Archive for May, 2011

More Things I Don’t Know About, and Quiche Lorraine, Which I Do.


2011
05.16

One thing I love to do is eavesdrop on private conversations whenever I get the chance. You hear some of the best stuff that way! But the downside is that I’m often reminded of things I don’t know or don’t understand. There are so many of them. Here’s a partial list: the tides, human anatomy, flora and fauna, birds, space, the planets, poetry, world history, US government, tax structures, celestial navigation, religion, politics, the stock market, tectonic plates, the intricate workings of the internet, volcanos, and why people put those white oval stickers on their car if they traveled to Sweden.

But here’s something I do know: Quiche Lorraine. It’s simple, it’s tasty, its versatile, and it’s even good reheated. Once you figure out the basic combination of eggs and cheese that you like, you can make a quiche using anything leftover in the refrierator: chicken, asparagus, olives, tuna, mixed vegetables, ham, or anything else that you please. Here’s an easy recipe that I’ve had for so long that I can’t remember where I got it. I never can find shredded Swiss cheese in a grocery store, so I either buy a block of it and shred it myself, or I buy the slices and tear them up for this recipe. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

Quiche Lorraine

Crust for a 9″ deep dish pie plate (You could make your own, but I think Pet Ritz works just fine. This dish isn’t so much about the crust as it is the filling. Says me.)

8 slices of bacon, crisply cooked, drained and coarsely chopped

5 eggs

1-1/2 cups milk

Dash of cayenne pepper

2 cups (8 oz) shredded Swiss cheese

2 Tablespoons flour

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk and cayenne pepper, and whisk or mix well. In a separate bowl, toss the cheese with 2 T flour to prevent it all from sticking together. Add the cheese and bacon to the egg mixture. Pour into the unbaked pie shell. (I recommend a deep dish pie pan or large quiche dish.) Bake for 40-45 minutes, until eggs are set. Let stand for about 10 minutes before cutting.

Here’s something else I don’t get: Why do they sell two pie crusts in a package anyway? After you take one out of the wrapper, you have to somehow reseal the whole package, which is nearly impossible, or wrap it in another larger freezer bag, and then you put it in the freezer and forget to use it. Why not just sell them individually?

Life.

Go figure.

Tandoori Chicken Recipe


2011
05.08

Several months ago a good friend went to India on a business trip, and presented me with a treasure chest of Indian spices. Recently I was transferring them from their cellophane packages to glass spice jars, and my kitchen became an aromatic delight of cumin, mace, pepper corns, fennel seeds, cloves, coriander, anise, cinnamon, cardamom and more. It made me want to cook something spicy, and of course it seemed appropriate that the dish be something Indian. I looked up chicken tandoori recipes and found a few that seemed manageable to me, and so that is what I made.

A few of the recipes called for red and yellow food coloring; something I think would make Indian people laugh out loud. I skipped those. A lot of them called for garam masala, a name I’ve heard but didn’t understand. (Oh, how I love Google.) Turns out it simply means a blend of hot spices, and you can custom-make one to your own preference from a million recipes online, or you can buy a jar of it where ethnic foods are sold. Around here, I imagine Whole Foods Coop sells it, as well as Cub. I’ve seen it at the Super One stores, too. I did not buy any, because I thought the recipe had enough “hot” spices in it, and I was content with that.

I prepared the chicken and marinade yesterday and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. Most recipes say the longer you marinate the better, but not more than 2 days. You can serve this with Basmati rice and pita bread or naan.

Indian Tandoori Chicken

2 pounds of chicken, cut into small pieces and skin removed (I used thighs)

1 teaspoon salt

Juice of 1 lemon PLUS one lemon cut into wedges to use at serving time

1-1/2 cups plain yogurt

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root

1 Tablespoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cloves

2 teaspoons garam masala

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

2 Tablespoons finely chopped cilantro to use at serving time

Cut slits into the chicken pieces lengthwise to allow marinade to penetrate. Place in a shallow non-metal baking dish. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt and lemon juice; set aside for 20 minutes.

In a medium non-metal bowl, combine yogurt, onion, and all the spices except the cilantro, and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth. Spread this yogurt mixture over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate from 6-48 hours. (The longer the better, but not more than 2 days.)

Prepare an outdoor grill for medium heat, and lightly oil the grate

Cook the chicken on both sides on a grill until no longer pink. Garnish with cilantro and lemon wedges before serving.

If you are too lazy to walk to the garage and pull out the dusty grill from last summer, you can bake the chicken at 400 degrees for 15 minutes on one side, then 10 on another, or just until the juices run clear.

My dish did not turn out as red as the one pictured above, so I suppose that’s where the food coloring would have been helpful. But I also think if you grill it, the chicken would obviously be darker than baked.

Had this for an early dinner tonight and it’s quite wonderful. It’s a lot of work, but so worth it.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Yard Sales and Tandoori Chicken


2011
05.08

Aside from the fat red robins a-bob, bob, bobbin’ along my lawn, a sure sign of spring for me is the first garage sale, even though it usually involves frozen women huddled around a card table clutching their winter jackets to their throats. It still means spring is coming, and in a few days they can use their loot to buy some flowers for the garden.

And so when I read that Eveleth was having their “city wide” rummage sale, I had to go. Eveleth is one of those small all-American town on the iron range of Minnesota, filled with lots of houses, a few shops, and rampant unemployment. (Like Duluth, but bigger.) It is also close to Virginia (I imagine this is where Eveleth people go to do their “big” shopping) and Gilbert, a town smaller than Eveleth. (“Thank God we don’t live in Gilbert,” Eveleth people probably say.) I managed to visit all 3 town and still get home by 3:00. But I digress.

I am currently undergoing a flare up of arthritis in my left knee (Welcome to Pre-Hell) and getting in and out of the car is rather an ordeal just now, so I chose blocks or alleys where I could park and walk a while without having to do a lot of painful calisthenics. (“Calisthenics” is one of those words that has stopped making sense to me. I had to look it up. For a moment I wondered if I made it up, but no, I did not. It’s one of those words I’m losing, probably because I never use it, and which is being replaced with something I do use, like glucosamine. And Jesus H.

I didn’t buy very much, but the town seemed to be in a garage-sale-party mood, and it was fun looking at stuff and chatting with strangers. I bought a kitchen rug, a bunch of books, a few movies, and some nursery tale books made to fit tiny hands, like those of my great-niece Gabby, or those of my soon-to-be other great niece-or-nephew, Courtney & Joe’s baby. I want to be one of those pseudo-grandmas who reads to babies and bakes cookies with little kids. (And complains about her left knee. “Oh, you kids don’t know how lucky you are!”)

When I got home, I made a dish of chicken tandoori (You knew I was getting to that, didn’t you?) which I will bake today. I was going to post the recipe here, but the dryer just buzzed and it’s time to fold laundry and watch Sunday’s edition of “Judge Judy.” First things first.

When I bring up a basket of warm clothes from the basement, I am always reminded of my old cat Sam, gone a year now. The scent of fabric softener must have signaled something in his brain, because he would wait at the top of the stairs and then run to the kitchen counter and await The Setting Down of the Basket. Before I could fold the first piece of laundry, he would climb in the basket and settle down for a many-hours nap. I never had the heart to remove him from the basket, because I’m sure the heat warmed his old bones and made him feel good.

I sure get the “old bones” part.

So: Recipe later!

PS: Sad news for those of us who loved the Olde Country Floral Shop in Gilbert, across from the now-defunct Whistling Bird…