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Quiche two ways, both dodgy and delicious

The past couple weeks, my friends and I have been having collaborative dinners.

Yesterday, it went like this:

NoCounterspace: if you want to have dinner at my house (dining out is fine), I have: more potatoes, more asparagus, bell peppers, onions, eggs, cooked zucchini of dubious virtue. I could make a frittata or possibly a pizza (never tried before, but I think I can buy pre-made dough at the coop sometimes).

geeksdoitbetter: i have roasted eggplant, mushrooms, onions wanna make a quiche?

NoCounterspace: There could be quiche!

geeksdoitbetter: shall we pitch the communal cooking idea @ Lulu?

And the pitch went like this:

Lulu –

Geeksdoitbetter has concocted a quiche dinner idea. It could be cooked your house, or at mine if you want some but not until 7pm.

ingredient options from me include:
more potatoes
more asparagus
bell peppers
fresh or roasted garlic
cooked zucchini of dubious virtue (just means they need checking, not that they are necessarily bad)
raw yellow squash of dubious virtue

rustic cheddar of eww
blue cheese
homemade soft cheeses

ingredient options from Geeksdoitbetter include:
roasted eggplant

And we decided to make two quiches (for 4 people). One full of tasty things that Lulu’s husband (G) hates, and one full of things he could eat. G was included in the emails and could have been in on the decision making process if he’d answered them, so there’s no gender discrimination here.

So first on pie crust. I’m new to baking, yeah? I’ve never made pie crust. On the other hand, I really like the Pillsbury refrigerated crust that you just pull out and unroll. I think it tastes good and would be aiming to have any crust I made at home taste like that one. So why not buy that one? (note: I am considering changing this attitude now that I both own a food processor and have been introduced to Lulu’s pie crust, which is indeed better than Pillsbury’s – maybe over the next few months, but not this night)

I really wanted to use up some of my potatoes, so the first thing I did was to wash two handfuls (small red potatoes), cut out any bad parts, and throw them onto a baking sheet. I added 2 teaspoons of olive oil and put them on the low rack of the oven. Then I started the oven heating up to 350F, where I’d be baking the quiches.

I tasted Geeksdoitbetter’s roasted eggplant leftovers (eggplant, onions, some herb mix that included rosemary), and they were going to be delicious with the potatoes, so that was planned. If I hadn’t found anything to go with the potatoes, they would have made a good side dish, anyway.

Then I pulled a pound of bacon out of the freezer (because the pieces in the fridge had gone off). Open the package, cut the strips in half width-wise (because they fit in a round skillet better that way) and forcibly separated about half of the half strips (quarter of the pound) out to cook (and put an eighth of a pound into a half pint takeaway container in the refrigerator for easy use later). Put that in my little cast iron skillet and popped it into the oven next to the potatoes, with the slices still all frozen together.

Now for the pie crust. I selected my two 9″ pie plates, unrolled a crust into each of them, settled it into the shape, tucked the edges under and pressed them into place, and took a fork and pricked the shells thoroughly. Then I cracked two eggs into a bowl and brushed the crusts with just the egg white bits (but no need to get another dish dirty – and you can just scramble the eggs for the filling in this bowl). Pie crusts go into the 350F oven (which had reached temperature by now) for 15-20 minutes – they’ll be golden, but not brown.

I pulled the skillet with the bacon out of the oven and started cooking it on the stovetop where I could watch and micromanage. By now the pieces were easy to separate, so I moved everything apart.

Then I took a bunch of asparagus, trimmed the bottoms, sliced them into 1cm pieces, and pre-cooked them on the stove in 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Over fairly high heat (7-8 on a knob with numbers) they got a nice bit of roastiness in 8 minutes. I could have put them in the oven, too, but I wanted to be able to look them over.

From my freezer, I pulled out the tomatoes I had grown and Geeksdoitbetter had dehydrated 2 summers ago and sliced them into small pieces.

Right – so here’s the plan.

Quiche 1 (with things G does not like): Roasted eggplant and onions with roasted potatoes and goat cheese

Quiche 2: Asparagus, dried tomatoes, bacon, cheddar cheese

Pulled the first cooked crust out of the oven… and, well, it has sagged a bit and isn’t all that pretty. Luckily, that’s the opaque pie plate, too. So because Geeksdoitbetter is dating him, she decides that G gets to have the pretty quiche, and I load up the less pretty one with the eggplant and roasted potatoes. I pull out my 5 ounce log of chevre, and I manage to fit all of it in the quiche (in nice rustic chunks). The pie is pretty full!

I mix up 4 eggs (two of which have had some of their whites used on the crust already) and pour in about a cup and a half of whole milk – not all of the liquid fits in the pie plate… let’s say I only got 2/3 of the mixture in. Set that up to bake.

Take the other pie crust, which has stayed in place and is lovely. I dump in the asparagus and tomatoes. And it’s really not taking up nearly as much space. So I do quickly sautee a smallish onion (cut into quarters and them thin crescents) and drizzle about half a teaspoon of balsamic over them at the end. Add them in, too!

So we have asparagus, 2/3 of the cooked bacon (crumbled), onions, dried tomatoes, and 3 ounces of sharp yellow cheddar cheese, thinly sliced into short pieces. I added the rest of the egg mixture and then quickly scrambled two more eggs and a bit more milk.

They should probably bake about 40 minutes, but quiche is never done when I expect it to be. I suspect it’s because there’s such a range int he possible density of fillings and that I freehand my ratio of liquid dairy products (milk or cream or whatever) to egg.

But we had it cooking for about 25 minutes when 8pm hit. By then things were not sloshy and we could relocate to Lulu’s kitchen.

The asparagus one was not as pretty as desired. My last egg scrambling could have been more thorough and patches of egg white were visible. No problem! I’d already planned to top that one with the rest of the bacon, so I gave it a quick dusting of paprika and then crumbled the bacon on top.

We relocated, put the quiche’s back into an oven, and settled down for a pot of tea and chatting. And it had to heat up from scratch, so the heating times are complete bunk here.

But 25 minutes later, both quiches could pass the knife test. We pulled them out of the oven and ate them while hot. Because hot quiche is even more delicious than room temperature quiche.

And they did not suffer one bit for all of the dodginess in the preparation. The texture was smooth and the appearance was lovely… well, lovelier on the asparagus one because the eggplant one was clearly overstuffed and abundant, so still sexy but not as elegant.

Everyone went back for seconds, and they were still tempting once we were full. Quiche is amazing!

experiment #2 with mustard oil – Potatoes with onions and peppers

How did you miss experiment number 1? Easily. I hadn’t posted about it yet.

Well, there I was reading A Mad Tea Party‘s back catalog of entries, and I came across this piece about the joys of mustard oil, and I was intrigued. A few months later, I decided to give it a try and dropped her a comment for help finding the piece and looking for suggestions, and she has generously become my guide to this new-to-me lipid.

So I went to my local Indian grocer and located the mustard oil – all of which was explicitly labeled at massage oil, not for consumption. So I went to the guy behind the counter and commiserated with him about the evils of US Customs and their regulations on importing foodstuffs, but I was assured that it was good quality and edible and just the thing I was looking for.

So experiment 1 was going to be with the mashed sweet potatoes served at Cooking with Catladies. Only not only did I decide that they didn’t need any oil, but also I found the taste of the mustard oil surprisingly strong. Straight out of the bottle, it tasted of dark green, earthy things – sort of like gnawing on the very dark tip of leeks. Which I do, so it’s not a deal breaker, but it did put off subsequent experiments.

So I wrote a comment to the original inspiration for the experiment, and I asked her if it was supposed to taste like that (just in case). And heard back that it was indeed, and that high heat cooking mellows out the flavor.

Well, I do surprisingly little high heat cooking. It’s the combination of my love for electric ranges and my love for non-stick cookware. Yes, I know I have no class. I’m okay with that, and it’s easy to make rice and wash dishes.

But I’m still excited about the mustard oil.

So when I was looking for something to do with two scrawny remaining potatoes, I reached for the mustard oil.

Potatoes with onions and peppers

I poured 2 teaspoons of mustard oil into a pan, and turned up the heat.

When the oil had spread out, I added 1 tsp mustard seeds (and propped a larger skillet over top because they pop up and get everywhere otherwise).

After the mustard seeds were popping away gleefully, I threw in 2 potatoes, cut into pieces just a bit larger that 1cm squared; 1 diced yellow onion; and 2 jalapeno peppers, de-seeded and sliced.

When the onions became limp, I added 2 minced cloves of garlic and a frozen cube of minced cilantro.

I added some curry powder, and that dried things out a bit too much, so I added water. I had the feeling that dicing a fresh tomato into the mix would have been the perfect option here, but I didn’t have any fresh and a can would have been too much.

The end product was tasty. Actually, it was a little too oily, but the oil flavor was mild and delightful and it was not strong at all.

Mmmm soup – Italian Arugula and Potato Soup

I am determinedly Not Sick.

And so I am eating a lot of soup.

Last night, there was another success from The Soup Bible by Debra Mayhew (which, incidentally, a review says all the recipes are culled from her Soup Encyclopedia, but since I still haven’t exhausted this version and I paid about $5 for it, I’m not looking to trade up just yet)

Italian Arugula and Potato Soup

Only, of course, I didn’t make it exactly according to the directions – partly because I just wanted to make 1 serving… and partly because I didn’t feel like calculating proportions.

So 1 big red-skinned potato, cut into 1 cm dice, gets dumped into my 2 quart saucepan (so it’s deeper than 1 layer and it’s harder to make too much soup) with a sprinkling of salt. Add homemade vegetable stock until just covered. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes.

Finely dice a carrot (3-4 baby carrots) and add to the potatoes and stock. Simmer for another 5 minutes.

Tear arugula leaves and drop into the pan. Simmer for 15 minutes longer until the vegetables are tender.

Add 1/4 tspn cayenne pepper and salt & black pepper to taste. (At this point the recipe has you tearing stale ciabatta bread and adding that to thicken, but I managed to have little enough stock that the soup was already fairly thick.)

And then it has you toasting garlic slices to top the soup. That would have been better, but I didn’t want to wash an extra pan, so I pulled out the head of roasted garlic from the fridge and chucked a could cloves into the soup.

Ended up quite a success.


Now I have some black beans soaking and I’m looking at soup recipes for broccoli to try with broccoli rabe.

And I bought orange juice.

But really, not sick at all.

food list

food I have
chicken breast of dubious vintage
roast beef from weekend before last
chicken stock (needs to be boiled and put in a new container)
1/2 slice bacon (yes, there’s more in the freezer, but that’s what is thawed)

roasted garlic (1 1/2 heads)
roasted tomatoes (2/3 cup)
container with the seeds and juice from the tomatoes I roasted
roasted red peppers in their own juice (1-2 peppers’ worth)
fried leeks
fresh cilantro
1 whole coconut
hot peppers (mostly green jalepenos)
1 small leek
bulb of fennel
3-4 leaves of kale
5 little yellow squashes and 1 medium
6 potatoes
1 delicata squash

Nope, I ate all the bread. Well, there ate tortillas and the bagels in the freezer, but those don’t spoil, so they don’t ever count.


Well, I was going to ask you all for recipes that would combine the winter squash and the fennel, but then I came across this recipe for delicata with spiced pecans and dried cranberries (I’ll need to acquire some cranberries for that plan.)… but don’t let that stop you from offering suggestions anyway. Especially for the fennel.

Thursday, October 2
pasta with the rest of the kale and the medium yellow pepper. Also turkey meatballs from the freezer. And some lemon juice. Huh – I didn’t notice lemons when I made this list, but there are usually some hiding out in my fridge… if not, I’ll find out how important they are to the recipe. Also nab some more of those jalepenos from my neighbors that had been on the bush long enough to turn red; those are awesome. Ooo… maybe I shall put roasted tomatoes in this.

Friday, October 3
Make hash from roast beef and potatoes. Also add fried leeks, roasted garlic, and two jalepeno peppers.

BUY LETTUCE – it’s on sale at my grocery until Friday. Can I just mention how much it bothers my that it is a physical impossibility to stock up on lettuce when it is on sale? I cry my bitter tears of woe.

Saturday, October 4
Harry Potter’s naked bum! Er, I mean, I’ll be eating out. At Red Lobster.

Sunday, October 5
breakfast: make more awesome cream cheese with roasted red peppers and roasted garlic. I am so glad this will be my last batch of the peppers because ever since I perfected the technique it has been very difficult not to just eat it ALL RIGHT NOW! Nom!

food food food

food I have
6 potatoes
1 head of garlic (roasted) + plenty raw
1 huge butternut squash (possibly ripening, possibly rotting – it was cracked when first harvested)
1 orange and 1 apple
3 nectarines
1 tomato
hot peppers galore
bag full of small bok choi (when I find a more accurate term, I’ll change this)
small amount of chinese broccoli
spring mix lettuce
3 grapefruits
3 cucumbers
1 calabash?
lemons & limes
partial leeks
roasted vegetables: 2 zucchini, 1 yellow squash, 2 red peppers

pork and cow bean chili
roughly 2 oz of thinly sliced beef
1 lb tofu (sealed package) (half marinated for spicy tofu, half marinated for Martha Stewart recipe)

Making meals
Tuesday, September 9 *done*
Gai Lan with beef (and leeks)

Wednesday, September 10
have company
fry up potatoes, onions, garlic, hot peppers, and tomato in curry powder. (see if I can stop by indian grocer and pick up fenugreek to make it closer to this recipe
Freeze into lunch portions, and then dump some onto lettuce for a salad – with a cucumber!

* Start stock *done*

Thursday, September 11
Baby bok choi – in something. How about with my signature spicy tofu stir fry? (Therefore, I’ll have to remember to put the tofu to marinate before work – no problem) That should do about half of the greens

*strain stock *done*

freeze chili into lunches

Friday, September 12
Sauteed tofu and greens (And I am kind of sad that the Martha Stewart variation won out over the Gourmet version)

So, yeah, again with setting up the marinade before work

Saturday, September 13
So I’ll go exercise, and then I’ll go to the farmers’ market, and then I’ll come home with a whole bunch of fresh greens (but nothing else because everything else I can get elsewhere cheaper) (well, maybe some more of the adorable baby yellow squash, if they’re there)

Split open butternut squash and see whether it looks tasty. If so, roast it, scoop out the innards, and then set it to making soup. Oh, wait, that means I need stock.(*)

If calabash is still perky, make that roman recipe with it.

Buy yogurt. Make tzatziki.

Make a half measure of muhammara (I blame [redacted] for the temptation).

Buy pita and make a feast of roasted squash, muhammara, and tzatziki. (and calabash on the side)