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How-to: Fry chicken

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I couldn’t wait to post this how-to on frying chicken.  I know a lot of people don’t like to fry chicken. I get it,  the mess, the grease, what  to do with the grease. How do I know the chicken is done?  Did I season it well enough?   This post will answer all those questions and more so I […]

quiche

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Let me start off by asking you to forgive the crust on this delectable quiche before you.  Although I took care to shape and mold it into it’s tart pan,  sometimes the finished product doesn’t cooperate and come out picture perfect.  I personally loved the rusticity of it and hope you all can appreciate it’s slight imperfection because this quiche is delicious.

Usually I can pinpoint exacly when I fell in love with a certain food,  but I’m having trouble figuring out just when my love for quiche came about.   I’d have to say it was around the mid-90’s if I were really pressed for an answer.  I have no doubt as to why I fell in love with it though.  A creamy, eggy custard studded with bits of bacon and maybe some soft onions and loaded with melted cheese all resting in a buttery flaky pie shell-really do I need to say more?

I  am a huge fan of  hand held food or anything that can be eaten for breakfast on the go that doesn’t require a plate or utensils.  Usually this comes in the form of a sweet pastry,  but when I want a savory breakfast on the go a slice of quiche comes in handy.  I don’t make quiche all that often, but I crave it a lot.  Like most I don’t always have the time to make quiche which is sort of like pie in that it requires the making of pie dough.  This quiche was easier to make because I happened to have a perfectly good pie dough, from way  back in November, hanging out in my freezer. 

Making a quiche from scratch is not hard at all.   I know a lot of people cringe at the thought of making pie dough from scratch.   Well start cringing.  I am not giving you a free pass and telling you it’s ok to use a store bought pastry shell.  There is a place for store bought shells but not in this quiche.  If you made those pie crust I mentioned on this post and still have one left you are halfway there.   If you didn’t make them,  I suggest you revisit that post.  It’s ok to make the crusts one day and  save in the freezer to make the quiche at a later time.     

I nibbbled on this for days after making it.  Slices reheat beautifully in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes.  If I were you I’d be planning a date for brunch and serving this quiche

 

quiche lorraine (adapted from Williams Sonoma Essentials of Baking)

Note: I added caramelized onions to my quiche which is an excellent addition but an extra step.  For the purpose of hoping everyone will make this I left them out.  Don’t worry the quiche is still fabulous without them.  Use good quality Gruyere, which can be found in supermarkets.

pie pastry, for double crust (save one for later)

4 slices thick-cut lean bacon

8 oz (1 cup) Gruyere cheese, shredded

3 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

3/4 cup heavy cream

3/4 whole milk or half and half

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Prepare the pie crust and refrigerate to chill as directed.  Once chilled roll out the dough and fit into a 9 inch,removable bottom tart pan.  Chill the lined pan.

Prebake the pie dough in the tart pan:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line the frozen pie crust with a piece of heavy duty foil.  Fill the foil-lined crust with dried beans, uncooked rice, or pie weights.  The purpose of this is to keep the crust from browning too much (because it will continue to cook once filled) and also stops the bottom from bubbling up.

Bake the lined crust about 15 minutes. Pull up one piece of the foil to see if it is ready.  If it sticks the crust is not ready. Continue cooking until dough  is ready about 5 minutes more ,checking every 2 minutes. When done carefully remove the foil and weights.  Reduce the heat to 350 degrees.  Return crust to oven and continue to cook another 5 minutes.  The pie shell at this point is partially cooked.  Place on wire rack to cool while you make the custard.

make the custard:

Position a rack in th middle of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a frying pan over medium heat fry the bacon until the edges are crisp, about 8 minutes.  Transfer to paper towels to drain, then pat dry with more paper towels.  Cut crosswise into 1 inch pieces.  Arrange the bacon pieces evenly in the prebaked pie crust.  Carefully lay the shredded Gruyere cheese evenly over the bacon.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt,pepper, and nutmeg until blended.  Whisk in the cream and milk until well mixed.  Pour through a medium mesh sieve into a pitcher.  Slowly and carefully pour the egg mixture over the bacon and cheese in the crust, trying not to disturb the bacon layer.  Dot the top with the butter pieces.

Bake the quiche until the top is lightly browned and the filling is just set when you give the dish a gentle shake, 40-45 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.  Serve hot.

 

The end of summer and meatloaf for fall

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Of all the requests for recipes that I received over the summer,the strangest one had to be meatloaf. Apparently while I was thinking of grilling steaks and burgers and kebabs some of you were thinking about meatloaf. Meatloaf is a favorite of mine but  I’m not usually thinking about it at the height of summer. 

Much about food blogging has to do with the weather. The weather dictates what you cook and then post. Food blogging is in real-time. Unlike magazine’s, that work on deadlines and could be shooting the Christmas issue in the middle of July, I am at most times cooking and then blogging about it within the next few days. If you are writing an online journal about your daily cooking it tends to go along the rhythm of what foods are in season or how hot or cold it is outside. You won’t find me cooking a turkey in summer and blogging about it later in November.

So as I kept getting asked about meatloaf or other cold weather foods, I didn’t want my readers to think I was ignoring  their requests so I begged them to hang in there and enjoy cooking outdoors in the warm weather and to take advantage of the many fruits and vegetables still available at markets.  Cooler weather would be here soon enough.

Once the warm September days started giving way to cool mornings and even cooler nights I knew it was truly the end of summer and time for warmer fare-even meatloaf.  

 

 There is something about meatloaf that makes it comforting, smothered with gravy and served atop a mound of creamy mashed potatoes.

 As good as meatloaf is people tend to shy away from making it at home. The biggest fear is that they will lovingly season and shape ground meat and carefully roast it and then have it turn into a flavorless and dry loaf. I understand that,I’ve had my own experience with dry loaves.  That is until I found the secret to a good meatloaf. The secret to a good meatloaf is that you need a nicely seasoned paste that adds moisture and tons of flavor.

Before I found the perfect meatloaf recipe I had been improvising and just seasoning ground meat with whatever happened to be in the pantry. I didn’t put much effort into it because I had never been a make meatloaf at home kind of person. It was hubby who liked meatloaf and was always after me to make it. After experiencing that first dry meatloaf  and attempting to,unsuccessfully,cover it up with lots of gravy I knew I had to do better.

And better I did. Let me give you  some advice; follow this recipe exactly as you see it below and do not eliminate mixing the ingredients using a fork. This step is crucial to not overworking the ground meat. Overworking the ground meat will give you a dense and dry loaf. Most recipes require that you use white bread soaked with milk,an extra step that I was never fond of. With this recipe you use regular dry,plain breadcrumbs. Amazingly, they do not steal any moisture away from the finished loaf. Over the years I have added ingredients to the paste to make it mine, but it is perfect exactly as it is.  

 

  Recipe: Ina Garten’s meatloaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onions (3 onions)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup canned chicken stock or broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground chuck (80 percent lean)
  • 1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs (recommended: Progresso)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup ketchup (recommended: Heinz)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the onions, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not brown. Off the heat, add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, onion mixture, bread crumbs, and eggs, and mix lightly with a fork. Don’t mash or the meat loaf will be dense. Shape the mixture into a rectangular loaf on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper. Spread the ketchup evenly on top. Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F and the meat loaf is cooked through. (A pan of hot water in the oven, under the meat loaf, will keep the top from cracking.) Serve hot.

 

 

 
 
 
 

my shrimp and boursin cheese grits

 

As adults we should never lose the child-like excitement of discovering new things. We should jump up and down,fling our arms about and whoop and holler.

Of course children can get away with acting this way,adults would certainly receive the curious stares of others.

I discovered two new things and when combined they granted the jumping up and down,arm flinging kind of excitement.

Let’s back up a moment. A while ago,by accident and frugality,I discovered Boursin cheese. While perusing the cheese case,looking for a sale on some of my favorite cheese,my eye caught a sign advertizing Boursin cheese for half off and attached to it was a coupon for an additional one dollar off. Never one to pass up a bargain(and  an inexpensive way to try something new) I grabbed one of the small boxes. I’d seen Boursin cheese but never tasted it and at eight dollars for a tiny package I wasn’t curious.

I chose the cracked black pepper flavor. Spread on crackers it was good. It stayed in the refrigerator. When I had pretzels I’d scoop out a bit and dip the pretzels in-very good. One morning when I was craving something more savory than sweet,I spread some of the tangy softened cheese on a bagel-this was getting really good.

Since then I purchase the cheese whether on sale or not.Lucky for me it seems to go on sale often and always has a coupon attached.

The other part of my exciting discovery was stone-ground grits. I grew up on grits. The kind that comes in the cylindrical box with the quaker man on front.I’ve eaten these grits all of my life and never had to complain. I know all the praise of stone ground grits-they are true stone ground corn,they have a superior flavor and texture,they are much better than the supermarket standard. I wasn’t convinced or interested in seeking any out. In fact I was a little insulted. How dare anyone try to dis my childhood grits?

Well it seems for the right price my mind can be changed.  I came across stone ground grits on sale and figured this was as good a time as any to try them out.

I must confess(sorry little cylindrical box) they are very good and very different from the grits I grew up eating.They have a pleasantly gritty texture and really do taste of corn and come in a cute little sack.

Alone these two-the cheese and grits-are good enough.

Together-excitement.

Shrimp and grits recipes are not scarce. They are all over and anyone can find a recipe that will satisfy their taste. I like my shrimp with a gravy-like sauce as opposed to just using the sauce from the oil or butter and seasonings left in the pan. The hearty sauce goes perfectly with the course grits. It reminds me of a light and quick ettouffe or gumbo. The pepper Boursin cheese in the grits compliments the saucy shrimp. Use more or less onions as you wish,but I find the onion flavor marries well with the shrimp and cheese grits.

Though the Boursin cheese has become a favorite and I do love the stone-ground grits,there is still room in my pantry for that cylindrical box with the quaker man on front.Knowing it is there and easily accessible is enough to keep me excited.

 

Recipe: shrimp and Boursin cheese grits

1 pound of medium-sized shrimp(shelled and deveined-leave in the refrigerator until ready to use)

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

4 slices of thick cut bacon-diced small

1/2 medium-sized onion-diced small

salt and pepper

1 Tablespoon of butter

2 teaspoons of flour

1/4 cup of beef,chicken,or seafood stock

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

few dashes of hot sauce

 

Directions for shrimp:

In a large pan add 1 Tablespoon of oil and all the bacon. Over medium heat cook the bacon until crisp being careful not to burn. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and put on paper towel lined plate.

Pour out the oil in the pan and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the onions and cook until softened,about 2 minutes. Add the butter and heat with the onions until melted.Add the flour and cook 1 minute. Be sure to scrape the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the stock ,Worcestershire and hot sauce. Stir until slightly thickened. If it is too thick add a little water, a tablespoon at a time.

Add the shrimp and cook until no longer pink and the sauce is bubbly,about 3 minutes. Stir to coat all the shrimp with the sauce. Add the cooked bacon to the pan and stir. Season with salt and pepper.Add more hot sauce if desired.

Serve over hot grits (see below)

Note: I did not include a recipe for the grits because I used stone ground grits which come with their own  directions and take about an hour or more to cook. If you purchase stone ground grits follow the directions for them. I am aware that most will use the supermarket standard of grits which is perfectly fine. Cook them also to their specified directions.

Whatever method you choose add 3 big Tablespoons of pepper Boursin cheese to the grits once they have cooked fully and stir them in until the cheese is combined into the grits. You may add more butter and cheese to your liking if you wish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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