Leek, Bacon, and Mushroom Quiche

Quiche with leeks, bacon and mushrooms

 

quiche with leeks, bacon and mushroom

 

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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

Arista di Maiale Al Rosmarino – Pork with Rosemary

Pork with Rosemary

 

This is recipe no. 3 from our “Italy, The Beautiful Cookbook” challenge.  My husband chose this one, and I am so glad he did.  Insanely simple, with incredibly familiar ingredients, this too, was a winner. The book says that this recipe is from Tuscany, but I am sure there are versions of this from every region in Italy.

I love rosemary.  Rosemary is one of my favorite cooking herbs, thus I have an incredibly large bush on my balcony, and apart from using it in the kitchen, it smells divine.  I think my favorite part is when I’m picking the leaves off the stem, and its sap imparts its beautiful, medicine-like aroma.  During the cooking process your kitchen will smell incredible too, with all that delicious garlic and rosemary!  After the pork is done, you finish the sauce with a nice, dry white wine.  Classic Italian cooking, simple ingredients creating a masterful and superb dish.  Easy enough for a weeknight if you have time, perfect for a Sunday roast, too.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

1 fresh rosemary sprig

6 garlic cloves, crushed

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 chine of pork, about 2 1/2 lbs (1.25kg)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1/2 cup (4 fl oz/ 125ml) dry white wine

Finely chop the rosemary leaves.  Mix rosemary and garlic with salt and plenty of pepper.  Rub the meat well with this mixture and tie it securely to the bone.  Place the meat in a dutch oven or aluminum saucepan with the oil and butter.  Bake in a preheated oven at 400F (200C) for 1 1/2 hours, turning frequently.

Untie the meat and remove the bone.  Arrange meat in slices on a serving dish.  Pour wine into the pan and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits and season to taste.  Serve this sauce with the meat.

Serves 6

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Spinach and Four Cheese Baked Pasta

Spinach and 4 cheese pasta

 

The only way I can get my daughter to eat spinach is to pair it with cheese.  So, I did.  Pasta al Forno, or Baked Pasta, I guess could be considered the great granddaddy of Mac & Cheese.  My family adores Pasta al Forno, so whenever I can, I try to come up with interesting variations.  One of the most important parts of this recipe is making a great béchamel.  Bechamel is silky and creamy, if done properly.  The only thing it requires, is time, a good amount of stirring and a proper roux.

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Making a roux is easy, ruining it is even easier.  This part of the process requires you to be completely aware and not leave it for a second, because it can and will burn!  The key is cooking it over very low heat, and stirring constantly.  Another tip, is to always slowly stream COLD milk (or cream, if you’re feeling really sinful) into the roux, while stirring vigorously.

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Your béchamel should be perfect in about 10 – 15 minutes.  When it’s done, take off the heat, and add the salt, pepper and all the cheese you want!

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I used a mix of Gruyère, Ricotta Salata, Emmenthal (a.k.a. Swiss Cheese) and Old Amsterdam, which has a slightly nutty flavor, similar to a mild cheddar.

Whatever combination, I am sure this will be a winner at dinner!

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So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 6 approx.

1 lb pasta, I used gnocchetti

200 g frozen spinach, boiled and drained

4 tbsp butter

4 tbsp all-purpose flour

3 cups cold milk

1 cup cold heavy cream

4 cups mixed, grated cheese

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

1 cup bread crumbs plus 1 tbsp butter, melted

Boil pasta according to package directions, draining one minute before the time on package.  Set aside.  In a heavy stockpot over very low heat, melt the butter until foamy.  Add the flour and whisk.  Cook over low heat for about 5-6 minutes, whisking constantly.  Slowly pour in your cold milk (or milk and cream), whisking all the time to make sure there are no lumps. Now switch to a wooden spoon. Cook over low heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring all the time, until thickened.  Take off the heat and add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and the cheeses.

Add the spinach and pasta to the cheese sauce, mix well.  Preheat the oven to 180 C.  Add the pasta to a large baking dish, set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with the butter until thoroughly combined.  Sprinkle on top of the pasta evenly.

Place the pasta in the oven and cook for about 25-30 minutes, or until bubbling and the breadcrumbs are nice and golden.  Take out of the oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Cotoletta alla Milanese or Wiener Schnitzel

Cotoletta alla Milanese

 

Tomayto, tomaahto……let’s NOT call the whole thing off.  Which ever way you call it, it’s delicious.  The difference between the two dishes is minimal, in Austria, it is generally fried in butter, and in Italy in olive oil.  I prefer the Italian version, not because it is tastier, but mainly because it is healthier.  Either way, this is one of my favorite go-to dinners.  Super easy and quick, it marries perfectly with a simple arugula (rocket) and parmesan salad with a lemon -olive oil vinaigrette.

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If you are pressed for time, but are craving something sinful and filling, this may become your go-to dinner too!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 3

3 thin veal or beef cutlets, trimmed of fat

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

2 cups plain breadcrumbs

1/2 olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 150C.  Salt and pepper the cutlets, and in one bowl add the eggs, milk, Parmigiano and some more salt and pepper; mix well.  In another bowl add the breadcrumbs.  Place them side by side.

Dip your cutlet into the egg mix, and then in the breadcrumbs.  Pat the breadcrumbs in well.  Dip again in the egg mix, letting most drip off, and then dip back in to the breadcrumbs and pat them well, until slightly dried.  Place on a tray and repeat with the rest of the cutlets.

In a large, non-stick frying pan, add the olive oil; heat to medium.  When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the cutlet and fry for about 4 minutes, turn and fry for 4 minutes more.  Place on a heat proof plate in the hot oven while you fry the rest.

Serve with a side salad or potatoes if you’re really hungry!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

Pesce al Acqua Pazza – Sea Bream in “Crazy Water” Sauce

Pesce al Aqua Pazza

Acqua Pazza is probably one of my favorite styles of baking fish.  I tried it in Positano for the first time, and I was so enthralled with it, it completely embodies what you want to eat in summer in the Mediterranean.

Acqua Pazza literally means, crazy water.  I guess the crazy part is that it has just a touch of chili pepper, but if that’s what crazy means, I am totally “loco” over it!

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Super simple to make, it will literally take you all of 40 minutes to make this.  Most of the ingredients you will probably have in your pantry already, all you need is some delicious super fresh fish.  We decided on this beautiful Red Sea Bream, very typical here in Spain.

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Easy enough for a weeknight meal, but spectacular for an early lunch now that the weather is warming up!   I hope you try it, cause I am sure you will be hooked too!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

1  2kg whole firm fleshed white fish, such as Corvina, Snapper, Sea Bream, or Sea Bass.  Ask your fishmonger to clean it for you.

Salt and Pepper, to taste

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp chili pepper flakes

1/2 large onion, sliced

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tbsp capers

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup water

1 tbsp lemon juice

Lemon slices, for garnish

Pre heat the oven to 200 C.  Wash the fish thoroughly, inside and out.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place in a large baking dish.  Set aside.

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium low heat.  Add the chili pepper, onion, and garlic, and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the cherry tomatoes and raise the heat to high, stirring.  Add the white wine and capers, and cook for another 5 minutes, or until super fragrant.  Take off heat and add the 1/4 cup water and lemon juice.  Let cool for about 5 minutes, and pour over fish, add the lemon slices to the top.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, serve immediately.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Blood Orange and Ricotta Pancakes with Minted Strawberries

Blood Orange and Ricotta Pancakes

 

On the weekends, my tummy and daughter begs me to make pancakes.  It’s something I have done for, let’s see, 15 years.  That is a lot of pancakes my friends.  Needless to say, I need to vary the ingredients because regular pancakes, as good as they are, get a little boring.  Now, I’ve seen multiple recipes for Lemon Ricotta pancakes, but I have a stash of blood oranges, and decided to switch it up and see what came out.

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I didn’t use this many for the recipe, the juice from one was enough.  The rest were just juiced to go with our breakfast.  I was pleasantly surprised, the times I have made the lemon ricotta, I really didn’t taste that much lemon.  The blood orange juice gave it a sweeter, and slightly tart flavor.  Adding ricotta made them super creamy and just a little bit denser.  We all loved them, and as soon as blood orange season rolls around again, I know that I’ll be making this on Saturday morning!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

Juice from one Blood Orange

1/2 cup ricotta

1 cup sliced strawberries

1 tbsp mint, in chiffonade

1 tsp sugar

Butter

Maple Syrup

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.  In another bowl, mix the egg, milk, orange juice and ricotta until combined.  Add to the flour mixture, and whisk just until combined.  Do not overmix, it’s ok if there are still some lumps.

In a small bowl, mix the strawberries, mint and sugar well.  Let them sit until you are ready to serve.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Add a tsp of oil or butter, and wipe the pan with a paper towel so there is just a film of the oil or butter.

Using a 1/4 cup measurement, or a small ladle, place the batter and cook until it bubbles, then flip over.  Repeat with remaining batter.  You should be able to make 6-7 pancakes.

Top the pancakes with the strawberries, butter and syrup.  Serve immediately.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Peposo : Tuscan Peppery Beef Stew

Tuscan Beef Stew

 

It’s April.  It’s still cold.  It’s. Not. Fun.

Normally at this time, I would be thinking of springs vegetable bounty, but unfortunately, my body is still asking for belly warming dishes such as these.  I came across this recipe from one of my cook books, “The Country Cooking of Italy” by Colman Andrews.  It is a beautiful book, full of regional recipes with beautiful pictures and anecdotes.  My decision to make this was the absolute ease of the recipe.  You basically just throw the ingredients in a dutch oven and slow cook for hours.  Perfect for when you want something delicious and homemade but don’t have the time to sit at the stove.

These ingredients are also readily available in your pantry – Pepper, Salt, Garlic, Tomato Sauce and Wine.  That’s it.  Easy as 1-2-3. (Now you’re thinking of the Jackson 5, aren’t you?)

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I made this last night for some friends who came to dinner.  Yet, I had to run a whole bunch of errands, but no problem.  Slow roasted in the oven for 8 hours, it left me plenty of time to do what I needed and still come home and whip up some boiled and buttered potatoes.

This recipe did not taste at all like any other Italian food I have ever eaten, the simplicity was very italian, but it’s peperiness reminded me more of an Asian dish than a Tuscan one.  It was truly delicious nonetheless!

So, if you have things to do and still want to make a hearty homemade meal that the family will love, you absolutely must try this dish.  And you won’t even need a knife.

 

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4-6

1 kg of beef for stew

2 tbsp crushed peppercorns (not ground)

12 garlic cloves, peeled

Salt

1 cup tomato sauce

1 bottle Chianti

Preheat the oven to 135C.  In a large dutch oven, add the beef, peppercorns, garlic, generous amount of salt, tomato sauce and the wine to cover.  Cover the dutch oven and place in the oven, cooking for 6-8 hours, do not take off the lid.

Serve with your favorite starch…..or not.  It’s delicious on its own.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla