Intergenerational Quiching

Bacon-Cheese Quiche

Mother and daughter quichers

Mother and daughter quichers

Hey!  That doesn’t look much like bacon and cheese quiche!  You’re right.  That’s me and my mom.  We are two parts of a three-generation family tradition of quiche.  It all started years ago when my mom called her mom to find out her recipe for Quiche Lorraine.  My mom jotted down that recipe on a notecard and used it to cook countless quiches for her family over the years.  I think all families have that default recipe that they had all the time.  Maybe yours was meatloaf or lasagna or fried chicken.  Ours was quiche.

Side 1.  Can you tell it's been used a few times?

Side 1. Can you tell it’s been used a few times?

Side 2

Side 2

So she wrote down her mom’s recipe.  I have a version of this recipe card too!  It doesn’t have all of that fun patina, though.

I will also share my mom’s crust recipe beyond the jump.  You’ll know why when you look at this picture.

Because her crust is always perfect, that's why!!!

Because her crust is always perfect, that’s why!!!

When I look at that crust and those perfect little scallop shapes, I can see my mom shaping it with her knuckle.  When I see that, I can also see my grandma’s hands.  When I see my own hands, I see me making the pinches far too shallow and pointy.  But I’ll get better.  I learned from the best.

As should be obvious by now, I had my mom take on the Bacon-Cheese quiche because she is the quiche master.  Who better to tell us all whether this is a good recipe than someone who has made more quiches than she can count?  (I got an audio recording of the two of us talking about this quiche, but WordPress charges you extra money to have enough space on your blog to upload an audio file.  Boo!  The internets tell me that I can make a movie of the audio file, upload it to YouTube, then post that here.  I want to have time for that, and I’ve also got two fellow bloggers cooking and writing their way through a January/February issue and nipping at my heels.  I need to let them move on.  I promise to make the video and add it back here to the blog as soon as possible.  It’s a really fun interview!)

Mostly, the quiche master did not love this recipe.  She liked the onion flavor, although my dad, the other tester, did not.  She thought it would be lighter and fluffier than it actually turned out.  She thought blind-baking the crust was a great technique, though.  Her usual crust is just cooked right along with the filling.  Mom, Dad, and I all agreed that this method keeps the crust from getting soggy.  She said she’d do it again.  That’s huge, don’t you think?  Someone who has been making quiche for over 30 years and who learned from someone else who also made quiche for decades is going to change her technique based on Everyday Food!  She did not have the same pan problem as Beth and I.  She used a nine-inch pie plate (not her usual pan, she usually goes with a tart pan) and found she had exactly the right amount of filling.

My ultimate recommendation?  Make the quiche from the recipe from my grandma via my mom, use her crust, and blind-bake the crust.  Oh, and I like the onions, so add those too.

Stay tuned for that video.  I’ll also add in pictures of the original quicher, my grandma.

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Holiday (scratch that) Super Bowl party!

Sweet and Sour Glazed Chicken Wings

Ginger red wine spritzer

Tequila cranberry cooler

Didn't try the glaze on the Rolos, but it would probably be good

Didn’t try the glaze on the Rolos, but it would probably be good

(What should have been a holiday cocktail party post has conveniently become a Super Bowl party post.  *wipes hands in a self-satisfied fashion*)

So here’s the deal with these three.  We did actually serve them all together.  We also put out mixed nuts.  And we made those lovely cookies.  It was a good day.

The wings were tasty, but kind of a hassle.  I mean, wings are always kind of a hassle, but the hassle of the glaze bears some mention.  When you do the baking step, you should grease the sheet at least a little and/or put down foil to keep them from sticking.  I lost a lot of skin and, frankly, quite a bit of meat just from trying to turn the wings.  The glaze was the real troublemaker, though.  I burned it on the first try.  Badly.  Like black ooze at the bottom of the pan, doors and windows open to clear the smoke and avoid waking the baby with the fire alarm bad.  I think the key is to just be sure you can keep an eye on it.  It goes from way too thin to burned really quickly, especially if you halve the recipe like I did.  Once it’s done and not burned, the glaze is really tasty.  The chili powder adds a lot.  The cayenne mostly just adds heat, but that’s welcome here.  We started rolling some roasted nuts in this glaze.  That was extremely good.  The glaze thickens a bit when it sits, so don’t get upset if it isn’t super goopy right off the range.

Sweet, spicy, sour, hot, awesome

Sweet, spicy, sour, hot, awesome

As for the cocktails, the spritzer was nice, but maybe a little forgettable.  I would rather just have a glass of wine, really.  I couldn’t taste the ginger ale and didn’t really even get a sense of the bubbles.  The kirsch or maraschino does add a little bit of cherry flavor and sweetness.  The maraschino adds a LOT of sweetness, really.  I preferred the drier taste of the kirsch.  We did a taste test with our guests, and we were evenly split between the kirsch kamp and the maraschino maniacs.  (groan…)  If you like something sweeter, pick maraschino. 

Red wine spritzer with those amazing palmiers and the macadamia nut bars.

Red wine spritzer with those amazing palmiers and the macadamia nut bars.

Now, the tequila cran cooler was an unqualified success.  I loved it.  The Campari cut the sweetness of the juices and the sharpness of the tequila.  Frankly, I might consider putting a little campari in margaritas next summer.  Also, the sugared rim was definitely welcome because the other tastes in the drink started to lean toward sour and bitter once the Campari was in there.  I think this would be some good training wheels for Campari.  In other words, B, try this one.  You’ll like it.

Coming to a BBQ near you: Summer 2014

Coming to a BBQ near you: Summer 2014

Go….let’s say Broncos. 

This is why you bought a Dutch oven

Pork shoulder roast with tomatoes

Lookin' wholesome!

Lookin’ wholesome!

Wow.  This is a keeper.  This one is for real.  The one thing to know is that it does honestly take 2.25 hours and it’s not a good candidate to convert to a slow cooker recipe because it requires you to baste it every 15 minutes toward the end.  But, if you have a long afternoon at home and you don’t mind almost eating your own hand because the smell of this makes you so hungry, then you’ve got to make this recipe.

If nothing else, this recipe will make you feel super good for owning a Dutch oven.  There are those pieces of kitchen equipment that you look at and think, “Man, I’m not sure I need to own that thing…”  Gratin dish, Kitchen Aid mixer (I love it…I just don’t use it very often), mini bundt cake pan, immersion blender, melon baller, and so on.  But then that moment comes when nothing else would have been better.  This was that moment for my Dutch oven.  Here it is, rising to the occasion:

I'm proud of you, Baby!

I’m proud of you, Baby!

So if your significant other keeps hassling about why you own that giant, heavy pot, you make this recipe.

Side note: J loved this one.  He ate it up like it was cheese crackers and applesauce.  For real.

Fish and unintentionally crunchy veggies

Halibut with warm bean hash

I think it goes without saying that the fish is actually whatever Aldi had and not halibut

I think it goes without saying that the fish is actually whatever Aldi had and not halibut

The fish was tasty even though it was kind of a hassle to do the pan frying with the flour and everything.  The potatoes and carrots didn’t actually get cooked all the way.  I don’t think I’ve ever cooked carrots in a pan like that.  I kept thinking, “Why would this work?”  It wouldn’t.  The carrots were still crunchy and some of the potatoes were crunchy too.  I wonder if maybe it would be better to roast those two ingredients in the oven with some oil and then toss them with the canned beans and the vinegar.  On a related note, the beans and vinegar were very delicious together.  Now that I think of it, it’s basically like a wintery bean salad.  No wonder it’s good.

“Ain’t nothin like the real thing, baby”

Slow-cooker chicken mole

Rice pilaf with peas and almonds

None of the effort, some of the taste

None of the effort, some of the taste

I was conflicted as to whether I even wanted to like this mole recipe.  Here’s the thing: my big culinary triumph is/was making mole from scratch one time in 2011.  I used this recipe.  The 2 hour cooking time on that recipe is a prank.  It took me and, eventually, D, 6 plus hours of intense, hands-on cooking.  Here’s a picture of all of the ingredients that went into the mole:

I think I still have that Mexican chocolate...excuse me for a minute

I think I still have that Mexican chocolate…excuse me for a minute

Well, not the dish soap.  Anyway, I had planned to take pictures at every major step.  Then I spilled hot chicken broth all over my brand new phone and convinced myself to focus on cooking.  The end result?

My friend Katie contributed homemade tortillas and was paid in mole.  It was a good trade.

My friend Katie contributed homemade tortillas and was paid in mole. It was a good trade.

Man, was that good.  It was such a hassle to fry and blend and cook and wait and fry and worry and wait some more, but oh my was it good.

Which is why I was so conflicted about this recipe.  On one hand, if it’s just as good, then I’ve found a way to short-circuit 6 hours of madness using the slow cooker.  On the other hand, if it’s just as good, then my great culinary triumph was roughly on par with making a pot roast.

Thus, I am equally disappointed and relieved to tell you, dear readers, that this is in no way as good as real mole.  What it was missing was the depth of flavor.  This recipe is like a cheap bottle of wine: the flavor is pretty much there, but it’s not as deep, not as complicated.  Which is not to say that this isn’t good.  It is.  This is a fine recipe for what I’m forced to call imitation mole.  And it’s exceedingly easy.

The pilaf?  Um, it’s rice with peas and almonds.  It tastes like….rice with peas and almonds.  I think we can leave it at that.

The power is yours!

Roasted chicken with celery root and onion

Roasted acorn squash with lemon and nutmeg

The dynamic duo...forgive the mixed superhero metaphor

The dynamic duo…forgive the mixed superhero metaphor

First, brace yourself for some early 90’s cartoon references.  

Ok, as for the recipe, let me say that these two are absolutely delicious recipes on their own.  I would definitely make them again.  

This is probably the American guy, Fire.

This is probably the American guy, Fire.

The chicken is great.  The celery root and onion make for a fine side dish, so you really don’t need to serve anything else.  My very best friend chicken fat makes another appearance, so you know I’m happy.  The red pepper flakes keep it from being too rich.  Nothing gets burned or weird.  

But no one has to be Heart.  That poor kid...

But no one has to be Heart. That poor kid…

The acorn squash is spectacular.  Nutmeg and acorn squash are a natural combo.  There’s something wonderfully fall-like about it.  I would make this as a side dish for Thanksgiving.  The lemon zest is interesting and bright.  It keeps the squash from dragging into that too rich territory that Thanksgiving sides often veer into.  

But that’s not what makes this a great meal.  It’s the combination of the two.  When their powers combine they create a delicious synergy…a Captain Planet of meat and veggies, if you will.  Look it up, kids.  Honestly, I don’t know why the magazine doesn’t suggest making them together.  They normally don’t miss an opportunity to show you how the recipes can go together.  From a cooking standpoint, they are both made in the oven at the same temperature.  That’s huge.  How many times have you looked at two recipes only to find out that one is cooked at 325 and the other at 400?  Too many times.  And the chicken cooks for a longer than the squash, but not by too much.  That gives you just enough time to prep the squash while the chicken starts cooking.  Then there’s the lemon  zest.  They both get lemon zest on top.  The lemon on the chicken connects the flavor to the lemon on the squash.  Finally, the squash acts as your starch for the meal, while the chicken takes care of the protein, fat (read: schmaltz for life!), and aromatics.  I recommend these on their own, but I really love them together.

My dad hated Captain Planet.  That just made us want to watch it more, even though we hated it too now that I think about it.

My dad hated Captain Planet. That just made us want to watch it more, even though we hated it too now that I think about it.

I just realized that I enjoyed the episodes of Captain Planet much more before actual Captain Planet showed up, so this isn’t a great metaphor for this meal.  I liked to see all of the ethnic stereotypes try and work it out for themselves.  It seemed like a cop out to have Captain Planet swoop in and fix things, even if he was sort of part of them…I guess.  Did he exist or were they imagining him as a way to explain their own actions?  Does anyone remember if other people could see him?  If you want to fall down a wikipedia rabbit hole, here it is.  All that aside, the powers of these recipes combined are greater than my confusion about the cartoons of my childhood.

The merriest granola

Granola with pecans and dried fruit

We gave a little as a gift.  Doesn't it look festive?

We gave a little as a gift. Doesn’t it look festive?

D, my darling king of the granola, made this one.  I came home from a holiday lunch with a friend to see a pan of it on the stove top.  I proceeded to eat it as often as possible until it was gone.  This stuff is so good.  The pecans got nice and toasty, but didn’t burn.  That’s a problem D and I have had with some other granolas that ask you to toast the nuts with the rest of the ingredients.  The granola is wonderful with some dried fruit in it, which we added as desired rather than mixing it in with the entire batch.  D and I must both note that the chocolate chips are wholly unnecessary.  This is enough of a yummy treat already.  Oh, and we can’t forget the awesome vanilla paste B got for me.  It made another star appearance in this one.

Ah, It’s been gone for a couple weeks, and I miss this granola already.

Mexican food can be fussy, you know

Green chile posole with black beans

D wants to know why hominy is always squeaky.  Good question.

D wants to know why hominy is always squeaky. Good question.

French food has a reputation for being very complicated, difficult, and time-consuming to cook.  But I’d like you, dear reader, to compare this recipe linked above to a recipe for Potage Parmentier.  Which one would you pick for a weekday?  This recipe has no fewer than 15 ingredients, not counting the salt and pepper and the cheese on top.  You have to chop a lot of them.  The “active time” of 10 minutes on this recipe is nonsense.  It’s more like 20-30 minutes of prep before it gets cooked for 45 minutes.  Looking back, the most complicated dish I’ve ever made was chicken mole.  So I think that Mexican food deserves a little bit of the fussy reputation that French food gets.  It’s not all beef tacos.

Ah, but how does the soup taste?  Delicious.  The parsley, cilantro, and spinach make for a green and fresh soup. We had this as an appetizer before our New Year’s Eve dinner.  It served as an appetizer/first course/salad.  I also think that the allspice made this one special.  It gave the soup a spicy earthiness.  It’s certainly spicy, but not too hot.  It’s like an excellent salsa verde, but deeper and richer.  If you’ve got the time to make something like this, I recommend it.

Nice midwestern girl goes rogue

Bratwurst with collards and rice

beer brats, Everyday Food style

beer brats, Everyday Food style

First, let me say that the cheapskate recipes are some of my favorites.  This is a dinner under $10 feature, and I appreciate that.

That aside, there was one thing about this recipe that tripped me up, the smoked bratwurst.  The recipe calls for either smoked bratwurst or kielbasa.  Now, I didn’t fully pay attention to that.  If I had, I would have recognized that normal bratwurst like the kind you have in the summer isn’t really anything like kielbasa.  I don’t believe I’ve ever had or seen smoked bratwurst.  So when I went to make the shopping list, I just put down “bratwurst.”  Then I went to make the recipe, and I noticed that it has you slicing the sausage to cook it.  Well, if you’re doing that with normal bratwurst, that’s just straight up weird.  The casing doesn’t really let you slice it into disks.  And, even if you could, it wouldn’t really cook that way.  Bratwurst wants to be treated as a link.  I tried to split the difference by plopping it out of the casing in about 2 tablespoon chunks to brown almost like a meatball.  Cooking those blobs with the onion was getting to be a dry mess, and I could see that it was going to burn before the sausage was actually cooked all the way through.  Then I remembered something very important…beer.  I realized that this recipe was written for smoked bratwurst and whatever that was, I didn’t have it.  I had to dance with the one I brought, so to speak.  So I dumped in a third of a can of Half Acre’s Pony.  That’s a big can, so let’s say it’s a 1/2 of a normal can of beer.

My not-so-little pony

My not-so-little pony

That was just the ticket.  The brats stopped burning and starting cooking like they’re supposed to.  I felt like a Midwestern genius.  I felt like it was the dish I was born on flat land by a big lake to save.  I got to drink the rest of the delicious beer.  The collards got some nice beer flavor.  Win and win.  To up the beer and brats flavor, I added some Dijon mustard in when I added the vinegar.  D and I devoured this dish.  It definitely pays to go rogue.

brats and collards, ready for the big time

brats and collards, ready for the big time

Boxing Day bake

Emeril’s Christmas morning breakfast bake

Happy Boxing Day!

Happy Boxing Day!

My most-excellent husband made this one for me, so I’m pretty much just reporting on the results and noting a few things for other awesome people out there who want to make this for their loved ones.  First, this is a great way to use up leftovers from a Christmas dinner.  Hence, this is a Boxing Day bake.  D used leftover ham in place of the Canadian bacon.  Leftover ham?  Who has leftover ham?!  We had to leave later that day for D’s parents’ house, so we needed to use things up.  Plus, the seasoning on the ham gave the casserole some extra flavor.  D also substituted two 10 ounce packages of spinach (thawed, drained, etc) for the fresh baby spinach.  I think we could have gotten away with just one package.  This was a lot of spinach.

We can agree that looks like a lot of spinach, right?

We can agree that looks like a lot of spinach, right?

It was good, but it still would have been good with less spinach.  As for other substitutions, instead of the 6 ounces of Gruyere, D used some leftover cheese from the charcuterie plate my brother and his girlfriend brought as an appetizer.  Had we not already bought bread for this recipe, we could have used the leftover toast from that appetizer as well!  This was very tasty and easy.  I highly recommend it to anyone who needs to get out of town and use up some leftovers.  In fact, we made a similar breakfast bake the day we left the vacation house this summer.  I used up some random veggies, eggs, milk, and deli cheese that way.  Funny how you can remember things without knowing that you’ve remembered them.

Remember how I mentioned that we had to leave that day?  Well, we took this on the road with us.  No, we didn’t sit in the car and eat casserole.  We took in down to D’s parents’ house where it was well-received also.  However, I must say that this dish isn’t very good after about a day or so.  The ham gets dry and tough.  On day three, I threw out most of a slice and discouraged his brother’s girlfriend from eating it.  I wouldn’t have done that on day one, that’s for sure.  Make this for a crowd, but don’t expect the crowd to eat it for days on end.