Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Quiche Diet

Slipping into a sweater, I start giving thought to what I might look like when it gets warmer. Very soon I won't be able to hide behind my sweater. The more I think about the prospect of waist management, the more I think about food. Quiche in particular.

Quiche, not any calorie conscience version, but the real cheesy custard pie. Creamy, savory delicious, variations are limitless! Once a month or so I like to make a pie using up bits in the fridge and warm up slices for a quick breakfast or lunch. Then pull my sweater a little tighter.

The ingredients often change but the formula is the same for a 9" deep dish quiche. Four to five eggs, one cup to one and a quarter cups of cream, 8 ounces or so of shredded cheese, and an equal amount of vegetables or finely diced meat. Nutmeg, salt and pepper are my standbys, but I have used any number of combination of herbs and spices to compliment the mix.

For the pastry I'll be honest, in a lazy moment I will use ready to bake pie crust. When I am too lazy to travel one block to the store, I call on Julia. Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" my guidebook to good stuff. Page 143, pate brisee, is the base for a great quiche.

Any events this spring, you unwittingly volunteered for, are just around the corner. You need a plan say, if thirty or more people are coming to your house and your freaked out of your mind. Before you move and change your name try this ridiculously easy "quiche for a crowd" recipe.

If your enjoying quiche greedily alone or with your "crowd". I can promise, no pounds and no tears will be shed. I hear there is a sale somewhere on sweaters.

Spinach Quiche for a Crowd

Adapted for my catering business when making quiche ( for hundreds) was on the menu. It's a little simplistic yet fool proof and tasty.

30 egg
9 cups heavy cream
2 lbs. frozen box of spinach
8 cups swiss cheese shredded
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon nutmeg
6 9" deep pie shells.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Thaw frozen spinach, squeeze out the water, best to do by wringing it in a clean kitchen towel.
In large mixing bowl, beat eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg, slowly add cream until well combined
Divide spinach and shredded swiss cheese into 9" deep pie crusts.
Pour quiche mixture evenly over spinach and cheese in the pie crusts, filling all pies to the rim.
Bake at 325 degrees for 55 minutes. Let stand about 20 minutes before slicing.
Cut into 6 slices for entree/8 slices if for buffet.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

BFF Bread

Last weekend I snapped.
I went on a baking spree producing 24 loafs of Orange Cranberry, Chocolate Pecan, Banana Nut and Butterscotch. I couldn't stop! I baked Coco Coffee, Pistachio and Cinnamon Bread, and quietly hid them in my freezer. I finished off the yeast, dazed and exhausted. This is how it happened.

A few weeks ago, the director of my department at work, both will remain nameless so I may keep my job, strolls into the office with a delicious loaf of moist sweet home baked bread.
I sampled a slice and found it to be not only tasty, but potentially habit forming. My sneaky director was looking for this reaction, she was trolling for victims who would take a bag. What's in the bag? Amish Friendship Bread Starter, and before you know it your hooked.

This is how it goes, a "Friend" gives you a bag of starter. You mash the bag a few day's, feed it after a few more days then add a trillion ingredients to make bread. This is supposed to be an Amish thing but with instant pudding as one of the ingredients, I have my doubts. The bread is tasty and prolific. Every time you get ready to bake a batch, you are to siphon off some starter, bag it, and share it with four lucky friends. So what happens when you run out of willing friends to take a bag? In my case I baked all the remaining starter into bread myself.

Baking is far from my favorite thing, there are rules, precise measuring and timers involved. To make it worse my oven door is still broken and waiting for a break in the current economical situation to afford repairs. The bungee cords are for real not just for decoration.They should come "free with purchase" of a Thermadore.

All this baking left me with loafs, I mean loads of questions. I want to know how the Amish do it, my arms were ready to fall off from stirring stiff dough. Maybe Amish women sneak off to a Amish Woman's Day Spa, and have the kinks kneaded out of their shoulders. What happens when the Amish run out of friends? What are they doing with their plethora of loafs? Where did they get Zip-lock bags?

In the spirit of friendship I have conveniently copied the starter recipe so you can get hooked. I hope to be far away when you snap.

Starter Ingredients

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3 cups white sugar, divided
  • 3 cups milk


  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand 10 minutes. In a 2 quart container glass, plastic or ceramic container, combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or flour will lump when milk is added. Slowly stir in 1 cup milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Cover loosely and let stand. Consider this day 1 of the 10 day cycle. Leave loosely covered at room temperature. You may put the starter in a gallon size plastic zip lock container. Let air out occasionally. Mixture will bubble, this is normal.
  2. On days 2 thru 4; stir starter with a spoon, or mash plastic zip lock bag.
  3. Day 5; use a wooden spoon to stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk.
  4. Days 6 thru 9; stir only, or mash starter in it's zip lock bag.
  5. Day 10-ready to bake, see below

Amish Bread Recipe

Important Note: Don't use metal spoons or equipment. Do not refrigerate. Use only glazed ceramic, glass or plastic bowls or containers.

Required Main Ingredient

1 cup live yeast starter (see above)
On Day 10:
Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Stir. Take out 3 cups and place 1 cup each into three separate plastic Zip lock bags. Give one cup and a copy of this recipe to three friends. To the balance (a little over one cup) of the batter, add the following ingredients and mix well.
1 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
In a separate bowl combine the following dry ingredients and mix well:
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 - (5.1 oz) box instant vanilla pudding
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup nuts and or dried fruit (optional)

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix and pour into two well greased, flour dusted bread pans. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of cinnamon mixed with 1/4 cup of sugar. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Experiment with other favors of pudding or substitue the milk in the bread reciepe for juice.