Friday, March 28, 2014

Asparagus Quiche with Spaghetti Squash Crust

I got the idea for this recipe from Pinterest, but I ended up tweaking it a little bit and have an idea for what I will do differently next time already.  I love quiche, but never make it because the one time I tried before was a disaster!  If I'm being completely honest, I was really nervous about this because really, my favorite part of quiche is the crust.  It's buttery, flaky and oh so delicious...  I'm getting side-tracked!  So, when I decided to try this quiche, I realized that I was just going to go into it with different expectations.  

So, yesterday I roasted my squash.  I used all the muscle I have in order to chop it in half lengthwise, scooped out the seeds, and then roasted it cut side down for about 45 minutes on 400 degrees.  
 I did this step a day ahead because I had the time.  Quiche itself is time consuming, so getting the first step done and out of the way made the whole process go more smoothly. 

So, because I cooked the squash ahead of time, it was scooped out (just scrape it all out with a fork) and cooled by the time I needed to press it into my pie plate.  I pre-heated the oven to 400 and then pressed the squash into it.  I then sprinkled about a handful of grated Parmesan cheese over the squash and then put it in the oven for about 10 minutes.  Now, I did this in hopes that it would help it harden and crisp up a little before I added all the filling stuff, but I'm pretty sure it didn't do anything.  Next time, I'm going to pat it all dry with a paper towel before baking it.  Maybe that will help with the browning.  

Anyway, while that was baking, I peeled a big shallot and threw it in my mini food processor.  I heated a medium skillet with a little olive oil in it and then started the shallots going over medium to medium low heat.  While they are softening up, I cut the ends off of the asparagus (snap one to see where the natural break is, then cut the rest at that same length) and then cut them into 1 inch pieces.  Once you have them ready, toss them into your pan and cook them for just a few minutes.  Don't get them get too soft, just till the green pops and they are tender. Once you get those in the pan, take your "crust" out of the oven.
While the asparagus is cooking, mix together 5 eggs, 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of cheese (I grated Gruyere, but Swiss would be good, too, salt, and pepper.  Whisk that all together and then put the shallots and asparagus into the crust and pour the egg mixture over top.  Put it in the oven and let it bake for about 45 minutes.

 Here it is out of the oven.  Notice my beautiful new butcher block counter tops in the background.  Ahh, so pretty!

Overall, I think the quiche is good.  I didn't even really miss the crust.  It was a little sweet, which surprised me, but I did enjoy it very much and would definitely make it again.  Hopefully patting the squash down will help control some of the excess moisture.  Let me know what you think!

 I enjoyed this delicious quiche with a little salad that my friend Adam introduced me to a few weeks ago. I modified it slightly because I don't love feta, but here is what you see pictured here.  I mixed a little spinach and arugula with some chopped fresh mint, some toasted pine nuts, and a little Panela cheese.  Dress it with just a little rice vinegar and black pepper.  It is so yummy! 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Favorite Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate mouse is definitely one of my top 5 favorite desserts. While I'm not really a big chocolate fan, I just love mousse.  Whenever it's on a menu, you know what I'm going to order.  When I was planning my Christmas dinner menu, I decided it would be perfect.  It creamy and rich, but light enough that it doesn't weigh you down after a big meal.  

Now, I didn't blog about it during Christmas because I was overwhelmed making Beef Wellington for the first time, but last weekend I had a cast party at my house, and because I was on Spring Break, I thought the mousse would be a fun addition!  It is really pretty simple to make and aside from the time it takes to set, it's not time consuming either.  

This recipe is from my favorite, Mark Bittman (How to Cook Everything)

You will need:

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 oz. really good bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate broken up (I used Guittard) 
3 eggs - seperated
1/4 c. sugar (divided into two parts)
1/2 c. cream
1 Tsp. vanilla extract (The original memory calls for 1/2 tsp, but I like to add a little extra)

Start by bringing a small pot of boiling water and use a heat-safe bowl as a double boiler to melt the butter and chocolate.  I like to use a bowl big enough to hold all of the ingredients in the end because the biggest problem with this recipe is that it makes a lot of dishes.  Using a big bowl cuts down your dishes by one at least!  Keep stirring until it's melted and smooth.  Then put this chocolate mixture into the fridge to cool.  

While the chocolate is cooling, you can make the other two components.  First, you need to whip the egg whites.  I used my stand mixer, but you could use a hand mixer, or your very own muscles!  Combine the 3 egg whites and half the sugar in a bowl and whip them until you get soft peaks. Then put them in a separate bowl and set them aside.  

Then you need to whip the cream.  Again, I did this in the stand mixer, but I have done it by hand before.  Take the cream, the vanilla, and the remaining sugar and whip it together until you get soft peaks. 

Then you need to get the chocolate out of the fridge and start mixing it together.  Now, the key to this is to start slowly and not to over mix.  It is better to end up with ribbons of light and dark than to compromise the light, fluffy texture of the mousse!


Ok, so start by adding just a spoonful of the egg whites and carefully fold them into your chocolate. Once that is incorporated, you can fold in the rest of the egg whites.  Then fold in the whipped cream.  

   Now, I wish I had a beautiful picture of the finished product, complete with more whipped cream (which you make by just repeating the "whipped cream" stage of the mousse, but we scarfed it down so quickly that I didn't get a chance to take a good shot.  Maybe next time!