Archive for February, 2010

Really good quiche should be creamy and moist, much less solid than standard scrambled eggs or frittata. The secrets are: cream and air. To make a creamy quiche filling that will fit in the crust of a standard sized pie plate, you only need two eggs, or three if it’s a really deep dish. I was surprised by this, but Julia Child taught me (indirectly, of course) about quiche fillings, and I’ve always subscribed to a fairly orthodox W.W.J.D. philosophy: What Would Julia Do?

Quiche is pretty simple to make. The crust for this recipe is time consuming, but worth it. It’s full of eggs, butter and hazelnut meal, and lower in grains than a standard flour crust, glutenous or otherwise. You can use any sort of pie dough, brioche dough, or gluten-free dough for a quiche crust, or you can leave the crust off entirely if you prefer to limit your grain intake for nutritional reasons. Note, though, that you should increase the amount of filling if you leave off the crust, or consider baking the filling in small ramekins instead.

I filled this quiche with wild mushrooms and leeks because both are available in season, and because they’re a fantastic combination.

Wild Mushroom and Leek Quiche with Hazelnut-Oat Crust (gluten-free)

Hazelnut Oat Crust

(adapted VERY loosely from the brioche recipe in Baking With Julia; the result is not, however, brioche!)

Makes TWO bottom crusts; you can freeze half the dough for next time.

1 rounded teaspoon yeast

1/4 cup milk, warmed to wrist temperature

1 small egg, beaten

3/4 cup oat flour (I found some oats from Oregon.  You can use rice flour or try coconut flour.  Note: some gluten-free folks don’t eat oats because they’re sometimes processed in the same place as gluten grains, but oats themselves are not a gluten grain.)

2 Tablespoons sugar or honey (optional)

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup oat flour (second flour addition)

1/2 cup hazelnut meal (grind up hazelnuts if you can’t get this; Holmquist Hazelnut Orchard in Lynden, WA produces it)

1 teaspoon pectin

2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder (optional)

6 Tablespoons of butter

1. In a bowl, barely mix yeast, warm milk, half a cup of the first flour, and the first small, beaten egg.  Sprinkle the other quarter cup of flour on top, and set somewhere warm for 30-40 minutes.

2. Add the sugar or honey, salt, other eggs, and half a cup of the next batch of flour.  Combine on low in an upright mixer.  Sprinkle in the hazelnut meal and increase the speed, stopping to scrape the sides as needed.  Add in the remainder of the flour with the pectin and optional arrowroot and beat for another three minutes.

3. To add the butter, you want to make it smooth first.  Place it between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic and beat it senseless with a rolling pin for a few seconds, and it should work well.  Add the butter one bit at a time to your mixer, while continuing to beat on medium, until all the butter is incorporated.  If your dough still looks quite wet, add a little more flour and/or hazelnut meal.

4. Transfer to a buttered or oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let it rise somewhere warm for about 1.5 to 2 hours.

5. Flip the dough over with your fingers and poke it to deflate it.  You can also freeze it, or freeze half the batch, at this point.  Cover with a damp cloth and let the dough rise again at room temperature for half an hour, then cover with plastic and transfer to the refrigerator, where you’ll let it sit for 4-6 hours or overnight.

6. When you’re ready to make your quiche, butter and dust with flour a pie dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 375F.

A note about rolling out gluten-free dough: it very rarely works.  Most gf dough doesn’t hold together, and that’s okay.  My favorite hazelnut crust for tarts is a moist dough that would never roll out.  There’s a simple solution for such dough: press it into place in your tart or pie pan using the heel of your hand and your fingers.  But this dough, especially when chilled, rolled out beautifully for me.  Here are instructions:

7. Dust your cutting board with oat or rice or potato flour.  Dust your rolling pin.  Set aside some flour to continue this.

Take half your batch of dough and press into a flattened lump.  Use your rolling pin to roll out from the center of the lump toward the edges.  Every few rolls, pick up your dough, dust it with flour gently (and dust the board and rolling pin) and flip it.

Do this until you have a circle of dough about 1/4 inch thick at most.

Gently fold the circle in half and then half again, just loosely enough to list it.  Engage the help of a friendly spatula if you’re worried about it tearing.

Place the folded dough in the pie pan and unfold it.

Arrange into place, trimming excess corners, and pinching the edges if you want it to look pretty.  Poke a few times with a fork to keep it form inflating.

8. Bake at 375F for 15 minutes or until it’s lightly golden.  Take out and set aside.

The quiche filling

(also inspired by Julia Child)

2 eggs

2/3 cup cream, plus a little extra for the leeks

a generous pinch of oat or rice flour for the leeks

1/8 teaspoon salt, plus a little for leeks

a few grates or a pinch of fresh nutmeg

2 regular leeks or one giant leek

1 1/2 cups wild mushrooms

a handful of finely chopped parsley or winter greens

3 tablespoons of butter plus more for sautéing

1/2 cup grated gruyère or similar cheese (for a different flavor and consistency, sprinkle a little soft goat cheese in)

a few grates of black pepper

1. Trim ends of leeks, remove any really thick green parts (usually 1-2 layers) and wash well.  Slice thin into rounds.  Chop wild mushrooms into small pieces.  Use any variety.  Hedgehogs are in season.  This quiche would be amazing with morels.

2. Heat butter in a pan.  When melted, add leeks and stir.  Keep adding butter as they absorb it, and toss in a pinch of salt.  When the leeks are completely wilted and a few are slightly browned, add your mushrooms and a little more butter.  Stir until mushrooms release liquid or smell strongly of their cooked flavor.  At this point, add a dash of cream and let the leeks and mushrooms absorb it.  Add the parsley or greens, finely chopped, and stir one minute more. Turn off heat and set aside.

3. In a stand up mixer or by hand, whisk together eggs and cream.  You want them to get very light and fluffy.  Whisk in salt and nutmeg.

4. Add leek mixture into eggs and stir.

5. Pour into crust.  Sprinkle some of the cheese about halfway, and reserve most of it to sprinkle on top.  Grate on a little black pepper and dab the butter on in little bits.

5. Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes.  Top should be golden and a knife should come out clean.

Edited to add:

As a variation, cut down on the number of mushrooms and add some crumbled smoked salmon, finely chopped greens, and goat cheese.  Here’s the result:

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Taking Stock, Making Stock

Bone broth or stock, as I mentioned yesterday, feels like a perfect cure for colds and aches, especially on a wet winter day. There are commercially available stocks, and some are decent, but I make my own for a few reasons.

First, homemade tastes better. Second, it’s full of nutrients from long-simmered bones of animals raised on pasture; you’re not going to get that nutrition from a box of watered-down, industrially raised ingredients and MSG. Third, it’s cheap and easy to make stock, and it freezes well.

There’s nice article on bone broth at Nourished Kitchen that goes into some of the nutrition behind bone broth. I’ll add that bone broth from grass-fed animals is a great source of vitamin K2 MK-4, a vitamin critical to bone and brain health, and in which we’re largely deficient. Considering the energy it takes to raise meat, it makes sense to use everything instead of throwing the valuable bones away.  Bones store a lot of nutrients, and boiling them is the best way to extract and use those nutrients.  Since it’s delicious, why not?

The easiest thing about stock is that it’s something you can make while you’re doing something else. I collect the bones and vegetables for it while cooking other things, by keeping one bag or container in the freezer for bones and another for vegetable scraps. When it’s time to take stock of everything in my freezer and make stock, I simply throw everything into the pot, peek at it a few times for skimming, adjust flavorings once or twice, and otherwise let it simmer. Strain, freeze and you’re done.  Use it as the base for any soups, drink it on its own, or cook rice in it.

For vegetarians: it’s true, I’m promoting the animal bits pretty heavily in this recipe, and they factor into a lot of the nutritional value of broth. But if you just want a delicious base for soups, I’ll give you some easy veggie recipes at the end of this post.

Bone Broth/Meat Stock

Collect bones in your freezer from meat, until you have enough to fill the bottom of a stockpot.  This is an approximation, of course.  Some suggestions: empty (or full) marrow bones, lamb shank bones, chicken bones, chicken backs.  You can also buy chicken backs (University Seafood and Poultry carries them) or buy soup bones from a farm like Skagit River Ranch.  If you buy fresh bones, brown them first briefly.

To your pot, add a few pinches of salt, a pinch of black peppercorns, a pinch of saffron.  I usually wait on adding vegetables until the bones have been cooking for a little while.  Turn the pot on low and let it simmer.

As the broth bubbles, skim any grey scum that floats to the top, for the sake of flavor.

After an hour or so, add vegetables: any in your freezer stock bag would be great.  My favorite component, as I’ll suggest in the vegetarian version, is pea pods.  Save them in the summer from fresh peas and add them to stock all year for wonderful pea flavor.  Other important vegetables: onions (maybe half an onion) garlic, carrots and parsnips.

Cook on low for hours.  Chicken bones for at least 4-6 hours, red meat for at least five.  I like to simmer the broth until I’m ready to go to sleep, and then either strain it in the morning or continue to simmer in the morning after the bones have had a chance to soak.

When it’s done, strain through a mesh strainer, twice if necessary, into jars or ice cube trays and use or freeze.

Fish Variation

Salmon and other fish also make excellent stock.  Places like Fisherman’s Terminal will often give (or sell very cheap) salmon parts like heads or spines. Fish doesn’t need as much time as land meats, just about 1.5-2 hours, so start the vegetables in with the fish.  Onions and pea pods go especially well; I’d leave out heavier root vegetables like parsnips.  Strain carefully because of bones and, if you like, save any salmon scraps for other use, like salmon chowder.

Fish stock is great in soups, especially chowders.  Or you can poach fish in its own stock mixed with a little white wine.

Vegetarian Variations

Vegetarian stock is also delicious.  My favorite flavors to include are lighter ones, such as pea pods or mushrooms (save the tips of your mushrooms in the freezer if you trim them).  Vegetable broth doesn’t need to boil very long, just an hour or so.  For flavor, add plenty of onion, maybe some garlic, salt, pepper, and a pinch of saffron.  A tip: if you eat dairy, add some rinds of parmesan for flavor/umami.  These also keep well in the fridge or freezer.  This stock is especially delicious for blended pea soups, mushroom soups or cream soups because it doesn’t overpower delicate flavors.

One other path to consider: tomatoes make a wonderful vegetarian stock.  I learned this while canning some roasted tomato sauce last summer.  I was disappointed how little sauce came out of so many tomatoes, but I found a nice consequence.  When roasting tomatoes in a casserole pan, the tomatoes release a lovely golden-red liquid.  You can pour off that liquid when you’re making the sauce, and the liquid itself is a gorgeous soup base that freezes well.  Add simple vegetables and some homemade dumplings, and you’ll be very happy.

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Today is grey and rainy, the kind of Northwest winter day I’ll spend making a pot of bone broth while working and fighting off a cold. But this weather hasn’t been the norm lately. With apologies to our snowed-in friends on the East Coast, we’ve been getting a stretch of gorgeous, sunny weather lately, and there’s more forecast ahead after a few days of rain. January was unseasonably warm, and you’ve probably noticed bushes, trees and bulbs in flower now that normally don’t dare open their buds until at least March.

Flowers aren’t the only thing popping up out of season. The warm weather’s affecting local food production as well. Wild edibles are coming up at unseasonable times. The picture above is of hedgehog mushrooms I bought from Foraged and Found at the farmers’ market. Ordinarily, they said, the mushrooms wouldn’t be up in late January and early February. Two weeks ago, I came across a patch of watercress in a stream. I’ve also been noticing grass is growing more rapidly, meaning likely higher yield from dairy farms, as well as dairy and eggs that are higher in nutrients, if the animals are out on pasture.

I talked to Brandon Sheard at Sea Breeze Farm on Vashon Island about how the weather is affecting food production. He confirmed that milk and egg production have both gone up lately, chickens will be started a little earlier, and the cream is gradually getting more yellow, a sign of higher vitamin content. In contrast with the yellow cream, he said, the milk actually starts looking bluer.

Bluer? Really?

Yes, he said. “The milk below gets almost this translucent blue tint to it… The buttermilk is essentially light sky blue; it’s really beautiful.”

Gorgeous colors (and nutrients) we don’t see much in industrialized equivalents.

Speaking of gorgeous colors, here are some local eggs with lovely shells and very orange, high-vitamin yolks:

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Edible Literature Potluck

I’ve wanted to do this for two years. It finally happened.

In January, I hosted my first Edible Literature Potluck. The idea is simple: Bring a dish, ingredient or drink mentioned in any work of literature. It can be high-brow, low-brow, children’s lit, poetry, drama, fiction, etc. Bring the passage in which the food is found. Eat, drink, read passages aloud and have a good time.

There were about thirty people, and enormous amounts of food from clever and beloved sources. I’ll do this event again. It was a reminder that combining creativity, whimsy and good company can produce delicious results.

If I organize a large one in the future and you’d like to come, drop me a message at debs at seattlelocalfood (dot) com.


Dishes included: (pictures follow)

Turkish delight from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

A surfeit of raspberry tarts from the wonderful picture book Many Moons by James Thurber

Lentils with fried onions from Jhumpa Lahiri’s story “When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine” in the collection The Interpreter of Maladies

Madeleines from Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust

A chickpea salad from the poem “The Chickpea Leaps” by Rumi, found in the book The Soul Is Here For Its Own Joy

Stew from The Lord of the Rings

Mjeddrah, a Persian lentil/rice/onion dish from Crescent by Diana Abu-Jabe

Oranges from Much Ado About Nothing

Pie from “Pie Problem” by Shel Silverstein

Frankfurters, sauerkraut and strawberry jam (not mixed) from The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Appropriately in both food form and letter-form, since the passage is about eating words literally.

Black beans and biscuits from Lonesome Dove

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Readers of this blog probably know that we ran into a technology hiccup in the fall when my hard drive died, taking old files of my blog with it.

Sadly, I was using Apple’s iWeb program to design the site, which seriously limited my options for reviving the old site.  Luckily, I had two URLs pointing to the site, so I can move Seattle Local Food here, to a new page, and keep the old site archived here.

This kind of hiccup is annoying, but in the end it’s just data, things, and intangible frustration.  Not the most important things in life.

Link for old site’s posts: http://www.gofrolic.org/gofrolic/food_blog/food_blog.html

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