Monthly Archives: January 2008

The Most Important Meal of the Day

I’ve always loved quiche. It’s the perfect breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or late night snack. You can practically make anything into a quiche: salmon and asparagus, mushrooms and goat cheese, sausage and peppers.

Spinach and Bacon Quiche

¾ cup flour
½ stick butter
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 cold water
1/2 package bacon, I prefer the thick slab kind
frozen spinach, drained
shredded cheddar cheese
9 eggs
½ cup milk

Mix the flour, butter and salt in a metal mixing bowl until the butter is 100% incorporated and the mixture resembles course meal. Slowly add in the water, a little bit at a time and pull the dough tougher, being careful that it isn’t too wet. Roll it out so that it fills a 10-inch pie pan. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the bacon into chunks and cook in a pan on medium, till crispy and brown. Drain on a paper towel. Layer the pastry first with the spinach, then the bacon and then the cheese.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, milk and salt and pepper till it is smooth. Pour the eggs, gently, over the filling. It should be just at the top of the filling.

Bake the quiche for 1 to 1.5 hours until it is golden brown and puffed up. Let it cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

Subzero Hibernation

It’s cold, really cold, in New York. I’m held up in my infinitesimally small studio apartment avoiding the elements. The only thing I want to eat is something starchy, creamy and rich. This doesn’t require a lot of effort and always hits the spot.

Butternut Squash Risotto

1 butternut squash, pealed, cleaned and cubed into bit size pieces
olive oil
garlic powder
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 ½ cups short grain rice
1/2 cup white wine
1 quart chicken stock
parmesan cheese
fresh thyme, sage or parsley

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

On a large baking pan, toss the squash pieces in olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Roast in the oven for 1 hour, turning 40 minutes into the cooking time

In a large pan, on medium high heat, sauté the onions in 2 tablespoons butter and some olive oil till clear. Add the rice, stirring and cooking till the edges also turn clear. Season the rice lightly with salt.

Add the wine. Stir until it is absorbed into the rice. Slowly add the stock, one ladle at a time, stirring the rice till it is absorbed. Do this until the rice is almost done, maybe 30 minutes? You want to rice to be done but not mushy. It should have the typical creamy risotto texture.

Fold the roasted squash, Parmesan cheese, remaining butter and fresh herbs into the rice. Check for seasoning and serve immediately.

Emergency Sustenance

I threw my back out. And of course I had to do this on a long holiday weekend. Since I live on the 3rd floor of a building with out and elevator nor a real working buzzer, it is easier for me to walk, hunched over to the kitchen, lean on the counter and cook something than it is to navigate the stairs and out to the street to get something delivered. What’s the fastest thing to make out of my freezer, fajitas! I always buy London broil or other cuts of lean steak when it goes on sale and fill my freezer with it to be frugal. Thank god.

Easy Fajitas

2lbs London broil or skirt steak
1 package of frozen pepper strips from Trader Joes or 2 red bell peppers sliced thin
1 large sweet onion, sliced into thin half circles
garlic powder
fajita seasoning ( I by mine at William Sonoma or Whole Foods)
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

On a large sheet pan, mix the peppers and onions. Liberally sprinkle with the salt, garlic powder and fajita seasoning. Throw on a few splashes of olive oil and toss. Spread it all evenly on the pan and place on the middle rack of the oven for about 10 minutes, till the veggies soften. While the veggies are in the oven, thinly slice the steak against the grain. Once the veggies have gotten soft, add the steak and more of the other ingredients if necessary. Toss and place it back in the oven. After 5 minutes, turn the steak and put it all back in the oven until its at your desired doneness.

Serve with a salad or tortillas, salsa, rice, beans and cheese.

For love or chocolate

I started a new job for the month of January. To win over my co-workers I quickly whipped this up. It worked like a charm. This will melt anyone’s heart.

Raspberry Filled Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes:

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
1-1/2 c unbleached white flour
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 c brewed coffee
2 t pure vanilla extract
2 T vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.

2. Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and sugar into a large bowl.

3. In a 2-cup measuring cup, measure and mix the oil, water (or coffee), and vanilla. Slowly and gently pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl and mix the batter with a whisk.

4. When the batter is smooth, add the vinegar and stir quickly. There will be pale swirls (and some bubbling) in the batter where the baking soda and vinegar are reacting. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter (the color becomes more consistent throughout).

5. Pour batter into a lined muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes–testing with a toothpick. Remove to a cooling rack and frost.

Vegan Vanilla Icing
1 c shorting (transfat free)
3 c powdered sugar
½ T vanilla extract
1/8 c soymilk
4 drops of food coloring

1. Beat all ingredients on low, then high with an electric mixer, until fluffy.

Raspberry Filling
1 frozen bag of raspberries
1 cup of sugar
2 T corn starch

1. Heat raspberries and sugar in a pot on the stove at medium high heat until bubbling.
2. Mix corn starch with just enough water to make a lump free slurry.
3. Add corn starch mixture to raspberries and stir, still on the heat, till the mixture is thick and clear and glossy.

Cupcake Assembly:
1. After cupcakes and raspberries are cooled to room temperature, you can start assembling.

2. Cut a cone shape out of the top of each cupcake. Cut the bottom part off of the cone of the cap, eat or discard.

3. Fill the cupcake with a spoon full of filling, place cap back onto to seal in the filling. This doesn’t have to be perfect.

4. Pipe the icing onto each cupcake

5. Decorate as you like.

Simple Pleasures

This is the perfect dish for when the snow starts to come down in January. It is healthy but really hearty.

San Francisco Seafood Stew

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 cup drained, diced tomatoes (from a 15-ounce can)
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, plus more for serving
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
3/4 pound skinless snapper fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 pound shelled and deveined medium shrimp
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Sourdough toast, for serving

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil. Add the shallot and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the stock, clam juice, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf and hot sauce and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes.
Add the clams, cover and cook just until most of them open, about 5 minutes. Add the snapper and shrimp, cover and simmer until they are cooked through and the remaining clams have opened, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the seafood to 4 bowls. Add the butter and parsley and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute, swirling the pan. Spoon the broth over the seafood and serve with sourdough toast.

My fridge smells like Korea

I was reading a new book, Trail of Crumbs, about a Korean orphan and all I wanted was beef and kimchee. I got some great fresh kimchee from the Union Square green market and saw these short ribs at Whole Foods. So I devised this dish to satisfy my craving.

Korean Short Ribs

6 boneless beef short ribs
Olive oil
½ onion, chopped
sesame oil
garlic powder
soy sauce
rice wine vinegar
Korean bbq marinade

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a sauté pan with a metal handle, quickly sear each side of the ribs. Sprinkle with all of the ingredients and place in the oven for at least 2 hours until the meat is tender.

Take out the ribs and pour off the fat, leaving the sauce in the pan. On the stove top, further reduce the sauce if necessary.

Serve with brown rice, crispy onions, fresh been sprouts and kimchee.

Health in the New Year

Farro, Italian wheat berry is a great hearty lunch item. Mixed with a variety of antipasto, it is a yummy savory snack.

Farro Antipasto Salad

1 ½ cups raw farro
3 cups chicken broth
½ tablespoon garlic powder
salt and pepper
3 large chicken sausages
olive oil
½ cup marinated mushrooms
2 roasted red peppers
3 large marinated artichoke hearts
6 oven-roasted tomatoes
¼ cup mixed olives
¼ cup marinated fava beans
¼ cup cubed marinated feta
¼ cup marinated boccochini
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley

Bring chicken broth, faro, garlic powder and salt and pepper to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover until tender. Checking to see if the faro needs more liquid.

In a sauté pan, brown bite size piece of zucchini in olive oil, place in a large bowl. In that same pan, sauté the chicken sausage in olive oil. Place in the bowl.

Chop all of the antipasto items into bite size pieces. Finely mince the parsley. Toss all ingredients with the farro. Season with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Serve heated, so the mozzarella just melts.