Are you aware that today, May 20th, the USA celebrates ‘National Quiche Lorraine Day’. It is one of their many ‘fun food holidays’. Who makes up these holidays is not clear but it gives a great excuse to enjoy this classic quiche.
In a strict sense, there are no national holidays in the United States. Each of the 50 states has jurisdiction over its own holidays. The federal government proclaimed ten holidays that most states observe on the same dates. These are called ‘legal’ or ‘public’ holidays.
Fun food holidays usually originate from and are promoted by industry groups, clubs, health organizations and occasionally individuals.
Over 50 years ago, Julia Child introduced us to French cuisine with her cooking series, The French Chef, on PBS television. Among the many dishes she introduced was the original or classic Quiche Lorraine.
Quiche Lorraine (named for the Lorraine region of France) was originally an open pie with a filling of custard and smoked bacon. It was only later that cheese was added to this quiche. Today we have many variants to the original that include a wide variety of ingredients. Myself, I could eat quiche anytime, for any meal. This fun food holiday sure seems like a great idea. To our quiche Lorraine I am adding some mushrooms for a little extra flavor since we both enjoy them.
In a skillet, fry bacon. Remove from skillet & lay on paper towel. In bacon drippings, saute mushrooms, onions & garlic until moisture evaporates. Crumble bacon. Grate cheese.
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper & thyme. In the bottom of quiche shell place half of the grated cheese. Top with bacon, mushrooms, green onion & garlic. Carefully pour egg mixture over all. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until quiche tests done in center. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
If your using milk it will take a bit longer to bake but does cut down those calories.
From breakfast to dessert, healthy to decadent, traditional to innovative, the carrot cake is considered a timeless classic that never goes out of ‘style’. It was probably borne out of necessity, making use of the carrots’ natural sweetness, evolving from the carrot pudding of medieval times. Carrots contain more sugar than any other vegetable besides the sugar beet.
In the 1970’s, carrot cake was perceived as being ‘healthy’ due to the fact that carrots, raisins and nuts are all ‘good for us’. Then along came that glorious cream cheese frosting that forever bonded the pair. While raisins are undoubtedly the oldest compliment to carrots, pineapple, apples or applesauce as well as walnuts have all become modern day add-ins of choice.
I remember my mother making a jelly roll cake when I was growing up. It was a sponge cake baked in a sheet pan. She would spread a layer of jam over it when it was cool and roll it up. It looked unique and tasted great. Of course, today a cake roll is very common place with many variations. As far as carrots are concerned, you can transform this versatile veggie into everything from energy bars and smoothies to cinnamon rolls and cookies etc, etc, etc…. My choice today is to make a CARROT CAKE ROLL with CREAM CHEESE FILLING, yum!!
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a jelly roll pan ( 10 x 15") with parchment paper & spray with baking spray.
With a hand mixer, beat eggs on high for 5 minutes, until frothy & dark yellow. Beat in sugar, oil & vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt & spices. Stir into wet ingredients just until blended. Fold in dry carrots.
Spread batter in prepared pan. This makes a very thin layer; use a spatula to make sure it is spread evenly to the corners of pan. Bake 10-15 minutes. Test cake with a toothpick to be sure it is completely baked. While cake is baking, spread a clean kitchen towel on work surface. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. As soon as cake comes out of oven, turn it over on towel. Remove parchment paper carefully.
Working at the short end, fold the edge of the towel over cake. Using the help of the towel, roll cake tightly. Let cool completely while rolled, at least an hour.
While cake is cooling, make filling. Beat butter & cream cheese together until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar & vanilla; beat until smooth.
When cake is cool, carefully unroll the towel. Spread the filling evenly over cake & re-roll tightly. Chill about 30 minutes to an hour. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, slice & serve.
Savored for centuries, crepes are popular not only throughout France but worldwide. Crepe making has evolved from being cooked on large cast- iron hot plates heated over a wood fire in a fireplace to pans or griddles that are gas or electrically heated.
Around the 12th century, buckwheat was introduced to Brittany, France from the east. Buckwheat could thrive on the desolate, rocky Breton moors and was high in fiber, protein and essential amino acids. At that point, all crepes were being made from buckwheat flour. White flour crepes appeared only at the turn of the 20th century when white flour became affordable.
Almost every country in the world has its own name and adaptation of crepes including Italian crespelle, Hungarian palacsintas, Jewish blintzes, Scandinavian plattars, Russian blini and Greek kreps.
Although crepes are simple in concept, by creating fillings that are complex in flavors, takes this entree to a whole new level.
On July 25/2016, I posted a blog featuring both sweet and savory crepes you might enjoy to read. For something different today, I made ‘crepe stacks’ which have a savory filling of my own ‘design’. Hope you find time to make some.
In a large container with a cover, beat eggs well on medium speed. Gradually add dry ingredients alternately with milk & oil. Beat until smooth. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before cooking.
In a saucepan, melt margarine; add flour while stirring for a couple of minutes. Gradually whisk in milk, chicken broth & spices. Add cheese; cook, stirring until cheese is melted. Set aside to cool slightly then place in food processor. Process until smooth & fluffy.
In a bowl, combine water & seasonings. Add ground pork & mix well. In a skillet, saute mushroom slices in margarine; remove from skillet & set aside. Scramble fry pork until no longer pink. Spoon onto paper towels to drain. Add to Gouda sauce.
Place one crepe on each dinner plate. Top with slices of sauteed mushrooms & some pork/Gouda sauce. Repeat 3 more times on each plate. Garnish if you prefer. It may be necessary to reheat for a couple of minutes in the microwave before serving.
Although quiche didn’t really take hold in North America until the end of the 1970’s, it had been mentioned in the ‘Joy of Cooking’ cookbooks already in 1931 & 1951.
Considered to be a classically French dish, it actually originated in the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, under German rule. Later, when the kingdom came under French control and was renamed Lorraine, the quiche was reinvented as Quiche Lorraine.
The original quiche Lorraine had a bottom crust made of bread dough and the filling was comprised of a heavy custard, onions and smoked bacon. It was only later that cheese was added. In today’s quiche the bread dough crust has been replaced with pie dough and you can just about put any variety of vegetables, seafood, ham and different cheeses in the filling. Any vegetables you add should be sauteed, steamed or microwaved first, with the exception of things like fresh tomato slices or asparagus tips. Meat definitely needs to be cooked first.
A quote from the 1900’s, that ‘real men don’t eat quiche’ was made in reference to the small quantities of meat quiche contained. I think that train of thought has ‘gone by the boards’, as time has passed though!
This flavorful BLT QUICHE is good with either pork or turkey bacon and your choice of savory cheese.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a deep 9" quiche or pie pan with pastry.
In a skillet, fry bacon until crisp. Remove from skillet onto paper towels; cook the leek in bacon drippings over medium heat until softened, 5-7 minutes. Chop bacon. In a bowl, whisk eggs, half & half & spices until combined. Place half of grated cheese in bottom of quiche shell; layer with leek, bacon & roasted tomatoes. Carefully pour egg mixture over all.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the quiche tests firm in the center. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing & serving.
I have a good pastry recipe that I had posted on my blog October 10/2016 that works real nice for quiche.
The aroma of Easter bread baking certainly brings back precious childhood memories. What I recall about my mother’s Easter bread, was that it was a dense, mildly sweet & a very egg rich bread. It was always baked in round ‘cans’ and the taste was unforgettable.
Nearly every country around the world has a traditional Easter bread. Each one is different in some way, a mix of symbolism and satisfying taste. They represent a continuity of traditions from centuries past, including much earlier pre-Christian times. Often these rich, yeasted breads are made in symbolic shapes and are elaborately decorated.
Germany and Austria make several shapes such as : Osterzopf – Easter braid, Osterkranz – Easter wreath or crown, Osternester – Easter nests, Eierimnest – Easter egg nest, Striezel – stacked braided bread.
That being said, I couldn’t resist doing a little ‘version’ of my own. I started with my favorite sweet yeast bread, added some anise flavor and a cream cheese filling. So now you have German osterkranz, Italian panettone and Romanian pasca all in one beautiful EUROPEAN EASTER BREAD.
In a large bowl, whisk yeast & sugar into lukewarm water; let stand about 10 minutes. With an electric mixer, beat together 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, oil, anise extract, lemon zest, lemon extract, salt & anise seed. Combine egg mixture, melted butter & milk with yeast mixture.
Add 4 CUPS flour, 1 cup at a time to wet mixture. Stir well after each addition. Turn dough out onto a floured surface & knead until smooth & elastic, about 5-6 minutes, adding remaining 1/2 cup flour if necessary.
Coat a large bowl with oil. Place dough in bowl & turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap & set in a warm place to rise until it doubles in bulk. Meanwhile, cut a piece of parchment paper big enough to cover the bottom & go up the sides of a 10" spring form pan. When dough has risen enough, cut into four pieces.
On the parchment paper, press one piece of the dough into a circle measuring about 10" in diameter. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the mixed peel, leaving a gap at the edge. Press out second piece of the dough on a lightly floured piece of wax paper, place it on top of the first layer & sprinkle with another 1/3 of mixed peel. Repeat with the third & fourth pieces of dough but do not sprinkle mixed peel on the final layer.
Place a glass tumbler on top of the center of the dough circles. Cut dough into 16 segments, starting a the edge of the glass. Lift & twist them away from each other through 180 degrees. Lift & twist through 90 degrees so that the ends are vertical. Press the edges together firmly. Repeat this process with all pairs of segments. Leave glass sitting on top at the center of the circle to form an indentation for the cheese filling. Cover with plastic wrap & set in a warm place to rise for about 1/2 an hour.
Preheat oven to to 325 F. In a bowl, place cream cheese, eggs, sugar & vanilla; mix well. When bread has risen, remove glass & fill indentation with cheese mixture. Bake for about 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool. Brush with honey/water glaze. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Eostre is an obscure Germanic and Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and dawn, and it is thought to be the namesake of the Christian holiday Easter. Because food has always had a close association with Easter, special dishes were cooked in her honor. Most important of these was a small spiced, sweet bun from which our ‘hot cross bun’ derives. These little spiced buns are a rather old English tradition, which are still traditionally eaten on Good Friday. They are marked on top with a cross which is of ancient origin connected with religious offerings of bread.
Hot Cross ‘Scones’ are an easy take on the seasonal classic bun. They are the best of both worlds; hot cross yeasted buns and a tender spicy scone. Scones work for me in the way that most of the time I have the ingredients on hand and they only take about twenty minutes or so to make.
As always, I enjoy the idea of variation in just about everything. I had three scone recipes in mind for today’s blog. One recipe is a hot cross scone made by changing out the regular flour for ‘Kamut’ flour. This flour is made from an ancient grain originally grown by the pharaohs of Egypt. It contains more protein, minerals and other nutrients than modern wheat.
The other two recipes are Spiced Orange & Fresh Apple Hot Cross Scones, bothmade with a sour cream batter. Hopefully they will become part of your Easter recipe collection.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda & salt. Add butter; using a pastry blender, blend until mixture forms fine crumbs. Stir in spices, dried fruit & orange zest.
In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, & vanilla; whisk until well blended. Add to flour mixture; stir until a soft dough forms.
Scoop onto lined baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven, combine water & honey glaze. Warm very slightly in microwave; brush over tops of scones. When scones have cooled, decorate with icing crosses.
To make Kamut Scones use 1 3/4 cup kamut flour & 3/4 cup white flour instead of all white flour.
To make Apple Scones add 1/4 of a large apple, peeled & cut in 1/4" dice. to basic recipe.
Today is Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day. The date can be any time between February 3rd and March 9th. It is exactly 47 days before Easter Sunday, based on the cycles of the moon. The expression ‘Shrove Tuesday’ comes from the word shrive, meaning ‘absolve’. This day is observed by many Christians who make a special point of self-examination of considering what wrongs they need to repent and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth they especially need to ask God’s help in dealing with.
Shrove Tuesday precedes Ash Wednesday or the first day of Lent. Popular practices, such as indulging in food that one sacrifices before commencing the fasting and religious obligations associated with Lent.
FASTNACHT, (or Shrove Tuesday) is celebrated throughout Germany with masquerades, carnival processions and ceremonials that vary in character according to locality and folk custom. Fasching is Germany’s version of Mardi Gras, a French term for ‘Fat Tuesday’. This carnival climaxes on the night before the fast. It’s roots go way back to ancient Roman times.
Fastnachts are yeasted doughnuts that are eaten in Germany instead of pancakes. Typically they have no hole or filling and are dusted with powdered sugar. The rich treats presented a way to use up all of the butter, sugar and fat in the house prior to the self-denying diets of Lent.
GERMAN POTATO PANCAKES are my Shrove Tuesday meal. I definitely grew up enjoying pancakes and with the many flavor options of today how could you not like them!
Par boil potatoes; cool slightly so you can peel & grate them. In a small bowl, combine next 6 ingredients. In a separate dish, whisk together melted margarine, buttermilk & eggs. Carefully combine wet & dry ingredients, stirring only until just blended.
Heat a non-stick griddle to 350 F. Fold potatoes into batter. Using a 1/4 cup measure, place batter on grill, spreading slightly. Brown lightly on both sides.
In contrast to it’s name, coffeecake usually does not have any coffee in it but is most often served with coffee. This is a cake that was not invented by a pastry chef but rather evolved from a variety of different types of cakes. Said to have had it’s origin in Europe, coffeecake became famous in Germany, Scandinavia and Portugal. The Scandinavians were advocates of the coffee break and desired something sweet with their coffee, thus contributed to the evolution of this tasty cake.
By 1879, coffeecakes had become well known in America and became common place to most households. As time passed, the original recipe was being prepared with cheese, yogurt, sugared fruits, nuts and spices. The most preferred baking pan for this cake is the ‘bundt pan’. The hole in the center of the pan allows heavier batters to become cooked all the way through without any dough being left unbaked in the center.
Sour Cream Coffee Cake, sometimes called Russian Coffeecake, is one of the most delicious and poplar of all versions. Due to the fact that this dense cake is not overly sweet makes it ideal for breakfast, brunch, snacks as well as other informal occasions. The lactic acid in the sour cream results in a tender crumb as well as keeping the cake fresh longer while the fat contributes to the flavor and moistness. The slight tang of the sour cream underscores the velvety, buttery cake. With the batter being rather thick, it will support a heavy filling or streusel.
This is a cake with limitless possibilities. Personalize it to suit the occasion with fillings such as Apple Nut, Brown Sugar & Nuts, Cranberry Orange, Date or Fig. Of course, instead of a glaze you can always put some streusel in the bundt pan first, giving it a glorious look and taste when baked and inverted on a serving plate.
Today’s recipe combines the use of sour cream and cream cheese. The aroma when it comes out of the oven is heavenly not to mention the taste later.
In a small bowl, combine cream cheese with apricot preserve until smooth; set aside.
If using streusel on top or inside, combine streusel ingredients well; set aside.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Lightly butter & flour a 12-cup bundt cake pan.
In a large bowl, beat sugar, margarine, vanilla & eggs at medium speed for 2 minutes. In another bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt; fold into creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Beat on low speed for another minute.
Spread 1/3 of the batter in pan; spread with 1/2 of the filling. Repeat 2 times. Bake 45 minutes or until tests done with a wooden pick. Remove from oven to a wire rack; cool for 20 minutes. Combine glaze ingredients while cake is cooling. Invert bundt pan onto serving plate & drizzle with glaze.
If you choose to use streusel, after buttering & flouring the pan, sprinkle streusel in the bottom which will essentially become the top of cake.
Or place some streusel on the bottom of pan & sprinkle some over each layer of filling.
What could be more convenient on Christmas morning than a savory breakfast casserole that is just waiting to be baked!
‘Strata’ is a culinary term coined in the 1950’s for an old fashioned baked egg casserole. Ingredients are layered, using the same technique as when preparing a lasagna or quiche, only bread is used as the main starch and eggs are the binder. Strata’s are always savory as opposed to bread pudding, which can be sweet or savory.
In the late seventies, here in Alberta, Canada, eight ‘bridge club’ friends had an idea about writing a cookbook. They called it ‘The Best of Bridge’, which went on to become one of the most successful brands in Canadian publishing. One of their first recipes published in 1979, was called ‘Christmas Morning Wife Saver’, which became a signature recipe that put the group on the road to success. It was a breakfast casserole that could be prepared on Christmas eve, refrigerated overnight, ready to bake Christmas morning.
Time has passed and this has given way to unlimited ideas for such casseroles which are served at any time of the day now. On either side of us, our neighbors have small children. For a special Christmas treat some years, Brion and I have given them breakfast strata’s that they can bake while their children open gifts. They seem to enjoy them.
One of my favorite strata recipes, I happened to find in a California ‘Savemart’ magazine, when on holiday one year. I like to use apple/chicken sausage in ours but you can change it up to your personal preference.
In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat for 15 minutes or until crisp; drain. Cut bacon into 1-inch pieces. Into same skillet, add sausage & cook over medium heat until browned, breaking up sausage with the side of spoon; drain. Prepare bread cubes & vegetables.
In a medium bowl whisk eggs, milk, mustard, salt & pepper. Generously spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Using half of each, layer bread cubes, bacon, sausage, cheese, peppers & green onions into baking dish; repeat layers with remaining ingredients. Carefully pour egg mixture evenly over the casserole mixture.
Cover with plastic wrap, gently pressing down so wrap is right on the surface of the mixture. Cover with foil & refrigerate overnight. Remove strata from fridge in the morning. Remove foil & plastic wrap. Preheat oven to 325F. & bake for 1 hour or until center is set, (if strata is browning to fast, loosely cover with foil). Allow to stand 10 minutes before cutting into squares.
If you chose to bake it immediately after it is prepared, just wait long enough for the egg mixture to soak into the bread cubes.
When most of us think of fruitcake we picture a dense, dark colored, dry loaf of bread packed with dried candied fruits and nuts. History and lore mingle in the telling of the fruitcake story. Many of the earliest recipes date back to ancient Egypt and Rome. Fruitcake also has historical associations with the Holy Land, with its internal bounty being said to represent the Wise Men. Like many other fruit breads and cakes, it has been venerated since Medieval times when fruit in wintertime was an extraordinary treat.
The English fruitcake or Christmas cake reached its heyday in Victorian times when, with the introduction of the Christmas tree and other festive customs and religious traditions exploded into colorful, season-long celebrations. These fruitcakes were made well in advance of the holidays, wrapped in cheesecloth that had been soaked in brandy or rum. Periodically, the cheesecloth was resoaked and the cakes rewrapped to absorb the liquid. The day before Christmas, they were unwrapped, coated with marzipan or almond paste, further coated with royal icing that dried and hardened, then glazed with apricot glaze. These Christmas cakes demonstrated such abundance that over the years, the same kind of cake has been used as wedding cake, as it has the advantage of preserving well for anniversary celebrations. The German Christmas bread called ‘stollen’ is a close kin to fruitcake.
Fruitcake character is largely determined by the wealth of fruit and nuts it contains. Spices are other key ingredients that go back to the Middle Eastern heritage of the fruitcake. Rum and Brandy are very often included in the liquids of the cake which leave their flavor but no alcoholic content because the alcohol is driven off during baking. Any favorite flavor, such as wine, fruit juice or liqueurs can be used. Rather than just adding it to the batter, I prefer to marinate the fruit and nuts in it overnight or longer.
The ‘mail-order’ fruitcakes that became quite popular in America in about 1913, although convenient, probably had a lot to do with our great dislike for this traditional ‘Christmas’ cake. I’m pretty sure this is where the dry part originated. As a kid, it certainly wasn’t my choice for a Christmas treat. I was never one for molasses or raisins and it seemed that was all I could taste. I probably shouldn’t mention this but on occasion my mother would make an unbaked fruitcake. There were very few things she made that I didn’t like but that topped the list. If I recall it contained molasses, marshmallows and I think graham wafer crumbs —- yikes!! Things got a little better when ‘Betty Crocker’ came out with a boxed fruitcake mix that had a white batter.
It seems like its been decades since fruitcakes were the du jour dessert to be served at a wedding. These days, the wedding cake need not be a cake at all. Since about 2003, ‘Cheese (Tower) Cakes’ have grown in popularity as an alternative to the traditional fruitcake. It is made by stacking an assortment of round cheeses to resemble a cake which can be served with fruit and crackers. This will also compliment the wine being served. So much for the tradition of a single female wedding guest putting a bit of wedding cake under her pillow at night so she could dream of the person she would marry!
I’m sure your curious as to why I would dedicate a blog to White FruitCake. Some years back, I was co-owner of a catering company. At Christmas we were regularly asked for Christmas fruitcake. After a lot of ‘recipe development’ we settled on a white fruitcake recipe that became a signature product for us. To this day, I very often make a batch in about mid November, baking it in little individual loaves. Even though there is just the two of us I make the whole recipe and we enjoy it early on into the next year.
Marinate the first 7 ingredients overnight (I prefer to marinate for at least 24 hrs.) in 1 cup of Rum ( use your own preference as to the type of Rum). Preheat oven to 275 F. Line baking pans with parchment paper.
Cream margarine with sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla & lemon zest.
Combine flour, baking powder & salt. Add gradually to creamed mixture, beating well. Fold in marinated fruit mixture. Carefully divide cake batter into 24 mini loaf pans or 4 - 9 x 5" loaf pans.
Bake for 1 hour for mini loaves & 2 hours for large loaves. Place a pan with 1/2 -inch of water in the bottom of oven while baking; checking periodically that it has not gone dry. If baking fruitcake in large loaves the temperature may be increased to 350 F. for the last 10-15 minutes. I found with the mini loaves it was best to bake them completely at 275 F. When cake tests done, remove from oven & place on cooling racks until thoroughly cooled.
Wrap in Rum soaked cheesecloth & place in a tightly covered plastic container for a least one month before serving. Each week, check to see if you need to add more rum to the cheesecloth.
Total baked weight of fruit cake is 10 3/4 lbs or 4876 grams.
Yield equals either 4 - 9 x 5" loaves or 24 mini loaves.