Category Archives: Farmer Kev

Variation on a Theme: Zucchini, Garlic, and Basil Quiche with a Dash of The Big Chill

IMG_0555Once a month, Clif and I host a movie night at our house. We are movie buffs, and we have three friends who are just as keen on movies as we are. It’s a great inexpensive way to get together to watch and discuss a film, and we all take turns picking out the movies.

Last Saturday was movie night, and we had a summer potluck dinner to go with it. Alice brought a package of homemade sourdough, which Clif grilled, and she also brought carrot cake. Diane brought a salad, and except for the eggs, everything came from her garden. As for me, I made a quiche with Farmer Kev’s zucchini and garlic. The basil came from my own little garden.

I got the idea for this quiche after I made Mediterranean eggs—scrambled eggs with zucchini, basil, and garlic topped with cheddar cheese. I wondered, would this taste good as a quiche with a cracker crust, similar to the one I made with summer greens? Why, yes it would. In fact, this has become my favorite quiche, and I plan to make it regularly while I have plenty of fresh basil. As far as I’m concerned, basil, garlic, and olive oil are the holy trinity of the food world, and when you add eggs, cheese, and zucchini, well, you have something that’s pretty darned good, to borrow from Clif.  And it reheats beautifully. What more can you ask for?

Onion lovers might want to add or substitute onion. However, as indicated above, garlic and basil really are a team that’s hard to beat. But as you like it.

For the movie, we watched The Big Chill, a 1983 movie with an incredible cast that includes Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, and Jeff Goldblum. In brief, seven college friends reunite after the suicide of a mutual friend. The college friends are now in their thirties, and their youthful idealism has fizzed away. Not surprisingly, most of the characters are disappointed with the directions their lives have taken—one has become a star in a cheesy detective series; another a journalist for People Magazine; and another longs for a baby. I would have to say this is a movie about regrets, large and small, and after thirty years The Big Chill stills feels fresh and relevant.

Many adults, I suspect, no longer burn with youthful idealism, and many more are perhaps not where they thought they would be twenty (or more) years down the line. Most people deal with the loss as best they can, and some even go on to lead very creative lives, just not in the way they had planned. Others are swamped by regret and the disappointment it brings.

Friends, a good movie, and good food all add up to quite a Saturday night with not a single regret.

Zucchini, Garlic, and Basil Quiche

Ingredients
For the cracker-crumb crust

  • 1 1/2 cups of cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup of melted butter

For the quiche

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini, squeezed dry between paper towels
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped basil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine crumbs with melted butter, press into a 9-inch pie pan, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Heat the tablespoon of oil in a skillet. Add the zucchini, garlic, salt, and pepper. Sauté lightly, for a couple of minutes, until the zucchini is just barely soft.  Remove from heat.
  4. Beat together the eggs and the cream.
  5. In the cracker-crumb shell, spread the zucchini mixture, sprinkle the cheese, and then the basil. Pour the egg mixture on top.
  6. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the quiche is golden brown.
  7. Let set for five minutes before cutting.
  8. Serves 4 or 5 people, depending upon appetite and what else is served with the quiche.

Fajita Recipe Using Summer Squash and Peppers

IMG_0689We are into the first week of August and the eighth week of Farmer Kev’s CSA program. Eight more deliveries to go. I must say that developing and sharing a recipe each week has really stretched me as a cook. (It seems that old dogs really can learn new tricks.) My friend Alice Johnson has been a big help, and her stuffed bread has become a favorite with Clif. My personal favorite is a quiche with zucchini and basil—a recipe I’ll share next week. I’m not sure I would have made either of these dishes if I hadn’t been writing for Farmer Kev.  Thanks to him—and Alice—I have two new recipes that will become staples in our house.

This week, along comes a third favorite, a fajita with summer squash and peppers. There has been a lot of summer squash in the CSA bin, and one night I thought, “Why not use some to make a fajita?”

Why not indeed? That night, Clif was available to help in the kitchen, and he diced the squash and the peppers. We wanted them small so that they would easily fit in the small tortillas we had. I minced some garlic, which is my go-to allium, and I use it many, many dishes. Unfortunately, raw or lightly cooked onions upset my stomach, and I use garlic as a substitute for onion. So please note: In most of my recipes that call for garlic, onion could be substituted. (Fortunately, I can eat onions that have been simmered a long time, say, in a soup or tomato sauce. But still, this intolerance is a pain, and I consider it a food handicap.)

From my cupboard I took chili powder, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Making sure the covers were off, I lined the spices next to the stove along with salt. (No, Shannon, I did not measure the spices.)

I put about a tablespoon, maybe a little more, of oil in a skillet, and heated it up. Then I added the peppers and summer squash and sautéed them until they were soft but still a little crunchy—for about five minutes or so. I didn’t time them. I just watched and tasted until they were cooked to my liking. I added some cooked chicken sausage and the garlic. Next came the spices. I sprinkled in some chili, a little less cumin, a pinch of red pepper, a shake or two of salt. I tasted. Clif tasted. In went more chili and more red pepper. There, it was just the way we liked it. The trick when not measuring is to start with a little of the spices. You can always add more, but you, of course, can’t add less.

We warmed the small tortillas between two damp pamper towels in the microwave for about 45 seconds. (They could also be warmed in the oven in foil for five or ten minutes. We spooned the mixture into the warm tortillas, topped with grated Monterey Jack cheese, and voilà! A new favorite that I’ll be making repeatedly.

This recipe, like so many of the ones that I make, is another one of those flexible ones. Mushrooms could be added, especially if you wanted to keep it vegetarian. The aforementioned onions could be used in addition to garlic, and steak or pork instead of chicken.

We cooked some rice as a side. Somehow, rice always goes with fajitas.

What a tasty way to use summer squash. Or, pretty darned good, as Clif might say.

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Fajitas with Summer Squash and Peppers
Serves 3 or 4, depending on appetite. (This recipe could easily be doubled or even tripled.)

Ingredients

  • 1 summer squash, cubed
  • 1 sweet pepper, cubed
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Chili powder, to taste
  • Cumin, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • 6 ounces of pre-cooked chicken sausage, cut in half-rounds
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
  • Small tortillas
  • Optional ingredients could include lime juice, cilantro, sour cream, salsa, or parsley.

Directions

  1. In a medium-sized skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil.
  2. Add the squash and peppers and stir-fry for five minutes or until they are cooked to your liking.
  3. Add the sausage and garlic. Stir-fry for a minute.
  4. Sprinkle, to taste, the chili, cumin, red pepper, and salt on top of the mixture and stir in. Remember to start small and adjust upward.
  5. Spoon into tortilla shells and sprinkle with cheese.
  6. Add optional ingredients, if desired.
  7. Roll and eat.

 

Vegetables with Peanut Sauce over Rice—and a Blooper

Before I launch into a description of this week’s recipe using Farmer Kev’s delicious vegetables, I thought I would describe a little blooper I made in the kitchen last night. All right, it was actually a big blooper. I am sharing this because I believe it’s good to admit that even those who have been cooking for a very long time can still make mistakes. (So take heart, beginning cooks!)

Here’s what happened. I had marinated tofu. I had pea pods courtesy of Farmer Kev.  Why not stir fry them together, put them on rice, and drizzle a homemade peanut sauce over it all? Then, of course, sprinkle with crushed peanuts. This I did, and how nice it all looked.

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There was just one teensy-weensy problem, which Clif and I discovered as we started eating.

“Wow!” I said. “These pea pods are tough.”

“I was thinking the same thing,” Clif admitted.

“And they don’t have much taste,” I added.

Then it immediately came to me what the problem was. These weren’t sugar snaps; these were peas to be shelled. Oh, how we laughed at Laurie’s mistake as we stopped eating to shell the slimy pods. Miraculously, even though the pods had only been lightly blanched, the peas inside were cooked enough to eat.

After the peas were shelled, the dish was pretty darned good, as my Yankee husband observed. So good that there weren’t any leftovers, even though there should have been. (Clif is what you might call a good eater, especially when peanut sauce is involved.)

Blooper aside, this dish, like fried rice, is wonderfully versatile. A variety of summer vegetables could be used: Broccoli, zucchini, summer squash, green beans, carrots. Shelled peas or sugar snaps, but probably not both.

I marinated extra-firm tofu in a homemade teriyaki sauce, baked it for 45 minutes, then cut it in cubes to stir-fry. This might be one extra step that a busy home cook would rather not take. Although the marinated tofu adds a nice texture and taste to the dish, it is not an essential element. Just vegetables could be used. Leftover chicken could be added.

The vegetables could be steamed or stir-fried. If stir-fried, then chopped garlic or onion could be added for additional flavor.

So this week, I’m not going to give a recipe per se. Just cook up some rice, steam or stir-fry some vegetables, drizzle with peanut sauce, and sprinkle with crushed peanuts. And for goodness’ sake, don’t confuse sugar snaps with shell peas.

Here is a recipe for the peanut sauce. It’s adapted from a recipe from Miserly Moms: Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup of warm water (Use less for a thicker sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar—wine, cider, or rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes (More could be added for those who like it hot.)

Directions

  1. Whisk together the peanut butter and water until smooth.
  2. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, and hot pepper flakes. Whisk again.
  3. Drizzle over vegetables and rice. Drizzle over vegetables and noodles. Use as a dipping sauce for chicken. This simple but tasty sauce can be used in a number of ways

 

 

Mediterranean Scrambled Eggs

The greens are still a-comin’, but we are going to turn our attention to another vegetable that can sometimes be such a nuisance that friends will run shrieking if they see you approaching with a bagful. Or a bushel full, as the case may be. This might be apocryphal, but I have heard heartbreaking stories of how these vegetables are just abandoned on the steps of family, friends, acquaintances, and even perfect strangers. Sometimes with a note, most times not.

I am, of course, referring to zucchini—or, courgettes as they are called across the pond. Right now, in Maine, they are little and trim, almost sweet looking, and this week they were innocently tucked at the bottom of my CSA bin from Farmer Kev. But before long, in the garden, these sweet little veggies will grow and grow and if left untended on the vine, become large enough to be used as a murder weapon.

And let’s be honest. When it comes to taste, zucchini is definitely the bland cousin of the vegetable world. (Perhaps that’s why they grow so large. To compensate for their muted flavor.) While peas, corn, tomatoes, and delicata squash make us rejoice, all too often zucchini makes us sigh.

Nevertheless, zucchini has its uses. Grated, it adds a nice texture to muffins or bread, and its mild flavor complements tomato dishes. Last but certainly not least, zucchini is very economical. As indicated above, sometimes you don’t even have to pay for it.

While the zucchini is still in its slender, innocent phase, I decided to take what business people might call a proactive approach and find ways to use those little darlings.

I wondered, what if you grate a small zucchini, add some garlic, sauté the mixture in a skillet for a couple of minutes, add eggs beaten with milk, and sprinkle with basil? Scramble the whole mixture, then cover with grated cheese. What would happen?

I’ll tell you what happens. You get a dish so tasty your Yankee husband not only says “Pretty darned good” but also adds “This would make an elegant dish for brunch.” Now, how many times have you ever heard the word “zucchini” paired with the word “elegant”?

Best of all, despite the chopping, this dish goes together fairly quickly, making it a perfect week-night supper. Add some homemade bread and some sliced cucumbers. Maybe even a white wine with a fresh taste. (Don’t even consider a Riesling.) Not only will you have made use of zucchini, but you will also have a delicious meal.

Note: Fresh basil is absolutely essential for this dish. If you don’t have some growing in your garden or in a pot, then spring for it at the grocery store or at a farmers’ market.

As with all dishes, get everything mise en place.
As with all dishes, get everything mise en place.

 

Sauté the grated zucchini and garlic in olive oil.
Sauté the grated zucchini and garlic in olive oil.

 

Add the basil and the beaten eggs.
Add the basil and the beaten eggs.

 

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Scramble.

 

Sprinkle with grated cheese and cover.
Sprinkle with grated cheese and cover so that the cheese will melt.

 

Voilà! A dish so good you'll want to lick the plate.
Voilà! A dish so good you’ll want to lick the plate

 

Mediterranean Scrambled Eggs
Makes two hearty servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I used a sharp cheddar)
  • 2 tablespoons of minced basil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 large eggs beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. On medium, heat olive oil in a skillet. Sauté the garlic and the zucchini for two or three minutes.
  2. Add the beaten eggs and the basil.
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Scramble away.
  5. When the eggs are done, sprinkle with grated cheese, cover, and turn off the heat. Let set until the cheese is melted.
  6. Serve and eat immediately.

Wonderful, Versatile Fried Rice

The greens have started slacking off, at least a little, and this week in Farmer Kev’s bin I received, among other things, broccoli, cucumbers, zuchinni, salad turnips, and summer squash. I was thrilled by this bounty as it will feed Clif and me for nearly a week. (Naturally, we’ll fill in with rice, pasta, wraps, and herbs from my little garden.)

The bounty from Farmer Kev
The bounty from Farmer Kev

The first meal I’ll be making from some of these vegetables is fried rice, a dish so open to improvisation that it’s something all home cooks should have in their repertoire. A recipe is hardly needed. Take whatever vegetables you have on hand, add either garlic or onion or both, combine with rice, add a couple of eggs, and finally season generously with soy sauce and sesame oil. Minced ginger root could also be used.

I’ve made fried rice with cabbage, endamame, peas, green beans, carrots, broccoli, and peppers. The pictures below were taken a couple of weeks ago when I got carrots and sugar snap peas in my Farmer Kev bin.

I usually make a vegetarian fried rice and add peanuts to give it a little zip. However, leftover meat could also be used.

A few tips: vegetables such as broccoli, sugar snap peas, endamame, and shelled peas should  be lightly cooked first. I blanch the sugar snaps and lightly steam the rest. Carrots and turnips can be stir fried raw, but they should be started first. Next would come peppers, if you are using them. Basically, save the vegetables that cook the quickest for last, with garlic being the absolute last thing added before the rice goes in. You do not want the garlic to burn.

The most invaluable tip: When adding beaten eggs, make a large well in the center of the rice and vegetables, and let the eggs cook long enough so that you can then scramble them into the rest of the mixture. Add a little soy sauce to the rice before adding the eggs, and add more soy sauce, along with sesame oil, to the mixture after the eggs have been scrambled in. How much soy sauce and sesame oil? In truth, I don’t know. I never measure. I just shake in the soy sauce and sesame oil and taste. However, I use more soy sauce than sesame oil.

Another important tip: Have everything mise en place, as the French would say. That is, ready in place.  Before starting, cook the rice and whatever vegetables that need to be steamed or blanched.  Make sure  all the vegetables are in little bowls by whatever skillet or wok you will be using. Have the rice handy as well as the beaten eggs, the peanuts, the soy sauce, and sesame oil. Once everything is chopped and ready, this dish goes together very fast, and you want to be able to move quickly.

Everything mise en place
Everything mise en place

 

Make a well for the eggs in the rice, which has been lightly sprinkled with soy sauce.
Make a well for the eggs in the rice, which has been lightly sprinkled with soy sauce

 

Add the beaten eggs, let cook and set, and then scramble it into the mixture
Add the beaten eggs, let cook and set, and then scramble it into the mixture

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of rice, cooked according to directions on the package. (You should have about 2 cups of cooked rice.)
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced. (A small onion also could be used instead of or in addition to the garlic.)
  • 4 or 5 cups of mixed vegetables. (In the fried rice pictured, I also used garlic scapes.)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Soy sauce and sesame oil, to taste
  • Vegetable oil for stir frying

Directions

  1. Cook the rice, mince and chop the vegetables, parboiling or steaming whatever needs to be cooked ahead of time. (Don’t overcook. They will cook more in the stir fry.)
  2. Have everything in place, including the peanuts, soy sauce, and sesame oil. (For those who like it hot, a hot oil could also be used.)
  3. In a large skillet or wok, heat 2 or 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, start with whatever vegetables take the longest to cook, ending with the blanched or steamed vegetables, and finally the garlic. Pretty much stir the vegetables constantly so that every thing is moving around.
  4. When the vegetables are cooked, add the rice and shake in a small amount of soy sauce to give everything a little moisture. Stir again.
  5. Make a well in the center of the rice and pour in the beaten eggs.
  6. Let the eggs cook until they are set and scramble them in with the rest of the mixture.
  7. Add the peanuts, if using.
  8. Season to taste with soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir thoroughly.
  9. Serves four.

And the Greens Keep Coming: Greek Veggie Burgers

Kale, Swiss chard, lettuce. The greens haven’t let up. While the rest of the country swelters, Maine is enjoying relatively temperate weather with warm days and coolish nights. We haven’t even installed the attic fan yet, which is all the little house in the big woods needs to cool down on the hottest days. I expect we’ll be installing it soon, but usually by the first of July, it is up and running at night.

I’m guessing this weather encourages those greens to grow rather than bolt. Therefore, this week I am posting yet another recipe using greens—a Greek veggie burger, which can use any or all of the greens that make up the holy trinity—spinach, Swiss chard, and kale. You could even throw in a pinch of arugula to spice things up a little.

I made these burgers for the first time last night. We took everything to the patio, and Clif fried the burgers on the grill in a big cast-iron pan. (A skillet on the stove would work just fine.) With the burgers we had homemade bread and grapes. We ate on the patio and watched dusk settle over the backyard. Hummingbirds buzzed their little red feeder. A pair of cardinals, bright in the falling light, came to the big brown feeder. In the woods, frogs called to each other.

This recipe makes four burgers. I am a little embarrassed to admit that by the end of the evening, none were left. And best of all, one whole bag of Swiss chard was gone—poof!—just like that.

A note about the herbs in this recipe: I used fresh herbs from my garden: A mixture of basil, sage, parsley, and oregano. I used about 1/4 cup of chopped herbs, but I think 1/2 cup wouldn’t be too much. In the winter, I would use a teaspoon or two of dried herbs, probably oregano and thyme and maybe a little sage.

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Greek Veggie Burger
Makes 4 patties

Ingredients

  • 5 cups loosely packed greens—kale, spinach, or Swiss chard—coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups of bread crumbs made from fresh bread torn in small pieces
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 tablespoons for sautéing the greens and 2 for the herb, bread-crumb mixture. (You will need additional oil for frying the patties.)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/4 cup of minced, mixed fresh herbs—sage, basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, rosemary

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté the garlic for 30 seconds, add the greens, and sauté until the greens are wilted—2 or 3 minutes. Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the 2 tablespoons of oil, the herbs, and the salt and pepper. Add the bread and stir so that it is coated. Stir in the beaten eggs. Add the greens and crumbled feta. Mix well.
  3. Shape into patties and heat 2 or 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Fry for 5 minutes on each side.

Pasta with Greens, Homemade Croutons, and Roasted Almonds

The greens from Farmer Kev are starting to slow down a teensy bit, but I still have bags of Kale and Swiss chard in my refrigerator. (I love those greens. What good keepers they are!)

This week’s pasta and greens recipe is a dish I could eat every week. It has all the elements I’m crazy about—pasta, greens, garlic, nuts, and bread cut in little cubes. Oh, and olive and lemon oil. It doesn’t get much more Mediterranean than that, does it?

As if that weren’t enough, this recipe goes together quickly, and it tastes just as good the next day as room-temperature leftovers. If you add a glass of wine, some garlic bread, and head to your deck or patio. then you can pretend you’re somewhere in the Mediterranean where the sun is shining, and the olives are ripening.

An important note about the croutons: Please, please, please don’t use store-bought croutons for this recipe. Make your own. It doesn’t take long at all, and bread cubes fried crisp in olive oil are, in a word, delectable. Obviously the better the bread, the better the homemade croutons, but even standard sliced bread will be a huge improvement over those hard, overspiced things that come in a box.

Dry roast the almonds. Flip and watch carefully or else they will burn.
Dry roast the almonds. Shake and watch carefully or else they will burn.

 

Sauté the cubed bread in olive oil. Add more oil as needed.
Sauté the cubed bread in olive oil. Use a fork to flip the bread, and add more oil as needed.

 

Sauté in olive oil the greens, garlic, red pepper, and lemon juice.
Sauté in olive oil the greens, garlic, red pepper, and lemon juice.

 

Voilà! Pasta with greens. (I used a leftover grilled chicken breast in this version.)
Voilà! Pasta with greens, roasted almonds, and homemade croutons. (I used a leftover grilled chicken breast in this version.)

 

Pasta with Greens, Roasted Almonds, and Homemade Croutons

Ingredients

  • 8 cups of loosely packed greens—kale, spinach, Swiss chard, even a touch of arugula—coarsely chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
  • Pinch of red pepper
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup of toasted sliced  almonds
  • 2 slices of bread, cut in cubes
  • Olive oil for toasting cubes, a tablespoon or more
  • 9 ounces of penne or pasta of your choice
  • Parmesan, Romano, or Asagio cheese for grating on top
  • Cooked chicken or sausage, optional

Directions

  1. In a large dry skillet over medium heat, roast the almonds, flipping and shaking them frequently so that they cook evenly. When they are browned—but not burnt—set aside in a plate or bowl.
  2. Carefully wipe the skillet with a paper towel, add a tablespoon of olive oil, and return to medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the cubed bread. (More oil might need to be added if the pan becomes too dry.) With a fork, flip the cubes so that they brown on all sides. When they are done, drain on a large plate covered with a paper towel and set aside.
  3. In a large pot of salted water, cook the penne according to directions. Save a cup of the pasta water.
  4. Meanwhile, using the same skillet that was used for the almonds and the bread cubes, add a tablespoon of oil and heat over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and let it sizzle for 30 seconds or so until it barely begins to turn brown. Add the chopped greens, the salt, the pinch of red pepper, and a few squeezes from the half lemon.
  5. Sauté until the greens are wilted, a few minutes or so. Taste and add more salt, red pepper, and lemon juice, if desired.
  6. Toss the greens with the pasta and enough of the pasta water to make a nice saucy mixture. (I used about 1/2 cup, but more or less can be used, according to taste.)
  7. Stir in the toasted almonds.
  8. Place the mixture into a large bowl. Add the toasted croutons and grate some cheese over the whole thing.
  9. Makes 4 or 6 servings, depending on appetite.

 

 

A Rainy Sunday in which We Drink Margaritas, Eat Salad, and Marvel at a Grasshopper

Yesterday, our friends Jim and Dawna came over for dinner. We had hoped the day would be fine so that we could eat on the patio and Clif could make his legendary grilled bread. Unfortunately, the weather gods had other ideas, and it rained, rained, rained. Not just a light soaking, but instead a downpour.

So in we stayed. Dawna brought margaritas and chips and a hot cheese appetizer. Very tasty! Even though it was more a soup day than a salad day, I stuck to my original plan of a salad meal. However, the grilled bread was out, and I made a pan of cornbread. For dessert we had homemade chocolate ice cream.

With Farmer Kev’s delectable red and green lettuce, I made a salade niçoise, sort of, using a recipe by the inimitable Mark Bittman as a guideline. My salad niçoise had, along with the lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, sliced radishes, sliced cooked potatoes, sliced tomatoes, and tuna. (Note: Tuna is overfished, and we only eat it once or twice a year on salade niçoise.) I made a homemade vinaigrette to go on the salad. Capers would have been a good addition as would have olives and green beans.

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I also made a Greek pasta salad to go with the salade niçoise. The Greek salad had mini penne, which are adorable, feta, tomatoes, Swiss chard, basil, mint, and several squeezes of lemon. It’s one of my favorite summer salads.

Dawna, Jim, and Clif are all accomplished photographers, and whenever we get together, at some point the talk inevitable turns to photography. I am the novice of the group, and I always learn something from these discussions. Yesterday was no different, and the advice I got from Dawna was “watch where you stand,” which apparently comes from the Ansel Adams quotation: “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.” (In Adams’s case, he often stood on the roof of a vehicle to get his sweeping photos.) Yes, indeed. Some angles are better than others, and distance from the subject is also a concern.

I gave Dawna a few of my photo cards, including one of the grasshopper that stole the show on my most recent Wordless Wednesday post (6/24/15). We marveled at his eye, at his tiny wing, at his little black feet. “It looks like he’s wearing shoes,” Dawna said.

It’s not every friend who brings margaritas to your house and marvels over a photograph of a grasshopper. But Dawna is that kind of friend.

How lucky I am!

And for those who missed the photo, here is the grasshopper in all his (or her) glory.

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When the Greens Cometh, Make a Quiche with a Cracker Crust

Summer’s bounty is starting to come in, and my refrigerator is stuffed with greens from Farmer Kev’s CSA.  But luckily, my friend Alice Johnson has come to the rescue yet again with another delicious recipe—Summer Greens Quiche with a Cracker Crust.

Some thoughts about making pie crust: I enjoy rolling dough and making pie crusts.  This might come under the category of tooting my own horn, but I’m pretty good at making pie crusts, and I am of the firm opinion that a bad crust can ruin a pie. However, I must also acknowledge that making homemade pie crust takes a fair amount of time and makes a bit of a mess. When you come home from work at 6:00 p.m. or so, the last thing you probably want to do is dig out your rolling pin to make a pie crust.

So what to do? You could make a crustless quiche, but a quiche without a crust is like a cake without frosting. It’s all right, but when you cook, you want something that is more than all right. You want something that is delicious and, on a work night, not too time consuming.

Enter the cracker crust. If you take 1 1/2  cups of cracker crumbs—Ritz, Saltines, Club, most any nonsweet cracker will do—and add 1/3 cup of melted butter, then you will have a tasty crust with a minimum amount of fuss. No, it’s not as good as a regular crust, but it certainly beats no crust at all.

Best of all, this summer greens quiche with the cracker crust reheats beautifully, with the leftovers tasting just as good as when the quiche was first cooked.

I count this recipe as a triple win. First, it uses greens. Second, the cracker crust goes together pretty darned fast. Third, it reheats beautifully. Oh, and fourth—it’s delicious.

So grab that rolling pin after all, but instead of using it to make pie dough, use it to crush cracker crumbs. (I use a large Ziploc bag to contain the crackers while I’m crushing them.)

Happy Eating!

The cracker crust
The cracker crust

 

Cook the greens and the garlic
Cook the greens and the garlic

 

The uncooked quiche
The uncooked quiche

 

Fresh out of the oven
Fresh out of the oven

 

Ready to eat
Ready to eat

 

Summer Greens Quiche with a Cracker Crust
Adapted from a recipe by Alice Johnson

Ingredients

For the cracker crust

  • 1 1/2 cups of cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup of melted butter

For the quiche

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of loosely packed greens—spinach, Swiss Chard, or kale or a combination
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup of feta
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cracked pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine melted butter and cracker crumbs. Press into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes or until it puffs up and browns.
  3. Meanwhile, coarsely chop the greens. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds—don’t let the garlic get too brown. And greens and sauté until wilted. Remove from pan into a small bowl and set aside.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, wisk eggs and heavy cream. Stir in the cheese, nutmeg, and pepper. Spread greens’ mixture on baked crust. Pour egg mixture on top.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes or until the mixture is set, and the top is golden brown. ( A knife inserted off center should come out clean.)

Greens, Greens, Greens: A Recipe for Stuffed Bread

June is wending its way to July, and the greens, they are a-comin. But don’t panic. This week’s Greens-Stuffed Bread recipe uses four cups of greens—spinach, Swiss chard, Kale, or a combination of the three—and you could even squeeze in a fifth cup if bags of greens are bulging in your refrigerator. So, slam! Five cups of greens gone. Just like that. And the Greens-Stuffed Bread is so good you’ll want to make it several times during peak-green season. (Many thanks to my friend Alice Johnson for helping me with this recipe.)

Here are some pictures of the process:

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Roll the dough into a rectangle
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Spread the sautéed greens
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Sprinkle the grated cheese
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Roll the dough
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Place on a greased pan, cover, and let it rise for an hour or so
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The baked bread. It leaked in a couple of places, but it didn’t matter one bit.
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Voilà! Sliced stuffed bread.

 

Greens-Stuffed Bread
Adapted from a recipe by Alice Johnson

Ingredients

  • 1 (20-ounce) package of pizza dough, thoroughly thawed if frozen. (Note: I used pizza dough from Portland Pie Co., but any frozen pizza dough that’s about 20 ounces will work just fine.)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • Pepper, to taste (A few twists of the pepper mill will do.)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil for sautéing and a little more for brushing on the bread
  • 4 cups of chopped and de-stemmed spinach, Swiss chard, or kale, or a combination thereof
  • 2 cups of shredded cheese: cheddar, mozzarella, or smoked Gouda or cheddar (I used the delectable smoked cheddar from Pineland Farms.)

Directions

  1.  In a skillet, sauté the garlic in the 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 30 seconds. Add the greens, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Sauté until the greens are wilted, a minute or two. Put in a bowl and let cool.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch the dough into a 14-inch by 10-inch rectangle. (Note: Sometimes the dough is springy and stubborn, and the stretching and rolling takes a bit of effort.)
  3. Brush the dough with olive oil. Spread the cooled greens mixture to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Sprinkle with cheese. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with the long side. Pinch seam to seal. Place the roll on a greased baking sheet. Pinch ends and tuck under the roll.
  4. Cover the roll with a light cloth, preferably linen, and let it rise in a warm place for an hour or so, until the roll is puffy. (It doesn’t have to double in size.) I usually put a pan with hot water on the bottom rack in my oven and put the dough on the middle rack. This gives the dough a warm, moist environment.
  5. Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes until the roll is golden brown. Remove the roll from the pan to a wire rack. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature. Yield: 6 servings.

Happy eating!