Sunday, October 30, 2011
It is fall and pears are being sold everywhere and all kinds: comice, bartlett, bosc and etc. I must have had an inspiration last night since I made quiche for dinner and poached pears for dessert. I found this webpage How to Poach Pears very educational. Here is how I made my dessert. I really went the simplest cooking route possible and believe me I was very happy with the results.
4 cups of water
1 cup of sugar
1 vanilla bean, split in half
Vanilla Ice Cream for serving
1. The recommendation is to use very firm pears for poaching such as Bosc. I decided to buy not yet ripe firm comice pear and also not very ripe D'Anjou pear. I washed them, quartered, peeled the skin off and removed the seeds.
2. In a large pot I combined water, sugar and vanilla bean. On medium-low heat I let sugar dissolve, 5 minutes or so. Next, I added pears and brought the heat up to medium. Once the the mixture started boiling I reduced heat to low, closed the lid and let pears cook for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes I took pears out, let them cool for about 15 minutes and then served few slices with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was very tasty and nice dessert. Very easy to make. You can add more ingredients in to the syrup but simple vanilla worked for me :)
I love quiche for breakfast but try not to eat it often since I know how much half-and-half goes into it. But this weekend I thought it will be a good dinner: quiche and a salad. Making quiche is easy and there are tons of recipes available online. The basic cooking method is the same, the difference is the filling. Here is how I made mine.
1(one) 9" pie shell (I use Wholly Wholesome Pie Shells)
1 and 1/4 cups of half-and-half
1/2 lb of chanterelles
1/2 of sweet white onion
1 cup of fresh baby spinach
1/2 of swiss cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Prick pie shell surface all over with a fork and put in a freezer for 20-30 minutes. This time I used whole wheat pie shell for more nutritious meal. Though nothing can beat white flour pie crust in taste!
2. Preheat oven to 400F. Bake empty pie shell for 12 minutes and then take it out and let it cool off.
3. While partially baked pie shell is cooling off make a filling. Clean and chop in small pieces chanterelles and onion. Fry them in olive oil on medium heat with a little salt and pepper for about 15-20 minutes or longer until mushrooms are cooked and water has evaporated. Transfer mushrooms and onions on to a plate and let them cool.
4. Wash and chop baby spinach. Some recipes recommend blanching spinach but I decided to skip that part and instead chopped it very finely.
5. This time I chose to use Swiss Cheese and grated 1/2 cup of it.
6. Next step is to whisk eggs and half-and-half together. Recipes warn you not to over beat the egg mixture. I simply whisked eggs first with a hand whisk and then added half-and-half and whisked again until just blended.
7. Once pie shell and mushrooms have cooled off it is time to assemble the quiche. Turn the oven down to 375F. Put mushrooms, cheese and spinach on a bottom of the pie shell. (If you find you have too much filling remove some. The amount of filling is your choice.) Pour egg mixture on top and carefully transfer quiche into the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
8. After 40 minutes quiche should be cooked. Take it out of the oven and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes before serving. I use this time to make a salad. Last night I made baby arugula and tomato salad drizzled with olive oil, added salt and pepper to taste.
9. I served slice of quiche with a side of arugula-tomato salad last night. It was a nice meal and had plenty of left-overs for today's breakfast. I simply reheated quiche for 15 minutes in the oven at 400F.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
I go to the store and I see brussel sprouts in a vegetables section for sale. Right, it is fall and Thanksgiving is around the corner. I associate brussel sprouts with the Thanksgiving dinner. I decide why wait another 6 weeks and buy some brussel sprouts to cook for dinner. It should go well with bacon and shallots I think. And it did!
1 and 1/2 lbs of brussel spouts, washed and cleaned
4 slices of bacon, chopped in small pieces
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of water
Salt to taste
1. Preheat oven to 500F degrees. Cut brussel sprouts in half, transfer into a large bowl. Add oil and water to the bowl and mix with brussel sprouts making sure they are well covered in oil. You can also add salt at this time but since I use bacon later, which is salty, I choose to skip salt.
2. On a cookie sheet arrange brussel sprouts flat side down and bake in the oven for 10 minutes until golden brown and cooked. Check to make sure they are not burning. Lower heat if they are and just cook extra 2 minutes until done.
3. While brussel sprouts are baking in the oven fry bacon and shallot in a separate pan until bacon bits are brown. Transfer bacon and shallot bits into a separate bowl with a slotted spoon and add couple tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan as well.
4. Once brussel sprouts are cooked, transfer them into a large bowl, add fried bacon and shallots and mix. Add salt if needed. Serve immediately with your favorite meat and potatoes.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Figs and pears are in season now and I love them both. Tonight for dinner I made salad with figs and pears, which came out delicious. Here is how to make it for 2 people.
5 figs, washed, dried and cut in four pieces
1 Bartlett pear, seeded and sliced thin
1/4 of toasted hazelnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon of blue cheese
2 handfuls of baby greens
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of honey
1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of champagne vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, honey, mustard and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Dressing will be thick. All that honey!
2. On each plate assemble salad greens, fig slices, pear slices and blue cheese chunks, sprinkle with hazelnuts and drizzle with honey dijon vinaigrette. Take a bite of fig, blue cheese, hazelnut and salad and follow it up with a bite of a pear. Mmmm. Tasty. Vinaigrette is sweet and complements blue cheese and hazelnuts nicely.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
I usually like Sunday dinners to be special - try some new recipe, ingredient. My morning started with going to the Capitol Hill Farmers Market. I bought apples, pluots, tomatoes, grapes, broccoli and few other items. The highlight of the day was buying fresh Porcini mushrooms. I also bought some chanterelles. Cooking mushrooms reminds me a lot of my family, the times when we used to go and gather mushrooms and then cook them in the evening. Tonight I cooked mushrooms using the recipe I posted before, which I learned back in those younger days. I served them as a side for broiled black cod steaks. I cooked black cod in the oven, 5 minutes at 450F, then 5 minutes on broil and then at 400F for another 3 minutes. Of course dish was not complete without fried potatoes.