Potato Leek Quiche

Warning: Do not make this on an empty stomach! The smell will drive you crazy while it bakes.

This recipe is from the Squiche2pring Quiche Trio pages of Simply in Season. I’ve noticed that many of the vegetables available in the spring are also prevalent in the fall. In fact, the leeks were from today’s CSA pickup! The last pickup of the season, sniff.

I used the potato crust recipe, which is super easy – coarsely grate 3 C of potatoes, mix with 3 T of olive oil, and spread it on the bottom and up the sides of a pie pan. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes.

While it’s baking, you can make the filling, which is 1 1/2 C of leeks (or ramps, as wild leeks are called) and 1 C of cheese mixed together. The egg mixture is made in a separate bowl – beat together 3 eggs, 1 C of evaporated milk (or 1 C milk + 1/3 C dry milk powder), and a dash or two of salt and pepper.

When the crust is ready, put the leek/cheese mixture on first, then dump the egg mixture on top of that. I noticed the egg mixture was a bit on the stingy side so I didn’t feel the need to put MORE cheese on top (I know, what was I thinking). Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325F and cook for another 25-30 minutes. If you can stand the wait, you really should let it cool for 10-15 minutes.

The verdict: A huge thumbs up from DH. “This is good! It would be great for breakfast, with bacon crumbled on top.” Yes, it was savory indeed. Lots of leeks but leeks are very mild, making this a very tasty dish.


Liberian Pumpkin with Cock Sauce

liberianEven though I’ve been cooking for two months now, my idea of what is “a cinch to throw together” is still miles away from what the editors at Simply in Season consider “a cinch to throw together.”

First, for this recipe, one must peel and cube 2-3 C of butternut squash (or you can use pumpkin). I usually peel my butternuts with a vegetable peeler, as a knife is tricky to maneuver.

Then, you have to chop an onion and saute’ along with the butternut squash “until translucent.” This is the second recipe today where it’s supposed to get translucent. Problem is, it’s kind of hard to tell when it’s translucent when the other stuff is in there (it also calls for either hot chili peppers or hot sauce; I took this occasion to try out my new bottle of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce).  Plus it started to burn so I went ahead and added a little of the chicken broth so it didn’t burn while it was cooking, covered. When the butternut squash was tender, I added the rest of the cup of broth and covered again and cooked for the 10 minutes it called for. Meanwhile I browned the 1 lb of sausage (the recipe calls for 1 C but hey, might as well use the whole package) and started on the egg noodles.

While I’m waiting, let me tell you about Sriracha Hot Sauce. I first learned about it at an Indian cooking class at my CSA, and quickly discovered that it’s quite well known among foodies, and is nicknamed cock sauce because of the rooster on the front. I’ve since noticed it at lots of restaurants.

OK, so the 10 minutes is up, and it says to now add the sausage and cook uncovered until all the liquid is absorbed. It’s absorbed. So I put the pot on simmer until the egg noodles are done. You can serve this over any kind of noodle or rice, but DH and I were in the mood for egg noodles tonight.

The verdict: Definitely not “a cinch to throw together,” but not much chopping. The taste is definitely different, the sweet butternut plays off the spicy sausage and cock sauce. As DH said, the sauce makes your tongue tingly. Not sure if I’ll make this again soon, but it’s not a bad way to use up butternut squash.

Gingered Chicken Bok Bok: A Comedy of Errors

A funny thing happened on the way to making Simply in Season‘s Gingered Kale and Tofu.

I knew from the start that I wouldn’t be using tofu. DH (Dear Husband) originally insisted that “protein alternatives” be used to remain true to the cookbook, but he has since relented as he rediscovered his extreme aversion to tofu. So I knew I’d be using chicken.

Then, when I went to pick up the CSA share tonight,  lo and behold there was bok choy! DH and I LOVE bok choy. As soon as I saw it I said “oooh, bok choy!” And the lady in front of me laughed and said “I’m all about oooh, brussels sprouts. I’ve been loving those.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that bok choy beats brussels sprouts hands down.  On a side note, I was pretty excited about getting romanesca cauliflower and purple curly kale today. Needless to say, I decided then and there that I’d be adding bok choy to the kale in this recipe.

So what stayed the same? The marinade, for one. It’s a delicious combination of 1/2 C soy sauce, 1/2 C dry sherry or broth (I used chicken broth), 1/4 C rice vinegar or wine vinegar (I used white wine vinegar), 3 T brown sugar brought to a boil and simmered for one minute.

Then, instead of broiling tofu in the marinade as Simply in Season instructs (which, if you’re a tofu fan, you should check out because it does look like a pretty easy way of doing tofu), I stir fried chicken in sesame oil. Removed from the pan, then added 6 C of bok choy and kale to the pan and sauteed with 3 T ginger until wilted. When I added the jarred grated ginger, I thought to myself, hmmm, I wonder if I should have used a 1:1 ratio. I have no idea how jarred ginger compares to fresh. It seemed like a LOT of ginger.

At this point I wondered what was taking the marinade so long to boil, and DH was wondering what was burning. He came upstairs from doing laundry and noticed that the pot on the back burner was smoking. Let me add a disclaimer that I am not a clean freak but my kitchen is normally fairly clean. However, I have been in Canada for work the past two days so it’s in a hopefully temporary state of disarray. At that moment I realized that I turned the back burner (with an old pot on it) instead of the front burner (with the marinade) and quickly grabbed the old IMG_0376pot and put it in the sink At which point the smell of smoke was replaced with the smell of burning rubber. Oh crap, you know those Pampered Chef plastic spatulas that are supposed to be heat-resistant up to 500 degrees? Apparently a burning pot is more than 500 degrees.

While DH took care of the sink full of burning dishes, I suddenly realized that I was supposed to serve this over rice. Which I forgot to make. Which takes about half an hour because we don’t believe in instant or white rice (only basmati or brown). Luckily I remembered that I had bought some rice noodles at Saigon Market the other day when I was looking for persimmons. I put the chicken back in the pan with the kale and bok choy to simmer while the noodles boiled.

About 15 minutes later, DH and I were eating dinner. I must say, it was quite delicious and reminded me of something at a Chinese buffet (only much, much fresher) and I can’t place it. But it was gingery and sweet and sour all at the same time. The kale was  bit chewy but the crunch of the bok choy made up for it.

I guess I learned my lesson: don’t cook after a long day of driving.

Oh, one more thing. When I went to write this blog, when I was typing in the recipe I realized that I was supposed to have added 1/4 C of lime juice and 1/4 C of fresh cilantro and a pinch of ground red pepper. And top the whole thing with toasted cashews or peanuts. Oops. I didn’t miss it, but to be fair to the recipe I think I’ll be taking a mulligan.

Red Lentil Coconut Curry

curryI’m not going to lie. This took forever to make, and although delicious, maybe a bit ambitious for a weeknight.

Tip:  Did you know that you can place a can of coconut milk in the freezer for 20 minutes and the coconut butter will rise to the top? You can use this for sauteing.

In a large soup pot, 1 large onion, minced. Saute’ in coconut butter or 1 T olive oil over medium-high heat until transparent but not browned.

Then, add the following and cook over medium low (stir constantly for 3 minutes, don’t let the spices or onion brown): 1 T minced garlic, 1 T minced ginger, 2 t curry powder, 1/2 t each turmeric/cumin/pepper, 1/4 t red pepper, 1/4 t cinnamon, 2-3 bay leaves. At this point it will start to smell like your favorite Indian restaurant.

Add a can of coconut milk (13.5 oz), 1/4 C soy sauce, and 1 C tomato sauce, simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often.

In a separate saucepan, cook 2 C rinsed dried red lentils with 5 C water for 15 minutes. Add, with liquid, to soup pot.

Cut 1 med head of cauliflower (cut into 1 inch florets), 1 large sweet potato (cut into 1 inch cubes), 1/4 head cabbage (cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks), and 1-2 C peas (optional, I didn’t use them). Add to soup pot and cook over medium heat just until tender. Serve over brown rice (I used basmati ’cause that’s my favorite).

Optional: You can serve with Indian chutneys and pickles, fresh diced pears, roasted sunflower seeds, plain yogurt. Me? Eh, I took an hour getting the non-optional part ready. Maybe next time.

The verdict: This was a very mild Indian dish, but with great flavor. It did take awhile to make, but I think I’ll make it again. Perhaps I’ll figure out  a way to make it a bit spicier.

Pumpkin Sausage Pasta

This is another recipe that I wouldn’t have tried were it not for the challenge of cooking every recipe in Simply in Season. Pumpkin? Sausage? Pasta? Oh well, it has wine in it, if it tastes bad I can always finish off the bottle!pumpkinsausage

  1. Cook 1 lb of penne pasta and set aside.
  2. Brown 1 lb of bulk sweet italian sausage in a large frying pan. Remove, drain fat, and set aside.
  3. Add 1 medium chopped onion and 4 cloves of minced garlic and saute for 3-5 minutes, until soft.
  4. Add 1 bay leaf, 2 T fresh sage, 1 C dry white wine or chicken broth (I used Barefoot Chardonnay). Add and cook about 2 minutes, until half the liquid evaporates. When I added the sage, I knew that would be the ingredient that tied the flavors together.
  5. Add 1 C chicken or vegetable broth and 1 C pumpkin (cooked & pureed or just canned). Mix in, and stir until sauce bubbles. Add sausage and reduce heat.
  6. Add 1/2 C evaporated milk, 1/8 t cinnamon, 1/2 t nutmeg, salt & pepper to taste. Simmer 5-10 minutes to chicken. Remove bay leaf. Pour sauce over cooked pasta, combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 6, approx. 414 calories per serving if you use turkey sausage.

The verdict: I knew that my palate wasn’t used to pumpkin in anything other than pie or doughnuts or latte, so I tried not to think of that when I took my first few bites. Ahhh, it was actually quite good. At first my husband was a bit confused, he wasn’t so sure about pumpkin in his dinner. After the second bowl he said it wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t sure if it was something he’d order twice in a restaurant. I found it kind of fun, very autumn. I served it with Barefoot Chardonnay, which is a great low-priced white wine.

Green Enchiladas

greenenchiladaThis recipe, from Simply in Season, was one of those I was skeptical about at first. Peanuts? In the sauce? This isn’t Thai food, why are there peanuts? Three roasted poblano peppers?  Is this going to be super hot like most green sauces? (I am a HUGE Mexican food fan, but the only heat I can take is jalapeno heat, chiles not so much). Tomatillos? They were still in the U pick section at the CSA farm, hopefully they’re still good–I grabbed a few on the way home. But once I processed the ingredients for the green sauce, I couldn’t resist a taste. YUM!

  1. This is the step I did the other day: Roast and peel 3 poblano peppers. Scrape out the seeds. Roast using the method of your choice–Google it or see my previous post, you’ll be researching for days.
  2. Remove the husks from 3-4 tomatillos, cut into quarters, and microwave in 1/2 C of water 3-4 minutes (or broil when you roast the peppers, but make sure they don’t burn!)
  3. Add the roasted peppers, nuked tomatillos and their cooking water, 1/4 C of unsalted dry roasted peanuts, 1/2 med onion, 2 T cilantro, and 1/2 tsp of salt to a food processor and process until smooth. Add water until it reaches desired consistency. I added about 1/2 C.
  4. Dip 8 6-inch corn tortillas individually into boiling water 10-15 seconds to soften. Or just use whole wheat tortillas like I did; they were leftover. Waste not want not, although the corn probably would have been better! Fill each with 1/4 C shredded chicken or turkey (I used canned chicken) and 1 T feta or queso blanco (I used ricotta). Roll up and place in 9×9 pan. Pour sauce over all enchiladas, being sure to cover all edges.
  5. Sprinkle with feta or queso blanco (or ricotta) and take at 350F until heated through, approx. 15 minutes. Note that neither feta nor queso blanco melt.

The verdict: Oh. my. word. SO good! LOVE the green sauce. And these are only 350 calories each! How crazy is that? DH suggested next time adding cumin seed to the meat and sliced jalapenos as a garnish (which he did add, I needn’t have worried about it being too spicy!).

Venison Roast

venisonroastMany people claim that they do not like venison; that it tastes gamey. I can assure you that not all venison is gamey. In Western Michigan, it is possible to get a deer that has been pretty much corn-fed, much to the dismay of the corn farmers but to the delight of those who are able to get this lean meat that is to the untrained palate indistinguishable from a really lean cut of beef.

Simply in Season provides this recipe for roasting a 2 – 2 1/2 lb roast. You can bake it, covered, at 275F for 4-5 hours, turning for the last hour, or you can use a crock pot. I have a crock pot that turns off on a timer, so I almost always set it at medium for 8 hours, then use the keep warm function to keep it warm until I get home from work.

The sauce here that you pour over the roast, whether baking or crock-potting (is that a word?) follows: 1/2 C soy sauce, 1/4 C water, 1/4 C lemon juice, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 t ginger. It was quick enough to throw together on my way out the door this morning.

The verdict: Tasty enough for a very quick treatment!