Quiche: An Easy to Make Spring Recipe

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I thought this homemade spinach ricotta quiche would be a fabulous recipe for today’s blog post, with Easter and Passover being right around the corner. Not only is this recipe something that you can easily bake ahead, but it’s also a beautiful presentation filled with vibrant colors for spring. Prepare it completely and then bake it at your destination, or pop it in the oven just before you’re ready to serve it.

if you don’t have time for making your own crust (which I highly recommend, but I know life happens), a frozen crust works just fine. Just check out the crust directions before you get started. I will say, nothing is better than homemade quiche crust, though. So if you have a chance, give it a try.

The beauty of this recipe is it works great for either a quiche OR a frittata. Simply leave off the crust for a frittata (and for Passover), or add the crust for a quiche. The result is delicious either way!

Spinach Ricotta Quiche
Serves 8

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Note: If you’re using store-bought crust, skip the directions for Pate Brisee. 

For Pate Brisee:

You will need:
– 2 cups all purpose flour
– 1 stick butter chilled and cut into cubes
– ½ teaspoon salt
– ¼ to ½ cup ice water

To prepare:

Place flour, sugar, butter, and salt into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a mixing blade. Mix on medium until small crumbs form, add ice water until the dough pulls together and away from the side of the bowl.

The dough should be a soft consistency.

Place dough in the fridge to rest.

For the Filling:

You will need:
– 6 eggs
– 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
– 4 cups of fresh spinach
– 1/4 sliced red onion
– 2 tablespoons of olive oil
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup of cubed speck ham
– 1 cup cubed buffalo mozzerella
– 1 Pate Brisee (recipe below)

To prepare:

Whisk eggs in a large bowl, add ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and salt, set aside.

In a frying pan, add the speck ham and saute for 10 minutes until the ham becomes crispy. Pour off any excess fat and set aside.

In a saute pan, add olive oil and saute spinach and onion until spinach is wilted, about 10 minutes, set aside to cool.

Once the spinach is cooled, in batches squeeze the excess liquid in your hands into the sink. Place into the bowl of eggs and cheeses, add speck, and combine completely. Your filling should be green.

Roll out the Pate Brisee into a disk, and fit into a 9-inch quiche pan, add the filling. You may also blind bake the crust if you wish; it’s definitely an option.

Bake for 45-50 minutes in a 375 degree F oven.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

xx Annette

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The Twisted Soul Cookbook

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Dare I say that Chef Deborah VanTrece is my Rizzoli soul sister?!  Well heck, I am going to say it. I am so excited for the latest Rizzoli NY cookbook from a local Atlanta chef. This cookbook is not only a visual treat, but it is also an amazing collection of recipes that infuse Deborah’s vast travel culinary experiences and her Southern soul. Her restaurant, The Twisted House Cookhouse and Pours is a landmark in the community. I was excited to meet her in person at her cookbook photo-shoot in Atlanta last January. We share the same Rizzoli NY cookbook editor, which makes us sisters for sure, right? I was invited to meet her and appear in her cookbook while enjoying a meal. Needless to say, trying a multitude of her recipes all in one sitting was a treat.

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My 5 questions for Deborah:

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Do you have a favorite recipe in the book?

There’s no particular recipe I favor more than another in this book. Each recipe has a personal meaning to me.

Tell me a bit about the inspiration for the book, and the recipe.

This book is inspired by the great soul food cooks of the past and present. It expounds on old traditions by exploring new combinations of ingredients by interchanging cultures and techniques. It is intended to uplift the idea of “comfort food” across all cultures and showcase the impact of the humblest cuisines in our souls and our hearts. 

When did cooking become a passion and then a profession? Was this your path, or was it different? 

As far back as I can remember, I have always been intrigued by food and the fellowship around it.  Being an only child, sometimes I felt so alone.  It was always celebrations, that included food and drink, that erased my feelings of loneliness and created an atmosphere of joy that I wanted to last forever.  Because of this, I developed a passion for cooking, often sharing my creations with friends and family.  I became an international flight attendant, and the exposure to other cultures only increased my hunger for learning how to create new dishes. I finally enrolled in culinary school and my professional journey in the food world began.

How have you been able to pivot your restaurant during Covid?

My pivots with Covid are an entire book within itself. I have adjusted my business model several times to keep in line with safety protocols, as well as government mandates. It hasn’t been easy, but we are still standing, and for that, I am grateful.

Who most influenced you in your cooking?

My family has been most influential in my cooking. From my mother and father to my aunts, uncles and cousins, they have all helped in constructing my culinary foundation. Good food is a part of my history and recipes handed down through generations are so important to my story. These recipes showcase the existence of my ancestors and motivate me to continue the story by adding recipes of my own.

 

Thanks so much, Deborah! xx

 

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Valentine’s Day Sweet:: Chocolate Crepes

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Crepes are an excellent choice for Valentine’s Day treats because they can be made ahead of time. Fill them with chocolate mousse, and they’re even better. This recipe is from the archives, and I know you’ll love seeing it with fresh eyes. Make a batch on Friday and enjoy them all weekend long! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Basic Crepes
Yield: 12 to 15 crepes, 4-6 servings
You will need:

– 1 ½ cups whole milk
– 2 large eggs
– 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
– 1 cup all purpose flour
– ½ teaspoon kosher salt

additional unsalted butter, for coating the pan

To Make ahead
Refrigerate the batter for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Remove the crepe batter from the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to cook the crepes.

To prepare
Heat a small non-stick pan over medium heat. Add about a teaspoon of butter to the pan and swirl the melting butter around the pan into a thin, even coat. Pour two tablespoons of crepe batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds or until the edges begin to dry and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to a warm oven if serving immediately or to a plate to cool completely for storing. Continue cooking the batter as above – coating the pan with butter every after every 2 or 3 crepes.

*Note: Cooled crepes can be stacked, and stored in zip-top bag in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for 2 weeks. Thaw frozen crepes at room temperature at least an hour before reheating. Reheat stored crepes in warm oven or a microwave just before serving.

**Note: Lore holds that the first crepe is always a flop. Think of it as a test of your pans heat and adjust the heat accordingly.

Easy Chocolate Mousse
Yield: 8 servings
You will need:

– 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
– 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
– 2 cups chilled heavy cream

To prepare:

Fill a small saucepan half full with water and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Meanwhile find a small heat-proof bowl that will fit inside the saucepan without touching the water. Melt the chocolate in the small bowl over the simmering water, stirring frequently with a spatula. Once melted add the espresso powder and stir until dissolved. Remove the chocolate from the heat to cool while the cream is whipped.

In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream with a hand mixer on medium speed until slightly thickened, approximately 1 minute. Add the warm chocolate to the lightly whipped cream and continue whipping on medium speed until the cream achieves soft peak – approximately 1 minute longer.

Cover the mousse with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Art direction + Photography by Lesley Graham
Recipes + food styling by Meghan Splawn
Florals by Victory Blooms

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Holiday desserts:: Walnut Roll

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I know most of you think I am Italian, but my family is Hungarian, and this is a classic Hungarian sweet. It is called Beigli (bay-glee), and it is made with walnuts and poppy seed filling with a yeasted dough. It really has a lovely flavor.

Find the recipe below. While it does take some extra prep and TLC, the end result is worth it, and it will make such a statement on your holiday table. Let me know if you give it a try!

Hungarian Walnut Roll (Beigli)
Prep time: 2 h 35 m Serves 24

For the dough, you will need:
– 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
– ½ cup of warm milk
– 5 tablespoons white sugar
– 1 cup unsalted butter, cubed
– 3 egg yolks
– 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
– 4 cups self-rising flour

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For the filling, you will need:
– 1 cup whole milk
– 3/4 cups white sugar
– 2 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
– 1 lemon, zested
– 2/3 cup golden raisins

Egg wash:
– 1 egg
– 1 tablespoon water

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To prepare:

In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine yeast and warm milk. Once the yeast has proofed, add 5 tablespoons sugar, butter, egg yolks, and sour cream in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix well. Slowly add the flour until the dough comes together. If the dough feels too wet, add a little more flour; if it’s too dry, add milk a tablespoon at a time. The dough should be moist and easy to work with.

Knead on a floured surface until smooth, then form the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with a plastic wrap, and set aside for 1 ½ hours.  While the dough is resting, make the filling. Heat the milk and ¾  cups sugar in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture has a syrupy consistency about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the chopped walnuts and stir to combine. Remove the saucepan from the heat; stir in the lemon zest and raisins, and let filling cool.

Once proofed (keep in mind the dough does not have a big rise), divide the dough into three pieces. Roll one piece of dough out on a lightly floured surface to form a long rectangle about a 1/4-inch thick 8’x 10”. Spread 1/3 of the walnut filling on the dough evenly, leaving about an inch of dough at each edge. Roll the dough up to form a log, and press to seal. Place the dough, seam-side down, on a parchment-lined or Silpat lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Makes 3 logs.

Beat the egg with the tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Brush the loaves with egg wash and let rest for 1 hour in a warm place. After the dough has risen, brush it again with egg wash and put the baking tray in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (this will give the dough a shiny finish).

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Bake the loaves until they’re a deep golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes.

Cool and slice into 1 inch slices.

xx Annette

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Alex’s Moon Pies

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So many of you asked for this recipe, and Nicole my web manager, was like “We have to post this story and the recipe!” so here you are…here’s the story about Alex’s moonpies.

My daughter Alex has always been a great baker; maybe it’s her analytic Virgo nature, but baking has always appealed to her. Although she is a good cook, baking is her thing. One of the best things she makes, (her Dad’s favorite) is Moon Pies. This Thanksgiving, she shared the story of how she became acquainted with the recipe I had never heard the story and thought it was fun.

She was not very familiar with Moon Pies. Although it is a quintessentially Southern sweet, it’s not something that she grew up with in our house. Most kids grew up on Little Debbie’s Moon Pies in Atlanta, but not our kids. Although we do enjoy Southern fare, this was not something in the pantry while they were growing up. Not because they aren’t delicious, but they were never on my radar probably because of my Midwestern roots. (Note* I had never tasted a biscuit until I was 23 years old when we moved to Atlanta.) Southern food was a mystery to me. I digress…

Alex went to Law school, and when she graduated she found herself in Fitzgerald, Georgia, in the deep South clerking for a Judge. She loved living in this small town and working in the courthouse. The Judge was very kind, and she learned a lot.

One day, she walked into the Judge’s office and said, “I know it’s your birthday next week, and I would love to bake you something you would enjoy, so if there’s something special you like let me know.” The next day the Judge came into her office with a recipe for Moon Pies. Having never tasted a Moon Pie, she was a bit nervous about making them for his special day. Even though the recipe was involved, she thought they turned out great, although she never tasted the batch, she delivered them on his birthday hoping for the best. The next day he came into her office and declared that the Moon Pies were absolutely delicious! Relived and curious, Alex made the recipe again, this time tasting them. Wow, she thought, worth all the effort. They were truly incredible.

Moon Pies have now become Alex’s signature dessert, her Dad asks for them for all birthdays and holidays. They have become a staple dessert. Who knew what we were missing all those years.

Here is the recipe from Garden and Gun Feb/March 2014:

It is labor-intensive, but truly worth the effort.

Do-It Yourself Moon Pies

For the dough, you will need:
– 6 oz. unsalted butter
– 1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
– 1/4 cup Steen’s cane syrup
– 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
– 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs, ground fine
– 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
– 1/2 tsp. baking powder
– 1/2 tsp. baking soda
– 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
– 2 tbsp. whole milk

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For the Marshmallow, you will need:
– F4 tsp. powdered gelatin
– 1/2 cup water, ice cold, plus 1/4 cup at room temperature
– 4 tbsp. light corn syrup
– 3 tbsp. honey (clover or wildflower)
– 3/4 cup granulated sugar
– 3 large grade-A egg whites

For the chocolate coating, you will need:
– 1 lb bittersweet chocolate (61-70% cacao)
– 2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil.

To prepare:

For the cookie dough:

    Cream butter, brown sugar, syrup, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, for 1 minute.
    In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix with a fork. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix on low speed; slowly stream in milk. Continue mixing until the dough comes together. Press dough flat, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
    Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
    Turn out chilled dough onto a flour-dusted surface, then roll it until it is ¼ inch thick. Stamp out cookies using a 3-inch round cookie cutter. Place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake 10 to 12 minutes. Remove sheet from oven, and while the cookies are cooling, start your marshmallow.

For the marshmallow:

Sprinkle gelatin over ½ cup ice-cold water, and set aside.

Combine ¼ cup room-temperature water, corn syrup, honey, and sugar in a small pot, insert candy thermometer, and simmer until mixture reaches 240 degrees. When the thermometer reaches 200 degrees—but not before—place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and whip on high.

Once the sugar mixture hits 240, remove it from heat, and stir in the bloomed gelatin. Then, while egg whites are whipping, slowly drizzle the hot sugar mixture down the inside of the bowl to avoid spattering the hot syrup. Continue whipping for an additional 8 minutes, until the mixture stiffens. The pan will still feel warm to the touch but no longer hot.

Flip over half of the cooled cookies. Lightly coat a spoon with nonstick cooking spray, and spoon approximately a quarter cup of marshmallow onto each flipped cookie. Use the remaining cookies as tops; gently push down until you can see the marshmallow come just to the edge. While making the chocolate coating (see below), allow cookies to chill in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.

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For the chocolate coating: 

Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate has melted, then remove bowl from heat and let it cool slightly. Once the chocolate is no longer hot, but warm, slowly whisk in oil in a steady stream. Allow chocolate to cool at room temperature for about 5 minutes before proceeding with assembly.

To Assemble: 

Submerge chilled cookies in the chocolate, using 2 forks to gently lift the sandwiches out of the bowl. Let stand until shell hardens.

Photos: Garden and Gun, Feb/March 2014 Photo Credit : Johnny Autry, Recipe by David Guas Current restaurant: Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery, Arlington, VA

 

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