Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring quiche

To make a quiche one needs a proper, flaky crust. To make a proper, flaky crust one needs to keep the butter cold and chunky while bringing together the pastry dough. Ideal ways of doing that involve a food processor or a pastry cutter/dough blender. I have neither. So I avoid the entire problem by making my quiche with a potato crust. Of course, apple pie with potato crust wouldn't be equally tasty...and I will need to get one of those tools at some point :-)

Ingredients
2 Russet potatoes
salt
black pepper
oil spray
6 eggs
4 oz cheddar cheese
6 asparagus stalks
2 tbsp roasted tomatoes
6 oz smoked ham
8 oz white button mushrooms
0.25 cup milk
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp chopped purple onion
herbs
salt
black pepper

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Spray a 9 inch pie dish with cooking spray. Grate the potatoes through the large grater into water. Rinse and toss with a tiny bit of lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Press into the pie shape. Spray with oil and bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the sliced mushrooms on high heat until brown. Toss with the sugar dissolved in balsamic vinegar with a pinch of salt. Reduce over medium-high heat. Set aside.

In the same pan cook through the ham cubes a bit, until lightly brown and fragrant.

Whip the eggs with the milk. Mix in half of the grated cheese, flavor with salt and herbs.

Cut the asparagus stalks to equal the radius of the pie shape. Chop the roasted tomatoes.

When the crust is precooked, remove from the oven and add the mushrooms, ham and onion to it. Pour in the egg and cheese mix. Arrange the asparagus on top. Bake for 30 minutes.

Add the chopped sun dried tomatoes on top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for another 10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly. Allow to cool plenty before slicing and serving.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Creamy radish and sweet pea salad

A perfect spring meal with a slice of toast.

Ingredients
2 bunches of radish
1 bunch scallions
10 oz frozen petite sweet peas
sour cream
2 tbsp mayo
black pepper
salt

Preparation
Clean the veggies and chop the scallions. Slice the radishes. Mix the scallions and radish, salt heavily and mix again. Cover and keep in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Blanche the green peas until tender. Drain and cool.

Squeeze out the salt water from the radish and scallion mix. Add the peas, the mayo, black pepper and enough sour cream to bring it to the desired creaminess. Salt to taste (remember, you poured off the salt with the radish juices).

Store in the fridge overnight before serving. Allow to equilibrate to room temperature for best flavor.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Torte Milanese (Tourte Milanese)

This is an elegant, tasty dish from Baking with Julia.

Ingredients
1 pound puff pastry
2 pounds spinach
1 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic
salt
black pepper
6 eggs
1 pound smoked ham
8 oz cheddar cheese
1 egg
2 roasted bell peppers

Preparation
Thaw the puff pastry sheets. Meanwhile, mince the garlic, thoroughly squeeze out the liquid from the spinach and chop it. In a skillet, heat the butter and add the garlic until it's fragrant. Add the spinach, salt and black pepper. Saute until cooked. Set on a plate to cool.

Make two omelets from 3 eggs each, in a 9-inch skillet. Do not break the omelets. (Cook on slow, then flip when one side is set.

Shred the cheddar cheese. Dry the bell peppers with a paper towel.

Take a 9-inch spring-form pan, butter it well. Roll out one puff pastry sheet so it's enough to cover the bottom of the pan and hangs out on the sides. Roll out the other sheet and cut a 9-inch circle from it. Use the remaining dough to elongate the edges of the bottom one, if needed.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Onto the bottom puff pastry sheet layer one of the omelets, half the squeezed out spinach, then half the shredded cheese, half the ham and finally all the bell peppers. Now on the reverse order add the other half of the ham, cheese, spinach and finally the other omelet.

Cover with the puff pastry disc you cut out. Pinch the edges closed. Poke a little hole in the middle and score the top where you intend to slice it later (do not cut all the way through).

Brush with egg wash and bake for 35 minutes in the preheated 350F oven.

Remove from pan and cool for a few minutes before serving.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Orange-vanilla cream cheese challah

Moist, sweet dough filled with vanilla cream cheese and orange marmalade. This turned out surprisingly tasty.

Ingredients
500g flour
2 tsp yeast
2 tbsp sour cream
60g butter
3 tbsp sugar
300mL milk
2 eggs
1 package vanilla sugar

filling:
8 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 package vanilla sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup orange marmalade

coating:
1 egg
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp sugar

Preparation
Allow all the dough ingredients to come to room temperature. Bloom the yeast with a portion of the milk and sugar. Add the remaining warm milk, the sifted flour, cut in the butter and add the sour cream. Knead in the bowl until smooth.

Pour out onto a floured surface and continue kneading for 5 minutes. Lightly coat with oil and place in a covered bowl to rise.

Meanwhile whip up the cream cheese filling (everything but the marmalade).

When the dough has doubled in size, roll out into a rectangle, until the dough is 0.25 inch-thick.

Spread the cheese filling on the rectangle, leaving 1 inch around the long edges and 0.5 inch along the short ones.

Spread the part that will be in the middle of the bread with orange marmalade. (This will be along one of the long edges, pick one!)

Roll up beginning with the marmaladey edge. As you roll, pinch the ends closed.

Place into a 10-inch round baking pan sprayed with oil. Start from the middle and fold the rest around in a spiral. Spread with oil, cover and allow to rise for 1 hour more. At this point when you poke your finger in it, the dough should not spring back. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake in a 350F preheated oven for 45-50 minutes.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cinnamon flower bread

This is not so much a recipe as directions for assembly only. Simple, pretty and tasty. A soft, buttery sweet dough with caramelized, sticky sugar and cinnamon.

Ingredients
1/2 portion of this dough
dark brown sugar
butter
cinnamon
egg
water
sugar

Preparation
When the dough has risen once, punch in down, half it and roll each piece out into a 9-inch circle.

Melt about 50-60g butter and butter once circle. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.

Cover with other dough circle. Cut in the edges and twist them. Brush with melted butter.

Allow to rise again for 40 minutes.

Before baking, brush with egg wash (egg, water). Sprinkle with white sugar.

Bake in a 350F preheated oven.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Broccoli and cheddar omlette

I don't frequently get the chance to go grocery shopping, and my veggie intake pays for it. So, recipes that utilize frozen veggies are always in the forefront of my food-related thoughts.

Ingredients
3 oz frozen borroli florets
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 oz grated cheddar
0.5 tsp paprika
salt
black pepper

Preparation
Thaw the broccoli in the microwave, chop finely.

Mince the garlic and beat the eggs until fluffy.

Preheat the skillet and add the minced garlic. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the broccoli, salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, on medium-high, until some bits brown lightly.

Lower the heat and add the eggs mixed with half the cheese. Allow to cook without moving the pan for about 5 minutes, until you can slide your spatula under it, without breaking the edge.

Cut into four pieces and flip each. Cook until done. Serve dusted with paprika and garnished with the remaining cheese.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Garlic-paprika fried chicken

This is super-quick, and if you hammer the chicken pieces nice and thin, you only need a little oil.

Ingredients
2 chicken breast halves
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
0.25 cup flour
salt
paprika
black pepper
garlic powder
oil for frying

Preparation
Cut the chicken breasts in half, perpendicular to the long axis. Then place them on a cutting board and cover a piece with your palm. Using a sharp knife cut it into 3 thin slices (about 1/3 inch). Repeat with each piece. This should yield 12 slices.

Salt the pieces and allow to sit for 10 minutes in the fridge.

Beat the egg with the milk, salt lightly. Mix the flour with garlic powder, paprika and black pepper, to taste. Spread it out on a large plate.

Dredge each piece of chicken in flour. Then dip in the egg mix and coat with flour again. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.

In a large skillet heat the oil on medium-high. When hot, add the chicken pieces without crowding them. Cook on each side for about 5 minutes (until the coat is golden brown).

Remove onto paper towels, then serve.

The chicken in this remains super-moist, and if you heat the oil properly before adding the first slices, they will not absorb much oil at all.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

American bento box...

...for overworked grad students. I see all these amazing food blogs by various people, and there is one thing most of them have in common: the writers seem to have time to cook. For the most part. Many also have amazing kitchens, and yet others seem to have large amounts of money for fancy ingredients (not to mention, access to those ingredients).

Well, I'm a poor graduate student, working in a small and somewhat dirty kitchen with limited equipment. I have little to no time to spare, but I must eat. And I like to eat well. Consequently I often end up cooking two-three different dishes over the weekend, and storing them to eat during the week. (Did I mention I have no time?)

So this week I'm giving you my $5 for 5 meals menu. It's a lunch box (except I use Pyrex dishes, as being a chemist I hate to microwave stuff in plastic). The price break down comes from $1 for 1.5 pounds of sweet potatoes, $1.50 for a pound of chicken breast, $2 for a pound of asparagus and $0.5 for a little bit of flour, an egg, salt and black pepper. I have a gas stove, and utilities are included in my rent, so cooking doesn't count.

The lunch box is baked sweet potatoes with a quick asparagus side dish (baked in parallel), with black pepper and paprika breaded chicken cutlets. The recipe for chicken cutlets will follow.

Oh, and this took less than an hour to prepare, and it comes out to $1 per meal :-) Go grad students!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Asparagus and cheese pie

I'm off of dairy products, but my husband and official food tester said that this was quite tasty.

Ingredients
1 lb asparagus
0.5 cup flour
1.25 cup milk
3 eggs
0.5 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp lemon zest
0.25 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt

Preparation
Clean the asparagus and cut into 0.5 inch pieces.

Butter a 9 inch pie dish. Preheat the oven to 350F oven. Add the asparagus to the pie dish.

Whisk up the flour, salt, black pepper and milk. Add the eggs and beat into the batter. Fold in your choice of cheese.

Pour the batter on top of the asparagus and bake for 40-45 minutes. Serve.

Roasted tomatoes

Fake sun-dried tomatoes. The flavor of these is unbelievable.

Ingredients
2 pints of grape or cherry tomatoes
olive oil
basil
salt
pepper

Preparation
Preheat oven to 225F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Wash the tomatoes and cut them in half. Lay them cut side up on the baking sheet.

Drizzle with oilve oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, dried basil. Roast for 3 hours.

Stuff into a clean jar and cover with olive oil. Use in various recipes, eg. paninis, pasta salads, salads.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Baked sweet potatoes

I love sweet potatoes. This is a simply perfect way to prepare them.

Ingredients
sweet potatoes
vegetable oil

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Wash the sweet potatoes and cut off the ends. Stab them on a few places with a sharp knife. Rub with oil.

Place the potatoes on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes in the 350F oven. Then increase the temperature to 400F and bake for further 40 minutes.

Remove from oven, peel, slice, serve.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Egg drop soup with brussels sprouts

So, I'm still doing my plain, spiceless diet. Veggies work fine, and brussels sprouts are one of my favorites. This is a quick, easy and almost healthy meal ;-)

Ingredients
1 package Ramen noodles
10 small brussels sprouts
1 egg

Preparation
Cook the Ramen noodles in as little water as possible. Do not add the entire salt pocket, you can greatly moderate the healthiness of the meal by leaving out tons of extra sodium.

When the noodles are soft and squishy, add in 10 frozen brussels sprouts. I get these from a "steam-in-the-bag" frozen veggie package. One package is enough to make four portions usually. The brussels sprouts in those are really small and cute.

When the sprouts have warmed through (1-2 minutes in the boiling soup for these small sprouts), add the egg white on the top.

Allow to cook and stir in a little later, depending on how chunky you like it.

When the egg whites are completely cooked, pour the boiling soup into a bowl. Make a little nest and add in the egg yolk.

Dust with some black pepper and stir into the soup before eating. Yumm!