24 July 2008

Variation on a quiche

Quiche is one of the easiest and most versatile dish to make. One variation I have been making in the past few weeks is using asparagus, carrots and tomatoes. It is very tasty and is ready in an hour from start to finish.

Asparagus, carrot and tomato quiche
For a 23 or 26 cm pie dish (9 or 10 inches)

125 gr unbleached white flour
62.5 gr butter at room temperature
45 gr cold water
1 pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients, either by hand in a bowl or in stand up mixer, don't over work the dough, when it forms a homogeneous mass, form a ball, roll it on a lightly floured work surface and fold it as if you are making puff pastry or croissants, wrap it in cling film and place in the freezer to cool down while you prepare the ingredients for the quiche.

Pastry quantity above is sufficient for 1 quiche.
1 Tbsp approx. Dijon mustard
1 tomato
4 asparagus
2 big carrots
Fresh Goat cheese
3 or 4 eggs (depending on their size)
1 heap Tbsp crème fraîche (US sour cream will also do if you can't find crème fraîche)
A dash of milk
Salt and pepper

Clean and thinly slice the tomato, peel the asparagus and cut them in small pieces to the bottom of the head, peel, wash and very thinly slice the carrots.
In a bowl mix the eggs, the cream and milk, salt and pepper to your taste.
Roll the pastry dough out and place in the pie dish, lather with mustard, place the tomato slices over, cover with carrot slices and asparagus pieces, then crumble some goat cheese over all.
Pour the egg mix over, split the asparagus heads in 2 length wise and arrange them on top and place in pre-heated oven at 390 or 400 F (depending on your oven), and bake for approx . 30mn, check after 25 mn.

This can be enjoyed with a fresh green salad and vinaigrette (see previous post).

21 July 2008

Walnut and Pumpkin seeds bread

Here is a bread recipe I was given by a friend while living in Switzerland. It is delicious with cheese and cured meats and very easy to make, you can mix the ingredients either with a stand up mixer or by hand.

Walnut and Pumpkin seed bread
250 gr (1.5 cup + 2 Tbsp) whole wheat flour
200 gr (1 1/4 cup + 1 heap Tbsp) unbleached white flour
10 gr (1.5 tsp) salt
10 gr (2.5 tsp) active dry yeast (to be diluted in 50 gr warm water and 1 tsp sugar) (20 gr yeast if you use fresh yeast)
70 gr (1/2 cup) hulled unsalted pumpkin seeds
100 gr (1 cup) walnuts roughly crushed
350 cl warm water (1 1/3 cup)

Dilute the yeast and sugar and let it sit for aside for a few minutes.
Then pour all liquids on all dry ingredients and knead until you obtain a homogeneous and slightly sticky mass.
Let it rise at room temperature covered with a cloth for 1h or until double in volume.
Punch down and shape either in one big loaf or 2 or 3 smaller ones, make a few deep cuts side ways (2 cm /1 inch deep) with a very sharp knife.
Let it proof covered for another 20mn.
Bake your bread in preheated oven to 230 deg. C/446 F for 10 mn with a container of water, after 10mn reduce the heat to 180 deg. C/356 F and bake for a further 30mn or so.
You will know the bread is cooked when it sounds hollow when you tap under it.

20 July 2008

Organic gardening and its sorrows

Since I moved to the US one of my new enterprise was to start a vegetable garden, since for the first time I have a big enough garden and sufficient time to dedicate to it. With the help of my great neighbor and friend P. I am slowly getting up to speed, not to mention the tips given by my Dad an avid gardener who has been working the earth for as long as I can remember.
I have started all my vegetables from seeds, back in March/April and in early May I planted a few of my seedlings in the outside garden beds hoping that by the time I would return from Europe 6 weeks later mother nature would have done its work and I could look forward to a bountiful crop.
Well mother nature had other plans in store for me, it stayed cold and rainy until I came back and when I did in June nothing really took off except a few lettuces, the rest simply died or went into seeds as soon as the good weather finally settled in. So upon my return mid June I started seeding again and finally after a month I am a very happy apprentice gardener with greens in my 3 raised beds.
From the May plantation I had some leeks that P. gave me and they had not been doing so well until the past couple of weeks where they were really growing due to the fantastic summer weather we are experiencing for the past 3 or 4 weeks.
That is until yesterday... My other half calls me out to the garden and asks: what have you done to your leeks? me: nothing...??? Why? I look over and see the leeks lying on their sides, so I think they must have had too much sun and I had forgotten to water them that morning, then I took a closer look and horror! they were all chopped off just above the earth, very neat job.
I was besides myself wondering who did the dirty dead.
Well I have a couple of suspects: a chipmunk that I saw the previous day and then today I saw a mountain beaver doing the same thing to a tiger Lily and dragging it to it's hole. So I think no need to look further I have my culprit.
I will now post my valiant knight (that is Jewel the dog) in front of the beaver hole to keep watch over my garden.

"I know that beaver is in there!"

18 July 2008

Perfect summer dessert

Time goes by very quickly and I find it hard to make 2 posts a week as I would like to. So before this week is totally over, here is a new recipe. This is a very easy dessert and totally in season and there is no baking involved. It's a recipe I got from my Mom on this last trip to France, the great thing about it is it's an ice cream so you can make it in advance and it won't spoil, you can have it in your freezer for this unexpected last minute dinner. With this dessert I can guarantee that your guests will be impressed, so simple yet so delicious.
Strawberry Vacherin / Vacherin à la fraise
For 8 people
3 egg yolks
4 Tbsp sugar (not too full)
350 gr Crème Fraîche (sour cream)
1 small bowl of fresh organic strawberries crushed
3 egg whites whipped
3 Tbsp icing sugar
5 or 6 small meringues (when in a rush I use Trader Joes's meringues)
Hand mix Egg Yolks, 4 Tbsp sugar and crème fraîche, then add the crushed strawberries.
Whip the egg whites till they are firm then add the 3 Tbsp of icing sugar.
Fold in the egg whites to the mix of egg yolks/sugar/cream/strawberries.
Pour in a Charlotte mold (or Jel-Ring mold) a layer of the mix, then roughly break some meringue on top, then pour another layer or cream mix, then meringue, then cream mix, ... to the top of your mold, tap the mold a little to release some of the trapped air, close and place in freezer.

This can be enjoyed on it's own or with a fresh strawberry coulis.

15 July 2008

Going bananas...

While visiting my friends in Cork I went on a cooking spree and made these mini Banana muffins, a recipe I got from my good friend SL.
This recipe is easily modified into a low gluten one using spelt flour.

SL's Banana Muffins
4 Ripe bananas
Half a Cup / 100 gr Sugar
1 stick / 113 gr / 4 oz Unsalted Butter
1 egg
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1.5 cup / approx. 230 gr unbleached white flour - when using spelt flour, add an extra in 3 Tbs of spelt flour
A handful of Chopped Walnuts

Melt the butter.

Mash the bananas with the sugar.
Lightly whisk butter, egg & milk and add in the mashed bananas.
Add the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and mix lightly until just combined - it may look lumpy but it's ok.
Add in the walnuts.
Pour in normal size muffin pans or mini muffins pans and bake in pre-heated oven at 190˚C (374 F) for 15-20 mins (depending on your oven the mini muffins may take a little less time).
These freeze very well as soon as they are cool enough.

07 July 2008

Veal roast with honey

After almost 2 months out and about it's time to settle back into life in the PNW and start publishing again! I have some real nice and easy recipes to share. Today it will be the main course I served at my Mom's party back in May:

Veal roast with honey
For 8
1.5 kg Veal Roast (count 180 to 200 gr per person)
4 tomatoes
2 shallots thinly sliced
200 ml of white wine
3 Tbsp honey
Salt, pepper to taste

Brown well the roast in a large frying pan, then place in a roasting pan.
Degalze the pan with white wine and pour over roast, gently fry the shallots and place in roasting pan.
Wash and quarter the tomatoes and place in the roasting pan alongside the veal roast.
Salt and pepper then baste the top of the roast with honey.
Cover with lid or tin foil (seal well) and bake in pre-heated oven at 200 C for about 45mn (count half an hour per pound)
When cooked turn of the oven and leave the unopened roasting pan in for a further 15mn.
Take out, slice and serve hot with baking juices.