31 March 2012

Three-Cheese Quiche with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions



Don’t act so grateful the next time a friend makes a quiche for you. The gesture may appear equal parts sincere and sophisticated, but between you and me, you should know that all your host is doing is cleaning out her fridge.

Confused? Here are some clues that will alert you to the fact that your friend is using you to keep house:

1. A "three-cheese" quiche. A dead give-away that there wasn’t enough of a certain cheese to grate into the quiche, and your friend had to make do with whatever old handfuls of cheese she could find in the back of her cheese drawer.

2. Caramelized onions. So what if they make everything taste better. Onions are cheap, always around, and your friend had probably made a huge batch of caramelized onions last week and just realized that now she needs the container in which they are currently residing, so into the quiche they go.

3. Sautéed mushrooms with sherry wine. Your friend drank the real wine before you arrived, so sherry wine from the pantry is all she had to liven up the mushrooms.

4. A homemade crust. Please. Your friend was obviously too busy cleaning out her fridge to go the store and buy a crust, so she just had to make one from ingredients at hand.


Three-Cheese Quiche with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions

(made from ingredients on their way to the garbage pail)

(a very inexact recipe with which you should feel free to substitute and experiment. You could even use fresh ingredients and it might taste better - but it might not.)


Ingredients:

One batch of your favorite pie dough recipe (I used one from AllRecipes.com, and it was great, whatever, it’s a pie crust, they’re all tasty)

2 tablespoons butter

½ pound (ish) of mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons sherry wine (or whatever wine you have)

½ cup caramelized onions (made from 2 large onions)

1.5 cups of whatever cheese you can scrape together, grated into a big pile. (I think I used mozzarella, robusto, and cheddar, but they weren’t labeled in their little baggies so I couldn’t really tell you. You can’t go wrong, as long as you don’t use American Cheese or cream cheese.)

1.5 cups of dairy (this could be any combination of milk, half & half, cream, etc.,)

3 eggs (2 would be fine, too, if that’s what you have)

½ teaspoon dried thyme

salt & pepper


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Roll out the pie crust to fit your pie dish. Do that squishee thing with the crust that looks cool if you get it right and looks like crap if you don’t (my squishee attempts fall into the crap category).

3. Melt butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms. Sautée until they’ve released their liquid and the liquid has evaporated. Add sherry wine and cook until mushrooms have soaked up the alcohol. Salt to taste.

4. In a large bowl, mix together the dairy, eggs, cheese, and thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Spread the mushrooms and caramelized onions evenly across the bottom of the pie dish. Pour the egg mixture over the onions and mushrooms.

6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the crust is golden-brown and the filling is puffy. If you have time, allow the quiche cool a bit before slicing and serving.


See? I told you my squishee pie crust skills were horrible.

Fortunately, crappy pie crust fluting tastes the same as pretty pie crust fluting. NOT to say that crappy pie crust fluting is better than pretty pie crust fluting, because that's not true. Pretty pie crust fluting is definitely better than crappy pie crust fluting. In fact, I would love it if someone would direct me towards an online pie crust fluting tutorial. My life would be so much better if my pie crusts were prettier.

And yes, ALL of this is the caption to the above photograph, which is basically the same photograph as the first photograph, just cropped and flipped, but I'm hoping you won't notice. Hey, at least I didn't add googly eyes.


19 March 2012

An Epicurean Opportunity Presented by a Giggling Box of Offspring

Why is this box wiggling?

video

Because my offspring are in it.

So what would YOU do if 100% of your children were happily contained in a cardboard box, and you suddenly had an undetermined length of time during which you could do WHATEVER YOU WANTED?

Granted, your options are limited when you don’t know if your freedom is going to last 30 seconds or two hours. I imagine that the most popular decision among parents in this same exact situation would be to tear maniacally into the kitchen to see what they could consume without the children seeing. A scoop of Rocky Road. The last slice of a child’s birthday cake. A shot of tequila. A head of cauliflower.

Right, because cauliflower is so delicious.

Really? No. You know how cauliflower is just fine, and will never be any thing more than just fine?

Listen close, and I’ll tell you a secret I learned from a friend. If you put your children in a box - no wait, that’s not a secret - that’s a crib. Here’s the real secret: if you slow-roast cauliflower for a long time at a low temperature, it becomes so much better than just fine, and even better than sooooooooooo yummmmmmmmmmy, and almost as good as the best vegetable you’ve ever eaten, whatever that is. The little pieces of cauliflower become crispy and caramelized, while the bigger morsels melt into sweet, velvety chunks. It is a magical transformation…one that has enabled my four year-old daughter to raze half of a head of cauliflower in one sitting. You’d think that would make me happy, right? Offspring eating vegetables? Yes! No! Because when she is finished with the batch, there is not enough left for me. And that's a problem.



Slow-Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins

Ingredients:

Two heads of caulifower (This seems like a lot, but the florets REALLY shrink when they’re roasted. And you WILL want to pig out on this. And you WILL want leftovers.)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Handful of pine nuts, toasted

Golden Raisins


Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut up a head of cauliflower into bite-sized chunks. I like a variety of sizes, so that some pieces get crispy and some get soft. Sprinkle the cauliflower florets with plenty of olive oil and kosher salt. Roast on a baking sheet for about an hour, stirring two or three times. There should be plenty of caramelized dark spots. Those are the yummiest ones!
When they're done, dump the florets in a bowl with a handful of toasted pine nuts and golden raisins.
Yum!

Not burnt. Caramelized!

OH AND ALSO DID YOU NOTICE THAT I JUST POSTED A VEGETABLE RECIPE ON FANCY TOAST THAT ALMOST NEVER HAPPENS YOU KNOW.

07 March 2012

Homemade Marshmallows, Peanut Butter Filled and Chocolate Dipped SHUT UP


No matter how badly you might want one of these marshmallows, you could never, ever, possibly, in your life, want one as badly as this small person:

"Do you see my tears, Mommy? Just look at how big they are.

They are as big as my love for you if you just

please give me one more marshmallow."


You might be thinking about what a heartless person I must be to deny my sad child just one more marshmallow. But don’t feel bad for him. Feel bad for me. Because I’m crying like that right now, too. For my marshmallows are gone. Devoured. Engulfed . It doesn’t matter who ate them, let’s just say they are gone forever.



You also might be thinking that instead of you feeling bad for me, I should be feeling bad for you, since you didn't get any marshmallows and I did. But in this case, it is better not to have loved at all than it is to have loved and lost, for my entire family loved and then lost and now we are miserable and our life just sucks without our chocolate covered marshmallows.


I can’t even look at this picture without enormous tears of anguish welling in my eyes. No, not the picture above, the picture below:



And look at these. They’re stuffed with peanut butter. I hope you are crying now, too.


Let me tell you about this marshmallow experience. It was a gooey mess. Goopy, goopy globs stuck to my knife and cutting board and fingers and elbows and hair and iphone and every other single surface in the entire universe. Well, at least one person enjoyed working with the batter:


I almost trashed the batch! The first few marshmallows I cut were globby, pathetic mounds that did not merit consumption by even the most wretched and miserable creatures on our planet. But I was in it too far to quit. I allowed the massive patty of uncut marshmallows to dry out a for 6 more hours until they were hard enough to maintain the approximate shape of a cube. Then I dipped them in chocolate and even salvaged the globby-glob ones by stuffing them with peanut butter and then dipping those in chocolate, too. I am happy to say that the hard work was worth it!

These are special. Sweet, soft, melty in your mouthy, everything you could want a marshmallow to be. They are a pain in the ass to make, though, so only attempt them if you are patient person whom stuff doesn't tend to stick to, and even then, only if you know will be able to graciously tolerate their absence once your supply is depleted.

Couldn't resist.


Homemade Marshmallows, Peanut Butter Filled and Chocolate Dipped

~Basic marshmallow recipe adapted from the Barefoot Contessa. Next time, I’ll be trying Martha Stewart’s recipe, which looks quicker and easier.

Ingredients

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup*
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract*
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

*Fancy Toast Notes:

  • Do not use dark corn syrup (like I did) or it will take at least 24 hours for the marshmallows to set.
  • Use the best quality vanilla extract you can find, since the vanilla flavor is so prominent in these marshmallows. I’ve been using vanilla bean paste, which is loaded with flecks of vanilla bean.
  • Instead of one tablespoon vanilla extract, I did two teaspoons of vanilla paste and one teaspoon of almond extract. I highly recommend this combination, especially if you’re not planning on adding the peanut butter component.

Directions

Basic Marshmallows

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.

(If you don't have a candy thermometer, let the mixture come to a boil and remove from heat after it has boiled for one minute.)


With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly. (Do not mix for too long, or the batter will become too thick and difficult to work with.)


With a sieve, generously dust an 8 by 12-inch nonmetal baking dish with confectioners' sugar. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top, and dust with more confectioners' sugar. Allow to stand uncovered overnight until it dries out.

Turn the marshmallows onto a board and cut them into squares. Dust them with more confectioners' sugar.

Makes 20-40 marshmallows, depending on the size.

Chocolate-Dipped Marshmallows

Melt 2 cups of good quality chocolate (I use Ghiradelli 60% cacao) at 30 second intervals, stirring between each one, until chocolate is melted. Using fingers or toothpicks, dip the marshmallows halfway in the chocolate. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Peanut Butter Stuffed AND Chocolate-Dipped

Cut a marshmallow almost in half and spread the inside with creamy peanut butter. Close up the marshmallow and dip the whole thing in the melted chocolate. Repeat with remaining marshmallows.


(I welcome any suggestions for making it easier to work with marshmallow batter. Some people suggest using cooking spray on a piece of plastic wrap, the knife, and your fingers, but I fear that the delicate flavor of the marshmallow would suffer when one's tongue detected traces of cooking spray. Some sites recommend confectioner's sugar sifted over everything, but that wasn't enough for me. Goodness gracious that was sticky stuff.)