Spinach and Cheese Quiche with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms

Quiche is a decpetively simple, wonderfully versatile dish. I used frozen spinach, thawed, rinsed, and squeezed out well in a  mesh colander; crimini mushrooms; plenty of onion; and a local cheese produced by a lovely shop at Pike Place Market. Their “flagship cheese” is something like a white cheddar, with less of the peppery bite one usually associates with the sharper Cheddars and instead an almost imperceptibly tangy sharpness. Tonight, I wanted something simple and easy, but still a little classy.

1 large onion

8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced thickly

4 t. butter

2 t. olive oil

1 box frozen, chopped spinach

1½ c. cheese (I used Beecher’s flagship cheese; any moist, easily shredded cheese that takes your fancy would work well.)

1 pie crust (either homemade or frozen will work; I opted for convenience this time)

4 eggs

½ c. milk

½ c. whipping cream

1 T sugar

1 ½ t. salt

1 t. white pepper

½ t. freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Remove pie crust from refrigerator if using prepacked frozen dough.
  2. Prepare the onion. Slice off the top, skin, cut into quarters. Cut each quarter lengthwise into long, thin strips, then remove the root-base with a diagonal cut. Slice the mushrooms about ½” thick.
  3. Rinse the spinach in a wire mesh colander, squeezing it out and pressing it up against the colander to remove as much water as possible.
  4. Grate the cheese.
  5. Saute the onions in the butter and oil over high, stirring frequently, until browned but not cooked all the way through. Reduce heat to medium or med-low and add the onions, tossing to incorporate. Give it a stir every few minutes at first, and once the onions begin to darken, stir more frequently until the onions are a lovely golden brown color.
  6. Whisk the cream and eggs together with the sugar, salt, and pepper until extremely frothy.
  7. Press piecrust into pan. Fill with cheese, top with vegetable sautee, and pour egg mixture over all.
  8. Bake 30 – 40 minutes or until eggs are set and top is golden.

Roast Cardamom Chicken

Tonight, I fixed Roast Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes and a Green Salad. This is unabashedly based on Alice Waters’ method of roasting chicken, as detailed in her book The Art of Simple Food. She recommends seasoning the chicken as soon as possible, as many as two days in advance before roasting the chicken. The first time I roasted a chicken, I used only the salt and pepper on the outside and inside of the bird, and added sprigs of fresh marjoram and garlic under the skin, but I have had equally good results with a blend of paprika and sage mixed in with the salt and pepper, no garlic or herbs required! Feel free to experiment with your own variations! Below is my favorite so far:

1 chicken

1 ½ t. salt

½ t. cardamom

¼ t. freshly ground black pepper

4 spring onions

5 cloves garlic, sliced thickly

  1. Inside the cavity there are frequently large pads of fat. Pull these out and discard them. Tuck the wing tips up and under to keep them from burning. Season, 1 or 2 days in advance, if possible.
  2. Sprinkle, inside and out, with the spice blend. Insert green onions and garlic slices under the skin, concentrating on the areas over the breast and thigh. Swivel the wing tips and tuck them underneath the bird; this keeps them from burning while roasting.
  3. Cover loosely and refrigerate. At least 1 hour before cooking, remove and place in a lightly oiled pan, breast side up. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roast for 20 minutes, turn the bird breast side down, and cook for another 20 minutes. Then turn breast side up again and roast until done, usually another 10 to 20 minutes, more if you’re dealing with a larger bird. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.

Mushroom Curry with Ginger and Chilies

This is my variation on Khombi Tarkari, a recipe I found on a vegetarian website while looking at curries. I’ve made a few changes to the recipe. My version omits the coriander, and increases the amount of garlic and ginger. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice brightens the dish right up. I adore mushrooms, and love how versatile this recipe is–you could almost certainly introduce your choice of spices, and omit anything you don’t like. You could also use a food processor to grind the cumin seeds. For more heat, increase the amount of chili pepper, and/or add the seeds. For a less spicy, but still delicious, dish, leave out the seeds.

1 t. cumin seeds

3 T olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 T grated ginger

1 T finely chopped garlic

1 Serrano or other hot green pepper, minced

¼ t. turmeric

1 ½ # mushrooms, sliced into 1″ pieces

½ t. salt

juice of ½ lemon

  1. Toast the cumin seeds until they darken and become aromatic, then grind by hand with a mortar and pestle.
  2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until shiny. Add the onion and fry, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until onion is softened. Add ginger, garlic, and chilies, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the turmeric, mushrooms, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have lost their moisture and begin to brown slightly.
  4. Reduce heat, adding cumin seeds and lemon juice, stirring to incorporate. Continue cooking until the mushrooms absorb the lemon juice and become brown.

The King’s Peppercakes

The first time I tasted one of these, I decided that this was by far the best cookie I had ever eaten. A friend from Norway had sent it to me for the holidays, along with a hand-drawn card. When I inquired about the recipe, she referred me to her mom, who was more than happy to share! Like most European recipes, everything was in metric, with many ingredients listed by weight, not volume. I have reworked her original recipe just for you, and I’ve included standard US measurements. I hope you will enjoy your first bite as much as I did!

9 c. flour

1 t. baking soda

1 # (4 sticks) butter, softened

1 1/3 c. heavy cream

2 ½ c. sugar

¾ c. molasses

¾ c. corn syrup

2-3 T cinnamon

2-3 T ginger

1 t. pepper

1 egg

additional flour

  1. Mix the baking soda in with the 9 cups flour, and work the butter in with your fingers.Whip the cream until well thickened. Add the sugar, molasses, corn syrup, spices, and egg.Whip the cream until well thickened. Add the sugar, molasses, corn syrup, spices, and egg.
  2. Whip the cream until well thickened. Add the sugar, molasses, corn syrup, spices, and egg.
  3. Gradually add the flour mixture to the cream mixture, and work together well; it will take quite a lot of kneading if done by hand. When well combined, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Flour your work surface and rolling pin. You’ll probably need at least 2 more cups. Divide the chilled dough into workable parts, kneading hard, and rolling out thinly on a floured surface. If dough is too sticky to roll out, add more flour a little at a time. Cut out shapes (hearts and stars, or whatever you want!) using cookie cutters, or knife and stencil.
  5. Bake at 450°F for 6-8 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!