Quiche seems like a springtime dish, but the truth is its an ‘any season’ dish in my opinion. This version skips the pastry and is built on a crispy, grated, potato hash brown crust.
Hash browns can always be counted on to add heartiness and can be made several different ways, incorporating a variety of ingredients, including leftovers or whatever happens to be on hand in the fridge. Although hash browns are credited as being from the USA, there are similar dishes elsewhere that likely contributed towards the hash browns of today, and should be mentioned:
- Rösti of Switzerland – like a potato pancake
- Latkes of the Jewish folks – also like a potato pancake, but with eggs
- Tortilla de papas (or patatas) of Spain – like an omelet
The original ‘quiche Lorraine’ was an open pie with a filling consisting of an egg and cream custard with smoked bacon. It was only later that cheese was added to the quiche Lorraine. The bottom crust was originally made from bread dough, but that has long since evolved into numerous other ideas such as puff pastry or hash brown crusts.
Although quiche is now a classic dish of French cuisine, quiche actually originated in Germany, in the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, under German rule, and which the French later renamed Lorraine. The word ‘quiche’ is from the German ‘Kuchen’, meaning cake.
The specialty quiche from Lorraine features gruyere cheese, onion, bacon as its primary flavors. The nice thing is, quiche is something that anyone can make and can be served as an entrée, for lunch, breakfast, or an evening snack.
Quiche Lorraine w/ Hash Brown Crust
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Thaw & pat dry shredded hashbrowns on paper towels. Lightly toss with remaining crust ingredients. Press into the bottom & up the sides of a 9" quiche pan. Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F.
In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp, 5-6 minutes; transfer to a paper towel lined plate & allow to cool.
Wipe out skillet & heat oil. Add leeks & garlic; cook covered , stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes or until tender.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, heavy cream & smoked paprika. Stir in bacon, leeks & cheese. Spoon mixture into hashbrown crust. Slightly press sliced tomatoes , cut side up, into quiche. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp each salt & pepper.
Bake until set & golden brown about 20-25 minutes. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
- To cut out a few calories, I use a low fat milk instead of the heavy cream. It just requires a little longer cooking time but still tastes great.
Avocados are a gift of Mother Nature! It’s no secret we love avocados, I’ve lost count of how many ways I have found to use avocados over the years. I’m always surprised how versatile avocados are for cooking and baking.
If you want to reduce the amount of fat used in baking, there is no better product substitute than the avocado fruit. Avocados can replace butter and eggs but be aware that the dough will be slightly green in color even after baking. The texture of avocado is soft and creamy like butter and can simply be substituted cup for cup with butter. Unlike butter, avocados won’t melt so it might be beneficial to slightly increase some of the liquids being used. As an egg substitute, use up to ⅓ cup of avocado pulp for each egg. If you find that your cake is browning too quickly, just reduce the heat and increase the baking time.
These avocado lemon cakes serve as the perfect base for numerous different combinations such as blueberries, or maybe some chopped nuts, or a handful of toasted coconut.
Avocado Lemon Cakes
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Preheat oven to 325 F. Spray a 6-cup mini Bundt pan with baking spray.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt in a bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the pureed avocado & butter with the sugar until completely combined. Beat in egg. With the mixer on low speed, beat in lemon juice/milk mixture until just combined.
Add flour mixture in 3 additions, mixing each addition until just combined. Once the flour mixture is incorporated, increase speed to medium & beat for 20 seconds longer. Be careful to not overmix. Divide batter between the 6 mini cups.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pan on a rack for 10 minutes before inverting to cool completely.
In a small bowl, combine enough fresh lemon juice with powdered sugar to make a glaze consistency. Drizzle over cooled cakes. Garnish with pepita seeds or pistachios & lemon zest.
Millet is not just a key ingredient in bird seed and animal feed. While it is used for these purposes, millet has been an important food source for a large part of the world’s human population dating back to prehistoric times!
It’s a primary ingredient in flatbreads, beer and other fermented beverages, and porridges. Though technically a seed, millet functions like a whole grain, and you can cook with it like you would other whole grains such as rice or quinoa.
The name ‘millet’ refers to several different varieties of a cereal grass, the most common in North America being the proso variety, while ‘pearl millet’ is the most common variety cultivated worldwide. India and parts of Africa are where millet is thought to have evolved.
Millet falls on the sweeter end of the whole grain scale; some people liken the flavor to corn. It also readily takes on the flavor characteristics of the ingredients in a sauce or a dressing. The small, butter-yellow grains cook up light and fluffy, similar to couscous. When ground to a flour, millet’s soft, starchy consistency makes it ideal for gluten-free baking. On its own, millet can taste somewhat bitter, which is why it’s best blended with other mild flours; doing so allows millet’s other flavor notes (buttery, nutty, grassy) to shine.
Millet is available pearled or hulled: opt for hulled, which is the true whole-grain variety (hulled still retains plentiful fiber, as only the outermost layer is removed). Out of the hull, millet seeds look like tiny yellow beads with dark dots on the side where the plant’s stem was attached.
Millet is one of the ways in which you can add the perfect gentle crunch to baked goods such as this millet tea cake.
Millet Tea Cake
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Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper making sure to have overlap on the sides for easy removal from the pan.
Whisk oats, flour, sugars, baking soda & salt together. Add buttermilk, oil, egg, vanilla, millet & dates. Whisk to blend. Stir in 1/3 cup boiling water & let stand for 5 minutes. Scrape into baking pan & level out with a fork.
Bake cake 25-30 minutes or until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. During the cooling stage drizzle cake with lemon curd if you wish. Slice & serve warm or at room temperature.
This breakfast sandwich is so much more sophisticated than your standard Egg McMuffin. Applewood bacon, eggs, gorgonzola cheese, tomato, guacamole & baby arugula make this a morning meal like no other.
This type of bread is a popular choice for breakfast and can be served with sweet or savory toppings. Nowadays, English muffins are available in a variety of flavors. Some are made with whole grains or multigrain flour. Others contain raisins, cinnamon, seeds and nuts. Traditionally, this popular breakfast staple is made with bread flour, water or milk, sugar, yeast, butter and a pinch of salt.
Bagels, savory muffins, pancake tacos and avocado toast are delicious ways to start the day, but you’re overlooking an often-forgotten breakfast staple. English muffins are the perfect foundation for a filling meal, whether it’s as a replacement for brioche in a French toast recipe or in a tasty sandwich.
Nothing hits the spot on the weekend like a brunch sandwich. Quick, easy and so good!
Bacon Gorgonzola Breakfast Sandwich
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Cook bacon until crisp in a large skillet set over medium heat, turning frequently. Blot on paper towel & set aside.
Mix together gorgonzola & mayo, mashing gorgonzola to create a thick, smooth spread. Spoon 1 Tbsp gorgonzola spread onto each toasted muffin bottom. Top with 2 slices cooked bacon & a slice of tomato. Place 1 Tbsp pesto or guacamole on each muffin & set aside.
Poach eggs in a pot of boiling water with a bit of vinegar. When cooked & yolks are still runny, remove from water with a slotted spoon & top place an egg on top of each muffin. If using arugula, top each with about a 1/4 cup loosely packed. Serve immediately.
Biscotti are time consuming to say the least, but they’re also one of the easiest and tastiest cookies you’ll ever make. No special equipment is needed; just a bowl, a couple of baking sheets and some parchment paper.
The word biscotti is derived from the Latin biscoctus, meaning twice baked or cooked: the dough is formed into logs, baked, cooled and baked again. Whereas Italians use the word ‘biscotti’ to refer to various cookies, North Americans use the term to refer to the singular long, crisp, twice-baked Italian cookie. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that biscotti became a treasured North American favorite.
Despite their centuries old heritage, there is no one perfect way to make biscotti. Some recipes call for eggs, which is the traditional method, while others use butter or oil. The choice is yours; just keep in mind that those made with butter or oil will have both a softer texture and a shorter shelf life.
Today, it seems, biscotti is everywhere with an endless array of flavors. Classics such as almond, anise and hazelnut to gingerbread, maple walnut or mint chocolate chip. There are also savory biscotti made with various cheeses and herbs that are so good when paired with a charcuterie plate, an assortment of olives and cheeses or even a bowl of soup.
Since the holiday season is upon us and as you have probably noticed, I like making the most of basic recipes with some variations. Being able to make four different flavors using one basic recipe definitely speeds up the process.
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Basic Biscotti Dough (use 1 recipe per variation)
Cardamom Orange Variation
Seeded Cranberry Variation
Speculoos Spice Variation
Preheat oven to 300 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
TO MAKE 80 BISCOTTI IN TOTAL, USE ONE RECIPE OF THE BASIC BISCOTTI DOUGH FOR EACH VARIATION. THE MIXING PROCEDURE IS ALWAYS THE SAME, JUST VARY EACH ONE WITH THE DIFFERENT ADDITIONS.
Using an electric mixer, cream together butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Add eggs & vanilla extract (add orange zest in CARDAMOM ORANGE variation). Mix until combined.
In another bowl, whisk together flour, (SPICES where called for), baking powder & salt.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients a little at a time, mixing on low until JUST incorporated. Add CITRON PEEL or PEPITA SEEDS & CRANBERRIES to the variations calling for them.
Shaping & Baking
For each recipe (or variation), shape dough into a log that is about 16-inches long. Place 2 logs on each baking sheet. Use your hands to flatten the dough logs until they are about 3/4-inch thick. Gently press the sides & ends of the logs to even them out & flatten them.
If desired, sprinkle logs with coarse sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden & the center of the logs is almost firm & bounces back when touched.
Let the logs cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 275 F. Using a sharp knife to cut the logs into 3/4-inch thick diagonal slices. Press straight down with the knife, rather than using a sawing motion. Lay the slices, cut side up, back on the lined baking sheets.
Bake another 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through baking time. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 weeks or in the freezer for 3 months.
You will have roughly 20 biscotti from each variation.
- Since I have a nut allergy, sadly I can't use them, but don't hesitate to make some variations of your own.
I just can’t resist fitting a bit of fruit mincemeat into my Christmas baking, so this year it comes in a quick bread. Quick breads cover a wide range, from biscuits and scones, which are made from a dough, to muffins and loaves that are made from a batter. They can be large or small, savory or sweet. The major thing that identifies them is the fact that they are, as their name implies, quick to make.
Quick breads have evolved as a distinctly different tradition after the introduction of baking powder in 1850. Before that, breads and cakes were leavened with yeast.
These breads come in all shapes and sizes. Even though they are called breads, lets be clear, they are a cake of sorts. Some breads are light and airy, others are hearty and dense. The ingredients used will greatly affect the final volume and texture. Oats gives breads a somewhat dense and chewy texture. Sugar helps to keep breads tender and without salt will taste flat.
The basic way to prepare a quick bread is the two-bowl method. This entails mixing all dry ingredients separately from the liquid and sugar, then quickly combining the two with only a few strokes. The idea is to not overmix or overbake.
If you like mincemeat, this loaf is so nice to have on hand during the Christmas season.
Mincemeat Quick Bread w/ Orange Spread
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Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 4 1/2-cup ring mold pan or bottom only of a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, beat eggs; stir in mincemeat, brown sugar, milk & butter.
In another bowl, whisk together flour baking powder & salt. Add to wet mixture, combining ONLY until flour mixture is moistened. Pour into chosen baking pan
Bake about 45-50 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven & cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar if you wish. Serve warm or cool with Orange Butter.
In a small bowl, beat marmalade with butter until softened & blended.
I enjoy to make miniature versions of food whether its sweet or savory. I’m not sure where that ‘obsession’ came from. It could be that having worked in the commercial food industry for many years, you always prepared food in large quantities or maybe because now its just for the two of us. Whatever the reason …. its fun! I’m sure you are probably quite familiar with the Dutch Baby or German pancake. I have featured them on the blog numerous times over the years.
A cross between a pancake and a crepe, a Dutch baby begins with the thin pancake-like batter which is poured into a hot skillet or an oven proof dish. When the edges of the pancake are brown, it is ready to come out of the oven. The center is perfect for adding sweet or savory ingredients.
The recipe is a basic, universal one that can be adapted in a number of different ways:
- Add berries or other fruit to the batter
- Add different spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, chai spices, or switch up the extract to use almond, lemon or orange.
- Top with whipped cream, mascarpone, whipped maple butter, jam, peanut/almond butter or a fresh fruit compote.
- To make a savory version, omit sugar & vanilla and add veggies & herbs.
Brion & I are having mini rhubarb Dutch baby pancakes today. Should be good!
Mini Rhubarb Dutch Baby Pancakes
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In a saucepan, combine rhubarb, brown sugar, flour & spices. Stir until combined. Roast in oven, uncovered, for about 25 minutes or until tender & thickened. Remove from heat & keep warm.
Dutch Baby Batter
In a blender, combine pancake ingredients & blend well until frothy. Leave in blender while you prepare muffin tins.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Place a 12-cup muffin tin in oven.
When the oven is heated, melt the second 2 Tbsp butter. Remove hot muffin tin from oven & quickly brush bottoms & sides of pan with melted butter. Turn blender on for a few seconds to re-mix batter, then quickly pour into hot muffin cups, dividing equally between 12 cups, filling about 1/2-2/3 full.
Place in oven & bake for 15-18 minutes, or until puffy & deep golden color. Remove from oven (pancakes will quickly deflate). Place pancakes on serving plates & spoon warm rhubarb sauce in them. Top with a bit of either whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Rhubarb is the rebel of the vegetable world. It looks like celery, tastes like sour candy, its leaves are poisonous and unlike most spring and summer produce, its barely edible raw. With such a feisty personality, its no wonder some are intimidated to cook it.
More than any other fruit or vegetable, rhubarb to me is the sign of the changing season. It is the signal that summer is arriving in those ruby red or speckled green & pink stalks. I snap up what I can in the garden and when I see it at the supermarket. I take all I can and more, slicing and freezing the excess for rhubarb cravings that come in winter.
Year-round, I save rhubarb recipe ideas I hope to make once I get my hands on the first stalks of the season. No summer would be complete without cinnamon rhubarb bread …. still warm from the oven and the heavenly smell of cinnamon in the air!
Cinnamon Roll Rhubarb Bread
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In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except vanilla & food color. Heat to medium high & stir occasionally until rhubarb begins to break down completely. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla & food coloring; allow to cool to room temperature.
In a small dish, combine yeast with lukewarm water & 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Allow to sit for a few minutes until frothy.
In a large bowl, slightly melt butter; cool a couple of minutes then whisk in egg. In another bowl, whisk together flour, salt & remaining sugar. Add yeast mixture to butter mixture, whisking together. Add flour mixture, combine then turn on a floured work surface & knead for about 5 minutes. Dough will be very soft but not sticky.
Lightly grease bowl, place dough ball in it & cover with a towel. Place in a draft-free place & allow to rise for about 20 minutes. Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan; set aside
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface & press down to deflate it. Fold in the two opposite sides to meet in the middle, then fold in the remaining two sides to meet, so that you've formed the dough into a square. Press down to flatten it slightly, then cover loosely and let stand for 10 minutes
With a floured rolling pin, rolling the dough to form a rectangle that's 12 by 22 inches. Make the corners as square as possible. If you're having trouble with the dough shrinking back, pause briefly before trying again.
Spread rhubarb/cinnamon filling over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Now fold the two long sides of the dough in one at a time, so that the meet each other in the middle. Pinch them together gently to seal the seam. Gently roll over the surface with a rolling pin to flatten the folded dough to about 7 by 25 inches.
Starting at the narrow end, roll up the dough, making a thick spiral. When you get to the end, brush a little egg wash on the loaf at the spot where the end will hit. Pinch the end a bit to seal it.
Carefully & gently place the roll, seam side-down in the buttered pan. The roll of dough should nearly fill it. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap & place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for about 25-30 minutes, until almost doubled & about 2 inches above the top of the pan. Meanwhile, adjust the oven racks so that you have one rack one-third up from the bottom of the oven.
Lightly brush remaining egg wash over loaf & bake for about 20 minutes. You may need to cover the top loosely with aluminum foil towards the end of baking to prevent over-browning. Bake until the loaf, when removed from the pan, sounds hollow when tapped with your fingertips. Cool on a rack.
Make glaze by whisking together 2 Tbsp rhubarb filling, 1 cup powdered sugar, and enough lemon juice to make the glaze pourable (1-2 tbsp should do it). When bread has slightly cooled, drizzle with glaze if desired.
Over the years, I have used guava paste numerous times. I found it was equally as good in both sweet and savory preparations, adding a nice ‘zing’ due to the natural acidity in guava fruit.
This specialty ingredient is made by cooking together guava fruit and sugar until it is very, very thick and then leaving the mixture to dry to remove excess moisture. This results in a paste that keeps well and is very flavorful. Guava paste is typically sold in short, wide cans or plastic packaging.
Guava paste is an ingredient found in many Cuban, Caribbean and South American recipes. A common pairing with cheese as an appetizer or baked into pastries as part of the filling. Also known as goiabada or pasta de guayaba, has a sweet, floral taste lending a distinct and tropical flavor to anything it is used in.
Today, I’m using it in some scones with cream cheese. Should be good!
Guava Cream Cheese Scones
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Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a round 8" baking pan with parchment paper.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar & baking soda. With fingers, cut in cold butter & cream cheese until mixture resembles small peas. Do NOT over work dough. Carefully stir in guava paste cubes with a fork.
In a small cup, beat egg slightly then combine with buttermilk & vanilla. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture, stirring ONLY until combined.
Pour dough into lined baking pan, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden & tests done. Slice into 8 wedges & serve warm.