On my way back from a client in Brooklyn I passed a new establishment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where I found a very nice little appetizer of baked cheese.
The restaurant / lounge was less than packed so the owner / chef had a few minutes to chat. Of course, we all know who wheedled the recipe from him, and chatted about some possible addins..
Consider the well seasoned 12″ cast iron skillet, black, heavy and with it’s own baked on non stick surface. Now add cubed cheese, some olive oil, (my first add / change, bacon drippings or bacon cubes browned off in the skillet), thin sliced garlic, seasonings, and of course herbage. This is then baked until the cheese melts, bubbles, and browns.
This is then served bubbling hot, with a selection of thin slices of crusty french baguette, (Toasted and not toasted) and maybe the chunks of browned bacon on the side.
Time for food, but given the recent set of medical stupidity one must go a bit lighter. So maybe eggs, but sunny-side up, over easy, scrambled, just is NOT going to do it for me.
I WANT TASTE!. I WANT TEXTURE! I WANT SAVORY…. So a quiche, but one with real bacon, real veggies, and lots of cheese and eggs..
Quiche is essentially an custard made with milk and eggs poured into a pie crust and baked. You want just enough eggs to set the milk, but not so many that the quiche becomes truck tire. You want a bit of wobble in your quiche as it comes out of the oven. Wobble means silky, melt-away custard in every bite.
The fool-proof part comes courtesy of the French. They long-ago settled on the perfect formula of one part egg to two parts milk. A standard large egg weighs two ounces and a cup of milk is eight ounces, so a good rule of thumb is two eggs per cup of milk. One can bump this up a bit to make a more substantial quiche and go with three eggs and a cup and a half of milk in a nine-inch pie crust.
Or as one person wrote:
I always use the Julia Child ratio: put the eggs in a large measuring cup and add enough dairy (cream/half & half/milk) to bring the total up to 1/2 cup per egg. So, if you used 4 eggs, you’d add enough dairy to make 2 cups of custard. So simple to remember and a perfect blend of dairy and egg: not too thick, not too liquid, just right.
Now as per quiches, they have a reputation as a fancy French entree, and for being rather persnickety to prepare, but quiches are actually very easy to make. With a little science, some good chemistry, a proper ratio and a bit of technique, quiches can be a very good selection for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a late night snack.
There are some things key to good quichery :
- Flaky Crust
- A tasty Filling
- Proper Baking
First of all, the pie crust must be tender and flaky. A good tart crust, works well.
The filling must have some kind of structure so the pie will hold together when sliced. As the eggs cook, they set, forming a custard. A basic quiche recipe using the proportions of 1-2 cups of dairy with 3-4 eggs will work. Any other add ins, (bacon, sausage, mushrooms, onions, etc) need to be fully cooked and cooled, BEFORE adding to the filling. In this case, 1 cup dairy to 4 eggs, plus my add ins. I am looking for hearty here.
Following baking times and temperatures are KEY to a quiche that is cooked but not rubbery. I.E. The center is set and the outside edge is golden brown.
You can fill your quiches with just about anything; they’re wonderful refrigerator Velcro. Leftover bacon, cooked chicken, ham, cooked vegetables, bits of cheese transform into a “slice of heaven”
In my last post I mentioned Biryani, it happens to be one of my favorite mid-easterd dishes. This is a simple chicken biryani, one can add all sorts of things, lamb, beef, etc, but for a basic fill your stomach meal, this is the one.
Biryani is a set of rice-based foods made with spices, rice (usually basmati) and [[meat](chicken)]/vegetables. The name is derived from the Persian word beryā(n) which means “fried” or “roasted”.
Biryani was brought to India and Pakistan by Persian travelers and merchants and local variants of this dish are not only popular in India and Pakistan but also in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and among Muslims in Sri Lanka.
The spices and condiments used in biryani may include but are not limited to: ghee, peas, beans, cumin, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander and mint leaves, ginger, onions, and garlic. The premium varieties include saffron. For a non-vegetarian biryani, the main ingredient that accompanies the spices is the meat—beef, chicken, goat, lamb, or shrimp. The dish may be served with dahi chutney or Raita, korma, curry, a sour dish of eggplant (brinjal) or a boiled egg.
The difference between biryani and pullao is that while pullao may be made by cooking the items together, biryani is used to denote a dish where the rice is cooked separately from the other ingredients.
National Pound Cake Day
National Pound Cake day, 03/04. Sorry, I’m a day late with this, but it is all the sweeter for it.
A classic cake. From the very old definition / recipe a pound of flour, a pound of sugar, a pound of butter and a pound of eggs which were assembled via the creaming method. (Not as some say, the weight each slice adds to you…)
“Sour cream pound cake” is a popular variation in the United States, which involves the substitution of sour cream for some of the butter, which also is intended to produce a more moist cake with a pleasantly tangy flavor.
Pound cake refers to a type of cake traditionally made with a pound of each of four ingredients: flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. The traditional recipe makes a cake much larger than most families can consume, and so the quantity is often changed to suit the size of the cake that is desired. As long as the ratio is preserved, the resulting cake will be identical to that using the traditional recipe. Hence, any cake made with a 1:1:1:1 ratio of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar is also called a pound cake or lbs cake, even if the quantity used is smaller or larger than an actual pound.
There are numerous variations on the traditional pound cake, with certain countries and regions having distinctive styles. These can include the addition of flavoring agents (such as vanilla extract or almond extract) or dried fruit (such as currants or craisins), as well as alterations to the original recipe to change the characteristics of the resulting pound cake.
As the photo above shows, one can mix the batter straight up for a “white cake”, portion 1/2 of the batter to the pans and then add coco / chocolate to the remaining mix, portion and swirl for a marble cake. This works very well with fruit, (say blueberries), or nuts (say crushed walnuts.)
Thank you to ilisa for such a wonderful graphic
It is close to the holiday of Purim, and one thing I do so love is the cookies, and one of the things I do miss about my good friends. Aka Hamantaschen.
A hamantash is a pastry in Jewish cuisine recognizable for its three-cornered shape. The shape is achieved by folding in the sides of a circular piece of dough, with a filling placed in the center. It is traditionally eaten during the Jewish holiday of Purim. While occasionally seen other times of year in secular contexts, this is not traditional. Hamantashen are made with many different fillings, including poppy seed (the oldest and most traditional variety), prunes, nut, date, apricot, apple, fruit preserves, cherry, chocolate, dulce de leche, halva, or even caramel or cheese. Their formation varies from hard pastry to soft doughy casings.
The name hamantash , is commonly known as a reference to Haman, the villain of Purim, as described in the Book of Esther. The pastries are supposed to symbolize the defeated enemy of the Jewish people, and thus resemble the “ears of Haman”.
“Naked Archaeologist” documentarian Simcha Jacobovici has shown the resemblance of hamantaschen to dice from the ancient Babylonian Royal Game of Ur, thus suggesting that the pastries are meant to symbolize the pyramidal shape of the dice cast by Haman in determining the day of destruction for the Jews.
Another possible source of the name is a folk etymology: the original Yiddish word מאָן־טאַשן (montashn) or German word mohntaschen, both meaning poppyseed-filled pouches, was transformed to Hamantaschen, likely by association with Haman.
In Israel, they are called Oznei Haman, Hebrew for “Haman’s ears” in reference to their defeated enemy’s ears.
Braised / Roasted Chicken
One of AirMail’s favorite dishes to beg scraps from, she was an absolute chicken fiend.
Simple Roast Chicken, there is no such thing. Chicken is constantly relegated to the pedestrian side of cooking, when it is a much of a super star as turkey, steak, and roasts. Chicken just needs to be treated properly
There are MANY recipes and methods to roasting a chicken, from the insanely high-heat, (which produces a delicious fully flavored bird), to the absurdly low-heat, (which makes an incredible moist bird), but none of them provide a nice crisp skin, and a fall off the bone, moist meat bird.
Now IF I start with a cast iron pan, (all the better to make a pan gravy in…), roast my bird for 30 minutes covered, then add a flavored sauce and finish off uncovered to produce a crisp flavorful skin, then use the drippings to make the pan gravy…..