bayless and 1 from Steven Raichlen via

Al Pastor my way

3 1/2-ounce package achiote paste (I found this at a Mexican market)
3 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, plus 4 tablespoons of the canning sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced (use 1/2 for the marinade and save 1/2)
kosher salt
1/4 of a medium pineapple, cored and cut into pieces
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup cider vinegar plus 1/2 cup for marinated onions
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and cored plus 2 more for guacamole
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds thin-sliced pork shoulder

small, warm corn tortillas with green chiles
your favorite salsa (We had some made by one of Mike's employees)
finely chopped cilantro
cole slaw mix or shredded cabbage
1-2 avocados
lime wedges

I basically threw the first 11 ingredients into my food processor and pureed it together. I added this mixture to a large ziplock bag and added the pork slices. I let this marinate in the refrigerator for about 8 hours.

While I preheated the oven to about 450 degrees I took the 2nd 1/2 of the onions and marinated them in a 1/2 cup cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 tablespoon sugar.

I made guacamole by mashing the avocados with 2 large garlic cloves, juice of 1/2 lime and kosher salt. I had a tiny bit of sour cream (maybe 1 tablespoon) and added that too.

I cooked the pork on a broiler pan for about 7 minutes per side. I chopped into small pieces to fit into the small tortillas.

I laid out the chopped pork, tortillas, guacamole, onions, slaw mix, cilantro and salsa and Mike and I assembled our tacos. Delicious flavors and combos and any leftover pineapple is great for dessert.


Monday, May 9, 2011

As Aunt Voula says "That's ok, I'll make lamb"

I love lamb, tahini, pita bread and all the things that go with them. Food & Wine had an article about NYC street food that included a recipe for lamb shawarma by Grace Parisi. Right up my alley!

Lamb Shawarma my way

2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 garlic cloves, peeled, cored and pressed (2 for marinade & 2 for sauce)
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt
3/4 pound lamb london broil, visible fat trimmed and meat thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, cut into thin slivers
1/2 cup tahini
2 tablespoons plain goat yogurt
hot sauce, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, warmed Noor Afghani whole wheat flatbread or pita bread, for serving

In a baking dish, combine the cumin and oregano with 2 of the garlic cloves and 3 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Stir in the oil and a generous pinch of salt. Add the lamb and onion and let stand for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a mini food processor, combine the tahini with 1/2 cup of water and the remaining garlic and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and puree until smooth. Add the yogurt and puree until creamy. Season with salt.

Heat a large skillet until very hot. Add the lamb and onion and cook over high heat, turning occasionally, until the meat and onion are charred and tender, about 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to plates and serve with the tahini sauce, hot sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and bread.

I liked this better than Mike but I like this kind of street food and flavors.
We made little wraps or sandwiches with different combinations of ingredients. I love this kind of thing. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday Night Supper

Mike and I ate out most of the week and I was craving a home cooked meal. I wanted something warm and simple. I had found a recipe online from

It's called Deviled Chicken Thighs and it seemed the perfect thing for a chilly Sunday night.

Deviled Chicken Thighs my way

1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled, cored and pressed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Panko bread crumbs
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line jelly roll pan with foil. In a large bowl, mix mustard, Worcestershire, red pepper flakes, garlic and thyme until blended.

Toss chicken with mustard mixture; place on jelly roll pan in the middle of the oven. Bake chicken about 10 minutes. Spin pan and bake another 7 minutes. Sprinkle chicken with crumbs (do not turn chicken over). Return the pan to the oven and broil about 4 minutes longer or until crumbs are browned.

I roasted a small bunch of asparagus, some sliced red onion and a sweet potato, peeled and sliced, at the same time on the lower rack. I tossed them with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. The vegetables took a bit longer than the chicken but by only a few minutes.

The chicken had a really nice flavor with a kick from the red pepper flakes, the asparagus, onions and sweet potatoes were delicious accompaniment. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pizza Party!

Our friends, Cindy and Eric came over Saturday night for dinner. I have been going through the bon appetit May issue, The Italy Issue and decided to try the pizza dough recipe and one of the asparagus recipes. Pizza and asparagus! Doesn't get much better.

I got into the habit of buying pizza dough from a restaurant near my office which made it so easy to make pizza any night. I'd buy two pieces of dough and make Abigail a vegetarian pizza and would usually make Mike and I a lamb, smoked mozzarella and plum pizza from the San Francisco Chronicle. Sounds strange but it is truly delicious and was a hit with Cindy and Eric.

The restaurant has gone out of business and I haven't made pizza since. I'd been wanting to make it again and knew I wanted to try home made pizza dough. A dinner party seemed a great opportunity to go for it. One of the many things I love about making your own pizza is that you control what's on it and it tends to be healthier that way.

I also made a strawberry rhubarb crumble from The Fearless Baker so there will be several recipes here today. Make one or make them all I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Roman Style Pizza Dough

2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/4 cups (or more) unbleached, all-purpose flour
corn meal for dusting

Combine 3/4 cup warm water (105°-115°), sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let sit until spongy, 4-5 minutes. Mix in olive oil and salt. Stir in 2 1/4 cups flour. Turn out onto a work surface; knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticking, about 6 minutes. Grease a large bowl with oil. Add dough, cover bowl with plastic; let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

After it rose I covered the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Take the dough out of the fridge about 1 hour before you are going to make your pizzas. This make 2 pizzas.

I use a pizza stone. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees and put in your stone. Let it heat up for at least 20 minutes before cooking your pizzas.

Divide the dough in 2 pieces. Roll or stretch into a large rectangle. Cover with a kitchen towel and let sit for 15 minutes.

Lamb, Plum & Smoked Mozzarella Pizza

3/4 pound ground lamb
1 teaspoon thyme
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 black plums, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
Very thin slices of red onion, as desired
4 ounces mildly smoked mozzarella, grated

Place a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium heat and brown lamb, breaking it into small pieces. Drain any grease. Add the thyme. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Place the pizza crust on a rimless baking sheet coated with corn meal. Spread lamb evenly over pizza crust, and then add plums, onion and cheese. Shake the pizza off the baking sheet onto the pizza stone preheated in the oven. Bake pizza for 8 minutes or until cheese has melted and the edges of the crust are golden brown. Use the rimless baking sheet to slide under the pizza and remove it from the stone. Slice and serve immediately.

For the other pizza I layered about 1/3 pound of prosciutto over the pizza dough, then added slices of burrata. When I took the pizza out of the oven I tossed 2 large handfuls of arugula onto the pizza right before serving.

Shaved Asparagus with Parmesan Vinaigrette

~ about 2 pounds of asparagus, trimmed and peeled
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus a piece for shaving
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Working with 1 asparagus spear at a time, use a vegetable peeler to shave spears into long, thin shavings. I found this works best when you lay the spears on a cutting board and peel away from you. If you try to hold them and peel the spears will break. The tips will snap off as spears get thinner. Transfer to a bowl.

Combine grated Parmesan and lemon juice in a small glass measuring cup and whisk in oil until well blended. Season vinaigrette generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle vinaigrette over shaved asparagus and toss to coat. Use peeler to shave more Parmesan over salad.

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The Fearless Baker Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 1/2 pints strawberries
2 large stalks rhubarb
2/3 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
grated zest of 1 lemon

Melt the butter and let it cool to room temperature. Put it in a bowl with the flour, brown sugar and sugar and mix together.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the stems and cut into about 4 pieces. Transfer to a bowl. Cut the rhubarb into 3/4 inch pieces. Add to the strawberries. Add the sugar, cornstarch and lemon zest and toss together.

Spread evenly in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Spread the topping evenly over the fruit. Bake the crumble into the filling is thick and bubbly and the topping is golden, about 35-40 minutes. Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

This was a fun and delicious meal. If you have more people and a big kitchen your guests could pitch in making the pizzas. Pinot noir is great with the lamb pizza and the prosciutto. I am looking forward to making pizza dough again and having another pizza night. Enjoy!