Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Basic Cheese Quiche

It's December Potluck at I Heart Cooking Clubs. I've picked a quiche recipe and a flaky pie crust recipe from Mark Bittman's  How to Cook Everything. This is my basic "go to" book when I'm looking for a basic recipe. I love the instructions and explanations that make the recipes almost full proof.  There is still room for human error as I will explain.
The pie crust is made with the help of a food processor, but realizing that not everyone owns one, Bittman suggests alternative methods. In the past, I've used a pastry cutter or two knives to mix the flour and butter. Bittman describes a mixing method using your hands, "...cut cold butter into bits and rub it and the flour very quickly between your fingers, picking it up, rubbing it and dropping it."  He further explains the basic principal of making a flaky crust. Of the methods I've tried, using your hands is the most fun and this will probably be the method I use in the future.
For the filling, you have a choice of milk, cream or half & half. You also have your choice of cheeses. I added some  pre-cooked broccoli to the filling for added color and nutrition. Even though I used a deep dish 9" pie pan, I had too much filling. You would have thought that I would have respected the law of physics, but alas, I didn't want to waste a bit of the rich cheese filling. I soon realized my mistake as the filling spilled over the edge of the crust.

Oh well. I wiped up the mess. I still had a full quiche. It was delicious. My older daughter said it was the best quiche I had ever made and the only one she ever liked. (Gee, I always thought she like the dish. Who Knew?)

 You can find the recipes in How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, page 743 and 686. I couldn't find a link to the recipe on-line, but this is a worthwhile book to own or borrow. Check out what other delicious dishes other cooks made for the December potluck at IHCC.  

Friday, December 11, 2015

Ricotta-Orange Pound Cake

A year and a half ago I bought Food & Wine magazine because the cover featured "Best Italian Dishes."  I didn't realize until I read the article that those dishes were recipes from Giada De Laurentiis' new Las Vegas restaurant.  The recipe that caught my eye, and the reason I've kept the magazine all this time was Ricotta-Orange Pound Cake.

I don't bake a lot and recently, everyone in our household has been trying to shed a few pounds. (Well, okay, by everyone, I mean my spouse and me. The kids are away at school and the dog will eat anything.)  All in all, I just couldn't justify baking a rich, delicious cake for no reason. Until this weekend. My birthday is Sunday. It's a major milestone and I've always been very happy to celebrate my birthday.

As if that wasn't reason enough, I Heart Cooking Clubs' featured chef this week is Giada De Laurentiis. And we were invited to a holiday potluck tonight. So all in all, this cake was meant to be.

The recipe is straightforward and simple. For me the most difficult steps were zesting the orange and finding a small bottle of Amaretto.

The cake is meant to be served with whipped cream, and Prosecco soaked strawberries.  I took the simpler route.  The orange and the ricotta are what attracted me to the recipe in the first place. Also, strawberries at this time of year are flown in from thousands of miles away and tend to be lacking in flavor.

The cake itself? It's delicious and moist. Despite only one teaspoon of orange zest,  the cake had an intense orange flavor. It was a big hit at the party. If I were to bake it during the summer, I would try it with the strawberries.

The recipe can be found here or in the May, 2014 issue of Food & Wine. Head over to IHCC to find out what other tasty dishes other cooks made.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Smoked Paprika Potato Chips

Its Nibbles and Noshes week at I Heart Cooking Clubs blog, featuring the recipes of Ellie Krieger.  For some time now, I've been interested in making potato chips at home. I love chips, but won't bring them into the house because frankly, I have no self-control. It really is a challenge to eat just one potato chip, or ten, or twenty.....

But if you make them at home, you don't have to make a whole lot of them. When you follow EK's recipe, you can bake them instead of frying them. This recipe features smoked paprika which is one of my favorite spices, so all in all, this was worth a try. 

An important part of the success of the recipe is a mandoline, so you can slice the potatoes 1/16 inch thick. It probably also helps to keep the slices fairly uniform as well. I don't own a mandoline and frankly during this, the giving season, I wasn't keen to spend any money on an implement I might use only once.  I decided to try my hand at slicing the potatoes with a knife. If I liked the recipe enough, I could always buy a mandoline later .... maybe during January sales.

Is the finished product worth buying a mandoline? I think so. Even when the potato slices were uneven and therefore some were crisp and some ... well, not so crisp, they were tasty. You can find the recipe at  Also, for other great ideas for nibbles and noshes go to I Heart Cooking Clubs.