Leek, Bacon, and Mushroom Quiche

Quiche with leeks, bacon and mushrooms

 

quiche with leeks, bacon and mushroom

 

photo 3

 

Last night around 10 pm, I remembered that I had invited a friend over for lunch……uh oh.  I had completely forgotten, and didn’t have anything in mind or ready to prepare.  So I looked in my fridge and pantry……and voila!  I love that you can make a Quiche out of basically anything.  Just as long as you have the mains, which are flour, eggs, cream and cheese, it doesn’t matter what the fillings are.  I think that it’s versatility has made it a mainstay in my house!.  So these were the ingredients I had in my pantry and fridge, but feel free to swap any of the ingredients for the ones you have on hand.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

For the crust:

250g all-purpose flour

150g butter, chilled and cut into 1 inch cubes

1 tsp salt

1 egg

1 tbsp cold milk

For the filling:

1 leek, halved and thinly sliced

2 slices bacon, julienned

1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained

1 egg

3 egg yolks

300ml heavy cream

1 1/2 cups Emmenthal (swiss cheese), grated

1 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

pinch of nutmeg

 

In a large bowl, add the flour, salt, and butter, mix with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse sand.  Add the egg and milk, and mix with your hands until it forms a ball.  Flatten it with your hand into a disk, and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, make the filling.  Saute the leeks and bacon together over low heat for about 10 minutes until soft and bacon is cooked but not crispy.  Let cool.  In a large bowl, mix the cream, eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Add the leek mixture, and half of the grated cheese.  Mix well and set aside.

Pre-heat oven to 190C (375F), take dough out of the fridge and place on a counter dusted with flour.  Roll out the dough into a disk that is about 2mm thick.  Place in a buttered tart or springform pan, cover with plastic and refrigerate for another 20 minutes.

Take the dough out, and with a fork pinch all over.  Cover with parchment paper and place pie weights or beans in the pan.  Cook in the oven for 15 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 170C (350F) and remove the parchment and pie weights, and cook for another 5 minutes.

Take out of the oven, and sprinkle the remaining cheese onto the bottom of the crust, and then add the filling mixture.  Cook for about 25-30 minutes, or until it is set but still has a slight wobble.  Let cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.  Serve with a green salad and basic vinaigrette!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Fusilli with Goat Cheese Cream Sauce, Bacon and Pistachios

Fusilli with goat cheese cream sauce, bacon and pistachios

 

Lately, with my dieting, work, guest blogging, wedding planning, exercising and dieting, I have been very uninspired to blog.  I mean, who would want to read a post about another chicken breast with spices and a salad????  That is my boring food life at the moment.

Last night though, after a grueling workout, I decided I was going to treat myself.  And treat myself I did.  Not only did I have pasta, that forbidden fruit in dietland, I had it with cream and cheese and bacon.  Yes folks, I went all out, threw caution to the wind and had myself a mini smorgasbord! I was actually planning on having another salad, I had some beets roasting in the oven, the goat cheese ready, the pistachios chopped, just waiting on my rucola to arrive, when I suddenly had a massive craving for pasta.  So, I combined the goat cheese, cream, pistachios with some bacon, and poured that goodness over some pasta.   Let me tell you, my family was happy.  They are not excited at all to be partaking in my diet.

So, if you’re not dieting and you feel like treating yourself too, here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4

500g Fusilli pasta

1/2 tbsp Olive oil

4 slices of Bacon, finely chopped

2 tbsp of Pistachios, shelled and chopped

250ml Cream

Goat cheese, to taste

Parmesan Cheese

Salt and Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a large stock pot, bring water to boil.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  In the meantime, in a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and bacon, and cook until it is crispy but not burnt.  Add the chopped pistachios and stir, cooking for another 3 minutes.

Lower the heat to low, and add the cream, goat cheese and salt.  Cook, stirring constantly until the cheese has melted completely.  Turn off heat.

Drain pasta, and toss with sauce.  Sprinkle with some black pepper and parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.

 

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

Saveur Magazine Classic Recipes No. 61 – Carbonnade (Flemish Beef and Beer Stew)

Beef and Beer Stew

I had heard about this dish a log time ago.  My friend Kiana, who lives in Brussels, was always posting on Facebook that she was making it.  Initially, I thought she was talking about Carbonara, a.k.a, spaghetti carbonara.  Then, I humbly learned that not only was it not even close to carbonara, but the only thing similar is that it both has bacon in it, at least according to this recipe.

I was obviously intrigued about making this, and was quite pleased upon seeing it in the magazine.  This became a no-brainer, since the weather is quite accommodating here in Madrid at the moment.  This beef stew begs for rainy or snowy days and toasty evenings snuggled under a blankie.  This is the stuff of wood chalets and fire places my friends.  Unfortunately, I don’t have either.  But, I can imagine my friend Kiana and her gorgeous family eating it a-la-ski-lodge, in their pj’s all snuggled around their fire.  Dreamy!

Anyhow, I digress.  The stew is quite easy, and the ingredients readily available.  It is imperative that you use a nice dark beer, preferably Belgian.  I used Chimay Red Cap, in absence of any other type of Belgian beer here in Spain. Kiana recommended Rochefort……if you can find it, use it.  But, what I thought gave this dish such an elegant and nuanced flavor, was the tarragon.  Oh, my beating heart.  The sauce, well, it speaks for itself.  If you don’t make this, you’ll be sorry.  Really.  I’m that serious.

So, on to the ratings:

Overall Points:  8.9/10 – the most points yet!

Difficulty:  Easy to medium, just cause it takes a long time

Availability of ingredients:  Readily available, except maybe for the tarragon

2 lb beef chuck, cut into 2″ x 1/2″ thick slices

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup flour

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

4 slices bacon, finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced lengthwise

2 cups Belgian – Style ale, like Ommengang Abbey Ale

1 cup beef stock

2 tbsp. brown sugar

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

3 sprigs thyme

3 sprigs parsley

2 sprigs tarragon

1 bay leaf

Bread, for serving

Season beef with salt and pepper in a bowl; add flour and toss to coat.  Heat 2 tbsp of butter in a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Working in batches, add beef; cook, turning, until browned, about 8 minutes.  Transfer to a plate; set aside.  Add bacon; cook until its fat renders, about 8 minutes.  Add remaining butter, garlic, and onions; cook until caramelized, about 30 minutes.  Add half the beer; cook, scraping bottom of pot, until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes.  Return beef to pot with remaining beer, stock, sugar, vinegar, thyme, parsley, tarragon, bay leaf, and salt and pepper; boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.  Serve with bread.  Serves 4.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Saveur Magazine Classic Recipe No.19 – New England Clam Chowder

 

I had high hopes for this recipe.  Being one of my favorite chowders and all.  (Ok, my super-duper favorite is Conch Chowder, but conch is hard to come by here.)  Paolo chose this recipe, he was really excited, loving clams, loving New England.  He also had never tried this and was super intrigued.   Alas, I have to say it was a total disaster.

As I mentioned in my first Saveur Magazine post,  I am going to prepare the recipes exactly as it states in the magazine.  I’ve prepared this dish from another recipe of mine and it has been a complete success.  I have eaten this dish a gazillion times too.  The problem that I found with this recipe, is that it was extremely watery.  A little red flag started waving wildly as I read the recipe calling for 6 cups of water to 2 cups cream.  And no thickener.  And, I would highly advise to place the clams in water to rid them of the sand, because I was straining and straining and straining.  But, anyhoo, I proceeded to recreate it in complete trust and experimental nature.

Needless to say, my two co-judges were not pleased at all.  Another recipe bust, another lunch that we ended up eating mainly bread and the sautéed porcini I had made as a side.  But, tastewise it was delicious.

So, without further ado, the rankings:

Overall points:  4.6/10

Difficulty:  Medium, as it has numerous steps and a wee bit time-consuming

Availability of ingredients:  Easy, if you can’t find fresh clams, frozen will do in a cinch.

10 lb clams in the shell, preferably cherrystone, scrubbed

4 oz. thick-cut bacon, finely chopped

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tbsp finely chopped thyme leaves

2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped

2 bay leaves

2 1/2 lb. new potatoes, cut into 1/4″ cubes

2 cups heavy cream

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Oyster crackers and hot sauce for serving

1. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a 6-qt. saucepan over high heat.  Add clams, and cover pan;  cook until clams are steamed open, about 10 minutes (discard any that do not open).  Remove from heat, and let cool.  Remove clam meat from shells, and roughly chop;  set aside.  Pour cooking liquid from pan though a fine strainer into another bowl (you should have about 6 cups; if not, add enough water to make 6 cups); set aside.

2.  Heat bacon in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until its fat renders and bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes.  Add butter, thyme, onions, and bay leaves, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add reserved cooking liquid and potatoes, and bring to a boil;  reduce heat to medium low, and cook, stirring until potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes.  Add chopped clam meat and cream*; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper;  serve with crackers and hot sauce on the side.  Serves 8.

* I suggest you lower the heat to minimum, if not your cream is going to curdle.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

Free form Cheese, Bacon and Onion Pie

Ingredients for Cheese, Bacon and Onion Pie

Ahhhh, the pie.  That magical, wonderful, filled with goodness food.  So humble, yet so incredibly fabulous.   I love pies.  I don’t make them that often, but I had to start after perusing a book that belongs to my friends Laura and Jim.

They have this amazing book which I stole borrowed, aptly and simply called “Pie” by Angela Boggiano.  They brought it back from the UK, and it is a veritable smorgasbord of pies!  I swear to you, every time I look through it, I start salivating like Pavlov’s Dog.  I honestly want to make EVERY SINGLE RECIPE.

I decided to tackle this one first, well, because one, it’s fairly easy and I am quite busy what with back to school and the such.  And also, who the heck doesn’t like cheese, onion and BACON??????  Just thinking about the combination makes me hungry.  Then finding out that it also has potato?  Oh….*swoon*.

Cheese, Onion and Bacon Pie

You can whip this up in no time if you’re having guests for dinner, because it calls for store-bought puff pastry.  And, if you’re guests or you are vegetarian, omit the bacon, and it’s still going to be UH-MA-ZING.

Cheese, Onion and Bacon PieServe it with a nice lemony salad, and you have a decadent and delicious meal.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

“Pie” by Angela Boggiano

Serves 4 (but I think it serves more, unless you’re REALLY hungry.

500g ready-made puff pastry

Beaten egg, to glaze

2 medium floury potatoes

1 tbsp vegetable oil

4 rashers smoked streaky bacon, cut into 2 cm strips

2 large onions, thinly sliced

200g mature Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

3 tbsp double or heavy cream

Ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 C.  Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.  Drain and when cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes into thin slices.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes until beginning to color.  Add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened but not colored.  Set aside to cool.

Divide the pastry into two portions.  Roll out one half to form a 25cm square, (or in my case, leave it round).  Lay the pastry on a lightly greased baking tray and brush the edges lightly with beaten egg.   Spread the sliced potatoes over the pastry leaving a 2.5cm border,

Potatoes over pastrythen top with the bacon, onions, and black pepper.

Sprinkle with the grated cheese.  Drizzle over the cream.

 

Roll out the second piece of pastry to form a 28cm square (or leave it round, but with a larger circumference than the bottom piece…sorry I didn’t measure mine out!)  Place over the filling and press the edges together to join.  Trim away excess and cut a cross in the middle of the pie.  Brush lightly with beaten egg and bake in the top of the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180 C and cook for another 25-30 minutes, or until golden and risen.

Serve cut into wedges.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White bean, Bacon,and Morcilla Soup

A few years ago we went to Asturias, which is a region in the northern Atlantic coast of Spain.  It is mountainous, verdant, bountiful.  It is also coooooooooold!!!!  There is a dish that I have always been wary to try, Fabada Asturiana, because I didn’t like white beans.  I love beans, black beans and red beans, but had never had white beans.  I just thought they looked weird.  Like white asparagus.  I thought white beans looked like the pasty, malnourished cousin to the powerhouse of red and black beans.  But, like all things that I generally “don’t like”, I had never really tried it.

So, when we were in Asturias, we went to eat at a friend of a friend’s house.  And they brought out the Fabada.  I didn’t know where to hide.  Actually I couldn’t because we were in their kitchen and I was kind of sitting in the corner, so I couldn’t run either.   My parents taught me well though, when you are at someone’s home, always eat what they put in front of you.  So, I bucked up and took a bite.  WOW.  What a surprise.  It was absolutely amazing, and the white beans were so much smoother and more mellow to their red and black counterparts, really letting the rest of the ingredients shine, but complementing them in such a perfect way.  Fabada is a hearty, stick to your ribs winter stew.  To tell  you the truth, I can’t eat that often, because it is quite heavy, chock full of bacon, chorizo sausage, and morcilla (which is blood sausage).  So this soup is my reinvention, and because it doesn’t cook down to stew form, but stays more like a soup, I feel it is a bit lighter.  I also added tomatoes, leeks and carrots which Fabada does not have, but I needed a bit of vegetable to counter the amount of pork in this stew.  I also omitted the sausage, because I wanted it less greasy.  But by all means, toy and tinker with it.  Make it your own.  And for the ham bones, I used Serrano ham bones, but you can use regular if you can’t find them easily.

Serves 6

100 g thick cut bacon, in slices

3 tbsp olive oil

2 Iberian ham bones (or normal ham bones)

1.5 leeks, sliced

1/4 cup chinese cabbage, thick parts, sliced

7 cherry roma tomatoes, cut in half

2 tsp tomato paste

3 small sprigs of thyme

1.5 cups white beans, soaked overnight

3 liters water

1 carrot, sliced

1 morcilla sausage, sliced

Place the bacon, oil, ham bones and leeks in a heavy stock pot over medium high heat.

Saute for 15 minutes, or until the leeks are softened.  Add the chinese cabbage and tomatoes, and saute another 10 minutes.

Add the tomato paste, thyme and let it caramelize, about 2-3 minutes

.  Add your beans and water, cover and raise the heat to high.

Bring to a boil and lower the heat again to medium.  Boil, covered, for about 1.5 hours, adding more water if it is getting too dry.  When the beans are almost tender, add the carrot and the morcilla (blood sausage) and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve with hot crusty bread.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

The Bistro Salad : Eggs, Frisee and Lardons……with a touch of wild Asparagus!

 

As I mentioned in Facebook yesterday, I had a friend coming over for lunch.  And he is a foodie like me.  So, I was in a state, what do I make for lunch???  I always make something I am comfortable at doing, like pasta, but yesterday, I didn’t have the time to make a sauce that he hadn’t tried before.  So, what do I do?  Well……my go to ingredient is eggs.

Funny thing about eggs.  I HATED them as a kid.  I am ashamed to say that when my mother made them, every morning for breakfast, fried, I would eat the WHITE, and leave out the YOLK.  Yes, I can see you all clucking you tongues and waving your heads in utter disappointment.  And, I do the same to the little me.  Shame on little me.  Eggs are DIVINE.  They are rustic, yet supremely sophisticated.  They are for breakfast, they are for dinner.  Heck, they are almost in every dish we eat, sides, mains, desserts.  Eggs are the benchmark of french trained culinary chefs.  They measure your worth in how perfectly you prepare an omelette.

Now, I have to say, I love love love love my eggs now.  Every which way (except for raw, that is one frontier I have not crossed yet, but who knows).  And now I have to say, I SUCK ROYALLY at poaching them.  So, I have a nifty trick, which I am sure most of you do too, and that is to wrap them in plastic and then place them in the water.

I usually poach them this way for about 6 minutes in simmering water.  But a good simmer, not a wimpy one.  But my trick also is to take them out and give them a good jiggle.  If you don’t see any snotty white parts, then you’re good to go.  Unless you like those parts.  And I don’t.

So, yesterday I made that tried and true Bistro Salad, Oeufs avec Lardons et Frisee.  Frisee salad with lardons and poached eggs, but I found these wonderful wild asparagus, here they call them “triguero”, they are really thin, almost reed-like.  They taste like fresh forest, grassy almost.  Delicious.  Oh, and I added some fresh tarragon to my egg bundle, because I love tarragon.  You can add any herb you like, it’s so amazing because when you cook it this way, it becomes part of the egg, and infuses it with the herbs’ flavor.

So, this is a really simple, but filling meal for lunch or dinner.

You’re going to need:

Frisee Escarole Lettuce

Lardons (Bacon, Pork Jowls, Pancetta etc.)

Asparagus (white, wild, green)

Eggs

Tarragon (or any other herb that you prefer)

Salt, Pepper and some really good vinegar (like sherry, red wine, champagne)

And some crusty bread.  You’re gonna want to sop up the yolk.  I do now.  (Thanks for the round of applause folks!)

Wash and rinse your Frisee Escarole, and then hand “chop” into bite size pieces and place on your serving plate.

Cook up some lardons, a.k.a, bacon, pork jowl, pancetta, anything you have on hand, and reserve the fat.  That is the oil we are going to use.  Just cause it’s a salad, doesn’t mean it’s healthy.  But it’s tasty!

In the same pan that you fried your “lardons” quickly saute your asparagus.

In a small stock pot, bring some water to a simmer.  Get some plastic wrap, and place it into a small bowl, making sure that it is big enough to hold your egg and for you to be able to tie a knot.  The plastic wrap should hang over the sides of the bowl.  Place a teeny bit of olive oil in the wrap, some of your herbs, some salt and pepper, and then crack your egg into it.  Bring up all the corners and tie it into a knot, without any air bubbles.  The air bubbles will make your egg float and it won’t cook properly.  Put it into the simmering water for about 6 minutes, and then unwrap it.

So, now you can drizzle your lardons and it’s oil over your frisee, add a little salt and pepper and mix it up.  Place your egg on top, and then top that with the asparagus.  Drizzle a little vinegar on top of everything, crack your egg and whoop for joy.

You have an amazing lunch/dinner/snack/appetizer in front of you!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Maccheroni Gambrinus

Ristorante Gambrinus.  The name invokes memories of my early “tween” years when I first started TASIS, in Lugano, Switzerland.  I went to school there from 1986-1992, and frequently we used to go to this restaurant in the main square.  I remember when I first tried this dish.  It was made table side, the server expertly flambeeing the vodka over the penne pasta, then adding the fresh cream and parsley.  And then the first bite.  Heaven.  Nirvana.  Valhalla.  Whatever you want to call it, it was delicious.  With a capital D.  For many years I have recreated this dish, from the stained, crumpled hand-written recipe my mother wrote out as per the restaurant owner’s directions, or from sheer memory.  And of course, it will never, in my mind, be as good as the original.  There is always something about someone else making you food, that makes it taste better.  Or maybe it’s a little eleven year old girls’ memory of that perfect moment, when things were a lot easier, when your parents paid the bill, and when all I had to do was dress up for dinner and then fall asleep in the car ride home, with my belly full of that scrumptuous pasta, knowing that the next morning the world would be all right.

Here, I give you my version of this dish, and I hope you will recreate it at home.

Maccheroni Gambrinus

Serves 4

1 lb of penne pasta

2 tbsp of olive oil

4 strips of bacon or pancetta (pancetta is obviously the choice, but I only had bacon on hand), chopped

1 tsp of crushed red pepper

1/2 onion, finely diced

1 garlic clove, finely diced

1/8 tsp of dried oregano

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 small can of tomato puree

1/2 cup vodka

1/4 cup cream

Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

Parmesan cheese, grated

Put 8 cups of salted water to boil.  Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium heat, add your bacon, red pepper flakes, and oregano.  Saute until the bacon is not yet crispy, but starting to cook.  About 5 minutes.  Add your onion, and cook until soft and translucent, about another 7 minutes.  Then add your garlic and let it cook another 2 minutes until fragrant.

Add the tomato paste, and mix well until combined.  Then add your tomato puree, and fill the can/bottle with water and add to the sauce, and let it come to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

Now here is the tricky part.  Once you have let the sauce simmer so the water has evaporated and you get a wonderful smooth sauce, raise the heat to high, and let it come to a boil.  Get your matches or lighter ready, close at hand, and add your vodka and flambee.  It only takes a second for it to flambee, so there was no way I could get a picture of the flames.  But trust me, it lit up!

Don’t do it like I did.  You could light the vodka bottle on fire.  I was just being greedy and pouring some more in.  I like vodka.  And I am not ashamed to say it.

Once the vodka has been evaporated, take it off the heat, and add your cream and parsley.

Boil the pasta according to package directions, and then toss with the warm sauce.  Serve with a large mountain of freshly grated parmesan cheese….or a small one.  But I love cheese.

Enjoy!!!!  Have seconds.  You only live once.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla