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

Penne Con I Broccoli – Penne with Broccoli

Penne with Broccoli

 

This is our second recipe from our cookbook “Italy, The Beautiful Cookbook”, and one that my daughter chose.  I wasn’t very surprised, as she loves broccoli, but then I read the rest of the ingredients and thought, she obviously only read the title.  I was quite perplexed at the combination of ingredients as well, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, raisins, anchovies, pine nuts…….in my brain, these ingredients really shouldn’t go together.  But they did, marvelously well, and we were all really surprised.  My hubs mentioned that he felt that it was because there were really no overpowering flavors, it was just the right amount of each ingredient for it to be harmonious, delicate even!

This recipe is from the southern Italian region of Apulia (Puglia).  As the south of Italy was conquered and influenced by the Arabs, this recipe started to make more sense, it was an obvious melange of Arabic and Italian cooking!  The use of savoury and sweet is very Arabic, hence the pine nuts and raisins, but then combining it with broccoli, tomatoes, garlic and anchovies is redolent of southern Italian cooking.  Many of you will want to omit the anchovies, as I know that not everyone is on that bandwagon, but I ask you to try it out, if my daughter, who hates all things fishy, couldn’t tell and was waxing poetic about this recipe, I am positive you won’t either.  Because the recipe calls for you to mash it and then fry it in the olive oil with the garlic, it basically melts in the oil, and adds just a hint of salt and umami to the dish.  If you are still hesitant, reduce the amount, but don’t leave it out!

So here is what you’re going to need:

Serves 6

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 can (1lb/500g) whole, peeled tomatoes

salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 head broccoli

500g Penne pasta

6 anchovy fillets in oil, mashed

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 cup pine nuts

Grated Pecorino cheese

Soak the raisins in lukewarm water to cover until needed.  Heat half the oil in a large skillet over moderate heat.  Add the onion and sauté until translucent.  Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook for about an hour to reduce the sauce.

Meanwhile, separate the broccoli into florets and stems.  Peel and slice the stems.  Drop into a saucepan of boiling water and cook until the penne are al dente.

Fry the anchovy fillets gently with the garlic and pine nuts in oil, until the garlic is fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.  Add to the tomato sauce.  Mix in the strained raisins, broccoli florets and a spoonful of the cooking water from the pasta, cover and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender, stirring frequently.

Add the strained penne to the skillet, and raise the heat to high, stirring frequently to incorporate all the sauce.  Serve immediately with the grated Pecorino cheese.

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

Saveur Magazine Classic Recipes No.59- General Tso’s Chicken

General Tso's Chicken

As a child, every Friday night we would go to a Chinese restaurant with my father’s side of the family.  Nothing gave my father more pleasure than to order half the menu.  Of course, we would get the round table with the lazy susan, so no one had to really stretch that far to have all the different options he had ordered.  I, usually just ate a bowl of steamed peas or sautéed mushrooms.  Silly me. It wasn’t until I was about 10 that I discovered this dish, tangy, crispy, spicy and sweet all the same, I fell in love.

After moving to Spain, one of the things that I miss the most about living in the States, is good Chinese take out.  We do have Chinese take out, but it is nothing in comparison to the variety that we have back home.  It is such a shame, most of the time it all comes in a pool of its own oil, making everything soggy, bland and basically inedible.

So I was really happy to see that Saveur had included this recipe into their classics.  It took me a while to make, because finding the right ingredients here is quite difficult.  I still haven’t found somewhere close by to my house where I can buy them, but for this occasion I made an effort.  The only thing I couldn’t find were scallions.  Even in Barcelona they were hard to get!

So, on to the recipe.  I loved it.  Obviously less sweet than the restaurant version, this one was more tangy and it had such a great consistency.  Not overly spicy, which shocked me due to the amount of chili peppers I threw in, but that was great.  My family doesn’t tolerate spiciness as much as I do.  Surprisingly, my daughter was the one who enjoyed it the most.  Always the picky one, she even asked me to pack it up for lunch at school the next day.  My fiancé, however, not so much.  He hasn’t been exposed to the amount of Chinese food as I have, so his taste buds aren’t used to the complex flavours of this type of cuisine.  Nonetheless, it was delicious and a success!

Rankings:

Overall points: 7.6/10

Difficulty: Easy

Availability of Ingredients:  Easy for my American counterparts, a little harder for continental Europeans

Recipe:

1 cup plus 2 tbsp. chicken stock

7 tbsp. cornstarch

6 tbsp. rice vinegar

6 tbsp. tomato paste

5 tbsp. light soy sauce

4 1/2 tsp dark sou sauce

2 1/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2 in cubes

3 1/2 cups plus 9 tbsp. peanut oil

3 egg yolks

2 tbsp. minced ginger

2 tbsp. minced garlic

16 chiles de arbol

2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil

Thinly slice scallions, to garnish ( I used leeks)

1. Whisk stock, 1 tbsp cornstarch, vinegar, tomato paste, 3 tbsp light soy sauce, 1 tbsp dark soy sauce, and 3 tbsp water in a bowl; set aside.

2. Place remaining cornstarch and both soy sauces, chicken, 3 tbsp peanut oil, and egg yolks in a bowl; toss.  Pour 3 1/2 cups peanut oil in a 14″ flat-bottomed wok; heat over med-high heat until a deep fry thermometer reads 375 degrees.  Working in batches, add chicken; fry, tossing, until cooked through, about 4 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels; set aside.  Discard oil; wipe wok clean.

3. Return wok to high heat, and add remaining peanut oil.  Add ginger, garlic, and chiles; fry, stirring constantly, until fragrant and chiles begin to change color, about 30 seconds.  Add reserved sauce; cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.  Add chicken; fry, tossing constantly, until evenly coated with sauce, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat; stir in sesame oil.  Transfer to a serving plate; top with scallions.  Serves 2-3.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla