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Archive for March, 2011

Bacon and cheese quiche on a bed of arugula

Even when you love to cook, there are some days you are just energy-zapped or plain too busy to spend time making a delicious meal. Takeout is tempting you. A pizza delivery is just a phone call away. Just say no! When I’m feeling like this, I often turn to a crustless quiche. It’s easy, flexible, takes next to no time to prepare and is super delicious. A bacon and cheese quiche is what I made last week.

KKF Bacon & Cheese Crustless Quiche

4 eggs

1 1/3 cups heavy cream

About ½ cup of cooked bacon bits (preferably nitrite-free from free ranging hogs)

About ½ cup of grated cheese (your choice)

Nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

Butter (preferably grass-fed)

Coat a glass pie dish with butter. It doesn’t need to be a thick layer but make sure the whole surface is covered. (I use my fingers, but you could wax paper or plastic wrap.) Beat together your eggs and dairy, grate in a good five or six scrapes of fresh nutmeg (I never use pre-ground nutmeg) and season with a bit of salt and pepper, keeping in mind that you’re adding bacon so that will add salt as well. Pour the egg mixture into the buttered pan. Sprinkle the bacon bits and grated cheese onto the quiche-to-be. (I kind of push down the cheese and bacon so the egg mix covers them so that the cheese doesn’t burn.) Pop the dish in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes and pow – delicious dinner!

A note about bacon bits: I cook my homemade bacon up in large batches. Whatever I can wrestle away from Test Subject Bill I cut up into chunks and keep in the freezer. That way I can reach in and grab REAL bacon bits any time I need to add them to something. You don’t even have to worry about thawing them.

The great thing about quiche is that you can put just about anything into them. Leftover asparagus? Toss it in. Cooked spinach? Score. Diced ham, goat cheese, broccoli. It’s a great way to use up little bits of leftovers.

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I recently made the Vension Medallions in Tangy Sauce from Nourishing Traditions, a cookbook that no kitchen should be without. It was actually very simple: marinate thick slices of venison loin in the juice of two lemons (I got to use my new lemon squeezer!), green peppercorns and thyme. Brown the medallions in butter and olive oil. Make a sauce from red wine, beef stock (or vension stock if you have it) and jam (recipe called for blackberry or plum, I happened to have a cabernet sauvignon jam from my CSA so that’s what I used) in the pan you browned the medallions in.

Venison Medallions in Tangy Sauce

It turned out amazing! Test Subject Bill still isn’t crazy about the gamey flavor of venison but I love it. So I ended up eating all the leftovers (more on that later). The sauce is a reduction of the wine, stock and jam. I thought it was going to take forever for the three cups of liquid (2 of stock and 1 of wine) to reduce down and it did take a while but not as long as I thought. I kept the browned medallions in a 200 degree oven to keep them warm while the sauce reduced. My goal was to keep them medium or medium rare and I was mostly successful. I really enjoyed this recipe; easy and delicious. What more do you want?

Venison Steak-and-Eggs

I served the medallions with mashed potatoes and turnip greens following this recipe. I’m not really a fan of the Neely’s per se, but it was worth a try. If I’d actually paid attention to the recipe the greens probably would have turned out better, too. Instead, when I added the dijon mustard I didn’t measure, I just squeezed it in and ended up putting in too much. Those were some TANGY greens, let me tell you. Fortunately, it made them stout enough to stand up to the strong flavor of the vension and they actually ended up going really well together. Serendipity!

Venison Steak Salad

It was a large loin piece that I used so we ended up with lots of leftover venison medallions. Not to worry – I had ideas. First, for lunch I used some salad greens and alfalfa sprouts from my CSA to make a bed for sliced venison. Drizzled some olive oil over it and called it good. Then for a breakfast, I had “steak” and eggs with more sliced venison medallions. Deer: it’s what’s for every meal!

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In my transition to eating real food I’ve given up a lot of unhealthy, processed foods. Many of these are sweets. Oh, those cookies and frozen confections that once held me captive…no longer. Bewitched, bothered and bewildered no more! Honestly, since I’ve been feeding myself as God intended for us to eat, I no longer crave or even have any desire to eat the old junk I used to love. That’s not to say, however, that I don’t want an occasional treat!

Chocolate Almond Macaroons

Lucky for me, I’ve found some wonderful recipes to make delicious homemade real food sweets! I recently made the Chocolate Macaroons from the Heathy Home Economist.  They are a bit of a time investment, but not so much in labor. After you whip up the eggwhites and flavorings and actually bake the cookies, they need to continue to dry in the oven for several hours so it’s largely non-active time. It is worth it though – they are feather light and crunchy and delicious! I couldn’t find the chocolate extract her recipe calls for so I used almond extract and it turned out very nicely. The only problem I ran into is that my final product had random very small suuuuper crunchy (aka HARD) chunks that ended up in them. Perhaps I wasn’t vigorous enough when I folded in the dry ingredients, or maybe I should have sifted in the dry ingredients slowly. Or maybe I should go back and watch Sarah’s video again. Either way, I loved them and will definately make them again.

Maple Vanilla ice cream with a crunchy macaroon!

I also had the pleasure of stumbling upon Chef Emily Duff’s blog, Family2Table. In this post, she offers a variety of real food desserts, all of which look UH-maze-ing. I made the vanilla and maple syrup ice cream. Not only is the recipe very simple, it is the most delicious ice cream I’ve ever made (and I’ve made my fair share). I LOVE LOVE LOVE using the maple syrup as the sweetener. It is so sophisticated and is a gentle sweetness, not overpowering or harsh at all like some ice creams I’ve had. It reminds me a bit of French Vanilla, one of my all time favorite flavors. Maybe it’s the real vanilla bean, maybe it’s the mix of vanilla bean and maple syrup. All I know is that it is truly a thing of beauty and I recommend that everyone reading this run out and buy an ice cream maker if you don’t already have one and make this ice cream.

The cool thing about making these two recipes on the same day is that the ice cream calls for egg yolks only and the macaroons call for egg whites only. This way you don’t have to worry about wasting. You will end up with four extra yolks, but hey….you can save them for another batch of ice cream or make your morning scrambled eggs extra yolky!

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Indian Feast!

I had another wonderful experience at the Whole Foods Salud cooking school, this time on Indian food. Originally the class had five students, then two called and cancelled. The other two did not show up. So I got a solo lesson! Even better, we had help! So it was me, Chef, and four helpers! That’s what I call a cooking class. Definately got my $65’s worth.

The menu was: Kofta Meatballs with Spiced Tomato Sauce; Vegetable Samosas with Coriander Chutney; Chicken Tikka Masala with Sauteed Onions; Naan; and Pistachio & Cardamom Ice Cream (and rice of course).

My favorite recipe of the night ended up being the meatballs. They are very simple lamb meatballs that offered a lot of flavor and are good for someone on a low-carb diet as there is no breadcrumbs as binder – binding is yogurt only. I was rather amazed. I’m also curious as to how much I am loving the lamb recipes I’ve tasted lately. Can’t wait until I start seeing lamb for sale by my local farmers!

Kofta Meatballs with Spiced Tomato Sauce

1 pound ground lamb

1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

3 tbsp whole milk yogurt

Mix all the ingredients together and shape into about 30 meatballs.

For the sauce: 5 cloves peeled garlic, 1 inch piece peeled and chopped ginger, 1 1/4 c water, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/4 c canola oil (as per the recipe, but I would use coconut oil at home), 1 cinnamon stick, 6 cardamom pods (smash ’em), 6 whole cloves, 1/2 c finely chopped onion, 1/2 c canned crushed tomatoes, 4 tbsp whole milk yogurt, 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt.

Blend garlic, ginger and 4 tbsp of the water in a blender until it forms a paste. Add the cumin, coriander, paprika and cayenne and blend to combine.

Put oil into a frying pan over high heat and stir in cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Add onions and saute until they are reddish brown. Reduce heat to medium and add paste from blender and the tomatoes. Stir and cook until the mixture browns, then add 1 tbsp of yogurt. Stir to incorporate, then add another tablespoon. Repeat for rest of yogurt. Stir in remaining water and salt and bring to a simmer. Add all meatballs to the pan in a single layer. Lid the pan, slightly ajar, turn heat to low and cook for 25 minutes. Stir gently every 5 minutes. Remove lid, increase heat to medium-low, cook until meatballs are browned. (So…I don’t know how you would exactly “brown” a meatball sitting in liquid…cooked through should suffice!)

Chef Antonio and the KKF

Now, all of the dishes were tasty and I definately enjoyed making the naan (not hard at all!) and the samosas were fun (what part of FRIED is not fun?). But the meatballs were tops in my book. Followed by the ice cream, which I freaking forgot to take a picture of! Argh! Well, I guess I’ll just have to make it and take a pic of my own and share the recipe. It is just different enough to be the perfect end to an Indian dinner.

Also, if you’ve ever gone bonkers over that green sauce they give you with your Indian takeout, it’s pretty much just cilantro, fresh jalapeno, lemon juice, salt, roasted cumin seeds and black pepper. Let ‘er rip in the blender (maybe add some water) and adjust seasonings to your taste. Love that stuff!

Posing with the spread!

Practicing a pose for my new cooking show, "How to Not Screw It Up Too Bad."

IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD ALREADY!! For real, this is what happens when you're the only student and all the assistants had a glass of wine.

Chef Antonio

Close up of chicken curry

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Shrimp and Crab Bisque. And what's that fermenting in the background? Hmmm....

I love soup. Any kind of soup. If I can eat it with a spoon, it must be good. One of my all-time favorites is lobster bisque, which I have not yet attempted at home. I’m a bit scared of spoiling all my wonderful lobster bisque memories by butchering it. Shrimp, on the other hand, I’m willing to attempt unsupervised. My Food Lover’s Companion
tells me that a bisque is a thick, rich soup usually consisting of pureed seafood and cream. Here’s a super fast recipe for shrimp and crab bisque that I adapted from this recipe from Allrecipes.com. Since the seafood is not pureed it might not technically be a bisque, but who cares. It’s delicious and perfect for a tired winter weeknight.

KKF Quick Shrimp & Crab Bisque

2-3 T butter (3 if you like your bisque thicker)

2-3 T AP flour or arrowroot flour (same amount of butter that you use)

1/2 t salt

1/4 t white pepper

1 1/2 c half-and-half (in a pinch I’ve used 3/4 c heavy cream and 3/4 c water when I was out of half-and-half)

1 6 oz. can of crab meat (I use Crown Prince Fancy White-Lump Crab)

2 4 oz. cans of shrimp (I use Wild Planet Wild Pink Shrimp)

1/2 c white wine (I use a chardonnay for this recipe)

Old Bay seasoning to taste

It’s too easy: Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour, salt, pepper. Slowly whisk in the wine followed by the half and half, making sure to get in the corners of your saucepan and get all the roux absorbed. Drain and stir in the shrimp and crab. Heat through. Stir in some Old Bay seasoning. Taste. Add more if you want. Eat.

Gratuitous bisque close-up.

This bisque is super delicious and faster than ordering MSG laden Chinese take-out. Keep some of this handy canned seafood on hand for your emergency food storage AND emergency dinner supply. I have not yet tried this with canned salmon, but I’ll bet it would work just fine. Maybe some day I’ll be brazen (or foolish) enough to try a lobster bisque…

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