Sunday, September 25, 2011

Garden Potage & Caramelized Onion Quiche

I actually had a 2-day weekend this week and it was amazing the difference in how much time I felt like I had off! I'd better not get used to that feeling, but it was lovely for a change of pace. I spent most of the time enjoying Jeannene, some of that time while cooking. Our lunches over the weekend have been simple soup and bread lunches. Tonight, I'm getting a little fancier, with a caramelized onion, cheddar & caraway quiche accompanied by mixed baby greens with Maple Grove Farms strawberry balsamic dressing (available at my local Kroger, but also through their website: is truly fabulous) and a baguette from La Chatelaine in Dublin (really lovely French baked goods & bistro fare: Dessert will be honeyed boozy fruit & camembert.

The soup I made, which we ate accompanied by peasant bread from La Chatelaine, was a wonderfully cozy garden vegetable soup, my adaptation of a soup from the delightful Twelve Months of Monastery Soups, which cookbook I strongly recommend you pick up.

Garden Potage

32 oz. chicken broth

1 onion, julienned

1 zucchini, julienned

1 carrot, julienned

1 celery stalk, julienned

3 rainbow chard leaves, stemmed & torn into bite-size pieces

1/2 c. acini di pepe pasta (stellini would be nice, too)

Salt & pepper, to taste

Grated Emmentaler cheese for garnish

Cook veggies in broth in stock pot about 45 minutes. Add pasta & seasonings & cook 10 minutes. Serve hot with cheese. Serves 4-6.

Caramelized Onion Quiche with Cheddar & Caraway

1/2 stick butter

8 onions, thinly sliced & salted

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 c. flour

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. caraway seeds

2 c. half & half

1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

9" pie shell

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place pie shell into pie plate & scallop edges. Prick several times. Bake 10 minutes (use pie weights if you've got 'em) & set aside. Turn oven down to 350 degrees. Melt butter in large skillet. Add onions & caramelize to a rich brown, 15-20 minutes. Mix eggs with next 6 ingredients. Add onions & pour into pie shell. Bake 35-45 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting into wedges. Serves 6-8.

Honeyed Boozy Fruit

3-4 cups mixed berries (I used strawberries...which I hulled & quartered....blackberries, raspberries and blueberries)

4 pears, diced

2 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tsp. sugar

1/2 c. dry white wine

3 tbsp. honey

2 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tbsp. demerara sugar (regular, brown, powdered sugar fine, as is honey or agave instead)

Mix fruit with 2 tbsp lemon juice & 2 tsp. sugar and allow to macerate at least 1 hour in fridge. Mix rest of ingredients & gently stir into fruit. Return to fridge for another hour. Serve with camembert, brie or another double/triple creme cheese. Serves 6.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September is for Soup!

I have been coughing and hacking so much in the last week that Jeannene has threatened to sleep in the guest room. I don't feel terrible, but I definitely feel like soup! Monday, I had MCL Cafeteria's vegetable soup, which I refer to as crack soup because of its addictive yumminess, with a roll and some cranberry Jell-o (my grandmom used to make me Jell-o when I was sick) for lunch and made a pot of Southwestern Corn Chowder for dinner. It was wonderful to spend time in my new kitchen chopping vegetables and enjoying the bright splash of cumin & cayenne against a white prep bowl. Jeannene was spending the night at her work-home, but got to enjoy a bowl last night when she got home. The recipe is my adaptation of a Martha Stewart recipe.

Southwestern Corn Chowder

5-6 slices bacon

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 poblano pepper, chopped

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. cumin

Pinch cayenne

1 c. dry white wine

1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled & chopped

5 cups chicken broth

Corn cut from 5 ears corn (I would have used 6, but one of my ears had gone bad) (canned or frozen corn can be subbed, but your chowder will be a different soup altogether than if you use fresh corn. If you sub, use about 3 cups of corn)

1 c. heavy cream

Hot sauce

Cook the bacon in a soup pot until crisp. Drain and crumble. Cook the onion, carrot, celery and poblano in same pot about 10 minutes over medium heat. Add seasonings. Over high heat, add wine and cook a few minutes until it is mostly evaporated. Add potatoes & broth. Bring to a boil. Simmer over medium-low heat 20 minutes. Add corn and cream. Cook 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Garnish with bacon and serve with hot sauce. If you don't hate cilantro, snip some of that over the top, too. Serves 4-6.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cooking in the Swoony House

Now that we've gotten the kitchen mostly unpacked after our move, I am once again cooking. It feels so good! It feels especially good in our new kitchen, with its Viking stove & Subzero fridge. The first meal I cooked in the swoony house was Russian sandwiches and sweet corn, in tribute to my grandies. Every August, they had this for dinner almost every night, taking advantage of the farmstand bounty of this time of year. So, I toasted my Health Nut bread, sliced tomatoes and Cabot extra-sharp cheddar, fried up bacon and broiled the whole shebang two nights in a row. The tomatoes I used came from a parishioner's garden while the sweet corn came from the farmstand in North Ridgeville that I'd always meant to stop by when we lived in Westlake. I finally made it on my penultimate trip to Oak Leaf Cottage.

My first "real" dinner was a roast chicken, rubbed with herbes de provence, pink Himalayan salt & olive oil before being popped in the oven, surrounded by potatoes, carrots & onions. Since Jeannene is mostly a pescatarian now, I treated some halibut in the same manner as the chicken for her. We had some cucumber salad from Whole Foods with it. It was a nice homey meal for our first dinner together here.

Sunday night, I sauteed some shrimp with olive oil, lemon pepper & salt. These went on a bed of butter lettuce, along with chunks of buttery avocado, which was then all drizzled with fresh lemon juice and olive oil and sifted with salt. It made a wonderful dinner, especially with a loaf of rosemary bread to accompany.

Monday night ended up being grab it & growl, as I attended my friend Adam's ecumenical council (he was approved for ordination pending an approved call!) but I cooked again Tuesday. I made basil & lemon chicken (Quorn faux chicken fillets for Jeannene...and they were actually rather good) with Trader Joe's multigrain pilaf and steamed broccoli. It's been so long since I had access to a steamer that I overcooked the broccoli, but Jeannene likes it that way so all was well.

Basil & Lemon Chicken

1/2 c. chopped scallions

1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, cut in chiffonade

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt & pepper

6 chicken breasts

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix everything but chicken & oil. Rub into the chicken. Place in a well-greased baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and bake 30 minutes. (honestly, though, I think this would be better if the chicken were just drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with a little salt & pepper before baking, then topped with the scallion/basil/lemon mixture after baking. I think the flavors would be brighter)

Last night, I made myself a meatloaf. Pie is no longer eating with us, now that he has his own kitchen. Jeannene was at work all night and would have eaten an Amy's vegetarian meatloaf entree had she been home. So, I have lovely leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches! This meatloaf, based on one of Paula Deen's, wasn't the best meatloaf I've ever made, but it certainly was tasty. I did not dig the sauce and had my lunch lefovers today just plain. Ketchup would be good, too. But you might like the sauce. Jeannene thought it sounded good.

Cheeseburger Meatloaf

2 lb. ground beef

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 chopped onion

1 chopped green pepper

1 c. shredded cheddar

1/4 c. worcestershire sauce

1 c. sour cream (I had never thought of using this as a binder...I used light sour cream & it worked fine)

1 c. crushed Ritz crackers

1 tsp. seasoned salt

8-10 slices cheapo white bread

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix everything but the bread. Shape into a loaf. Line a rimmed baking sheet with the bread. Place the meatloaf on the bread. Bake 1 hour. Let stand at least 10 minutes. Discard bread. Serve meatloaf with a sauce made of 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 can milk and 1 and a half cups of shredded cheddar, mixed together and heated through.

Jeannene has asked if I want to have "a nice dinner " tonight. I am not sure what this means, but perhaps we'll explore one of the restaurants in Columbus. If she ends up letting me cook, I intend to make Southwest-style corn chowder & pick up some sourdough rolls at Whole Foods to go with it.