Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Spinach, Bacon, & Smoked Gouda Quiche

This was the other half of my husband's birthday breakfast, along with sweet potato grits.  It may not seem like the manliest of dishes, but I have yet to meet a dude who doesn't like quiche (whether he admits it or not.)  Louis will happily tell you how much he loves it.  Egg pie with cheese and bacon?  What is there not to like?

Spinach, Bacon, & Smoked Gouda Quiche
1 9-in pie crust
2 C baby spinach, roughly chopped
4 slices thick bacon, cooked and chopped
8 large eggs
1/2 C milk
1/3 C shredded smoked gouda
salt and pepper

   Prick the bottom of the pie crust with a fork.  Pre-bake it at 350 deg F for 10 minutes.
   Add spinach, then bacon, and finally gouda to the pie shell.
   Mix eggs and milk, season with about 3/4 tsp salt and some freshly cracked black pepper.  Pour eggs over filling in pie crust.
   Bake at 350 deg F for 35-40 minutes, until it is set.  Let it rest for a few minutes before cutting.
   Serves 6.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sweet Potato & Goat Cheese Grits

I first ran across the idea of sweet potato grits over at one of my all time favorite blogs, The Chubby Vegetarian.  Several weeks ago, for Louis's birthday I made a version of them for breakfast.  I cannot even begin to describe to you how much my husband loves sweet potatoes.  Goat cheese is another of his favorite things, so I threw that in there too. In my opinion, the key to good grits is more water and cooking them longer than the directions on the package say.

Sweet Potato Grits & Goat Cheese Grits
1 1/2 C water
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C quick cooking grits
1 C mashed sweet potatoes*
~2 oz garlic and herb goat cheese

   Bring water, butter, and salt to a boil.  Add grits.  Cover, turn heat to med-low, and cook for 5-6 minutes**.
   Uncover and stir.  Continue cooking for another 4-5 minutes, stir frequently.  (If they start to get too stiff, add 1 Tbsp water at a time.)
   Add sweet potatoes and goat cheese.  Keep stirring and cook another 3-4 minutes.  When the goat cheese is fully incorporated, they should be done.
   Serves 4.

*Boil or bake one smallish sweet potato until it is very tender.  Mash it up (no skin) with a little bit of salt and  pepper.
**More often than not, I have issues with my grits boiling over.  To prevent this, use one pot size larger than you think you need.  Ex: For this amount of grits, I use the 2 qt instead of the 1 qt pot.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

"Hippie" Crust & Fresh Tomato, Onion, and Spinach Pizza

It took me awhile to decide what to post today; I haven't cooked anything overly romantic or sexy/love inspired lately.  Then, I briefly became very depressed with my life, because I learned that there is such thing as a professional glitter artist and I am not one.  Then it hit me.  We love pizza.  Pizza always makes me feel better and homemade pizza is perfect for any occasion in my opinion.  I guess you be over the top gross for Valentine's Day and make it into a heart, but I feel like might lead uneven cutting and a possible fight over who is getting more pizza.
This crust has become our favorite.  It came out of having all these random "health food" items and wanting pizza, but wanting something a bit healthier than a white crust.  It has been dubbed "hippie" crust.  It is nutty, chewy, and crisps excellently on the bottom.  Because of the whole wheat flour, don't expect it to be soft and doughy.  This crust is much denser than regular pizza dough.

Hippie Crust
2 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/3 C wheat bran (or wheat germ)
1/3 C ground flax seed
1/4 C chia seeds
1 pkg yeast
1 Tbsp honey
1 3/4 C very warm water
1/2 tsp salt
~1 C better for bread flour*
~2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

   Combine whole wheat flour, bran, seeds, and yeast.  Add honey and water.  Mix.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until bubbles form.
   Add salt and half cup better for bread flour.  Mix.  Add more flour if necessary.  The dough will come together and form a ball that is slightly sticky.  At this point, turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5-7 minutes (maybe up to 10 minutes)  When the dough is no longer sticky and feels uniform in texture, it is done.
   Put oil in a large glass or ceramic bowl.  Roll dough in oil.  Cover bowl with a damp towel, place in a warm area**, let rise for 1-1 1/2 hrs, until doubled in size.
   Punch down dough, form into pizza (enough for 2), let rise for 15-20 minutes.
   Pre-bake at 400 deg F for 5-7 minutes.
   Ready for whatever toppings your heart desires!

*You need the higher gluten content of the better for bread flour to play off the heaviness of the whole wheat flour.  It gives the finished product a much texture.
**I like to preheat my oven to 200 deg F while making the dough.  As soon as it is preheated, turn it off.  This creates a nice warm, moist environment perfect for rising dough.

Fresh Tomato, Onion, and Spinach Pizza
3 C fresh chopped spinach
1/4 of a lrg sweet onion, very thinly sliced
2 C shredded mozzarella
1/3 C parmesan
1 1/2 C fresh chopped tomatoes (remove as much pulp as possible)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp dried basil
2 tsp roasted garlic

   Combine sauce ingredients, spread on pre-baked pizza crust.  Top with spinach and onions, then cheese.
   Bake at 400 deg F for about 12 minutes, until cheese is brown and bubbly.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Venison Tenderloin w/ Walnut, Parmesan, Herb Crust

This little piece of meat terrified me.  No joke.  It is strange that a little over a pound of meat (2 tenderloins) has the power to reduce me to quivering procrastination.  Because venison has next to no fat, it can over cook in an instant. The second it gets a hair past medium, it is basically ruined.  Honestly, you don't really want to cook it past medium-rare.  I took a couple of deep breaths, relaxed, and took it easy.... and it couldn't have been more perfect.

If don't have venison tenderloin, this crust would be great on pork tenderloin, even beef or chicken.  It is earthy, bright, and fresh.

Venison Tenderloin w/ Walnut, Parmesan, Herb Crust
2 venison tenderloins (between 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 lbs)
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 C freshly grated parmesan*
1/4 C walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 C chopped parsley
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lrg garlic clove, pasted
1 tsp dried rosemary
zest 1/2 lemon

   Combine parmesan, walnuts, herbs, garlic, lemon zest, and oil.
   Bring venison to room temp.  Liberally salt and pepper tenderloins.
   Heat a little oil over medium-hi heat in a large skillet.  Sear tenderloins on all sides.  It should not take more than 60-90 seconds per side. (I feel like small tenderloins have 3 sides.)
   Place tenderloins on a baking sheet.  Top with crust.  It will be loose, just press it down so it sits on top.
   400 deg F for 10 minutes for med-rare.
   Let it rest for 3-5 minutes.
   Serves 4.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cauliflower in Tomato Curry

Cauliflower is such an underutilized vegetable.  I am guilty of bypassing it most weeks in the grocery store.  I love it raw, but cooking it has always been tricky for me.  It takes a lot longer to get a good cooked texture than most vegetables so generally, I just don't bother.  However, I am trying to get better and expand our vegetable intake to something other than kale, spinach, and broccoli (our favorites... seriously, we eat more broccoli between the two of us than most 4 person households.)  I am also trying to expand my Indian food repertoire; this easy recipe fits both needs.

It is a great side dish to tandoori chicken, or perfect for a vegetarian (or vegan) main dish.  You could even add some chunks of chicken or shrimp to the sauce for a substantial one pot meal.

Cauliflower in Tomato Curry
1 small onion, diced
2 Tbsp garlic ginger paste (equal parts garlic and ginger)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp cracked fenugreek
1/2 C water
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1/2 serrano
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp freshly ground grains of paradise (or black pepper)
1 lrg head cauliflower, broken down into bite-sized florets
1 lrg bell pepper, cut into chunks (your favorite color, I used yellow)
1 tsp salt*
2 tsp oil
1/4 C regular coconut milk or cream (optional)

   Heat about 2 tsp oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Saute onion until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic-ginger paste, cumin, and fenugreek.  Cook about 1 1/2 minutes, stirring constantly so nothing burns.  Add water to deglaze pan, scrape up any bits that stuck to the bottom.
   Add the rest of the ingredients except the coconut milk.
   *I used no salt added tomato products.  Before adding any salt, taste the mixture and adjust salt as necessary.
   Simmer over med/med-low heat for about 30 minutes stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is the desired texture.  Add more salt if it is needed.  Add coconut milk or cream if you would like, simmer for 5 minutes.
   Serves 4-6.  Serve over rice.