Curious Appetite

Recipes

Healthy, Easy Fall inspired Quiche.

The incredible edible egg. You can boil, fry, bake, poach, baste, whip, even froth an egg into just about 12 million recipes. Did you know they are used in some cocktails AND thought to be the perfect protein? Sorry vegans. If its any consolation, my eggs come from a happy local farm where I know I am always welcome to look the chicken in its beady eye and make sure they aren’t bluffing.

Quiche are unusually easy to make, especially if you prefer not to mess about with a homemade crust, which is also easy. But lets be honest, you might be busy and a store bought crust may be your time efficient option. Mine too. It helps that Wholly Wholesome makes spelt flour pie shells wholly delish.

Quiche is also great for putting left over veggies and eggs for a hearty week-long supply of a good thing. I put leeks,heirloom garlic, fennel root, heirloom tomatoes, broccoli and sharp cheddar in mine. To make it health(ier) minded, I only used 2 whole eggs and 4 egg whites.

Here’s my stuff:

1 small leek, cut in discs

2 cloves crushed/chopped garlic

1 cup sliced fennel root

1 cup slightly (like 2 minutes) steamed broccoli florets

2 small heirloom tomatoes (I used a zebra and a brandyvine)

1/2 cup (or more if you’re cheesy:) of shredded sharp cheddar

butter and olive oil for pan

cumin, paprika, a dash of fresh cracked coriander and plenty fresh cracker pepper

optional: 1/2 sweet onion

Method: Saute’ the leeks and chopped garlic in olive oil and butter for a good 2 minutes on medium/med-low. I love cooking with a little butter and a little olive oil. This is not only for obvious flavor reasons, but also because olive oil alone burns easily. And I think food is too heavy cooked just in butter. Happy compromise.

Okay…so after 2 minutes add the fennel root. While thats cooking down, slice and chop tomatoes and drain out as much liquid and seeds as possible. The broccoli can steam in a rice cooker (granted yours came with the extra attachment) for about 2 minutes. Slice the florets down the middle.

3 minutes or a couple more may have passed by now so add the tomatoes, broccoli and your spices of choice (or mine) and let that merge together for a few minutes. Be mindful as to not overcook, all this with some egg is going in the oven next.

Once this veggie mix is ready…

…pour it evenly into the pie crust.

In a largish bowl, whisk 2 eggs and 4 egg whites OR 1 cup of egg whites (you can get just egg whites at almost any grocery store) with the grated cheese. Then pour the egg/cheese mixture over your veggie quiche filling!

You can bake this with or without a foil cover, I baked without. Leave this in the oven for about 30mins at 375 and you should get something that looks a lil like this:

If you want the cheese to be a little browned, put this under the broiler for a few minutes.

This is yummy, the leeks and garlic really dress the veggies well (and who can argue about the affinity cheddar has with broccoli?) And best of all, its semi-guilt-free! This pie is packed with quality  protein, B-vitamins, fiber, free-radical scavenging antioxidants, healthy fats, minerals (sure, why not?) and has a slow burning glycemic load.

Made in advance, this quiche can provide an energizing (and tasty) blood-sugar friendly breakfast or lunch for at least 4-5 days.

At dinner, it would be complete with a glass of bright, citrus, melon and minerally white wine such as a Riesling, Muscadet or go all out with the bubbly. If you really need some Vitamin C, go ahead and make a mimosa with the bubbly:)

And get creative! Come up with your own fillings and enjoy the convenience and comfort of some QUICHE!

MarxFood Random Recipe Challenge: Wildly Stuffed Squash!

I rarely blog about making food, but rather critique others who make it. Nevertheless, thanks to being a food blogger, MarxFood.com sent me some random samples as apart of a recipe contest! The much anticipated box had come with an assortment of dried gourmet goodies: black trumpet mushrooms, Japones Chilies, Habanero Chilies, Wild Rice and Coconut Sap Sugar. Hmmmmm, I thought, what to do with such differing powers of flavor! I stewed long and hard going through explosive japones chili thai soupy thoughts to Mexican habanero rasberry coconut sap jam dreams. Part of the challenge is that I would need to use at least 2 of the 5 ingredients in order to come up with some random dish. Finally after days of tossing the ingredients back and forth in my head, I realized the conception:

Wild and Foraged Stuffed Winter Squash. Baked with coconut sap and finished with black truffle oil. For this recipe, I utilized 3 of the 5 ingredients sent! What makes it wild is the wild rice, foraged dried black trumpet mushrooms and fresh chantrelles. And of course, truffle oil is pretty wild itself!

I love fall cooking, the possibilities are endless! I love the rib sticking goodness of bright carby squashes. I realized that we are also totally in mushroom season so I wanted to capitalize on the earthy pattern of the wild rice and black trumpets by incorporating further mushroom compliments: chantrelles and black truffle oil. Not to mention,  the milky salty touch of ricotta salata that imparts the creamy texture of its fresh grassy ricotta sister while insinuating the briney similarities of a feta.

I took a trip down to the weekend farmer’s market to obtain the bulk of the seasonal foods at hand:

(the following images may be of extreme graphic nature and I totally blame Monica Barrett for being the official food pornagrapher and gastrocohort)

Serves 4, easily:

1 each of Carnival, delicata and acorn squash

2 cups of fresh spinach

1/2 lb of Fresh chantrelles

8 ounces of ricotta salata (cheese)

1 lb smoked keta salmon fillet

2 small leeks or 1 large

1 dry cup of wild rice

4 oz Black Trumpet Mushrooms (dried)

clove of garlic, crushed and chopped

olive oil for saute’

coconut sap sugar, for exposed squash edges in final baking phase

black truffle oil to finish

(salt and pepper to taste)

…all bought fresh, local and organic at the Farmer’s Market!

The bags you see are the little samples MarxFood sent that tied it all together! I also PAIRED the whole dinner with an unoaked WA state Ryan Patrick Chardonnay from Piccola Wine.

Now that you have the grocery list, here goes the process:

Overview: The idea is to stuff the squash with a lightly sauteed melange of foraged wild mushrooms (such as the black trumpet and fresh chantrelles), leeks and spinach with garlic and olive oil. Then mix this “melange” with perfectly tender and chewy wild rice. Crumble in ricotta salata then fill in the various squashes after they have been prebaked at 350 faced down in olive oil), sprinkle with coconut sap at the edges to brown, caramelize and bake to perfection.

1st step,  reconstitute the dried mushooms in hot water for about 30 minutes. Be glad the black trumpets are dried because that means you can use the earthy umami broth to cook the wild rice in. Sit down and relax for 30 minutes. Have a glass of Zin and snack on pumpkin bread while they become “constituted.”

30 minutes later: now we drain the hydrated trumpets, ahhhh. Now you’re left with mushroom broth. And you’re going to cook the wild rice in it, trust me. I was happy to be “green” and recycle this precious water. Once the black trumpets were reconstituted, the stuffing game was on.

It’s all a time juggle. Wild rice on the back burner, squashes pre-bake in the oven just waiting to be stuffed, saute’ pan is simmering with leeks, garlic, foraged mushrooms and finished with wilted spinach.35 minutes or so later, your whole puzzle is ready to be put together. Fold in the mushroom-leek saute with the earthy aromatic Wild Rice, and then hand crumble ricotta salata over the stuffing like snow.

Use a deep spoon to scoop to stuff and mold. After stuffing, the edges of the squash were carefully sprinkled and hand pressed with coconut sap so that they could sort of be caramelized at the edges. Bake uncovered at 350 for an additional 20 minutes.

A good tip that I failed to mention before is that you need to slice the squash lengthwise, and kinda gut the squash. As pointed out to me by my faithful gastrocohort, aka the fabulous food pornagrapher of this endeavor, the seeds are totally salvagable and should be toasted with salt while the squash prebake, that way you have an interim nibble while they bake during the 20 minute finale.

Careful, don’t fall into the temptation to gobble all these up. Save some, because they make a nice presentation for the final product. My cohort had to slap my hand a couple times. This is probably the real reason I enlisted the culinary support of food pornagrapher Monica…to make sure that I didn’t drink all the wine and eat all the fixins!

Once they have cooled down, line the middle of your plate with the toasted seeds. Portion off a slab of smoked salmon, maybe lay a couple thin slices of ricotta salata atop smokey slab. Then drizzle your much aromatic black truffle oil in zig zaggy layers. It should look a lil’ something like this:

Tasting notes: Pairing the unoaked Chardonnay was a brilliant idea. It complimented the sweet onset of the squash and supported the lingering earthy umami finish brought to you by the mushrooms and spots of truffle. The mushrooms served as a true bridge to bring you a silky full mouth-feel explosion of sweet, savory and umami.

Pairing with the smoked salmon was almost too good to be true, it imparted a sweet salmon candy pop and accented lemony notes from the Chardonnay and an unassuming fruit “punch” with the ricotta salata.

Conclusion: This was quite the treat. Its worth every minute of prep and attention to detail. Be warned: you may fall into a food coma and not wanna get up.

Hope you try this at home!

In the kitchen: my turn, making dessert.

I started this blog mainly because I have a lot of opinions about eating out. I also enjoy cooking, experimenting and baking. I found that a cooking/baking blog could be a tad time-consuming. But now, I just have to talk a little about my cooking style and share a recipe for something I made.

I usually don’t follow recipes to the grit unless it involves baking. and even then I try to sneak cardamon and extra butter in where I can. I can’t be bothered.  As a result of being so defiant to guideline, I usually have a fair number of uh-ohs and shoulda couldas. And then there are sometimes when recipes are completely wack and I must damage control, as in the case with one of my favorite “cook”-books: The Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose.

Don’t let the name scare you, raw food is a cuisine. Its one of the few defining food genres unique to American Gastronomy, if there is such a thing. American Gastronomy, and most other western cultures for that matter, have much borrowing going on. No matter how local and seasonal, a sorrel sauce is french and always will be. Raw Food cuisine is unique to all the supplement popping, psuedo-science yoga enthusiasts of the Whole Foods Market demographic in the most yuppy new-agey quarters of America.

The idea behind “raw food” is that we tax our “enzyme factories” eating “dead” (cooked) food, where as if we ate more raw food, the enzymes are kept intact and our bodies don’t have to produce them unnecessarily for digestion and not to mention being able to retain all the phytonutrients that are possibly being depleted by cooking.

I don’t know if I buy all this, but I will say that from time to time, it sure as hell tastes good:

This, my friends, is what I call raw: Chocolate Cardamom Cream Pie in a Cinnamon Pecan “Crust”.

This is 100% raw, vegan, soy and gluten free. even the spices were raw. I crushed the cardamom seeds and pulverized the cinnamon sticks. And you’ll never guess what went in this mock pie.

Give up? Can’t figure out how a pie could have such a creamy filling without tofu or dairy? Cant understand how a crust could be made without graham crackers, butter or flour?

Okay okay, but you’re not going to believe this. 🙂 The cream was made out of avocado, raw cacao powder, raw agave, crushed cardamom and bourbon vanilla. Yes I said avocado. Avocado, if you haven’t noticed, is a great blank canvas. Meaning that on its own it’s pretty useless (unless you add {truffle} salt) but it does hold and bring out whatever flavors are added to it. Try it! The crust was made out of pecans, cold-processed coconut oil, dates, ground almonds, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg. That’s it.

Here’s my “recipe” that should fill a normal sized pie-ware. I suggest making the pie crust 1st.

Pecan-Date Pie Crust

12-18 dates, pitted (depending on the date size)

3/4 – 1 cup of pecans

1/4 cup of almond meal/flour

2 tablespoons of cold-processed extra virgin coconut oil (I like the Artisana brand)

1/4 cup fresh almond milk, or the stuff in the tetrapack if you absolutely must.

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves.

So this recipe was adapted from The Raw Food Detox Diet, but I changed it. The original asked for only 6 dates and 1/2 cup of pecans. That’s impossibly short! There is no way that would have fit into a pie pan! So I added more of those 2 ingredients and then improved a couple other that I believed would help give the impression of a crumbly cookie buttery crust: Almond meal and coconut oil. What you want to do with this is to give a preliminary chop to the dates. Then add all the listed ingredients in a food processor (with the largest blade attachment) and process until you have a crumbly mix. It’s okay to have clumps. The prelim. date dice should help eliminate most of the chunkadge.

Once you have a mix, press into the pie pan (preferably one of those glass types). Now this is going to get sticky, but just have fun. Pretend like you’re playing with play-dough again but this time you will smell cinnamony sweet and not play-doughy 🙂 Once you have pressed the pie crust into the pan, set it in the freezer to harden while you make the pie filling. But only let it sit in the freezer for as long as it takes to make the filling.

Chocolate Avocado Filling (this can be eaten as a pudding too!)

6 Avocados (small)

1/3 cup of Agave (I ended up added closer to 1/2 cup because I have a wicked sweet tooth, so sweeten to your liking)

6-8 tablespoons of cacao powder, depending if you are going for a “milk” or “dark” chocolate feel.

6 pods (shelled) of cardamom, crushed in a mortar and pestle.

A dash of cinnamon

Blend all the ingredients in a food processor or hand mixer until smooth, lookout for unblended avocado chunks. They are sneaky. Again, I improved this recipe. The one in the rawbook said to use only 1/2 of an avocado, 6 dates and 2 tablespoons of cacao. To make 2 cups?? Impossible! And! who wants chunks of dates in a cream pie filling?! So I added more avocado, cacao, slipped in agave and cardamom. Best decision to go against the recipe grain.

Now that you have the chocolate “pudding”/pie filling, take out the pie crust from the freezer and pour it on in there! Use a spoon to smooth out the wrinkles and decorate with sliced strawberries, edible flowers or whatever tickles your fancy!

Take lots of pictures before you dive into this because it will get a little disheveled. Enjoy!

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