After a week that felt nothing short of chaotic and angsty, this weekend was just what the over-tangled brain ordered. Saturday, we headed to the surprisingly-empty and orchre-tinted foliage deprived Brooklyn Botanic Garden for a few hours. Still, wandering around snapping up this and that to contribute my quota of flower pictures to the internet was turned out to be exactly the antidote my week called for.
Alas, no day could be perfect without cooking for the people I love, I insisted upon pulling together dinner for my husband and sister-in-law before heading out to see The Prestige. Along with the reheated stinktastic galette leftovers and the best pantry staple, Caesar salad, in some sort of miracle I managed to get my favorite quiche together in under an hour. I’ve been making this spinach quiche for so long, I feel almost possessive of it, forgetting that that somewhere, other people must too, and now I am encouraging you, also. It’s fantastically simple, three everyday cheeses, some green onions and a box of frozen spinach, and keeps so well, it’s actually tastier the next day, with the flavors cool, settled and happily enmeshed. Don’t be put off by its overly-healthy and wholesome appearance, it tastes like a treat and I can’t wait to feast on it with a green salad for lunch this week.
On Sunday, I finally peeled back the cover of the November Gourmet (I’ve had it a whole five days; I’m such a slacker) and became so over-excited, I nearly ate the pages. “Root vegetable gratin!” “Pumpkin muffins!” “S’more pie!” “Brussel sprouts with shallots and mushrooms!” I burst arrhythmically from the back seat of the car on the way out to my in-laws. “Breathe Debbie,” my husband feebly attempted. “Poppy seed sweet bread!” “Barbara Streisand!”
Unable to restrain myself any longer — it had been a whole 45 minutes, you see — I simmered the Dominican beans at my in-laws to accompany our dinner, and while I have no pictures, you’ll have to trust me that they’re delicious, a recipe worth clipping. However, this still leftme with nearly a quarter of the page’s corners turned down, calling my name.
If the world worked exactly the way I think it should, I would be able to take this whole week off from work just to try to have a go with all of them, but alas, reality always checks in Sunday night. I did manage to squeeze in one more treat, however: the fresh granola with pepitas from Calle Ocho in New York City. We fell asleep with all sorts of toasted deliciousness lingering in the air. I still had to get up and go to that whole day job thing, but somehow the prospect of something new and better on my morning yogurt made the whole thing a lot more bearable. That, and a promise that you, me and those pumpkin muffins are going to have some quality time together very very soon.
Adapted from Bon Appetit, October 1991
One half-recipe of Martha Stewart’s Pâte Brisée, rolled out and pressed into either a pie dish or removable-bottom tart pan. If you are a dork like me, you might take the extra scraps, cut them into leaf shapes, and press them about on the top of your unbaked quiche. But then your husband might tease you for your fall theme. Might.
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup half and half
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup grated cheddar
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
4 to 6 green onions, sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 425°F. Beat cream cheese in medium bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in half and half and eggs. Mix in remaining ingredients. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is set, about 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.
Adapted from Gourmet, November 2006
2 (14- to 15-oz.) cans pink or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups water
1 2-oz bunch cilantro (without roots)
1 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic gloves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 Cubanelle or Italian frying pepper (not spicy; 4 oz) halved lengthwise, steam and seeds discarded
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Puree half of beans in a food processor with 1 cup water until smooth.
Tie cilantro into a tight bundle with string.
Cook onion and garlic in olive oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened but not brown, about 8 minutes. Add tomato paste, vinegar, and 1 cup water, then bring to boil and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
Add pureed and whole beans, Cubanelle pepper halves, cilantro, bay leaves, salt oregano, pepper, and remaining 2 cups of water, then simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 1 1/2 hours (mixture will reduce and thicken). Remove and discard Cubanelle pepper halves, cilantro and bay leaves, then serve.
Adapted from Calle Ocho, New York City via Gourmet Magazine
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup vegetable oil*
1/3 cup sliced almonds (1 oz)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup green (hulled) pumpkin seeds, sometimes called pepitas (1 1/2 oz; not roasted) **
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup mild honey
1 cup tart dried cherries ***
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup dried pears (1/4-inch dice)
1/2 cup diced dried apricots (1/4 inch dice)
1/3 cup golden raisins
Accompaniment: Sliced bananas; plain yogurt flavored with vanilla extract.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Stir together all ingredients except the fruit in a large bowl until combined. Spread mixture evenly on a large (17-by 12-inch) shallow baking pan**** and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer granola, in pan, to rack to cool stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Stir in dried fruit.
Granola keeps, frozen (the fruit’s moisture softens granola if not kept frozen) in an airtight container, 1 month.
* I got away with 1/3 cup.
** I accidentally bought the roasted ones – which are by the way, so tasty, can’t stop snacking on them – so I mixed them in just as I took it out of the oven, when the sugars were still melted and they gummed to the granola as if they’d been there the whole time.
*** From the picture, you can tell I just use whichever dried fruits I’m craving. Actually, this isn’t entirely true. The store was out of dried cranberries, my favorite, so I substituted cherries. I’m still short a lot of dried fruit, but plan to remedy that soon.
**** Next time I do this, I’m lining it with foil. When the granola came out of the oven, it’s soft and in smaller pieces. When I returned 15 minutes later, it was like one giant, loosely-packed granola bar. This is wonderful as you can break it up into whatever size chunks you like, but bad because it had stuck a bit to the pan, making for an annoying cleanup.