Friday, May 30, 2008

Beauty in the Pie (Spinach Feta Quiche)

Yesterday, I was in the mood for a quiche. I searched for some good recipes and decided to go the easy route so I tried to find simple recipes that would taste great. I have tons of feta cheese left over from making the stuffed mushrooms for the wedding, so I went with a spinach and feta quiche. In my request to keep it simple, I went with a fuss free oil pastry crust. You mix it together and pat it in the pan. Mistake number one.

Excited that my cursory blog search turned up several recipes using feta, an ingredient I've never used in a quiche before, I picked two to work with. One added a couple more cheeses to the mix, cream cheese and parm. I decided to use that idea, but since we are out of parm I went with mozzarella. One of my recipes caused for 4 ozs of feta, so I broke off half a package of the yummy feta in my fridge and crumbled it over the bottom of my crust. Mistake number two.

The quiche was absolute beautiful. I took it out of the oven and loved it's beautiful colors and textures. For once, I also didn't make more custard than necessary for the filling. I actually had to mix up a bit more, b/c I ran out. The filling had the perfect custard to topping ratio. It would have been wonderful... Except for the gummy, oil crust and overabundance of tart feta cheese. Sighh. Yet, it was edible though. I took it to work the next today, and the cheese had mellowed a bit. It heated up well in the microwave and was fairly passable. I will definitely try it again, with a real crust (butter please!) and about half as much feta crumbled more fine.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Win some lose

This past weekend my sister in law got married. Everyone was really excited for her. She dated her husband for a long time and they were engaged for a year and a half. Tying the knot was extra cause for celebration. The longevity of their courtship definitely put me and James to shame. Still, we wouldn't have done it any other way :-).

James' little sis made our wedding cakes and they were incredibly yummy. I wanted to help her out too, so I volunteered to make her an appetizer and side for her wedding. I catered my sister's entire wedding, so I felt it was the least that I could do. I also agreed to help coordinate food and serving, so I spent most of the afternoon and evening in the kitchen. I made the stuffed mushrooms for my sister's wedding that went over so well. They disappeared and everyone raved about them, so I requested to make those. Everyone seemed to enjoy them and I got a lot of complements. Score one :-).

My sister in law was trying to think of another vege for her menu and I suggested roasted vegetables. Now, normally, I don't eat roasted veges, but they went with her menu theme perfectly. Volunteering to make it, I asked her what kind of veges she wanted. She requested in season veges like squash, etc. I ended up with squash, zucchini, portabella mushrooms, onions, red bell pepper, brussel sprouts, and carrots. I definitely had the rainbow covered, lol.

James laughs at me, because I can get on weird ingredient kicks. Browsing blogs, I came across a few extolling the virtues of duck fat. Yes, I really did say duck fat. Unbelievable, I know, but it was supposed to be the best thing ever. People using had an insatiable appetite for it despite their certainty of its artery clogging potential. To roast my veges, I absolutely had to use duck fat. A fairly rare ingredient, I thankfully had to look no farther than my local Central Market, which stores in frozen in the meat section. They also quite unbelievably sold it rendered. So, for 6.99, I got to try heaven in a tiny, greasy bucket. Did it work? Well, yes. It did an admirable job at browning my veges and oddly enough despite its greasy feel on my fingers didn't taste greasy on the veges at all. However, it was flavorless to me. I couldn't see any real benefit flavor wise over vegetable oil. Olive oil would have probably been better. Will I keep using it? Most definitely. Lol, largely because I still have close to a pound of the stuff.

My recipe was complicated for the veges. It called for separately blanching them and then browning them in oil on the stovetop, then roasting them all together in the oven to finish. A good method that surprisingly didn't overcook them, but way more effort then it was worth, especially considering I had 30 lbs of veges to make my way through. Sadly, while my mushrooms were a big hit, the veges were a flop. No one touched them. Sighh.

One fun thing about the whole experience is the flowers. I have recently discovered I have a small flair for flowers. I love flowers and I love art, so it's fun to combine the two. While I'm neither a florist nor an artist, my sister in law appreciated my talent enough to let me do all the bouquets and table decorations for her wedding. It was great fun and something I would love to do again.

Pictures to come.