Spinach, Onion, and Cheese Quiche

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This past 4th of July, my boyfriend and I drove upstate to visit his mother’s side of the family. The countryside was beautiful, the people were lovely, I shot a gun for the first time in my life (!!!) but of course the real star of the weekend was the food!

Quiche probably isn’t the most patriotic meal, but my boyfriend’s Aunt W made us a great breakfast the morning of July 5th with quiche as a centerpiece and it was delicious.

I’ve made quiche several times before (and blogged about it here as well, once) but I’ve never been able to truly wow myself with my own efforts. Either I didn’t have the right recipe, the right crust, or the right baking time/temp–in any case, my quiches were underwhelming and occasionally watery??? I’m not sure if I didn’t cook the vegetables enough or what, but sometimes my quiche came out watery. It sounds gross and it was not the most appetizing. Boyfriend ate it without a complaint because he is contractually obligated to do so.

ANYWAY, it didn’t happen this time! I also deviated from the recipe which called for using a pie pan. I usually use a regular glass pie pan as well, but this time I used a cast-iron skillet which was a wonderful housewarming gift from a good college friend who recently visited us in NY. I don’t know what it is about cast-iron but it makes everything seem more authentic and I can pretend like I’m a real professional cook. It also looks better in pictures.

Aunt W says: “This recipe is very forgiving. I often substitute if I do not have exact ingredients. I really like to use this pastry shell for quiche. I like the flavor and the flakiness the the oil gives.”

My thoughts: The pastry shell is indeed super flaky, no doubt about it. A great oil crust. I’ll use this oil crust recipe again, maybe for other items as well. And the recipe was quite forgiving. Instead of 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream, I just used 1.5 cups milk (didn’t have any cream). I also quickly cooked up spinach and onions instead of broccoli, and used a mix of mozzarella and parmesan cheese. I didn’t put in any meat.

Pastry Shell (can mix in the pan, but I mixed in a bowl then pressed into the pan with fingers)
1.5 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
2 Tablespoon milk

Measure all ingredients into 9” pie pan (I used a 10″ cast-iron skillet) and toss together with a fork. Press into shape and flute edges.

Quiche egg filling
3 eggs
1 cup light cream
1 cup milk (I omitted cream and used 1.5 cups milk)
1/2 tsp salt
dash of pepper
about 1 cup of whatever cheese (Aunt W had used grated swiss, I used shredded mozz and grated parmesan)

Mix the eggs, cream, salt, pepper together. Hold cheese.

Veggies
1 clove garlic
1/4 of a large onion
2 cups of loosely packed spinach

Pour 1 tbsp olive oil into a pan; saute garlic and onion until slightly translucent. Add in spinach, cook until just wilted, do not overcook.

Put it together:
Scoop veggie mix into the bottom of the pastry shell. Sprinkle cheese. Pour in egg/cream quiche filling mix.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

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Homemade Bagels

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It’s official: in less than 11 days, I am moving to New York! These past 3 weeks have been incredibly hectic for me, but thankfully the worst is over. I’ve secured an apartment (got the call from my realtor today!) so now the countdown begins. And what better way to celebrate moving to the Big Apple than with some homemade bagels? I’ve never had a real NY bagel before, but these were pretty good if I do say so myself.

I used to think that bagel-making must be some complicated, magical process, but it’s really quite simple. If you know how to make a basic dough with yeast and flour, you can make bagels. There are a few extra steps but they’re easy and fairly quick: you have to work the dough into a bagel shape, of course, and you have to drop the dough into boiling water to get that nice, shiny skin that bagels are known for.

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Bagel recipes are also versatile–I kept mine plain, but you can add all sorts of things to the dough (blueberries, chocolate chips, etc) or put toppings on them (sesame seeds, poppyseed, etc) without having to change up the basic dough recipe. Here’s the one I used:

Homemade Bagels Recipe (adapted from here)
1 1/4 cups water
4 1/2 cups bread flour (I used 4)
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon instant yeast

1 pot boiling water
About 3-4 tbsp honey (the original recipe called for 1 cup but I thought that was excessive)

Combine 1 1/4 cup water, flour, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, vegetable oil, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Mix together, then turn out onto a floured countertop and knead for about 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and let rise for 2 hours. After 2 hours, punch the dough down, place it on a lightly floured work surface, and use a knife or dough scraper to divide the dough into 8 pieces. Form each bagel into a bagel and poke a hole through the middle with your finger. Shape the bagel around the hole. Repeat with the remaining dough, and let the bagels rest for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

Bring about 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add honey, if desired (according to the original recipe, “Adding honey or barley malt syrup to the boiling water bath gives the bagels a pleasing chewy texture with a hint of sweetness.”) Boil the bagels, three at a time, until they rise to the surface of the pot, about 1 minute per side. Remove the bagels with a slotted spoon and place them on the baking sheet.

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Bake in the preheated oven until the bagels begin to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Then EAT!

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Perfect toasted with cream cheese in the morning, or with some peanut butter & honey!

 

Broccoli and Mushroom Quiche

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Quiche! My first time having truly great quiche was when my (half-French) college roommate’s mother visited and made us all a delicious quiche for dinner, which was very kind of her. It was through this same roommate’s family that first I experienced some really awesome homemade French cooking. I’ve attempted to replicate some of that awesomeness here with my broccoli and mushroom quiche.

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This recipe is nice because you can really add whatever you want to it–my main “filling” ingredients were broccoli, mushroom, onion, a bit of garlic, and mozzarella cheese. But you could honestly add whatever you want: spinach, goat cheese, bacon, chicken, etc. the options are limitless.

The crust is also open to interpretation. I stuck with a really easy, really quick olive oil crust this time around. Butter would have made a much flakier crust, but for some reason that’s not as essential to my quiche tastes as it is for sweet fruit pies.

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Olive Oil Quiche Crust Recipe
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup cold water

Sift together flour and salt. Using a whisk, beat oil and water to combine and thicken. Pour the oil and water combo into the flour/salt, and mix thoroughly. The original recipe says to just press this mixture into the pie plate, but I chose to roll it out with a rolling pin and that worked better for me.

Quiche Recipe (from here)
1 onion, minced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Add olive oil a large saucepan at medium heat. Add onions, garlic and broccoli. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, then add in mushrooms when the broccoli looks almost ready. Spoon vegetables into crust and sprinkle with cheese.

Combine eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in melted butter. Pour egg mixture over vegetables and cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until center has set.

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Fluffy Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Is there anything better in the mornings than chocolate chip pancakes? No, there isn’t. I’ve made this recipe at least a dozen times now and it’s always fluffy and always yummy. It’s also very simple, using ingredients you have in your kitchen on a regular basis–you don’t even need buttermilk, just regular milk. I’m not an expert so I’m not exactly sure why they turn out so perfectly fluffy. It might be because this recipe uses a lot of baking powder (1 whole tbsp). Or magic.

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See, they even look beautiful in a crappy iPhone photo. The recipe calls for half a cup of chocolate chips, but I usually go with A Truck Load of Chocolate Chips–as in, I just dump in chocolate chips until I think it looks sufficiently chocolate-y. Do what you want.

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If you’re brave, you can try to make two little pancakes at the same time in an old, cramped sauce pan with really high, perpendicular sides. After I took this photo, I flipped one pancake over onto the other on accident.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

1 egg
1 cup milk
2 tbsp butter (I usually substitute with olive oil, or any oil)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Whisk together all dry ingredients in one bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, milk, and butter (or oil), stirring until thoroughly combined. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, and then fold in chocolate chips. Or just dump them in quickly because you’re too excited, then stand back and think, wow, that’s a lot of chocolate chips, and throw all your cares to the wind.

Drop about 1/3 cup batter onto a heated pan or skillet, and cook pancake until brown on the bottom and bubbles start appearing on the top. Flip and cook the other side. You can make the pancakes as big or small as you want, so 1/3 cup doesn’t actually mean anything.

Eat!

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Yes, that is Nutella on the pancakes, further covered by a healthy helping of maple syrup. What you’re not seeing in this picture is the second layer of Nutella spread between the pancake on top and the pancake on the bottom. This is Boyfriend’s way of ingesting 3,000 calories at a time and does not come with a doctor’s recommendation. Verdict from Boyfriend: “This is sinful. It’s like eating a mashed up candy bar.”

Even without the over-the-top condiments, these pancakes are very, very good and can easily be a part of anyone’s yummy breakfast repertoire.