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Archive for November, 2009

The Kitchen Quiche

It was the first cold snap in ages. Too cold to go out to dinner or to go grocery shopping. What does one do? Go to the freezer, of course!

Upon my return from the Paleolithic excavation, I extracted from my rucksack a pack of frostbitten bacon, some broccoli, and a ziploc bag labeled “heavy cream”, which I took at its word. In the fridge were some eggs, my sourdough starter, Grover, and a jar of bacon grease, poured off from breakfast frys, saved for special occasions like the odd bowl of bacon-popped corn. It called to me from its waxy prison: “Quiche!” it said breathlessly, “You can make a quiche! With bacon lard pate brisee.”

Never one to go against a pot of fat, I did.

Sourdough Bacon Pate Brisée
The starter gives the crust a bit of tang, while the bacon gives it smokey goodness.
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1- 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup cold bacon grease
1/4 cup cold butter, diced

Mix together the flour, salt and baking soda. Cut the fats into the flour mixture until it resembles crumble topping. Though I like using my hands to mix most of the time, this is one case where you don’t want to: the heat from your fingers melts the cold fat, and the pastry won’t be as flaky as it could be.

Stir in the starter until the dough forms a ball. Wrap the ball in plastic and refrigerate for at least 20 mins to keep the butter cold and to let the gluten hydrate, both of which make the pastry easier to roll.

Busy yourself with making the filling.

Cut 4 to 6 strips of bacon into 1 inch pieces. A pair of scissors makes it easy. Cook in a hot pan until the edges are crisp, they are golden brown, but still a bit chewy. Remove from pan.

In the same pan, caramelize one large sliced onion. Once soft and caramelly-brown, set aside.

Turn the heat up way high and throw in some chopped broccoli florets. You want them about 1/2 in max. Sauté them for about a minute, till they turn bright green. Set aside.

Roll out the rested dough and line a pie pan with it. Trim the edges. Poke the raw crust several times with a fork, then stick it in a 450• oven for 5 minutes.

Take it out of the oven and spread the bacon, onion and broccoli evenly over the bottom of the crust. Top it with some shredded cheddar cheese you found behind the Bisquick that expired in 2008.

In a bowl, beat together 3 eggs, a cup of that defrosted cream, and 1/2 a cup of milk. Add a big pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper. Pour this mix over the whole shebang and stick it back in the oven for about 30 mins, or until the top is a lovely golden brown.

Serve with some salad that has miraculously survived the vegetable drawer. Not bad for Macgyver meets Survivor meets Iron Chef Tuesday night dinner. Imagine what you could do with real ingredients!

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This parsley sprig is bigger than my hand. Given to me by a man on the train from Poughkeepsie who harvested it from his friends’ garden upstate. It got so many admiring looks, he gave sprigs away to everyone who mentioned it. That’s 1/2 cup of chopped parsley right there: perfect for another of my favorite cold weather stews.

CHICKPEA SAUSAGE STEW
from Real Simple Magazine

1lb Italian Sausage (I prefer spicy to sweet)
1 large onion, chopped
1 T tomato paste
1 mutant sprig or 1/2 c chopped parsley
1/4 c cilantro
15 oz can of chickpeas
10 oz pkg frozen leaf spinach
2 cups chicken stock

Sauté the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil. Remove the sausage from their casings and crumble them up into the hot pot. Cook until brown.

Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute– until it starts to smell slightly sweet and caramelized. Add the herbs. Cook a minute more.

Rinse and drain the chickpeas and add them to the stew with the broth and the frozen spinach. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve over a toasted slice of sturdy bread and cracked black pepper, mutant or otherwise.

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Mmmangga’t Bagoong

I was going to post a picture and leave it at that, but realize that some of you don’t speak the Filipino.

Mangga is Tagalog for mango, and in this case it should mouth-puckering green.

Bagoong is the Filipino’s version of that Southeast Asian goodie, fermented shrimp paste. What makes it Filipino is the sauteeing in garlic, onions, and sometimes ginger before being potted in little jars to satisfy Pinoys everywhere. Salty, as expected, but also surprisingly a little sweet, with a touch of heat from bird’s eye chilis (siling labuyo).

Together, the epitome of Filipino street food, stimulating all your flavor centers at once: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami.

Not. For. Amateurs.

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My kitchen is literally the size of an ironing board. When out of town, one of the things I relish most is being able to spread out, bring out the BIG bowls, roll out the dough to 9 by 13 as directed, roast somehing bigger than a cornish hen, and bake cookies more than 6 at a time.

Today I decided to tackle homemade pasta. The recipe is simple and straightforward, but so flavorful…nay, delicious. I’d tried making pasta by hand once before to a froufrou recipe with disastrous, concrete-like results. Turns out, except in the case of kitchen size, less is more.

Strozzapretti with Roasted Tomatoes

Dough:
2 eggs
1 cup of flour
(That’s it! Whaa??)

Sauce:
Pint of cherry or grape tomatoes
Garlic
Parmesan
Blue cheese
Handful of basil
Pepper

Mound the flour on top of your enormous marble counter and make a well in the middle with your fingers. Break the eggs into the well and beat them with your fingers, thoroughly breaking the yolk and incorporating flour little by little from the walls of the well until a moist, but not sticky, dough is formed. Knead slightly to form a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Halve the cherry tomatoes. Toss in a sheet pan with 4 minced cloves of garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 300 for about 45 mins, or until they have softened and collapsed.

While the tomatoes are cooking, pulse together 1/4 cup of Parmesan and 3T of blue cheese with a big handful of basil and one garlic clove until crumb-like.

Roll out the dough as thin as you can and cut into 1in by 3in strips. Wrap them vertically around a skewer and cook in boiling salted water until a couple of minutes after they float (about 5-7 mins total).

Bring out the sizzling hot, garlicky tomatoes and spread the cheese-basil mixture on top, smooshing it in so itelts from the residual heat.

Toss the tomatoes with the pasta, crack a little black pepper across the top, and mangia!


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