Archive for December, 2010

Over-the-Top Mushroom Quiche

December 15, 2010

One of the very trickiest things about cooking is the timing.  Getting dishes to come out around the same time or having food on the table when you want it to be ready can be very tricky.   I truly believe the timing piece only comes with practice.  Someone can have a naturally good palate but kitchen timing does not seem to be a genetic trait.

I remember struggling with timing when I was first learning to cook.  Learning that you really need to read a recipe thoroughly before you start cooking helped.  But truly I got better from sheer practice.  These days, I’m pretty good at getting everything to come out at once.  I’m also good at judging how long things will take start to finish.  But once in a while, I get tripped up.

This recipe for a mammoth quiche has been sitting quietly in my notebook for years now.  It is a recipe that is never far from my mind.  With all the cooking I do, it is hard for me to believe that it took me all this time to make it.  I guess it’s not really weeknight cooking because it is a little fussy and it is also huge.  It’s not really dinner party cooking because, I don’t know – quiche seems a little brunchy for a dinner party.  We have people over often for brunch – so why didn’t I make it one of those times?  I wondered all of this as I was preparing to make it.  And then, when all was said and done, I realized why.

This is a Thomas Keller recipe that comes from the Bouchon cookbook, but I have it because it appeared in Food & Wine.  I remember Keller writing that, for him, quiche needed to be large.  And boy, is this large.  Rather than a tart pan or a pie plate, this baby is made in a springform pan.  The crust itself is several inches high.  The filling has 2 cups of milk, 2 cups of cream, 6 eggs, 2 pounds of mushrooms, and just a smattering of cheese.  It is gorgeous.  It is awe-inspiring.  And if you ever make it, please remember to read the part where I tell you it takes about 5 hours to make, start to finish.

Yep.  I had some good friends over today for a late morning get together.  I put out pumpkin bread and granola and thought I would serve the quiche as it got closer to lunch time.  But, because I had a momentary being-good-at-timing lapse, all my friends left and the quiche wasn’t even out of the oven.  I left it in there for a full two hours and, as you can see from the photos, it still wasn’t completely cooked.  Regardless of runniness, we will be eating this quiche for days for several reasons.

1)  Anything that takes me 5 hours to make will be consumed without question.
2)  This is one of the tastiest things I have ever made.
3)  I used a pound of button mushrooms and a pound of chanterelles (some regular and some yellow foot) which cost me $16.

So, Over the Top Mushroom Quiche it is until Sunday!

One of my readers made a terrific suggestion – how about creating a “My Favorites” category.  I went back through my old posts and tagged the recipes that I like the very best.  You can scroll down to it on the sidebar to your right.  In spite of this being truly delicious and a recipe I will no doubt make again – I’m not sure I can call a five hour egg and crust dish a favorite.  Not yet anyway.

One Year Ago: Frittata with Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese, and Sage
Two Years Ago: Fennel and Brie Risotto Wedges

Over-the-Top Mushroom Quiche
Adapted from Food & Wine
Serves 12

Keller recommends oyster mushrooms but that type creeps me out.  And I live in a part of the country where we get incredible (and relatively affordable) wild mushrooms.  Use what you like.  I had Manchego in my cheese drawer so I used that but his recommendation is Comté or Emmental.  Finally, as stated above, it took my quiche a LOT longer to bake than the time specified below, but every oven is different!)

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 pound exotic mushrooms
1 pound white mushrooms, quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 small shallots, minced
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
¾ cup shredded Manchego cheese
Buttery Pastry Shell (recipe follows)
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
6 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 325º.  In a very large skillet, heat the oil.  Add all the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook over high heat, stirring until starting to soften, about 5 minutes.  Reduce the heat to moderate.  Add the butter, shallots, and thyme and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are tender, about 12 minutes longer.  Season with salt and pepper and let cool.

Scatter ¼ cup of the cheese and half of the mushrooms evenly over the bottom of the Buttery Pastry Shell.  In a blender, mix half each of the milk, cream, and eggs and season with 1½ teaspoons salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper.  Blend at high speed until frothy, about 1 minute.  Pour the custard into the pastry shell.  Top with another ¼ cup of cheese and the remaining mushrooms.  Make a second batch of custard with the remaining milk, cream and eggs plus the same amount of salt and pepper, and pour into the shell.  Scatter the remaining ¼ cup of cheese on top.

Bake the quiche for about 1½ hours, or until richly browned on top and the custard is barely set in the center.  Let cool in the pan until very warm.

Using a serrated knife, cut the pastry shell flush with the top of the pan.  Carefully lift the springform pan ring off the quiche.  Cut the mushroom quiche into wedges and serve warm.  (The unmolded quiche can be cooled completely, then refrigerated overnight.  To serve, carefully cut the quiche into wedges, arrange on a baking sheet and bake in a 350ºoven until warm, about 10 minutes.)

Buttery Pastry Shell
Makes one 9-inch shell

Since I love to make savory tarts and galettes, I have a lot of experience with tart dough.  I have learned to sacrifice flakiness for flavor when using all butter.  This crust is almost impossibly flaky in spite of having no shortening and the flavor is terrific.

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch dice
¼ cup ice water
Canola oil, for brushing

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix 1 cup fo the flour with the salt.  At low speed, add the butter pieces, a handful at a time.  When all of the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and mix until the butter is completely incorporated.  Reduce the speed to low and add the remaining 1 cup of flour just until blended.  Mix in the water just until thoroughly incorporated.  Flatten the pastry into an 8-inch disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Set the ring of a 9-inch springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving the hinge open. Brush the inside of the ring with oil.

Dust the pastry on both sides with flour.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry to a 16-inch round, about 3/16-inch thick.  Carefully roll the pastry around the rolling pin and transfer to the prepared ring, pressing it into the corners.  Trim the overhanging pastry to 1 inch and press it firmly against the outside of the ring.  Use the trimming to fill any cracks.  Refrigerate the shell for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375º.  Line the pastry shell with a 14-inch round of parchment paper; fill the shell with dried beans or rice.  Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the edge f the dough is lightly browned.  Remove the parchment and beans and continue baking the pastry shell for about 15 minutes longer, or until richly browned on the bottom .  Transfer the baking sheet  to a rack and let the pastry cool.  Fill any cracks with the reserved pastry dough.  (The uncooked pastry can be frozen for up to 1 month.  The Baked pastry shell can be wrapped in plastic and kept at room temperature overnight.)

A Winner, Christmas Sweaters, and Granola

December 13, 2010

I’m going to talk about granola.  But a warning.  I’m also going to talk about Christmas sweaters.  And I am going to announce the winner of the apron contest.  Adorable assistant, please show us the number!

Commenter #39 is Annie from Phoo-D!  Annie, please send me an email so I can get your address.  You have a week!

Randy’s and my first date was ten years ago – November 26, 2000 to be exact.  After a week of communicating by email, we met in a Starbucks near his office.  It was a Sunday so he was wearing weekend attire – loose fitting jeans, a comfortably worn plaid shirt, and a pair of clogs.  I kid you not.  During the week, I would later learn, his taste skewed toward Brooks Brothers and sort of preppy clothes that, while very nice, are not really my taste.

One of my very favorite memories of my life with Randy comes from the Christmas of that first year.  We had been dating less than a month and he had plans to join his parents and sisters in Atlanta for the holiday.  I told him I would miss him and he was a little mystified.  We didn’t know each other that well, he would be back in just a few days – why would I miss him?  Lo and behold, soon after arrival in Atlanta, he realized he missed me.  He called me many times in that few days’ span and he also asked his sister Lois for wardrobe assistance.  Lois, bless her, took him shopping and “funked him up”.

Once back in Seattle, he got off the plane and called me from the road saying he missed me so much, he had to stop by my job before going to his.  In he walked wearing a tight-fitting tan sweater with good jeans.  The first time I met Lois, I thanked her for the inspiration because his taste and the clothes  just got better from there.

Now, these many years later, Randy has a very funky wardrobe.  Classy but different.  I love it and he does too.  He still has kind of old fashioned ideas about getting dressed up, but I love that Southern part of him.  When going out to dinner, he will sometimes ask me if it is all right for him not to wear a tie.  My answer is always along the lines of, “You know Seattle, you don’t have to wear a tie anywhere” but what he is asking is it all right with me if he doesn’t.  He is a gentleman.

I like our boys to have cool clothes too.  If you have a boy, you know this is no small task.  The choices range from puppy-dog to skater-punk to little-man-suit without a lot of other options.  But I have found brands that I like and they wear a lot of solids and stripes.  I am practical – I know they are hard on clothes and I try to buy everything on sale.  It is nice to have two boys because all of the more expensive things (jackets, fancy shirts) can be handed down from Graham to Spencer.

These Christmas sweaters were Randy’s idea.  It felt old-fashioned to me.  Like pose for the camera with Santa in a stiff sweater kind of thing.  But things like this make him happy so I waited until some that I liked went on sale and last week I came home with these sweaters.  I showed Graham and his face lit up and he ran over and hugged the sweater.  Talk about easy to please.  We put them on and snapped a few shots and I was grateful that Randy pushed on this one.  I will treasure these photos long after the sweaters stop fitting.

After all that clothes talk, I’m not sure how much you want to read about granola.  But stay with me here.  This recipe comes from Melissa Clark’s new book In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite.  She came through town on a recent book tour and I signed up for an event with her where we got a copy of the book as part of the ticket price.  A week beforehand, I found myself in the cookbook section of a bookstore and pulled it down for a sneak peek.  Based on what I saw, I would not have bought the book.  It is very meat heavy with extremely long introductions to each recipe, more stories than I usually like, and no pictures.  But I had already bought my ticket so I figured I would just give the book away.

After bringing it home from the event, a funny thing happened.  I grew to like it.  Really like it.  The stories are funny.  And Clark has serious kitchen chops, having written or co-written many many books, not to mention her ongoing column in the New York Times.  There are a few authors whose taste and recipes I never question – Deborah Madison and Patricial Wells are two that jump to mind – and I think I might soon be putting Melissa Clark in the same category.  Yes, there are entire chapters of the book, a full two-thirds of it practically, that are off limits to me.  But the things I can make (and have made) have been wonderful so far.

This granola is wonderful.  I have another recipe that I like very much but it has pecans in it which are not my favorite nut.  It also has a lot of butter and honey in it.  There is nothing wrong with either of those things – I just like that this one is different and uses heart healthy olive oil.  In fact, this recipe is vegan and I know vegans who would love a big bowlful with soy milk.

One Year Ago:  Holly B’s Rugelach
Two Years Ago:  Middle Eastern Lentil Rice Rolls with Lemon Tahini Sauce

Olive Oil Granola with Dried Apricots and Pistachios
In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite
Makes about 9 cups

Clark suggests you serve this with fresh ricotta and berries.  Not for me, thank you, but feel free to add this to yours.  I used roasted salted pistachios because that is all I had so did not add the salt.  I used coconut flakes from Bob’s Red Mill and I love their texture here.

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1½ cup raw pistachios, hulled
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup coconut chips
¾ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cardamom or ginger
¾ cup chopped dried apricots

Preheat oven to 300°F.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, coconut chips, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugr, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom or ginger.  Spread the mixture on a large rimmed baking sheet (about 11×7 inches) in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.

Transfer the granola to a large bowl and add the apricots, tossing to combine.  (DT: I just did this on the baking sheet.)


December 10, 2010

Summer in Seattle is farmers’ market heaven.  I have been known to go to four markets in a single week.  I have my favorites (Queen Anne, West Seattle), and those I don’t like quite as much but are close to me (Wallingford, University).  Most of the smaller ones shut down for the winter, but a few keep going.

Winter is a bleak season here but not as bleak as most parts of the country.  You can still go to the few markets that are open and be greeted by friendly farmers eager to sell.  At this time of year, you will have no trouble finding beets, cabbages, apples, pears, parsnips, leeks, potatoes, celery root, incredible wild mushrooms, and other hearty winter fare.  I love all of those things so, while it is not the sun-buzzed insanity of July with all the berries and nectarines, the market is still a happy place for me.  In fact, I like a quieter market better.  I can take my time and think about what I want.  Still, I don’t go as often as I would like.

Last weekend, I took the boys with the promise of a breadstick and an apple.  I didn’t have any real plans of what to buy, if anything.  I ended up in a stall with dried beans, parsnips, onions, purple cabbage, and fennel and I bought all of them.  Visions of a hearty stew started playing in my head.  I gathered my bags and went to pay and it added up to almost $20.

Now.  My monthly grocery expenditure is shocking.  I cook and bake a lot and I like quality food.  People sometimes assume that you save money being a vegetarian but that is definitely not the case.  Produce is expensive and highly perishable.  And we entertain often so a lot of money goes toward food in our house.  Plus I have two kids and though they are small, they eat a lot.

I have always said that I am happy to pay more money for gorgeous produce, especially if that money is going directly to the farmer.  Still, every time I leave a market with next to no money left, I realize the cost of eating local can be high.   I grocery shop often enough to know that paying $7 for about 2 cups of dried beans is a lot of money.

But then I made this braise.  And I’m calling it a braise because I have a Le Crueset braiser that I would take in bed with me and tuck under my pillow if I didn’t think it was going to give me a permanent stiff neck.  Anyway.  I took my fresh local organic ingredients and I mumbled about how I love local farmers but geez louise, it costs a lot of money to buy the best.  And I winged this dish and……  well, we loved it.

We loved it for a host of reasons.  One is that  I have spent 2010 really breaking out of my reliant-on-cookbooks comfort zone.  Not to toot my own horn here, but I’ve gotten pretty good at making tasty and seasonal food without relying on a book.  When I make something particularly good, it makes us both very happy.  We also loved this dish because of the quality of the ingredients.  I do feel sure that if I had bought my vegetables from the local grocery store and my beans from a bin, this dish would not have tasted as good as it did.

Before I share my creation, I just want to tell you about a web site that I have been contributing to for a bit.  It’s called Well, Then and it is a community forum for healthy living.  On the site, people contribute “ways to be well” with advice on sleeping better, managing stress, and eating right.  My posts have been about the latter and especially about keeping the family healthy.  As we navigate this treat-laden time, and the resolutions that January brings, I think the site is a great place to find support.

One Year Ago: Sweet and Salty Cake (this is THE best cake)
Two Years Ago: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

White Bean Braise with Delicata Squash, Parsnips, and Purple Cabbage
Dana Treat Original
Serves 3-4

I used a more colorful variation of delicata squash for this recipe.  I find parsnips to be a little woody, so I like to cut them into quarters, and then cut out the core.  You can use canned beans here but be sure to add them right before serving since they have a tendency to fall apart.

1 small purple cabbage, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
1 tbsp. unsalted butter (or olive oil to make this dish vegan)
1/3 cup apple cider or apple juice
Olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large fennel, cored and diced
1 small (about 1 pound) delicata squash, seeded and cut into 1″ pieces
1 large parsnip, cored and cut into 1″ pieces
1 tbsp. each of fresh sage and rosemary
½ cup dry white wine
1½ cups vegetable broth
1 small bunch of kale, leaves only,torn into 2″ pieces
1½ cups white beans
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ cup quinoa
1¼ cups water

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Over medium heat, add the cabbage and a pinch of salt and sauté, stirring often, until the cabbage starts to soften, about 7 minutes.  Pour in the cider and bring the heat up to a boil.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until the cabbage is very soft, adding more cider if the pan gets to dry.  It will need about 25 minutes from start to finish.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a braiser or other wide shallow pan over medium heat.  Pour in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and then stir in the onion and fennel along with a large pinch of salt.  Sauté, stirring occasionally until both are soft but not brown, about 8 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook for one minute.  Add the squash and parsnip then the herbs and give it all a good stir.  Pour in wine and the broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot.  Keep it at a simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary, until the vegetables are all tender, about 15 minutes.  Stir in the kale and cover the pot again.  Cook until the kale is wilted, about another 5 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring the 1¼ cups water and the quinoa to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add a pinch of salt, cover the pan, and reduce the heat to low.  After 15 minutes, fluff the quinoa with a fork, then replace the lid for another 5 minutes.

Just before serving, add the beans to the vegetables and taste again for seasoning.  Place a scoop of quinoa in a wide shallow bowl and ladle out some of the vegetables with their liquid.  Top with the purple cabbage and serve.  (You might have leftover cabbage but you won’t mind.  It’s delicious.)

Guest Post by my Husband

December 8, 2010

Hello everyone!  I have read about some food bloggers’ spouses who not only don’t read their blogs but are not even supportive of them.  It is hard for me to imagine.  Randy has been an enthusiastic supporter, reader, and sounding board for this blog every since I started it back in May of 2008.  He brags about me and has used me as an example in numerous presentations for his job.

Randy is not a cook.  His “bachelor dinner”, what he mostly ate before he met me, is rice, tuna, salsa, and cheese.  He still likes to eat that when I am going out for an event, but I have to make the rice because he does not know how to make it and I refuse to have Uncle Ben’s minute rice in the house.  BUT.  Randy is a tremendous host and he pours a mean cocktail.  He also sets an absolutely beautiful table and likes to do things like polish the silver.  We are a good team.

He thought it might be a good idea to post about a cocktail now and then, since he makes them so well and they are a most welcome addition to our parties.  So, for the first time on this blog, is Randy in his own words.

(Don’t forget to enter to win an adorable apron here.)

Holiday Cheer

One of the things I love most about Thanksgiving (other than the sauerkraut) is the anticipation of the familiar, i.e., the traditions. I have lived a pretty itinerant life which included, at one point, having 13 addresses in 11 years. And in the 20 years after college, I never lived in one city/area place for more than 3 years. So to live in one house in one city for the past 4 years is a new personal best or it could mean that it is time to pack our bags and find a new locale. . . . kidding!

Throughout this time the two things that rooted me were Thanksgiving and Christmas. No matter what corner of the globe I was in, I would always try to make it home for at least one of these dinners. We served the same meal on the same china using the same silver and had the same conversations. And I would not have it any other way. This was home for me.

One of the traditions I remember was our Wootton Holiday Party. For years afterwards friends from the neighborhood would tell me that they loved coming because my parents always served real tenderloin (amongst other things). And whilst I remember the tenderloin, what I really remember was how much time/effort/energy it took to prepare the house for the party and then clean up afterwards. It seemed like we were preparing for days. The anxiety would build as party time got closer. We would bump into each other physically and emotionally as we all tried to get things ready. And then, there would be a final mad dash as the five of us rushed to put on our nicest clothes and our best “host”/”hostess” smile. And that was just the beginning. We would spend 4-5 hours hosting and then another day (at least) of clean up. Was it worth it? Certainly!

One thing I remember from these parties was “the bar”. My dad does not drink anymore; however, you could not tell from the bar he built for these parties. It would take over the entire round family dinner table and include all sorts of liquor, beer, wine, soft drinks and ice chests full of ice. From a relatively young age this became one of my chores and I loved trying to arrange all the bottles. Should I match colors, sizes, type of liquor. And although I HATED having to clean every single wine, hi-ball, cocktail, old-fashion, and collins glassware, I loved the effect of all the glass surrounding the bottles like attendants in waiting.

In hindsight, it seems like such a 1970’s thing. I mean how often do people really pour themselves a mixed drink these days at a party? It seems that today’s standard is wine and beer—which is fine. However–at our house–when we entertain, I need to “break out the bar”. (Remind one day to tell you all the story of the most expensive scotch I ever poured. . . really has nothing to do with the scotch.)

Dana, graciously, lets me take over an entire end of the island to build the bar. And she usually asks me if I am really going to bring out all the liquor again.

“Do you remember the last time someone drank Campari?”

“Do we really need 3 types of bitters?”

“Isn’t one bourbon enough and why would people care to try Scotch from Japan or India?”

I just like to create options. What would happen if someone wanted a drink that I could not make?? Maybes this is a similar anxiety to what Dana feels about not having enough food.

And so the “bar” is one of the traditions I have brought from my family and the “drink” is one that Dana brought from her family. It has been the tradition for 35 years that when Dana and her family have Christmas dinner at their friends’ house they start with a Champagne Cocktail. Not a bad way to get things going if you were to ask me. So we have started our own cocktail tradition where we pick a drink ahead of time, get to try it a couple of times to make sure that we get the mix just right and then serve it to people as they arrive. This year, Dana found the Autumn Orchard from Bon Appetit.

Starting with the classic Sidecar cocktail (brandy, Cointreau, lemon juice) Ted Kilgore wanted to infuse the flavors of fall (apple, pear, fig, cinnamon, and clove). He created a mix of Calvcados, Cognac, pear liqueur, Cointreau and adds a few dashes of spice-forward bitters and fresh lime juice. As he describes it: “The first sip gives you hints of spice on top of fresh fruit, followed by tart lime and clove, and, as the cocktail warms slightly, baked fruit flavors dominate,”  I could not agree more. The only other thing I would add is “watch out. . . this thing has martini potency.”

So do you all have a favorite drink for this time of year??  I may start my own section for Dana’s blog on cocktails.


  • 1/4 cup Cognac (such as Camus VS)
  • 1/4 cup Calvados (apple brandy)
  • 2 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • 2 tablespoons pear liqueur (such as Rothman and Winter or Mathilde)
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • 2 lime slices


  • Mix first 6 ingredients in cocktail shaker. Add ice. Cover and shake vigorously 20 times. Strain between 2 coupe glasses. Float lime slices on top and serve.

Apron Giveaway

December 7, 2010

Friends, I am beyond excited.  The response to my cooking class announcement has been nothing short of extraordinary.  Both the January and the February classes are full.  I have enough requests to add another date to both January and February.  The content and the recipes will be the same.  You can check out the dates here.

So, how about a giveaway to convey my appreciation?

I have to admit, I am not an apron wearer.  I should be because I certainly make enough of a mess when I cook and bake.  My mom puts on an apron if she is putting a single dish in the dishwasher while I will cook an entire dinner without one.  Time to put a stop to the dry cleaning bills and wear something this adorable, don’t you think?

Anna makes these adorable aprons and sells them on her Esty site.  Don’t you want one?  Or a bag like this one?  If you want to be in the running for the apron pictured above, leave me a comment and tell me which camp you fall into – apron wearing or not.  It will not affect your chances of winning if you say you are not.  :)  Deadline for entry is Friday, December 10th at noon PST.

UPDATE: Contest is closed!  Winner will be announced Monday.

Thank you all again and send me an email if you want to attend a class.

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