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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A Simple and Delicious Way to Cook Artichokes

 

artichokes on plate

 

Phew—who’s ready for a break and some easy cooking?  I know I am.  As I mentioned in this post about broiled asparagus, spring came along just in time for me this year.  I’ve been busting my booty over my recently launched beginning sewing e-book for the last couple of months, so anything that tasted delicious and and fresh without a whole lot of time and effort in the kitchen was a major bonus.  We’ve eaten a lot of artichokes this spring.

I love artichokes.  That time of spring when they appear at our CSA farm store, tiny and fresh and beautiful in their variations, would get me excited whether or not I needed some easy food options.  So we’ve eaten a lot of them, practically one every day for a while there.  I also wasn’t running to the store unless absolutely necessary, so I did some experimenting with what I added and how I cooked them.  Considering how cool this spring has been in many parts of the country, I’m hoping their are still some artichokes available near you!

 

 

artichokes with lid

 

Simply Delicious Artichokes

  • Rinse the your artichokes and trim the stems flush with the bottoms.  I don’t trim any of the leaves.  Especially when they are small and fresh, I like to leave on each possible delicious morsel.  My mom cooks the stems along with the rest, but I find they are often somewhat bitter.
  • Put the artichokes in a pot in a single layer.  Use a pressure cooker if you have one (more about that below).  Either put the artichokes stem side down in the pan and add about 1/2″ of water around them, or put them in a steamer basket with either the top or the stem up and add water below.  I haven’t found any difference in how they come out with any of those methods.
  • Optional: add a drizzle of olive oil on top.  It doesn’t change the flavor very much, but it does the usual jobs of added oil: making sure that the artichokes don’t dry out and adding a little smoothness to the taste.
  • Optional: add a drizzle of lemon juice.  This doesn’t change the flavor much either, but without it the water left in the pot turns an amazing dark green color which could stain your cookware.  However, I cooked a bunch without any lemon and they came out fine.
  • Put the lid on the pot and cook until the leaves are tender.  Pull one out from somewhere in the middle, and pull the base of the leaf off with your teeth to see if it’s tender.  It’s hard to overcook them.  I knew they were taking a while to cook on my stove, but I didn’t realize how long until I started keeping track for this post.  It was anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half!  So then I did what should have been obvious, at least at high altitude, got out the pressure cooker.  15 minutes later (12 minutes at high pressure plus warm-up and cool-down) I had cooked artichokes!

 

Ok, you knew I was going to say this, right?  But it’s no joke, artichokes are totally delicious with crème frâiche!  And possibly even more delicious with just a bit of good quality balsamic vinegar on top, so that each leaf you dip gets some of each.  If you’ve never eaten one before, there are illustrated directions here, among other places.  I may have to try a clove garlic in the water next time I make them.  But I bet the flavor of the artichokes themselves will still be my favorite part.  (By the way, they contain a chemical that can change your perception of other flavors, so beware of eating them with your best wine.)  Enjoy!