Two Everyday Recipes -or- Revenge of the Quiche

 

leek potato green chile tart

 

So this last week I found myself feeling swamped, just completely underwater on things to do.  I’m not sure how it happened, but suddenly not only was there not enough time for all the things I’d like to do (never is), there wasn’t enough for all the things I needed to do.

I’ve been feeling a milder version of this all fall, like I’ve got a lot to do, and while I still want to eat a homemade dinner every night, I don’t necessarily want to make one up from scratch every night.  Much less do I want to make something separate for lunch!  Woe to those who might ask me what’s to eat when I’m feeling overwhelmed . . .

I’ve been making a lot of these (and a lot of soups, too), things that last well beyond the initial meal and are pretty much ready to go subsequently.  I’m calling them tarts, like the savory French tarts.  I kind of wore out my own use and conception of the word quiche in the first year I ever joined a CSA.  That time, Bryan and I split a share with my parents, and my dad and I, who were the main cooks of the project, fell back on quiche again and again as a way to use up all the greens we got.  After that (and discovering more uses for the green stuff), I didn’t make it much.  At all.  For years.

It’s baaaack … and better than before!  I’ve been making a crust with a little cornmeal in it, and a variety of interesting new fillings.  My two current favorites (recipes below) are: leek and potato with green chile, and sweet potato with greens.

 

Savory Tart Crust with Cornmeal

Note: if you are going gluten free, or just happen to run out of flour, it’s easy to make these recipes crustless.  Just grease your pie pan well, and skip to the fillings.

If you’re making a crust, make it first, so that it has plenty of time to chill.

Mix in a small bowl:

1 cup flour (white, whole wheat, or a mixture, your choice)

1/4 cup corn meal (blue is my favorite)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut in 5 Tablespoons butter until the biggest chunks are pea-sized.  Mix in very cold water just a little bit at a time, until the dough holds together, and then put the dough in the refrigerator.

 

Potato, Leek and Green Chile

Cut off the tops/dark green parts of 2-3 medium-sized leeks.  (Did you know you can use those tops instead of onions for soup stock?  I’ve been doing it all the time lately.)  Slice the leeks in half, rinse out dirt, and chop into fairly thin slices.  Melt 1 Tablespoon butter over med/low heat, add the leeks and a generous splash of white wine or sherry (or water, but I recommend the wine).  Continue cooking, covered, on low, adding more wine if necessary to keep moist, until the leeks are translucent and slightly gooey.  (I got this idea from a recipe for leek confit on Bon Appétit, and it’s been a go-to for leeks since.)

Set the oven to 425° F.  Slice 2 small/medium potatoes fairly thin, skin on (scrub them first).  Place them on a cookie sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil, and salt if desired.   Toss to coat and roast for about 10 minutes, until browned on one side, turn the slices over and roast another 5 minutes or so, until both sides have golden brown spots.  Set aside.

Chop 1-2 roasted green chiles (depending on heat).  (Aren’t you glad you froze some?)

 

sweet potato greens tart

 

Sweet Potato and Greens

I used kale for this, use 1 bunch of whatever greens you need to get rid of.  Slice or pull the leaves from the ribs, and steam them in a steamer basket over simmering water until bright green and wilted.  Chop or pulse in the food processor depending on how fine you want them chopped.

Roast sweet potatoes the same way as the potatoes above.

 

Egg Filling & Assembly

Lower the oven temp to 375° F

For either version (or your own creation) get out the crust, and roll it into a rough circle.  It doesn’t need to be too thin, the recipe makes plenty.   I use a 9″ pie pan.  Set the crust in your pan and press it into shape.  If necessary adjust the sides by pulling off overhanging pieces and sticking them in gaps.

Beat together (you can use the pie crust bowl):

4 eggs
Update: I’m not sure how or why, but when I first started making these I thought 4 eggs was plenty … now I don’t, and I almost always use 5. If you find that you’ve made more filling than you intended and it doesn’t seem like there’s enough egg in the mixture, you can even use 6. The whole thing will be thicker and may take a little longer to cook, but it’s up to you!

A generous splash heavy cream

A few Tablespoons grated cheese (seriously, any cheese you have on hand and like is good.)

Fresh ground pepper

(Salt is optional, depending on taste and saltiness of cheese)

 

Pour a bit of the egg mixture into the bottom of the crust (or the pan if you are going no-crust).  Add your vegetables.  If you are using potatoes I highly recommend putting them on top, so they get nice and browned.  Bake for about 40 minutes, turning once, until the tart is golden on top, puffed up, and just moist inside when tested with a knife.

 

One of these makes a good part of a dinner, plus a few more lunches/brunches for me and Bryan—hooray!  It might be a good option to stave off the hungry hoards while you work on Thanksgiving dinner, or a good make-ahead family breakfast for a special day.  Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving all you Americans!

 

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Northern Arizona Corn Bread

 

NAZ cornbread

 

One of the few recent food happenings I have actually gotten a photo of is this cornbread.  It’s my adaptation of a recipe that my Mom has made since I was little.  It came from one of my elementary school teachers, Ms. Bené.  We made it during our creative retreat this year, actually twice, it was a hit!  It’s a sweeter-style cornbread, what in the US we call “Northern” style.  I’ve given it a Southwestern twist as well.  It’s great with blue cornmeal, if you can find it, and pretty awesome with some chiles inside as well.

 

Northern Arizona Cornbread

In a large bowl, mix well:

1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter

2/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

 

Stir in:

1 cup buttermilk, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

-or- plain milk and no soda

The buttermilk gives a nice flavor, but it’s not necessary.  Either way, you can add a dash more milk for a very moist cornbread.

 

Pile on top of the liquids in the bowl:

1 cup blue cornmeal (or yellow if you can’t find blue.)

1 cup whole wheat flour (you can use white or a mix if you prefer)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder (at sea level, at 7000′ I use 1  1/4 tsp)

Stir just until blended.

 

Optional: remove the stems, centers, and seeds from 3 roasted green chiles.  Cut into thin strips, and stir in just before baking.  This adds a delicious bit of spiciness, but leave out if you are serving the cornbread along with other hot foods, which it goes really well with! Chile time is coming again soon!

 

Scrape into a heavy baking pan.  Any size 9 x 9″ or bigger will work, the cornbread will just be a little thicker or thinner.  Bake at 350˚ F for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  It should be a little bit brown around the edges and golden on top, although with the blue corn it can be harder to see.   Enjoy!

Chile Freezing Time

 

This topic is a bit specific to my home place, the Southwestern USA,  at least I think it is – let me know if you live elsewhere and you can get fresh roasted chiles!  Around here, roasters set up outside at the farmers’ market or in a parking lot this time of year, and fill the air with the most incredible smell, a smoky autumn aroma that draws me like a magnet and reminds me of all the best things about crisp fall days and warm New Mexico comfort food.

This is what’s called “green” chile, fresh rather than dried, and usually green colored too, although as you can see I like to wait until they start turning red and ripe to buy mine.  My absolute, all-time favorite are these “sugar” chiles from Whipstone Farm.  Sweet and hot at the same time, they have just the most amazing flavor, especially the red ones.

Whatever kind you can find, I like to freeze them whole, spaced out on a cookie sheet or broiler pan.  When they’re solid, I get them out and pop them off with a spatula (it helps to wait just a minute out of the freezer), and put them in plastic bags.  Back into the freezer they go, to last me all year.  I got this idea from freezing blueberries on a sheet, so that you can get out just as many as you need.  I love pulling out a chile or three, and this way once they thaw, they are still intact enough for stuffing with cheese or other goodies.  And, I don’t have to worry about pulling out all the tops and seeds before freezing, I just process them as I thaw and use them.

This is the first and probably easiest, possibly most rewarding, food stocking up/saving/preserving I have done so far!  I highly recommend it.

Still a little time for: Winter Squash, Mexican Style

Spring is coming.  In fact, I am down in the valley this weekend where spring is already here!  Still somehow, I am not quite ready to let go of winter foods yet.  Although I would not touch a butternut squash in July, I think I could eat it happily almost every day for the months of winter!

If you are getting tired of winter veggies but the asparagus is not yet streaming into your area, here is a another flavor combo for you.  I use this in all kinds of tacos and enchiladas.  The day of this photo we had it in tacos with fresh corn tortillas, a mild slightly tangy cheese, and orange chipotle salsa.

Winter Squash Filling for Tacos or Enchiladas

2 to 4 cups cooked winter squash  – butternut is my favorite.  Whichever you choose, cut in half (or into more pieces if very large) and scoop out the seeds.  Rub the cut surfaces with a little olive oil.  Place the pieces cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in a 375° oven until you can easily bury a the tines of a fork in it – this may take 30 minutes to an hour depending on the size and thickness of the squash pieces.  Let rest until cool enough to handle.  It is now ready to peel and slice quite easily!  For this recipe, cut the squash into fairly large chunks.

½ to 1 cup dried black beans, cooked.  I do mine in the pressure cooker – fast even at 7000 ft!

1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced.

2 to 3 thawed frozen roasted green chiles, chopped.  In the West (as you already know if you live here) around September/October time the most amazing smell fills the farmers’ market – roasting green chiles.  I could go on about this for quite some time, but will limit myself to saying that I stock up big time and live on the ones in my freezer for the rest of the year.  If you didn’t save enough, your grocery store may have fresh Anaheim or Poblano peppers which you can roast under the broiler, or speared on a fork above the flame of a gas range (or even with a crème brulee torch – in any case watch carefully and watch your fingers!)  Once the peppers are roasted, cut out the stem and pull out the seeds, then chop.

Put a little olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.  When it is hot add the garlic, let it sizzle for a minute or two, then add all the other ingredients.  They are mostly cooked already, they just need to warm up and get the flavors to blend, so stir until everything is hot, then turn off the heat and let sit together until you are ready to serve (or fill enchiladas).

I have included a fair amount of variation in the ingredient amounts, feel free to change them based on the amount you want to end up with and whether you like the emphasis more on the squash or the beans, etc.

If you eat this with corn tortillas, you will have all “three sisters” of ancient Southwest cuisine (corn, beans and squash).  Don’t you think chile should be the fourth sister?

Enjoy the last of your winter and those hearty comforting winter foods!