Friday, March 17, 2017

Hashing out a quiche

Quiche is a way of making a couple of eggs seem like a lot more food. Plus you get the mix the healthful (spinach) with the not-so (bacon). But most quiches, even the most delicious ones, often suffer from a soggy crust.

If that's been your experience as well, here's a variation to try. Another bonus: It's gluten-free.

Lori K’s Hash-Brown Quiche

Serves 2 with a side of fruit for breakfast; 4 with a large salad for brunch

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more in a mister
1 box of Golden Griddle hash browns, reconstituted (you will have at least 4 servings left over)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch of spinach, washed well and drained
2 eggs
¼ cup of heavy cream*
½ cup of 1 percent milk*
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg and cayenne pepper
¼ cup of cooked crumbled bacon
1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan

Heat olive oil in shallow 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add approximately 2 servings of the reconstituted hash browns, covering the bottom of the skillet completely. Season with a little pepper and salt, but be aware that the bacon and Parmesan are also salty. As the hash browns  cook, make sure the edge is as even as possible, pushing them away from the side a little.
Put the washed spinach in a food processor and chop. Pour it out onto a clean old dishtowel, fold over the sides and over the top and put in the microwave for a minute. Starting at the end you put the spinach, roll up and squeeze until the spinach has most of its moisture removed. Put back into the food processor, add the eggs, cream, milk and seasonings, and process until well blended.
Heat oven to 325 degrees F or 300 degrees in a convection oven.
Mist an 8-inch pie pan with oil and invert it on the raw side of the hash browns in the pan. Flip the hash browns into pie pan; they should come up the sides a bit, so mash them down to form a crust in the pan. Spread the bacon crumbles over the hash browns.
Pour the egg-spinach mixture over the hash browns and bacon. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the quiche.
Bake for about 30 minutes until the center is firm. Cut into quarters and serve.

* You can use ¾ cup half&half, a mixture of sour cream and milk, or evaporated milk, depending on what you prefer or have on hand.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Just for the halibut

Want a fancy dinner, fast? Think fish. Think thick. Think halibut.

Jim saw a nice piece of freshly caught Pacific halibut at our neighborhood grocery, Taylor's in Land Park. He got about ¾ pound, which was enough for the two of us and some leftover for lunch tomorrow. But he wanted to get on the road tonight (it was supposed to start raining in the morning) so he asked if dinner could be ready soon.

I cut two small Russet potatoes in half and put them in a cast-iron skillet, cut side down, in about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. They cooked for 6 minutes, until they were golden brown. I put them cut side up on a microwave-safe plate, seasoned them with salt and pepper, and hit the 1-potato setting on the microwave (about 4½ minutes).

Meanwhile, I washed and put a big bowlful of baby Swiss chard (that I just trimmed from the big pot they are growing in) in a microwave-safe bowl and seasoned it with garlic salt. I put it near the microwave and waited for the potatoes to finish.

Then I heated a tablespoon of oil in a large cast-iron skillet on another burner. I seasoned the fish with salt and pepper and put it skin side up in the skillet. It needed to cook 6 minutes to get a nice golden crust, so while that was happening, I prepared the simple sauce: 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons capers, a sprinkling of whole thyme leaves and 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped finely.

The fish got flipped, I turned on the oven, and then I added the sauce ingredients to the pan. When the butter browned, in about 2 minutes, I scooped up as much of it as I could and put it on top of the fish, then turned the heat off (the fish would continue to cook as long as it was in the pan).

I put in the dinner plates in the oven to warm.

I checked the potatoes, and they were soft in the middle, so they came out and the chard went in, covered with a plate, for 90 seconds. It was still very green, so I gave it another 30 seconds. It would have been prettier if I left it very green, but I like my greens a little on the soft side.

I gently lifted the fish off its skin and cut it in thirds, plated it, the potato halves and the chard on the warmed dish and served it. Total cook time, about 11 minutes. Not bad.

It was simple, and simply delicious.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A great, big, beautiful dal

Indian food, with its gorgeous colors and calliope of tastes in every single dish, has always been a mystery to me. I've enjoyed it at restaurants, both holes in the wall and white-tablecloth establishments, all around the world. But when it has come to home cooking, I've often been reduced to TastyBite pouches over rice. Not bad, but I longed for more. And fresh vegetables.

So I was delighted to take a class from Sudha at the Charlottesville Cooking School on Barracks Road before we left Virginia. We had a small class of four (the other classes I've been to there have been a dozen or so), and she taught us a few basic North Indian dishes and explained what ingredients to look for in Indian grocery stores.

We made a dry dal, paneer, rice and chipatti bread.

Sudha taught mostly by doing, and she chopped vegetables into the pans as she cooked, much like my grandmother did, not in tiny chef dice but in big, hearty chunks. Lest you think she was from another era, she used a MagicBullet blender for her sauces.

I wish I had the recipes to pass on, but really, recipes are not the point. Spices and technique and practice are. But I am happy I bought a spice tin like Sudha had; having all the basic spice on hand, not in a bunch of lined-up jars, so I can add a little or a pinch more as I cook, has made a change in how I cook, and not just Indian dishes, either.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bee-you-tiful tomatoes

Photo: Lori Korleski Richardson
This tomato plant came to me as an Indigo Apple. Since it doesn't seem very blue to me, I think it might have been mislabeled. But it produced lovely, rich fruit and a lot of it.

In today's Sacramento Bee, you'll find a lot of good recipes by chef/gardener/writers. Here's mine:

Prep time: About 15 minutes

Serves 3 or 4
Note: I like seeds and skins. Add more prep time, and some tomato juice, if you want to remove both.
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, roughly chopped

1 large, young lemon cucumber, roughly chopped

½ red onion, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Two ½-inch slices french bread or 1 slice ciabatta, torn up

A few basil leaves and/or parsley

1 small fresh jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

Salt and black pepper

1 avocado, quartered and thinly sliced into fans (optional)

1 tablespoon sherry (optional)
Put the tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, olive oil, bread, parsley and/or basil, jalapeño and garlic in a blender; season with salt and pepper. Process until smooth, adding up to ½ cup water if necessary.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. Refrigerate for up to a few hours before serving or serve immediately. Float the sherry on top and/or garnish with avocado fans, if desired.

Read more here:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bittman's move a big loss for the Gray Lady

Mark Bittman is leaving The New York Times to join a food startup that will "make it easier for people to eat more plants." He's been with the paper of record since 2011, serving as food columnist. As he says on his blog: “Oh,” say my friends, “you move to California and join a start-up.” Yup. Corny as can be.

Bittman has done a wonderful job of getting people into the kitchen again, by demystifying the process it takes to put food on the table instead of putting it on a pedestal that only great chefs can aspire to top. He shares the secrets of those high culinary priests, not on slick shows that take an unseen staff to prepare and produce, but in clear language and simple steps that busy cooks can easily follow.

His new venture sounds delightful, but he will be missed by those of us who follow the Times. Here's his last column for the New York Times.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Squashed tacos that are anything but flat

Remember the time that you "lost" a zucchini while picking the others, and the next time you harvested, it was big as a kiddie baseball bat? And you GREW it, so you wanted to do something with it? I mean, besides throw it in the compost heap? You probably stuffed it with sausage and baked it, right? How did that turn out for you?

Well, I didn't have zucchini that big, but I did have three squash of different persuasions that I needed to fix before going out of town. And I had chorizo. And a red onion. And tortillas.


And they were fantastically delicious. When people talk about using meat as a condiment, I think of sausage in general. It's too greasy to use on its own, yet it's well-spiced and flavorful in many kinds of dishes.

By pairing it with a fairly bland vegetable, such as squash, you get the pow of the sausage and a lot of nutrition as well.

Lori K's Chorizo Tacos
Serves 4

½ pound chorizo (see note below)
3-4 squash (zucchini, patty pan, yellow ... any summer squash)
¼ red onion
Salt to taste
8-12 corn tortillas
Cilantro leaves
Lettuce, sliced
Guacamole (optional)
Tomatoes, diced (optional)

Put the chorizo in a cold cast-iron skillet and turn burner to low. As you wait for it to start frying, gather your condiments and cut your squash in a rough dice. Small dice the onion.

Put the tortillas in a towel or warmer and set them in the microwave.

Chop up the sausage as it fries. When you flip it, add the squash. Cook until the squash is tender but not mushy, about 8-10 minutes. Salt if you think it's needed.

Add the onion and heat the tortillas in the microwave for about a minute. One by one, fill the soft tortillas with the drained mixture, add cilantro, lettuce, guacamole and tomatoes, and enjoy.

Note: Be sure to use the raw Mexican sausage in this dish. The one I used for this dish came from The Rock Barn, via Relay Foods. The Spanish version is not spicy enough and more vinegary. For vegetarians, there are very good vegan chorizos available. I often use them because they are much less greasy and still have the punch and flavor of the meaty kind.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Funny name for a fabulous treat

Chocolate lovers, this is your dream. It's a cake and pudding all in one, and comes in a little ramekin for you alone. Top it with whipped cream, strawberries, gelato, ice cream, Grand Marnier or Baileys Irish Cream, or a combination of the above. It's very rich, so it's best to make it in 4-ounce cups.

Muck-muck Cake
Serves 8

7 ounces fine dark chocolate, broken into small pieces (I've made it with Scharffen Berger 70%,  Lindt 85%,  Baker's semisweet chocolate and Safeway real semisweet chocolate chips. Buy the finest you can afford. You won't regret it.)
14 tablespoons butter (2 sticks, minus 2 tablespoons. Use the extra to brush inside the ramekins.)
4 eggs
4 egg yolks
1½ cups confectioner's sugar
¾ cup flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brush 8 3-inch ramekins with a tablespoon of melted butter. Set all of them in a 9x13-inch pan. Fill the pan with about a half-inch of water.
Place the butter in a 2-cup glass microwave-safe measuring cup. Microwave for a minute and a half or until butter is completely melted. Stir in the chocolate. Microwave for 30 seconds more if the chocolate doesn't completely melt when stirred.
Beat with a whisk the eggs and yolks in a 4-cup glass measuring cup. Slowly add the butter and chocolate, then the sugar, then the flour, until completely combined.
Pour into the ramekins, then put in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes (if you get distracted, or like only a little goo in the middle, a somewhat longer time is OK). Remove from oven and serve immediately with a dusting of confectioner's sugar or the topping of your choice.

Adapted from recipe given to me by Linda Wallihan in Sacramento