Thursday, April 19, 2012

Crustless Leek, Spinach and Feta Quiche

I love quiche. In a crust or without. This quiche is crustless and makes a wonderful lunch, paired with sliced tomatoes and avocados. I assembled the quiche in the morning before running out to do some errands, then baked it just before my daughter came for lunch. 

Other vegetables could easily be substituted - onions for leeks, or cooked broccoli or zucchini for spinach. Add some leftover ham or chicken for a heartier meal.

Crustless Leek, Spinach and Feta Quiche

1 Tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil
2 leeks, sliced (use the white and pale green sections), and well rinsed, then drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups fresh chopped spinach (or use about 1/2 box of frozen spinach)
4 eggs
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
a handful of pitted Kalamata olives, if desired
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a skillet. Add the sliced leeks and sauté gently until almost tender. Add the garlic and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add the spinach and sauté until wilted down and all the liquid has evaporated. Add salt and pepper, but take into account the saltiness of the cheese. Let cool.

Whisk the eggs together, add the cream, sour cream and milk. Stir in the cooled vegetables and the feta cheese.

Pour into a lightly greased 10" diameter baking dish. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese, and arrange the olives over, if using. 

Quiche may be prepared to this point, covered and refrigerated for several hours before baking.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until mixture is mostly set and lightly browned on top. Let sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes before serving to let it finish cooking.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Brown Rice and Onion Bread

Making bread is a very satisfying endeavour. It lasts, properly wrapped, for a long time in the freezer and then taken out and reheated. Of course, nothing beats slicing the crust off a barely touchable loaf right out of the oven. And the fragrance - nothing can beat it.

This bread is adaptable in so many ways - instead of brown rice, use wild rice, bulgur, millet or quinoa. Don't use ordinary white rice, though, its flavour tends to overwhelm the bread. 

Brown Rice and Onion Bread (adapted from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day)

2 cups whole wheat flour
4 cups unbleached white flour
2 1/4 teaspoons salt (or 3 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt)
2 Tablespoons instant yeast
1 cup cooked brown rice (wild rice or another cooked grain may be substituted)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
2 cups diced fresh onion (about 1 large onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage (other herbs may be used - rosemary, thyme, parsley)

1 egg white, for egg wash (optional)
1 Tablespoon water, for egg wash (optional)

Combine all of the ingredients except the egg wash in a mixing bowl. I use a Kitchen Aid mixer and start with the paddle attachment, mixing for 1 minute on low. The dough will be sticky, coarse and shaggy. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed for 4 minutes, adding a small amount of flour or water as needed to keep the dough together. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 2 - 3 minutes by hand, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. It should still be very soft and slightly sticky. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and immediately refrigerate overnight or up to 4 days.

When ready to bake, remove dough from fridge 2 hours before you plan to bake it. Shape the dough into loaves, either free-form balls on a baking sheet, or in loaf pans. It can also be shaped into rolls. Use a minimum of flour when shaping, just to keep dough from sticking.

Cover the shaped dough with a towel and let rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until increased about 1 1/2 times its size. If you want a shiny top, whisk the egg white and water together, then brush over the tops just before baking.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaves 45-55 minutes, rotating pans once. For rolls, bake 20-25 minutes, rotating once. Cool on a wire rack. I dare you to resist eating one warm from the oven.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Herb and Garlic Pan Roasted Snapper

We like fish, but I find that it needs a serious injection of flavour to really taste good. This is especially true with white fish such as snapper. A combination of herbs, garlic, and lemon was just perfect with these pan-roasted fillets. I threw in a handful of grape tomatoes before putting the dish in the oven and was very pleased with the result.

Herb and Garlic Pan Roasted Snapper Fillets

2 Tablespoon butter, divided
1 Tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon minced fresh chives
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
2 snapper fillets, each cut in half
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Melt 1 Tablespoon of butter in oven-safe skillet. Add the garlic and stir until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Do not brown. Remove from heat and stir in the herbs and lemon zest. Remove from pan to small dish. Wipe out skillet

Melt the remaining Tablespoon of butter in same skillet over medium high heat. Salt and pepper the snapper fillets. When the butter is foaming, add the fillets. Immediately spoon the herb mixture over top while the fillets are cooking. After 1- 2 minutes, add the tomatoes, then place the skillet in the oven.

Bake until the fish is opaque and flakes easily, 8 - 10 minutes. Remove from oven and squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over. Serve immediately.

We ate this with sliced avocado, roasted zucchini and roasted fennel. It was a quick and easy meal, satisfying but not heavy.