Sunday, May 8, 2011

Kathy's Spinach Quiche

By popular request, I've figured out measurements for this so y'all can make them too. I'm posting the really easy version to demonstrate that anyone can do this.

1 frozen deep dish pie crust
1 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach
2 Tablespoons chopped onion (the frozen stuff works fine)
9 large eggs
3/4 cup half-n-half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup mild cheddar cheese

Remove pie crust from freezer to allow to thaw.
Thaw frozen spinach. (If you're in a hurry, you can just microwave it for 4 or 5 minutes, then run some cold water over it to make it cool enough to handle.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place spinach in kitchen towel and squeeze to remove as much water as possible. (You may also just squeeze it in your hand, but be sure to really squeeze.)
Check thawed pie crust for cracks. Press edges together to make repairs, if needed.

In food processor, combine eggs, half-n-half, onion, and salt.  Pulse a few times to blend. (This may also be done by hand in a large bowl with a whisk or fork. Beat thoroughly to blend completely.)
Add drained spinach. If using the food processor, pulse a few times. If working by hand, break up spinach before adding it to egg mixture. Stir thoroughly.

Put pie crust on cookie sheet. Spread half the cheese over the bottom of the pie crust. Pour egg and spinach mixture into pie crust. It will be very full.
Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until blade inserted in middle of quiche comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes to melt cheese.

Remove from over and allow to cool. To store, let cool for an hour, then cover with plastic wrap. Press lightly onto quiche to reduce condensation. Refrigerate. (This also freezes beautifully; just wrap the whole thing, or put in big ziplock bag before placing in freezer. alternately, cool completely, cut into slices, and freeze each individually. Remove from freezer and allow to thaw before eating. You may put it in the oven to reheat, if desired. You may also microwave it, but the crust texture will suffer.)

To make a lower fat version, you may use Egg Beaters and skim milk instead of the whole eggs and half-n-half. It will still taste good, but the texture will not be as lovely. You may also dispense with the crust entirely, baking this in a greased pie pan or spring form pan.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spicy Shrimp with Sweet Corn

4 ears sweet corn with husks
2 slices thick cut bacon
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon Dust of Death (hot paprika will do)
1 pound cleaned, shelled shrimp
1/4 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay,Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, etc.)
salt to taste
(optional) 1  teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Chop silks off corn cob. DO NOT remove husks. Place corn in cold oven. Set oven to 350 degree F; start. Corn will stay in the oven as it rises to temperature, for a total of 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool for five minutes. Remove husks and cut kernels from cobs. Place kernels in bowl. Set aside.

Cut bacon into 1/4 inch dice. Mince garlic cloves.

Place large skillet over medium high heat. Once skillet is hot, add diced bacon. Cook til bacon is browned and fat is rendered. Add butter to skillet. Melt. Add garlic, thyme, paprika, and Dust of Death. Cook for 1 minute. Add shrimp. Stir to even coat with spice mixture. Add wine. Cook, stirring often, til shrimp is barely cooked through, about 4 minutes. Stir in corn kernels. Cover and cook til heated through, about 3 minutes.

Serve in shallow bowls. (Pasta bowls are good.) Sprinkle with salt to taste and Worcestershire if desired.

This is wonderful served over grits, for those who are less carb and/or calorie sensitive. If you need to cut back further on your carbs, reduce to 2 cobs of corn, for 1/2 ear per serving. This is pretty high protein either way.

Daddy's Dust of Death

One of the difficulties of creating recipes out of what I cook is finding substitutes for unique ingredients. A prime example is Daddy's Dust of Death, which is a homemade smoked chili seasoning my husband, Scott, makes. The girls named it Daddy's Dust of Death when they were little and had lower tolerance for spicy.

Scott makes a batch of this every summer, when the peppers and chilis at the Farmer's Market are at their peak. There is no really set in stone recipe, but the essentials typically involve fresh dark green pablonas and red, ripe jalapenos. A ration of probably five pablonas to one jalapeno is about right. A batch at our house requires at least thirty pablonas and six jalapenos.

Cut and discard the stem ends of the chilis; cut fruits in half. Remove seeds, but you don't have to remove all the rib. Leave to dry for a day or two, cut-side down, to flatten a bit. On the third day or so, heat up a smoker using fruitwood or hickory for smoke. Smoke the chilis for 45 minutes to an hour, til they are quite dark and rather crispy. Remove from the smoker and cool.

If the chilis are still moist at all, put them in a dehydrator for a few hours, until they are quite dry. Grind to powder in a spice grinder and place resulting powder in an airtight jar for storage.

This is excellent on anything that benefits from paprika, but the smokiness adds a much fuller dimension than that obtained using any commercial product I've found. If you have the equipment, this is well worth the effort.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Grilled Bratwurst with Sauerkraut and Grilled Sweet Onion

Four servings:

4 bratwursts (approx 7" long)
1 1/2 cup sauerkraut  (approx. 1 can)
1 large sweet onion (Vidalia, Wala Wala, etc.)
2-4 heaping tablespoons whole grain mustard
 (Optional: 1/4 teaspoon caraway seed or 1/4 teaspoon dried dill)

Preheat grill to high (or start, heat, and spread charcoal)
Cut sweet onion into 1/2 inch slices. Spread onion slices on large plate and microwave for 4 minutes on high.
Heat sauerkraut in microwaveable bowl. Two minutes on high should be fine. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Get out four shallow bowls or plates for arranging servings.
Place grill basket on grill. Put onions into basket and toss. Put brats on grill.

Using tongs, turn brats and stir onions every 2 minutes. After three turns, turn heat to low and cover. After 4 minutes, lift lid, turn brats, stir onions. Lower lid and cook an additional 4 minutes on low.( NOTE: Depending on the size, of your brats, cooking times may vary. If you're not sure if they're done, cut one in half to check.) Lift lid; remove onions and brats to clean plate/platter.

To serve; toss together onions and room temperature sauerkraut. (If desired, add optional caraway or dill before tossing.)  Divide among four shallow bowls or plates. Slice brats into 1/2" rounds. Place one brat's worth of slices per dish. Spoon 1/2 to 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard over brat. Lightly toss before eating.

This is a great way for the carb-sensitive to join in a family barbecue. This combination is excellent served on a sesame bun toasted right on the grill for the family members who don't have to watch carb-intake. A little barbecue sauce is good on this too, if you can take the sugar.