Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Broccoli Quiche

To some, quiche might sound frou frou and girly, but a quiche done properly is actually decadent and rather hearty.  I love it because it is so versatile.  It works for breakfast, lunch or dinner, its an easy weeknight meal or a dish to impress company for brunch, and you can jazz it up with an infinite combination of mix-ins.  It is perfect for vegetarians or meatless Mondays.  Plus almost anything that comes in or on a buttery, flaky pastry crust is a winner in my book.

This broccoli variation has a nice savory little kick to it thus was great for dinner served with an arugula salad.


3 cups of broccoli florets
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/3 cup bell pepper, diced
pinch of red pepper flakes
8 eggs
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup creme fraiche (or sour cream)
1/2 cup (generous) good parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1 pie crust (I used a store bought one that you simply unroll into the pie plate)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

First- I lined a deep dish, 9 inch pie plate with the pie crust.  (You might need a 10 inch plate based on the volume if its shallow.)  I pressed the dough into the bottom and up the sides and then pricked it all over with a fork.  You can bake it as is although it tends to shrink and puff up a bit.  To get around that, I lined the dough with foil and then filled the shell with my "pie weights" which are actually dried beans that I keep in a jar for such purpose.  I baked the shell for 10 minutes with the weights and then another 10 minutes after removing the foil and the weights.  The shell looked cooked but not yet golden brown- it continues to cook once you fill it.  When the pie crust is done, turn the oven down to 365 degrees.  Yes that's right- half way between 350 and 375. 

Second- I prepared the veggies.  I warmed 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and then added the garlic to the pan- cooking for one minute until just barely looking golden around the edges.  Next I added a pinch of red pepper flakes and the diced bell pepper and cooked 1 minute before adding the broccoli. 

I tossed it all together to coat the vegetables with the garlic infused oil.  The broccoli turns bright green after about 1 minute- at which point I added 2 tablespoons of water to the pan and then covered it with a lid.  I let the broccoli steam for about 2 minutes- or until it was barely tender and still bright green.  It will continue to cook through in the oven.  I let this mixture cool for a few minutes.

Lastly-  I whisked together the egg mixture.  I combined the eggs, half and half, creme fraiche, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl.  I then mixed in the cooled veggie mixture and the parmesan cheese before pouring it all into the prepared pie shell.

The quiche bakes for 30-35 minutes depending on the size of your dish.  You are aiming for the point when the filling barely jiggles when you move the pan and a knife inserted in the center comes out pretty clean.   Catching it when its JUST set ensures its light and custardy and perfect.

Serve the quiche warm or at room temperature.  It can be reheated in a 275 degree oven if need be.  I would say this quiche should serve 6-8 people however I should warn you, my husband ate a solid third of it himself in one sitting which I suppose means he liked it!   I know I did...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Apple Crumble and I have been quarreling about vertically oriented photos all morning so you might want to put your sideways glasses on before reading...

My mom always made apple crumble (or as some say apple crisp) when I was growing up.  While I love apple desserts of almost any variety- a crispy oatmeal streusel crust atop perfectly spicy-sweet-tangy tender apples can't be beat.  I typically have all of the ingredients for this recipe on hand at any given time so it is often the perfect answer to weeknight sweet tooth attack or an impromptu dinner party.

This recipe serves 4.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Apple Filling:

3 large apples (I like honeycrisp or granny smith)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
scant 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
zest of an orange (only use half)
zest of a lemon (only use half)
juice of a lemon

Peel and slice the apples.  I slice the apples as thinly as possible to ensure they get nice and tender while baking.  Toss the apple slices in a large bowl with all other ingredients until the apples are evenly coated. 

Transfer the apples to a medium size BUTTERED baking dish.  A 9 x9 square dish would work, I like an oval dish because that's what my mom always used.

Crumble Topping:

3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
pinch of salt
1 stick of cold butter, diced
**I actually added 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed as well which packs a mega nutritional punch of omega threes. You won't even notice its there.

The easiest way in my experience is to measure all ingredients into a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on medium speed until the mixture starts to come together into large crumbs.  This could take 1-2 minutes.  If you let it go too far, it will come together like a cookie dough which is hard to spread over the apples- so keep an eye on it.

If you don't have a standing mixer- you can use your hands to work the ingredients together, rubbing the mixture between your fingers to break down the butter into crumbs.

Spread the topping over the apples- you might have a bit more topping than you need, but I like a nice thick crunchy layer on mine so I pack on as much as I can...It's my favorite part.

I set the dish on top of a cookie sheet lined with foil to catch any crumble pieces that try to escape and then bake for 1 hour.  The top should be golden brown and you'll see caramely bubbles all around the edges.

Let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes (the wait can be excruciating, sorry) and then serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

The soft apples literally melt in your mouth while you get a hearty crunch from the topping.  The balance of flavors from the citrus and warm spices is wonderful.  It really gives it that special something.

More of my favorite fruit crumble combinations:
*Peaches and raspberries or blackberries