Parchment Aplenty

Issue 69 had a feature on using parchment as a cooking method.  It had full meals, main dishes, sides, and even breakfast in a parchment.  So, here we go.

The first recipe I made was for a dinner party with the lovely neighbor.  I made the Chicken with Mango and Ginger.


Not being a huge fan of spicy foods, I went easy on the jalapeño on my packet.  Somehow it managed to impart a small amount flavor without much heat so it worked well for me.  The ginger infused the chicken breast and the mango kept it nice and juicy.  (Warning: the mango also made the entire packet pretty juicy so be sure to serve it with something that can absorb a lot of liquid — I went with coconut rice.  It was a good decision.)  This was a delicious recipe and I will most likely make it again in the future, especially when I need a tropical escape!  I also think I might start pairing chicken and mango more often, grilled for example, or in a sandwich.  Yeah, it’s a good match.

Next, I made the Eggs with Mushroom and Spinach.


I’m not going to lie to you.  I didn’t think this one was worth the effort of cutting the parchment (let alone any of the actual packaging of the ingredients into said parchment.  To be fair, I did make this recipe on a day when I had chills and aches set in by mid afternoon (yep, the flu) so I may not have been a totally unbiased opinion on that day.  I definitely didn’t feel any desire to finish eating my packet.  I maybe made it through half.  It was really plain and more or less boring.  And when considering the effort put into fixing it, it just wasn’t worth it.  I think I’d skip the parchment next time and just make a scramble.  So much easier and the separate parts would work a bit better together that way.

Needless to say, after coming down with the flu, I didn’t do much cooking for a while.  I ate soup.  Soup from a can.  Because I didn’t have the energy to eat anything else.  And after the flop that was the eggs with mushrooms and spinach I wasn’t particularly tempted to make another parchment recipe.  But I did.  I made the Potatoes, Leeks and Carrots in Parchment


It may not look that thrilling, but it tasted pretty decent.  This was another instance where I would normally have just roasted these vegetables together, because vegetables are more delicious when roasted.  But! This is the light issue (hence all the parchment) and by using steam trapped in the parchment to cook these veggies, they stayed pretty flavorful and required much less fat than when roasted.  In fact, the fat was optional in this method of cooking, so it has its perks.

Finally, I made the Broccoli, Asparagus, and Snap Peas in Parchment.  And as a bonus, I also made the Herbed Orzo.


This is probably the one parchment recipe that I think really benefits from this cooking method.  Each of these vegetables is still super flavorful when steamed and don’t necessarily require anything added to make them awesome.  We liked it so much that we made it two days in a row.  Try it.  Trust me.  

The Herbed Orzo was slightly less exciting, but still an alternative to rice or potatoes so it might be a good thing to add to the mix.  The main issue with this recipe is that I found out after I made it that the bear doesn’t like dill.  And of course, I had decided that the main herb flavor would be dill… I ate a lot of orzo that week.

And now, G will fill you in on the final parchment recipe! Go G!!!

Thanks, B!  I’m winding this one up with the Salmon with Green Beans and Lemon Zest

There's fish under there somewhere...

There’s fish under there somewhere…

This was definitely good and certainly easy enough.  I like cooking things en papillote (that’s French for “No, G, not papillon.  You’re thinking of the dog…or the Steve McQueen movie.”), but I will admit it makes me slightly nervous.  I don’t think I’d be able to make B’s chicken dish without ruining it by busting open the packet and checking it.  But I grew to love the method by making a very similar dish from a Rachael Ray recipe.  She inelegantly calls it Spanish Fish in a Sack.  You’ll see that recipe is much more involved than the one in EF here.  I think this recipe is a good, simple option.  The wide pieces of peel are a nice touch.  But…if I’m bothering to make parchment packets, I’m probably going to go with the Rachael Ray fish sack.  It’s just too good. 

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.

Continue reading

Three desserts and nearly 2 dozen eggs

Who knew that December was such an eggy month?  I certainly didn’t.  Since there were so many sweets this month, M,G, and I decided to split them evenly.  And somehow I ended up with the Orange Cream Pavlova (8 eggs), the Chocolate Soufflé (4 eggs), and the Tangerine Cake with Citrus Glaze (6 eggs).  Okay, so that’s only 1.5 dozen, but you have to admit those are some egg heavy desserts.

Let’s get started.  I decided to make the Chocolate Soufflé at my mom’s house over the holidays, almost entirely because she actually had a soufflé dish, but also partly because it’s better to share supremely decadent desserts right?

The dish I used was slightly too large so you can't tell how puffy the soufflé was here, but I promise you it was very fluffy… until I cut into it with a spoon...

The dish I used was slightly too large so you can’t tell how puffy the soufflé was here, but I promise you it was very fluffy… until I cut into it with a spoon…

I may have made one (minor?) mistake with this recipe.  Instead of whipping the sugar with the egg whites, I may have melted it with the chocolate… (I also may have had a few drinks before making this).  As a result, I think the texture was very slightly grainy, which I don’t think it would have been if I had done it right.  Oh well.  The sugar coating the dish made a nice crust on the outside of the soufflé so it was really easy to pull out 4 servings and not losing a ton of chocolatey goodness to the dish.

Mmm… fluffy chocolate.

Mmm… fluffy chocolate.

Looking back, I might recommend eating this with a side of ice cream just for the warm/cold contrast.  The outcome is basically like eating super rich, deeply chocolate fluff.  All you tastes is chocolate.  In a good way.  It’s not exactly creamy, but its not exactly caky either.  It’s enjoyable.  And its really, really, really chocolatey.  It’s a holiday win!

My next venture into whipping egg whites was the Orange Cream Pavlova.  I managed to make this one while completely sober, so I added the sugar at the appropriate time.

This was so thick I had a really hard time molding it into a circle.

This was so thick I had a really hard time molding it into a circle.

This lazy girl didn’t bother drawing the circle on the parchment and I think I managed a pretty decent circle on my own.  If I had been entertaining with it (which I totally should have been) I might have made the effort, but I really don’t think it would make a huge difference.  Word of warning, baking meringues is a little bit tricky.  The magazine didn’t mention that having higher humidity would prevent your meringue from drying.  So I baked for 2 hours as instructed and left in the oven (without opening it) for 5 hours.  When I went to check it, it was still quite smooshy.  So I turned the oven on for another hour.  Smooshy.  Another hour, smooshy.  At that point it was getting too late in the evening to let it go much longer so I cranked the oven to nearly 500 for maybe 10 minutes, turned it off, went to bed and kept my fingers crossed I would have a crisp meringue in the morning.

Thank goodness I did.  I may have just given up on the whole dessert if I hadn’t.  Once the meringue was secured, I worked on the curd.  It was my first curd making experience so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  It was really quick.  You definitely need to keep your eye on it, because before I knew it, it was nearly boiling.  I almost went really lazy again and wasn’t planning to strain the finished curd, but at the last minute I did.  And I’m glad.  There was a ton of zest that came out and some little eggs chunks as well.  I’m pretty certain that wouldn’t have made any major impact on the dessert but at this point I’d been working on it for a full 24 hours so I wanted it to be good (and pretty).

Orange curd might be even more delicious than lemon curd.  And look at that color!

Orange curd might be even more delicious than lemon curd. And look at that color!

So the final step was whipping some cream.  I’ll spare you the details.  And then layering the meringue, then curd, then cream.  Ta da!!

The dessert that nearly killed me.  Isn't it beautiful?!

The dessert that nearly killed me. Isn’t it beautiful?!

Oh, what’s that?  You want to know how it tasted?  It tasted good.  It tasted citrusy and light and New Yearsy.  Did it taste so glorious that I didn’t mind all the effort and struggle of the meringue?  No.  Honestly, I didn’t love how hard it was to chew the meringue.  It hurt my tongue a little bit.  However, the combination of the orange curd and the whipped cream was a win.  Next time I would skip the meringue and go straight to a store bought angel food cake.  Now that would be heavenly.

And finally, the Tangerine Cake.  This was a fairly easy recipe to follow.  It did, however, make me realize I need to upgrade to a Microplane.  My rasp happens to be one that Everyday Food sent as a gift with subscription many many moons ago. For the most part it works just fine.  Or it used to.  It might be getting a little dull.  Also, the skin on a tangerine is pretty thin and the combination of dull rasp and thin skin led to more pith in my cake than I hoped for.  It did not effect the taste.

The magazine would lead you to believe that the glaze is thicker than it actually is...

The magazine would lead you to believe that the glaze is thicker than it actually is…

Most of my glaze slid right off the cake and onto the plate.  As a result, when serving the cake I scooped “extra” glaze onto each piece.  So, the flavor.  It was really orangey and good.  It had a really nice texture.  It was moist yet pleasingly dense at the same time.  I sent the majority of the cake to work with the bear.  It was a hit.  I really need to make up some sort of business card that he can set next to the samples next time.  After two different people asked him for the recipe, I asked him if he gave them the blog address… And he said not only “no”, but “no, I don’t know what your blog is called.”  Sigh.

If I was one to make cakes on a whim, I would keep this one in mind.  As it stands, this blog keeps me busy enough with other sweets that I probably won’t return to this again soon.  I hope you give it a try.

Shallot-Mushroom Quiche (Or my pie plate is slightly too small)

Shallot-Mushroom Quiche

It's hard to tell from this photo, but my filling overflowed my crust very slightly...

It’s hard to tell from this photo, but my filling overflowed my crust very slightly…

First of all, I’d like to take the opportunity to say that fontina is a truly tasty cheese.  I don’t know that I’ve ever really bought it before, so while I was grating it I decided to do a quick taste test.  And then another.  And another.  It took a lot longer to grate the necessary amount because I pretty much ate half of what I was grating. It’s good people.  Get some.

Secondly, this quiche is packed with goodness.  It was pretty much impossible to get any bite of just egg without some mushroom or shallot.  It was really satisfying.  It was also pretty rich.  You use 3/4 cup heavy cream so that’s a lot of decadence to a meatless dish.

I really enjoyed it.  Although I wish I had made it when I had company.  Because it was so dense with mushrooms and shallots it was really filling.  I could only eat one piece in a sitting and the same for the bear.  So that was 4 meals of quiche… which is a little much.

I served it with a small side salad of leafy greens and a lemon vinaigrette to cut the richness slightly.

Make this, but make it for guests.

Hearty wintertime quiche

Sausage and Potato Quiche

something light to go with our two kinds of cookies, two kinds of cocktails, and wings

something light to go with our two kinds of cookies, two kinds of cocktails, and wings

Ok, I’ve already ranted about recipes that tell you to buy a store bought crust and how they should include a crust recipe instead.  Or maybe just tell you where there’s a good one in another issue or on Martha Stewart’s website or a Martha Stewart cookbook.  This is a missed marketing opportunity, really.  Ok, I said I wouldn’t rant and here I am.  Pie crust is easy to make.  I used a recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook.  This one wasn’t all that tasty, but I think it’s because the shortening was too old.  As in over a year old. And kinda grey.  Yeesh.  Perhaps one should find a recipe that calls for butter when one has nothing but ancient shortening…  Also, this has you blind bake the crust.  I don’t think I’ve ever done that for quiche before.  I think the filling and the crust are usually baked together.  The bottom crust definitely gets soggy, but I’ve always thought of that as being part of the deal with quiche.  Also also…I didn’t put down pie weights.  Long story short, there’s a great deal of operator error to factor in here.  Zero fault goes to my lovely assistant who rolled out the crust and put it in the pan.  He did a wonderful job.  😉

As for the filling, I had the same problem B did.  There was too much filling for the size of pan.  It was a bit of a mess.  We steamed the potato chunks in a steamer basket for 11 minutes or so to get them soft enough.  I thought that was faster than boiling a whole pot of water just for a few potato chunks.  Oh, and I used mild Italian sausage instead of spicy because that’s what I had.  I think it was good.

We made this for friends of ours who helped us make two cookies for the blog, two cocktails, and some wings.  It was an incredibly messy and fun afternoon.  That’s the best kind of holiday afternoon, I say.

Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche

December 2011, pg. 45 & 46

Quiche Whole

Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche Recipe

This was a great breakfast-for-dinner recipe! I love breakfast foods and I don’t eat eggs and pancakes enough, so I love the opportunity to have them for dinner.

I made the pie crust using Everyday Food’s November 2008 recipe.
Basic Pie Crust

*I used it for the Maple Nut Tart I baked last month so I knew at least the crust of the quiche would be a success.  I made the crust in the morning and threw it in the refrigerator until it was time to start dinner.

I must admit I eyeballed the broccoli and cheese measurements.  I bet there was a little more of each item than the recipe called for.  But really who can turn their nose up to more broccoli and cheese.  I baked the quiche for 45 minutes and the center appeared to be set, so I took it out and let it cool.

It was a perfect night to eat the quiche for dinner because P was on-call and I wasn’t sure what time he would be getting home but it would most likely be after 8 p.m.  I probably wouldn’t be able to wait and eat with P, since my body starts to shut down if I don’t eat dinner by 7:45.  I would eat the quiche warm and P would just eat the quiche cold (or warm it up in the microwave).  P ended up getting home just as I was finishing my salad, so we were able to eat our main course together.

The cooked quiche looked and smelled amazing before and after we cut it.  The center seemed a little underdone to me, so I cooked my portion in the microwave for 45 seconds. P, took no issues with the doneness and ate it as is.  It was delicious!  The texture of was amazingly smooth and creamy, reminding me of a quiche I had in a nice French restaurant for brunch a few years back.  The broccoli was tender and there weren’t too many onions.  The quiche was a success and I bet the other variations would be just as good!

Quiche Piece

Mushroom-Cheddar- (Sausage) Frittata

Mushroom-Cheddar Frittata


Yeah, we added sausage.  Because we had sausage.  Pretty much anything with sausage (or bacon or ham) is better than without.  So that sausage we failed to use for breakfast went straight into the pan.  As a result, we had to alter cooking instructions slightly.  First, I used a braiser.  Mostly, so that I could use it on the stove top and put it straight into the oven.

So I browned the sausage then tossed in the potatoes and mushrooms and stuck it in the oven to roast… well actually my mom did that.  I managed to get a little dehydrated working all day on Black Friday and started to feel like fainting while I was browning the sausage.  She also did the rest of the recipe… although, she actually followed the instructions from that point on.

It was super tasty.  The sausage was a nice addition, but I’m sure it would have been delicious with out it too.  It was pretty quick and easy too.  It had all the flavor of a quiche without the bother of a crust.  I’ll definitely make it again.

Huevos and another cocktail!

Huevos rancheros

Fiestaware = FTWare

Fiestaware = FTWare

This is a dangerous recipe.  Why?  Because it’s super good and it makes a ton of food that you know won’t be good leftover.  I’d be stupid not to eat 5 eggs by myself, right?  oof.  If you split this meal between two people, you will eat too much.  Guaranteed.

Sure, I can eat 5 eggs...

Sure, I can eat 5 eggs…

Let’s take a look at the recipe.  The sauce itself is delicious and easy.  You puree canned tomatoes, a jalapeno, some onion, and some garlic in the blender, then heat it for a while.  Super easy.  Makes me think I should be putting rancheros sauce on everything.  I do have one small bone to pick here.  The recipe calls for a 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes.  I have never in my life seen a 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes.  Whole tomatoes only come in the big cans.  Maybe if you’re buying the fancy, fire-roasted tomatoes, they come in smaller cans, but not for me.  So I used 1/2 of a big can.  Lucky for me, the tex mex chicken and beans in an upcoming November issue (stay tuned) could use 1/2 a can of tomatoes.  You are blending them, so I have a hard time seeing why a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes wouldn’t do just fine.  Anyhoo, here’s the sauce:

sauce rancheros

sauce rancheros

The whole thing is built on an oven-toasted tortilla.  Mine got a little tough.  Perhaps I overcooked it?  I think maybe a plain unbaked tortilla would be just fine.  For toppings we had avocado, Jack cheese, chopped cilantro, and homemade yogurt instead of sour cream.  That’s a move from my childhood.  We never had sour cream.  My mom always put out non-fat yogurt instead.  It’s all well and good until she puts out the vanilla flavored yogurt.  Vanilla refried beans!  Yum!

They do look a little brown...

They do look a little brown…

The D cocktail recommendation for this meal is the La Paloma.  It’s Squirt and tequila.  Sound like a poor woman’s margarita with bubbles?  It is.  What’s wrong with that?

La Paloma, which is Spanish for....the Paloma

La Paloma, which is Spanish for….the Paloma

Healthy Start for dinner

Dill feta scramble



This is a “healthy start” breakfast recipe, but I don’t generally have time to make much of a breakfast nor do I typically have enough time to make much of a dinner, really.  So this was a breakfast for dinner at our house.  But, really, who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner.

It’s a very tasty and simple recipe.  Pretty much the entire recipe can be found in the name: dill, feta, scramble (eggs).  The recipe has you adding more egg whites than eggs, but D and I decided against that.  Why?  Gluttony and not wanting to try and figure out what to do with an egg yolk besides throw it away or make custard.  I don’t typically make custard on a Thursday…

If you’re looking for a nice, Greek-ish recipe for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and you happen to have dill in the house, this is a good one to try.  One another note, this would be a good recipe to shop for the same week that you plan to make the salmon with mustard dill sauce in this same issue.