Tag Archives | Food

Crustless Quiche with Juliet Tomatoes

 

Juliet tomatoes, onions and cheddar cheese make this casserole look fancy in a pie crust. When it’s just family, I skip those calories and pour the Quiche filling straight into a buttered pie pan.

Sans crust, this Quiche is one of my favorites for lazy Saturday morning breakfasts since I can sneak back into bed and listen to NPR while it cooks in the oven. It also works well for a quick weeknight dinner paired with a side salad and a glass of wine.

If you don’t have cherry or juliet tomatoes on hand, chopped fresh tomatoes are a good substitute. None of those? A cup of chopped mushrooms, bell peppers, greens, or cooked potatoes would work well, too. If you end up using any of those ingredients, cook them with the onions in the skillet before stirring them into the eggs.

Crustless Quiché with Juliet Tomatoes (serves 8 )

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
5 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup skim milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
half-pint juliet tomatoes (8-12), cut in half

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a nine-inch pie pan. In a skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onions and cook them until they are tender, then set them aside to cool slightly. In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, cheese, salt, pepper, and par-cooled onions. Stir to combine, then pour the mixture into the prepared pie pan. Arrange tomato halves, skin side up, in the egg mixture.  Bake the Quiche until the custard is golden, puffed and the edges are set, about 30-35 minutes. Set on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes to cool before serving.

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Venison Keftedes with Tzatziki

 

This meal is the result of two competing desires. The resolution of an epic struggle today between my compulsion to use up all the groceries in my fridge and what felt like the world’s strongest craving for Greek take-out from the restaurant down the street.

I was doing my Sunday chores like a responsible adult when I started craving pita bread and schawarma from Arpeggio Grill, the little Mediterranian spot down the street from my apartment complex. Their pita is so soft and light it practically floats up to your mouth, and it’s the perfect vehicle for spicy lamb.

My desire for pita was strong. However, we had a bunch of extra food in the house, and I just couldn’t bear to buy more while so many groceries went unused on the shelf. So I decided to approximate the pita and schawarma lunch special from Arpeggio Grill using ingredients that I had on hand in the kitchen.

Recreating their pita was pretty straightforward. I used the recipe and method from one of my favorite learn-to-bake blogs, “The Fresh Loaf.” That blog gives a comprehensive breakdown of each ingredient, plus specific step by step instruction with pictures. Perfect for a novice pita-maker like me.

To complement the keftedes and pita bread, I made tzatziki with an Indian cucumber from My Father’s Farm. Indian cucumbers are big, yellow vegetables that taste the same as green, English cucumbers. I like using them in recipes like raita or tzatziki because their bulbous shape yields a bit more flesh than green cucumbers once they are seeded.

c. swanksalot, http://www.flickr.com/photos/swanksalot/. Licensed for reuse under Creative Commons.

The schawarma portion of Arpeggio Grill’s lunch plate was more difficult to make at home than the pita or tzatziki, since the dish must be cooked on a rotissierie– not standard issue for any apartment kitchen I’ve ever seen! Since actual schawarma was out of the question, I turned to traditional fried meatballs called “keftedes” to recreate the Mediterranean flavors I was craving. I used ground venison hunted by my dad for the keftedes, along with eggs from Ringger farms and herbs from Pure Luck and My Father’s Farm. If you don’t have access to deer from a hunter, ground venison is available in Austin at Whole Foods or you can substitute a mixture of ground lamb and pork.

Although cooking three Mediterranean dishes from scratch was more time consuming than calling for take-out, I’m glad I put in the effort. I bought myself a big chunk of room in my crisper drawer, and I can rest easy tonight knowing that home cooked leftovers mean my lunch for tomorrow is already prepared!

Venison Keftedes (yields about 30, golf ball-sized meatballs)
3 slices bread
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
3 tablespoons minced fresh mint
1 tablespoon dried oregano (3 tablespoons if using fresh)
1 pound ground venison, can subtitute pork, turkey or beef
1/2 cup millk
2 eggs, beaten
Canola oil, for frying
All-purpose flour, for frying

In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, combine the first six ingredients. Process for 3-4 minutes, until mixture is uniform and all the herbs are distributed evenly through the bread crumbs. In a large bowl, mix together the bread crumb mixture, ground meat, milk and beaten eggs. Shape the meat into meat balls and cook by frying or baking, instructions below.

Frying method: Heat an inch or two of oil in a deep skillet until it reaches 375 degrees, or a bit of the meat mixture sizzles in the hot oil. Line a plate with a few paper towels. Dredge the meatballs generously in all-purpose flour and cook them a few at a time in the hot oil until they are firm and deep brown, turning often. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and set them on the towel-lined plate to drain.

Baking method: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place rolled meatballs on a broiler pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until they are no longer pink in the center. Serve keftedes with tzatziki and warm pita bread.

Tzatziki (yields 2 cups)
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and shredded
7 ounces Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon white vinegar (use lemon juice if you have that on hand. I didn’t)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Mix the shredded cucumber and greek yogurt together in a small bowl, then transfer the mixture to a paper towel-lined strainer. Set the strainer over the bowl and let the mixture drain for an hour. Discard the liquid.

In a food processor, combine yogurt mixture with remaining ingredients. Process for a few minutes until tzatziki is creamy and well combined. Chill for at least an hour before serving.

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Local Box Meal Plan: July 18-22

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g56azECJ1pI?rel=0&w=425&h=349]

I just heard a clap of thunder outside! As I write this, I’m doing a little rain dance in my office and hoping that we get some moisture this afternoon. It will take a lot more than a few showers to get real relief from the heat, but like most of Austin, I’d be happy for anything at this point.

All the scorching weather this year means rough growing conditions for Central Texas farmers. Lucky for us, they are fighting the good fight and growing tons of heat tolerant produce.  Here’s what they’re sending our way in the Local Box:

Here’s what I’m planning to cook with the bounty:

Wednesday: We’re going meatless with fresh pinto beans with tomatoes and blueberry quesadillas for dessert. I’ll use a few chopped basil leaves in place of the cinnamon on the quesadillas.

Thursday: Summer squash tacos, cilantro cucumber salad, and Cucumber-Basil mojitos. Use the yellow-skinned Indian cucumber in the salad and save the pretty green Armenian cucumber for the drinks. Armenian cucumbers are actually a member of the muskmelon family, so they are slightly sweeter than regular cucumbers and particularly well suited for cocktails.

Friday: Potato chickpea curry, basmati rice and mango lassi.

Saturday: If I can stand to turn my oven on in this heat, I’ll roast a whole chicken using this Lemon Basil Roast Chicken recipe and serve sliced peaches and blueberries on the side, along with some biscuits. If I don’t feel like turning on the oven, I’ll stick the chicken in the slow cooker and use the lemons and basil to make basil lemonade.

Sunday: I’ll use our eggplants, tomatoes and beef to make Tortma Stew, an Arabic one-dish recipe and serve it with Pita Bread, sliced raw peppers and Hummus. If we have any of the cucumbers left, I’ll slice those up and dip them in the hummus, along with the pepper slices.

Monday: I’ll use the leftover pita bread to make these onion pita pizzas and serve it with sliced peaches on the side.

Tuesday: Leftover awareness night!

(Note from Local Box blogger Kathryn: The format of the Local Box menu is changing to include more recipes and a full week’s worth of dinner menus. I plan my meals by the day so that I’m sure to use up delicate items, like pinto beans, while they are freshest. I also try to put more involved recipes, like roasted chicken, on weekends when I have more time to cook. My meal plans always start on Wednesdays, since that’s when my Local Box arrives, and we eat leftovers every Tuesday so the fridge is nice and clean in preparation for the next Local Box.
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Super Bowl Menu Local Box Style

I saved a bunch of great produce from my Local Box Delivery to make a feast for the big game tomorrow. I don’t particularly care who wins the football game, but I do feel very strongly about watching all the commercials. I’ll probably knock out most of the cooking for this early tomorrow afternoon so that I’ll have plenty of time to catch the commercials in all their glory starting during the pre-game show. Here’s what’s on the menu:

I’m using the avocados and cilantro to make my own version of Bob Armstrong Dip: a bowl of queso topped with a scoop of venison taco meat, guacamole, and sour cream.  We’re eating this with El Milagro tortilla chips, some of my favorites made right here in Austin.

I’m using the sweet potatoes and the rest of the cilantro to make Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Creamy Cilantro Dip.  The gorgeous tuscan (dinosaur) kale will bake up nicely into Kale Chips with sea salt and cumin.  I’ve been wanting to try to make “hippy chips,” as those are called, since I saw Addie Broyles write about them in the Statesman last week.

I’ll use the beets from Naeglin farm to make Beet hummus with pita chips. My husband and I had some beet hummus at the San Diego farmer’s market when we were in California over the Christmas break; I’ve been wanting to make it myself for quite a while now, and I’m excited to finally get a crack at it.

I’m saving all our gorgeous oranges, tangerines an grapefruits from G&S Groves to make cocktails.  These recipes for salty chihuahuasshandies, and ruby champagne cocktails are all in contention; however my brother in-law has official bartender duty, so it will be up to him to dole out the drinks. Happy cooking tomorrow, and cheers to great commercial breaks!

– Kathryn

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Fennel Potato Soup with Turnip Greens

This soup is not what I intended to make for dinner last night. My regularly scheduled menu was interrupted last week when my sister had a beautiful baby girl! My niece’s name is Ella, and the past few days have been completely absorbed by this new little member of our family. Thanks to Ella’s arrival, we ended up eating out for dinner on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights with family.  I’m not complaining– how could I when I look at a face like Ella’s?– but I do have a lot of leftover produce in my fridge. Four meals’ worth, to be exact! Plus, heavy restaurant meals will make anyone feel bloated.

In order to knock out a lot of veggies and help my poor stomach, I turned to this Potato-Fennel soup recipe from the Mayo Clinic Foundation for Medical Education and Research. I knew the potatoes would give the soup a mild flavor, and fennel is supposed to be great for digestion.

I adapted the Mayo Clinic’s recipe by incorporating turnip greens and radish tops into the soup, and by increasing the liquid in the recipe accordingly.  And since I had just one half-pound bulb of fennel on hand, that’s all we used. (I couldn’t taste it a bit in the final dish.) I happened to have radish tops and turnip greens in my fridge today, but any cruciferous dark green would work well here.  However, I would avoid would be mustard greens; their spiciness would probably overpower the delicate balance of flavors in this soup.

All weekend I’ve been imagining what kinds of food Ella will enjoy as she gets older.  Maybe she will grow up to be the next Michael Pollan. Or a great chef. Whatever happens, I hope that some day I can make her a big steamy bowl of this fennel soup and tell her all about the Thursday night that she was born!

Fennel Potato Soup with Turnip Greens (4 large servings)
adapted from the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 cups chopped dark greens, such as turnip, arugula, radish, spinach, or kale
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper
Sour cream for garnish
Fennel fronds for garnish

Chop the onion and fennel bulb*. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion and fennel. Saute until the onion is translucent and the fennel begins to soften, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, peel and chop potatoes and wash and chop greens.  Add potatoes and greens to the pot, along with the broth and milk.  Bring the soup to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Taste and season accordingly. Ladle into bowls, garnish with fennel fronds, sour cream, and additional pepper.

*If you’re new to fennel (anise), like me, it can be tricky to know how to cut the bulb open. Here’s a great video with instructions:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Woq5xV7G_N0&w=480&h=390]

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

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