Monday, September 01, 2014

Tomato & Cheddar Cheese Pie

We're holding on to summer this Labor Day and celebrating with a beautiful Tomato & Cheddar Cheese Pie, with some squash blossoms on top for added wow!

I used my standard quiche custard of 2 eggs, 1 egg yolk, and half-and-half, enough to make 1 1/2 cups of custard, beaten.  I grated sharp cheddar cheese on the frozen pie crust and topped it with thinly sliced zucchini, sauteed with butter, minced garlic, and lemon juice.  Added a little crumbled goat cheese (use feta if you're not a fan). Sliced some amazing heirloom tomatoes and placed them on top, salt and fresh ground pepper, then topped with 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar. Poured the custard on top and added a few torn orange zucchini blossoms on top and baked at 350 for 35 minutes. Perfect with a nice green salad and vinaigrette.

Happy Labor Day!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gluten-Free Squash Blossom Quiche

Tonight, I made this quiche with Whole Foods Gluten-Free frozen crust. 
So much better than the local store's regular frozen crust. I was stunned! I had bought these crusts as an experiment, but always thought of them as second tier. Mistake!  They are delicious!

This baby had grated sharp cheddar on the frozen crust, a thinly sliced zucchini, a few diced cherry tomatoes, a little spinach sauteed with butter, minced garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper, a little chopped cilantro, a little chopped goat cheese, and some lovely squash blossoms added to the top of the custard to make it especially pretty. Baked in the oven for 35 mins at 375. Spectacular!

Friday, July 04, 2014

Zucchini & Spinach Quiche

Quiche is a very easy dish to prepare and the ideal make-ahead main for picnics, potlucks, and late summertime dinners. With a basic winning custard (2 eggs, 1 egg yolk, 1 1/2 cups half-and-half, salt and pepper, beaten),   this recipe adapts to endless varieties of vegetables, cheeses, and herbs.

This zucchini & spinach version was simply very thinly sliced zucchini sauteed with a little butter and garlic.  Added some chopped spinach at the end of the saute.  I used a pre-made crust,  l grated cheddar cheese onto the bottom of the crust and topped it with the sauteed vegetables. Added a  little chopped cilantro to the custard and poured that over the vegetables. Topped with some more grated cheddar and grated parmesan, and baked for 35 mins at 375 F degrees. Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy this homemade gem with salad or steamed/sauteed vegetables.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June 2014 Millennium Cooking Class

Oatmeal-Zucchini-Raisin cookie with creamy avocado ice cream and peaches marinated in rose geranium syrup! 

Must be another fab cooking class at Millennium, San Francisco's premiere vegan restaurant!

Why, yes, there's Eric now showing us how to make those incredible deep-fried mushrooms that no one can resist from Millennium's appetizer menu:
Photo credit: AudreyNickel

Sadly, I lost almost all of my 62 photos from the class to the ether - the strangest camera-computer download loss ever.  Many thanks to my classmate, Audrey Nickel, for sharing some of her shots with me.

While it's hard to beat that delicious cookie ice-cream sandwich combination, my favorite recipe this time around was the Asian Style Shredded Summer Salad with Kaffir Lime-Date Dressing:
Photo Credit: Audrey Nickel

 Served in a lettuce or cabbage leaf and served with black garlic marinated mushrooms and tempeh or tofu, spice toasted peanuts and vaudovan oil, this main salad dish had a wonderful combination of bright and smoky flavors.  The salad itself was made of thin ribbons of cucumber and carrot (we used a vegetable peeler), jicama matchsticks, green papaya, and fresh herbs (mint, thai basil, Italian mint).  I love the fresh flavor of the kaffir lime leaves that were in the dressing of lime juice, dates, ginger, chili and agave nectar.  Although the dish, as pictured above, took a while to prepare and had quite a few components, I'd definitely make a quick chopped salad with this dressing and some peanuts and marinated tofu just for myself.

For our second meal, we made papusas with masa and corn, topped with a delicious green salsa.  The papusas were filled with a tempeh picadillo and we enjoyed both pan-fried and deep-fried versions.

Many thanks, as always, to Eric, Ann, and Alison for all the hard work they put into making these classes such a cool experience.  Thanks also to Assistant Sam.

OMG! Class 26!
As always, here are links to my posts on my many previous Millennium cooking classes:

  • Chile Class 2011

  • July 2011 Class

  • Mushroom Cooking Class January 2011

  • Sept.2010 Cooking Class

  • July 2010 Cooking Class

  • June 2010 Cooking Class

  • Spring Cooking Class 2010

  • Chiles Cooking Class 2009

  • July Cooking Class 2009

  • June Cooking Class 2009

  • Spring Cooking Class 2009

  • Mushroom Cooking Class

  • Holiday Cooking Class

  • Fall Harvest 2008

  • Indian Summer

  • Southern Comfort Cooking Class

  • Spring Cooking Class

  • Fall Harvest Cooking Class

  • Chiles Class

  • Tomato Class

  • Tuesday, May 06, 2014

    Bite-sized Bakewell Tarts

    Apparently, there is a fair amount of controversy surrounding the recipe for Bakewell tart.  Those interested in it's historical origins will enjoy Ivan Day's "Some Early Bakewell Pudding Recipes" and for a comparison of recipe components, I enjoyed Felicity Cloake's piece in the Guardian (I used her frangipane recipe here).  For me, however, Bakewell tart is the one my Gran lovingly made for Sunday lunch.  And the taste (if not the form) of these bite-sized Bakewells took me back to those sunny and rainy Sunday afternoon visits of childhood, like a Proustian madelaine. 

    Of course, it started with those incredibly simple jam tarts from last weekend, which reminded me of my Gran's Bakewell tart, and inspired this little baking jaunt down memory lane. The extra work to make the super light frangipane (the cakey top part of these tarts made with ground almonds) is undeniably worthwhile. The perfect combination of crisp pastry, sweet jam, and light cake will have you closing your eyes to savor every bite.  For the ultimate indulgence, serve with heavy cream.

    Bite-sized Bakewell Tarts:
    8 oz flour
    4 oz butter (I used salted)
    4-5 TBS water
    Strawberry jam (or raspberry or apricot)
    4 oz butter (slightly softened - I used salted)
    4 oz sugar
    2 eggs
    4 oz almond flour/meal (blanched, ground almonds - I used  Bob's Red Mill brand)
    1 oz flour
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    zest of 1 lemon

    Preheat the oven to 375 F degrees.

    Sieve 8 oz plain flour into a large bowl and cut 4 oz butter, straight from the fridge, into little cubes.  Toss the butter cubes into the flour and use your finger tips to rub the butter into the flour, breaking down the butter with the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Add 4 TBS cold water and press into a dough, adding an additional 1 TBS water (or more if needed) to bring the dough together.  Press dough into a flat round, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for 15-30 minutes.

    While the pastry dough is chilling, make the frangipane.  With a mixer, cream together the slightly softened butter and sugar.  Add the 2 eggs and beat until well combined.  Add the almond flour, flour, and baking powder and beat until well combined.  Stir in the lemon zest. 

    Lightly grease the cups of a mini muffin tin (24 count). On a floured board, roll out the pastry dough thinly (about 1/8"). Using a fluted 3" round cutter, cut out 24 rounds and press gently into the mini muffin cups.  Cover the bottom of each pastry cup with jam and cover the jam with the frangipane, almost to the top of the pastry cup.  Smooth out the top with the back of a spoon.

    Bake for 25 minutes, until the tops of the Bakewells are a warm light brown.  Enjoy with a nice cup of tea!

    Saturday, April 26, 2014

    Jam Tarts

    Inspired by a rainy weekend, these jam tarts - actually mini jam tarts - are so easy to make, I don't know why I don't make them all the time. It's always nice to have something sweet and homemade!

     I thought about being lazy and buying one of those pre-made pie crusts until I looked at the ingredients - so many chemicals.  This pastry recipe is just flour, butter and water. I used a variety of jams: apricot, black currant, strawberry-rhubarb, and plum.  Apricot seems to be the favorite.

    Mini Jam Tarts

    8 oz flour
    4 oz butter, cold (I used salted)
    4-5 TBS water

    Jams - select your favorites!

    Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.  Lightly grease a mini muffin tin.  Wash and dry your hands!

    Put the flour in a large bowl and cut the butter into tiny cubes. Break up the cubes and toss into the flour.   Using your fingers to rub the butter into the flour until it looks like bread crumbs.  Add the water a tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together into a ball with no crumbs at the bottom.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.

    Flour a board and roll our your pastry to about 1/4 " thickness. Using a fluted 3" round cutter, cut out circles of dough and press them lightly into the muffin pan.  Fill 1/3 -1/2 full with the jam(s) of your choice.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until edges are just starting to color.  Do not try to remove the jam tarts from the pan until they are well cooled. The jam will be very hot and liquid when you take them out and will burn your mouth or fingers if you eat or handle them too soon.

    Monday, March 31, 2014

    Sweet Potato Soup with African Spices, Sweet Potato Leaves & Chickpeas (Vegan)

    Inspired by the rare find of sweet potato leaves at our local farmer's market, this warmly spiced, slightly nutty vegan soup combines African spices with potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, zucchini, sweet potato leaves, red peppers and chickpeas. Both hearty and light, a little peanut butter highlights the nuttiness of the chickpeas and greens and adds a touch of creaminess to a warm tomato broth spiced with harissa, sumac, cumin, and chili. 

    Sweet potato leaves look like this:

    They have a faintly nutty taste and are best used in soups or stews.  They aren't easy to find, however, so feel free to substitute spinach or your favorite greens in this soup recipe.  (If you use spinach, you'll want to adjust the cooking time and add it right at the end of the cooking.)

    Sweet Potato Soup with African Spices, Sweet Potatoes Leaves & Chickpeas:

    1 TBS olive oil
    1/2 large onion, diced small
    1-2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 tsp harissa 
    1 tsp sumac
    1 TBS ground cumin
    1 tsp ground coriander

    1 large potato, peeled and diced
    1 carrot, diced
    1 sweet potato, diced
    1/4 red pepper, diced
    1 zucchini, diced
    32 fl oz vegetable broth
    2 TBS peanut butter
    1 TBS tomato paste
    7 oz tomatoes, petite diced
    1 cup sweet potato leaves, chopped (or spinach or other greens)
    7 oz chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    10 olives, chopped
    1 tsp chili-garlic paste
    1 tsp lemon juice
    salt and pepper
    1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

    In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the diced onions.  Cook for 3 minutes, stir well and add the minced garlic.  Cook for 1 minute and add the harissa, sumac, cumin, and coriander. Stir well and cook for 30 seconds. Add the diced carrot and potato, stir, and cover.  Cook for 3 minutes.  Add the sweet potato and red pepper. Cover and cook 2 minutes. Add the zucchini, cover, and cook 2 more minutes.  Uncover and add the vegetable broth. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and add the peanut butter. Stir until the peanut butter is dissolved. Add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, chickpeas, olives, and sweet potato leaves (or other greens - if using spinach, don't add it until the last 2 minutes of cooking) and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chili paste, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning.Turn off the heat and finish with the chopped cilantro.