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Odd and Ends Quiche

So awhile back I made a recipe that I called an “odds and ends” casserole, which was basically a way to make a decent casserole with a couple basic things and whatever is in your fridge. This is basically the same thing, but in the form of a quiche. In principle, it’s “roast a bunch of veggies, sautee an onion, and stick them in a pie crust with some cheese, milk and eggs.” And done. Here’s the basic recipe that I made, but again, you can modify the veggies or cheese based on what you like/have in your fridge.

Ingredients
1 Pie crust
1 orange bell pepper, sliced
1/2 zucchini, chopped in large chunks
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 leek, thinly sliced
10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 egg
1/2-3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1-2 ounces shredded hard, strong cheese
dried thyme
salt/pepper/olive oil

Toss the bell pepper in some olive oil and salt and stick it in the oven at 400. After 10 minutes, add the zucchini. Stir every 10 minutes or so, and pull them out when they are at the desired level of roasted – probably like 25-30 minutes. While the veggies are roasting, heat oil in a large pan and sautee the onions, until translucent. Add the leeks and keep sautéing at a lower heat until the onions are golden brown, or, if you’re impatient, at least very soft. The longer everything cooks, the sweeter it will be. Once the veggies are done, stick a layer of onions in a pie-crust-lined dish. Then the layer of roasted veggies. Then dot the veggies with teaspoons of the ricotta and the tomatoes. Scatter the hard cheese over it. Beat the egg and milk together, and pour in the dish. Bake at 375 for 30-ish minutes.

odds and ends quiche

So I really liked this recipe. Particularly, I liked that it was a ton of veggies, and not a lot of egg and milk, and that the veggies were sweet. And that it’s versatile. However, the thing I didn’t love was that moving the onions and veggies from the pan into the pie plate also involved getting a lot of olive oil in there. Which…made the bottom crust soggy. I didn’t mind it for me (in fact I’ve eaten the quiche almost every day this week), but I’d be mortified to serve it to someone like that. So, beware of too much liquid! But really, it’s made a great lunch, and also a great breakfast. Song of the week:Sorry  by Postmodern Jukebox. Yes! the re-emergence of Postmodern Jukebox, which I still love. No real reason for this song, other than nothing stuck me this week and I happen to be listening to it right now.

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New Apartment, New Cookbook

I finally finished moving!! All my crap, including all my hundreds of books, have been unpacked and I’m starting to feel settled in my new place. As a housewarming present to myself (along with all the other new furniture and stuff I bought) I got a new cookbook – Plenty by Yotan Ottolenghi. I bought one of his cookbooks for my sister a couple years back, and the pictures are like food porn at its finest. The recipes looked good once I read them too. I didn’t want to make anything too complicated but I also wanted to do something definitely different. So I decided on Artichoke Gratin since the weather was totally gross out yet it was late spring.

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1 bag frozen artichoke hearts
1 small crown broccoli, cut into florets
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
1-2 pinches dried thyme
Zest and juice from 1 very large lemon
salt
pepper
olive oil
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
2-3 tablespoons parmesan

Squeeze the lemon juice into a pot of water, and par-boil the broccoli and artichokes in it. You don’t need to cook them totally, it’s still gonna bake, but do at least par-boil/make the artichokes not frozen. Drain and set aside. Sauté the onions in olive oil until soft and getting a bit golden. Add the broccoli, artichokes, parsley, lemon zest, thyme and salt and pepper to taste Once the veggies are ready, make the béchamel sauce.

Bechamel
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk

In a saucepan, melt the butter, then quickly stir in the flour so a paste forms. Pour in the milk and stir, constantly and making sure to scrape the bottom so nothing settles there, until the sauce has thickened. Mix the bechamel with the veggie mixture and stick in an baking dish. Dot the dish with little spoonfuls of ricotta and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes. Pull out the dish and sprinkle with the parmesan, then bake for another 10 minutes, or until the parmesan has become nice and golden. Serve warm.

I really loved this dish. It’s perfect for a stormy spring day, because it tastes like spring, and it’s all full of veggies, but it’s still a warming gratin. The lemon zest just makes the whole thing smell fresh in my opinion, especially when you eat it as leftovers. And there is a pretty good amount of cheese in there as well. I’d never cooked with frozen artichoke hearts, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to use fresh ones when they are crazy expensive on the east coast. I think they turned out perfectly good (and infinitely more cost effective). Song of the Week: Take a Bow by Rihanna. Now for the record, I don’t like Rihanna. Or 99% percent of her music (I will never forgive Umbrella). But this is actually a surprisingly good song and for whatever reason I listened to it a lot this week.

Pasta with Spinach-Parmesan Sauce

Making a long story short: My apartment was invaded by mice, so I am moving apartments. Between being, shall we say, less motivated to cook in my kitchen after seeing mice and the packing/work involved in actually moving, I’ve been lax about new recipe day. But I have had to use up a bunch of things like milk, and my frozen spinach, so I made Spinach-Parmesan sauce, which I’ve made a few times, and stuck it on pasta, which I haven’t done. Thereby technically making a new recipe.

Recipe
2-3 servings linguine
1 cup frozen, chopped spinach
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
2/3 cup parmesan
dash of nutmeg

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Cook the pasta. While the water is boiling/the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Defrost the spinach in a microwave, it should only take a couple minutes. In a saucepan, melt the butter, then quickly stir in the flour so a paste forms. Pour in the milk and stir, constantly and making sure to scrape the bottom so nothing settles there, until the sauce has thickened. Add the cheese and nutmeg, mixing it until the parmesan has melted. Then remove from heat and stir in the spinach. Once the pasta has been cooked, drained and served into bowls, plop as much (or I suppose as little) sauce as you want on it and stir till it is evenly coated. Serve warm with salad.

This was really good. I’m a big fan of adding something green, usually kale or spinach, to something otherwise super carb-y or unhealthy to make it a little healthier and more balance, and honestly, it never takes anything away from the cheesy goodness of the sauce. And you can’t ever go wrong with cheese sauce on pasta, especially parmesan sauce which I like more than alfredo sauce. I had this with a super fruity malbec rose that I’m rather fond of. Song of the week: One Last Time, from Hamilton. Yes, I’m still totally obsessed with Hamilton, and this song really resonated with me, because one of my close friends moved to a different continent last week, and we made sure to have one last beer together before he left.

Potato Kugel for Seder

I know passover is almost over, but I wanted to do a recipe for seder this year, and one not involving matzo. So, after surprisingly little searching, I came across this recipe for potato kugel, which looked really good. Naturally, it needed veggies added in though, so I made a couple adjustments. A note on the ingredients, I basically always cook with frozen chopped spinach. Feel free to tinker if you want fresh.

1 large russet potato, grated
1 cup chopped and dethawed spinach
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
pepper
3/4 cup shredded cheese (optional, I used manchego)
2 eggs
1/2 tablespoon butter

In a large bowl, beat the two eggs. Add the salt, pepper, and onion and mix it in. Then add the spinach, cheese (if using), and the potato and mix it all together by hand till it’s all throughly mixed. Heat the dish you are using a bit, and then add the butter to it, letting it melt and cover the bottom. Add the kugel mixture, cover, and bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes, uncovering it for the last 10 so it can brown. Enjoy warm.

Christmas colors for a Passover dish!

                 Christmas colors for a Passover dish!

This turned out great! I don’t know if I’m going to make it more often, but it seems easier, and healthier, than frying potato pancakes. The nice thing about kugels is that it’s impossible to make a small amounts, so you have leftovers for the next day. I will say though, I didn’t add enough cheese to really taste it, so it felt kinda pointless. Also, I made it thinner than most kugel, you can make it thicker in a smaller dish if you want. I should have just left it out or added a lot more. Song of the week: Hamilton soundtrack. So I’m a little late to the game on this, especially since my mom mentioned the show to me a months ago. But I finally listened to it over the weekend and I’m now completely obsessed. Its amazing. So if you haven’t yet, listen to it because I promise it lives up to the hype.

Not-Red Red Velvet Cupcakes

So for some reason, I’m not totally sure why, I decided a few weeks back that I should make Red Velvet cupcakes. Since my dad’s birthday was on Sunday, I figured it would be the perfect time to make them. New recipe day and cupcakes in remembrance on my dad’s birthday. However, I found the whole obscene amounts of red food coloring really off-putting (you can take the girl out of California but…) so I decided to just make them without it. Hence the name not-red red velvet cupcakes. I modified the recipe from the New York Times recipe for red velvet cake and the frosting from Epicurious.

Not-Red Red Velvet Cake
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup milk

Cream together butter and sugar. Then add the egg and vanilla and mix them in. Then the chocolate, and then the milk and the dry ingredients. Mix on high for like a minute. Put about 1/3 cup of batter in an each cupcake slot and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Let them cool a bit before frosting

mmmm cupcakes

  mmmm cupcakes. Not even a little red though

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Blend the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together. Then add the powdered sugar. Use an electric mixer because I found this to to be really thick. In order to make it more frosting-y, I added about a tablespoon of warm water, and that made it the perfect consistency! Frost the cupcakes and then eat them!

The cake part was alright. I wonder if the visual appeal makes people like the things disproportionately to their actual taste, since it’s not really chocolatey enough to be chocolate, but not vanilla either. And, I will admit, they were a little on the dry side. But the cream creese frosting was unbelievably tasty! Like serious, I was shocked at how good it is, and proceeded to eat the leftovers just by itself (which I highly recommend). So all in all, I give it a grade of “pretty good” And certainly it was a worthwhile experiment. Song of the week: Catch my Breath by Kelly Clarkson. I love Kelly, specifically angry/defiant Kelly. She is one of my main pop guilty pleasures. And I listened to this song a ton on Sunday.