Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Foolproof Cheese Quiche

I recently made my all time favorite quiche for my first Women Rock Brunch get-together with some women from the local rock scene here in Boston. I'm new to the scene, so, I dug up my foolproof quiche recipe which is always a crowd pleaser!
For those of you who may not know, I play the kalimba http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalimba for a band called The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library. This Saturday we are playing a SOLD OUT concert for our debut album, Volume One at The Middle East in Cambridge, MA! I really enjoy playing in this band and my bandmates are a fun, amazing group of talented women fronted by the one and only Michael J. Epstein himself! Check out our website and "like" us on Facebook. Here is a taste of our music for you to enjoy before, during and after you have made this delicious quiche!


Source: Epicurious.com
By: Susan Herrmann Loomis

Madame Quiche's Quiche Au Fromage

** Be sure to let the pastry rest. I buy a pre-made, frozen pie crust most of the time and it never fails me.** Don't stint on freezing the pastry- cold pastry that goes into a hot oven becomes flaky and delicious** Be sure to fully pre-bake the pastry as well, which guarantees crisp pastry on the bottom.** They say that whole milk makes a difference, but I always use whatever I have in the fridge. 

One recipe for basic pastry or frozen pre-made pastry for pie
6 eggs
2/3 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche (both work well!)
1 cup milk
8 ounces grated gruyere, emmenthal, or other Swiss-type cheese (I use a mixture of gruyere and emmenthal)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg - optional (I always add in the nutmeg!)

If making the pastry from scratch: Roll out pastry to fit a 10-1/2 inch glass or metal pie plate (not removable bottom). Note: I use a ceramic quiche pan. Crimp edges, poke the bottom with a fork or the tip of a sharp knife, and place pastry in the freezer for 30min.

Preheat oven to 425F.

Line pastry with aluminum foil and pastry weights and bake in the bottom third of the oven until the pastry is golden at the edges, about 15min. Remove from the oven and remove foil and pastry weights. 
Note - I do not use the pastry weights with the pre-made pastry and it is not necessary to bake the pastry on the bottom rack. I've used the middle and it comes out perfect. Ovens might vary.
Return the pastry to the oven to bake until the bottom is golden, an additional 5 min. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Next, in a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, and the milk until thoroughly blended. Season with salt and pepper, then add the cheese and stir until it is blended. Note: Place the pre-baked pastry on a cookie sheet. This will help with spillage as the quiche is baking! I learned the hard way... Turn the mixture into the pre-baked pastry, and spread out the cheese evenly over the bottom of the pastry. Sprinkle the top with nutmeg and bake in the center of the oven until the filling is golden and puffed (see above picture), and is completely baked through, about 30min. To test for doneness, shake the quiche - if it is solid without a pool of uncooked filling in the center, it is done. You may also stick a sharp knife blade into the center of the filling and if it comes out clean, the quiche is baked through. If the edges of the pie start to look too brown, place tin foil along the edges or cover the whole quiche with one piece of foil while baking.

You will love this quiche!

I'm happy to say that there were no leftovers at the Women Rock Brunch get-together and I met some fabulously talented women! :)

Hmm.. what was in that cheese?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nosh This

If you read my first blog post, Chocolate Chip Cookies with Bits of Bacon you would have read about how I became addicted to a sweet treat called Bacon Crack made by Nosh This while I was in San Francisco.

I sent out a mass e-mail to all of my friends and family telling them about my blog. It was a happy accident when the e-mail also ended up going to Nosh This! I received an e-mail straight away from Kai Kronfield, the creator extraordinaire of Nosh This! He apologized profusely for missing the e-mail I sent back in November and wrote  "I would love to get you some crack". I was overjoyed (and salivating) at the thought of  being reunited with some Bacon Crack.  Kai also mentioned that he had a new creation (!!) called Chocolate-Dipped Black Pepper Salted Caramels which Kai described as "freakin' delicious"! How could I not try them! I ordered some Bacon Crack, Peppery Caramels and some Rocky Road.  

A priority box arrived two days later. The chocolates were perfectly preserved from the cold, Boston weather. I quickly opened the box and tried the Bacon Crack. It was just as I had remembered it. Sweet, salty, crunchy, chocolaty goodness! Then the real surprise came when I opened the caramels. Words cannot describe how perfect these caramels are.  There is a delightful kick of pepper along with the sweet, buttery saltiness you typically taste with a really good caramel. The perfect ratio of chocolate and caramel. A nice zing to the taste buds and a brilliant concoction! I then dug into the 'Mile High' Rocky Road as I like to call it! The puffiness of the marshmallow is nice with the walnuts and dark chocolate. Simple and not too sweet. Kai makes his own marshmallow without eggs. He said that he just starting to make marshmallow with bourbon. Looks like I'll be ordering more from Nosh This in the not-so-distant future! Bourbon. Mmmmm. Kai also makes Mint Juleps on a Stick which I am looking forward to trying.

Thank you, Kai! Just in time for Valentines Day.
Please check out the website Nosh This and order something for yourself or for someone special.

Happy Noshing!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Squash Raviolis with Brown Butter

Raviolis are perfect little pillows of goodness. 

My grandmother is Italian and makes the best pasta I have ever eaten.  All by hand! Always from scratch with a rolling pin and all. Raviolis are one of her specialties. She uses the round opening of a drinking glass as a ravioli cutter! Sometimes the best tools are the simplest. She still makes a mean rav at
90 yrs. old!

For this recipe I had to settle for store bought raviolis.
I found some beautiful Butternut Squash raviolis made by Rising Moon Organics: http://www.risingmoon.com/Default.aspx 

First step is to boil the raviolis (the package recommends an 8-10min. slow, rolling boil).  Add a little salt to the pot to help the boiling process along..only a little! Add a little oil to the water when it comes to a slow, rolling boil. Vegetable or olive, any will do. It's to prevent the raviolis from sticking together. Next,  gently drop in the frozen raviolis, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon just in case any get stuck to the bottom of the pot. Once the raviolis start floating to the top of the water they are almost ready to be drained. They should be soft, but not to soft! Keep an eye on them constantly. Next, drain the water.

Brown Butter:

Add 2Tbls butter to a saute pan under medium high heat. Once the butter turns clear add in a couple of Bay Leaves. They add a nice flavor to the butter. I would use fresh sage as an alternative. Turn the heat down a little to about medium and add in the raviolis with some cinnamon, cardamon, black pepper, garlic salt and a little nutmeg (~1/4 tsp of each).  Fold raviolis gently so that all of the spices get mixed in with the raviolis. Mama mia! They will be smelling good!!  Let them sit for about 10min. or until butter turns brown. Transfer to a serving bowl and top off with a little parmesan cheese

This dish is the perfect combination of sweet and savory. Almost like a dessert! I would have probably added in some chopped hazelnuts if I had some! 

Bon Appetit!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Making your own vanilla extract is super easy!
You can order some prepackaged bottles with vanilla beans online. I found some here:
All you need is a glass bottle, vanilla beans and some alcohol.
First, split the vanilla beans down the middle with a sharp knife and place in the clean glass bottle. Next, fill with alcohol of your choice. For a lighter extract, use vodka; for a heavier extract use brandy.
Seal tightly and store in cupboard. It is important to keep out of light. Lightly shake bottle from time to time. The extract will be ready in about 4wks. The darker it gets, the stronger it will be. I started using my vanilla made with vodka after 3wks and it was fine.
Each time you use the extract, refill the bottle with your alcohol of choice so that the beans are always covered. It will last for years!! This is also a great gift idea!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My First Post! Chocolate Chip Cookies with Bits of Bacon

This is my contribution to the chocolate with bacon fad. I recently drove across the country to live in San Francisco for a work assignment. After one looong evening of dancing in the eclectic Mission District, I came across a man wearing an apron with a table set-up selling some tidbits to eat! Right there on the street! He had some lentil soup and little chocolate snacks called 'bacon crack'! I had to try the bacon crack.. and wow! This really was the best chocolate snack I have ever tried! I never saw him again during the two months I was in SF. I was addicted after one try. I think I went through withdrawal. I even tried to order some bacon crack online and could not get a response. I imagine he is inundated with orders! http://noshthis.com/  
I made these cookies to satisfy my addiction. They were so good that I had to mail some out to friends. Otherwise, I would have eaten them all!

Yield: 4 dozen cookies
11 1/2 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (I used Ghirardelli)
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla (note: see next post on making your own vanilla Homemade Vanilla Extract)
2 1/4 cup unsifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)
Bacon Strips (3-4) - Cooked, chilled and chopped into small pieces with the fat trimmed off

Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown 
sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (optional). Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets. Add a few pieces of bacon to each dough ball. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Timing may vary depending on oven.  
Note: Feel free to substitute chips for Milk Chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch, etc.. 


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