pizza with onion confit; tuesdays with dorie/baking with julia

this week, the tuesdays with dorie challenge called for making a pizza topped with an onion confit.  sounds like dinner to me.  and it was, literally.  after a trip to the garden to pick some fresh lettuce and arugula, i made a big salad to accompany the pizza.  this was such an easy recipe that i think everyone should try it.  if you do not already have a copy of baking with julia, buy it, or head over to host paul’s blog, the boy can bake to find the recipe.

the most time consuming part of the recipe was to cook the onions.

i used a combination of yellow onions, shallots and garlic to make my pizza.  and i say that singularly because the recipe can easily be halved-i only wanted one pizza.  however, according to the recipe, the extra piece of dough could have been frozen for another time.

the idea is to slowly cook the onions so that they caramelize as well as soften.
the recipe calls for thyme leaves or sprigs.  that is one of the best parts of having an herb garden.  it is so wonderful to walk out the door and clip fresh herbs as needed.  luckily, thyme is an evergreen and has leaves in winter.  
i picked the leaves off the stems and chopped them a little

the onions cook and take on lots of color.  then a combination of red wine and red wine vinegar is added to them.  at this time, it is important to keep the heat very low so that the onions have time to absorb the color and flavor of the wine.  they will continue to soften as well.

after about 35-40 minutes, my pan was nearly dry and the onions were a deep shade of red, cabernet sauvignon red to be exact.

the onions almost look like little strips of meat in this photo.  

the dough rises and is stretched or rolled out to a large circle that is about 1/4 inch thick.  the onions are spread over the top in an even layer.  at this time, you can add whatever else you like.  the recipe suggested kalamata olives or cheese but i decided to keep it simple and just use the onions.

the results, close to a classic pissaladiere, a tasty flat bread with onions; the perfect side for a salad.

be sure to check out the tuesdays with dorie page to see what the other participants came up with.  bake on friends, and happy new year to all!!!

millet tabbouleh

wandering through thrift stores is a favorite past time of mine.  visiting the used book store is another.  whichever the destination, i am bound to make my way out to the car carrying an armload of stuff, especially cookbooks.  recently, i found a hardback copy of mark bittman’s “how to cook everything” for $7.99 and it was sporting the tag color of the week; serious thrift shoppers know that means it was discounted, i picked it up for $4 and change.  yesterday, i mailed it to my older daughter who has expressed an interest in cooking.  not to worry, a couple of months ago, i found a paperback copy at the used book store for $2.  wow-two copies of that book and less than $10 spent.  
you would think that as a cia grad that a comprehensive book like that wouldn’t be of much interest to me.  after all, i should know the material.  however, i gave up the cooking part a long time ago to pursue the baking/pastry side and with a husband who is a chef, i don’t need to do much cooking.  with the girls out of the house, i really don’t need to do much cooking.  but for some reason, i am finding myself in the kitchen after spending the day in a kitchen, cooking.  and i really mean cooking from scratch using as many ingredients as i can pick from the garden.  
reading through this book, i stumbled upon what i think is the best tabbouleh recipe and more importantly, it is a perfect way to use the abundance of tomatoes and parsley out in the garden.  while the traditional recipe calls for bulgur, i have been experimenting with other grains.  the last batch i made had red quinoa in it.  lurking in the cupboard was a jar of millet and today, it became the grain of choice for my tabbouleh.

my husband scoffs at the idea of eating millet-“i’m not a bird…” and i understand his point since he is constantly filling the feeders outside with a seed mix that includes millet.  but this is a great way to get big kids like him to play nice and try new foods…

millet is starchy and it must be rinsed a few times after cooking to prevent it from becoming sticky and pasty.  the method i used can be found in a tabbouleh recipe from the vegetarian times.  i used their cooking method and substituted it for the cooked bulgur in mark bitumen’s recipe.

having an herb garden is wonderful!  especially when you can plant whatever you want!!!  pictured here are the three types of parsley i used.  the large one on top is mitsuba, a japanese parsley.  it looks like flat leaf parsley on steroids.

with only minor changes, i reduced the amount of olive oil called for in the recipe and added a little diced cucumber since it is summer and i do have them in the garden, this is the result.

millet tabbouleh
adapted from “how to cook everything” by mark bittman
makes about 5 cups 
1/2 cup millet
2 cups fresh parsley leaves
1 cup fresh mint leaves
2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup diced red onions
4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
cook the millet according to the instruction on the package or by using this link and allow it to cool.  chop the parsley and mint leaves somewhat coarsely.  combine the cooled millet with the remaining ingredients, season it with the salt and pepper and chill the salad for a few hours to blend the flavors.  while chilling it allows the flavors to meld and develop, it will taste best if it is allowed to come to a near room temperature before serving.  

dinner for 1

when my husband has to travel for work, i tend to cook meatless meals-too much work for me to make an elaborate meal for just myself.  the choices i make lean towards a larger quantity than i need so that i can live on leftovers.  almost all of the meals incorporate some sort of bean or a grain other than rice since hubs makes that frequently.

with winter being so mild this year, our garden has chugged along nicely.  the crops we planted for fall are still in the beds and that has given us a chance to consume fresh picked produce a lot longer than typical for a winter garden.  we deliberately left our broccoli plants in the bed even though we had harvested the crowns.  if you allow broccoli to stay, little side shoots will produce single stalks of flower heads that are every bit as tasty and perhaps a little more tender than the large central stalk that makes up the crown.  did you know the leaves are tasty too?  they can be clipped, stemmed and cooked like collards making a wonderful addition to a meal and a pretty cheap one too-think of it as doubling the yield of a plant!

broccoli florettes and brussel sprouts from the garden are mixed with some store bought cauliflower and marinated using a recipe for cauliflower steaks from gluten free fix.  simply substitute a selection of chopped vegetables for the steaks and coat them evenly with the marinade.  then roast them until they are soft and have some color-about 30 minutes

 my idea of heaven in a bowl!
for the main course, i turned to a new acquisition, the flexitarian table by peter berley.  the hubs and i were perusing the cookbook section in mckay’s and i picked it up for $5.  the photos are beautiful and i am eager to try out several.  for my first cooking adventure, i chose the bulgur with roasted chickpeas, red onions and lemon.  it is meant to serve 4 as a main course but i planned to live on it for a couple days and i did!
i made a couple changes to the recipe.  first, when ever a recipe calls for water, especially when it is a grain, i substitute vegetable broth.  for additional flavor, i added a couple cloves of garlic.  since i am not a huge fan of cayenne pepper, i substituted some ground chili.  lastly, i chose to keep the bulgur and the chickpeas separate.
bulgur with roasted chickpeas, red onions and lemon
serves 4

1 1/3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup medium bulgur
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground chili or cayenne

to cook the bulgur, heat the broth to a boil  over medium heat in a covered sauce pot.  add the bulgur to the boiling broth and stir it in.  return to the boil then immediately remove from the heat, cover tightly and allow it to sit until the broth is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  meanwhile, prepare the chickpeas and vegetables.

preheat the oven to 400.  in an oven proof skillet-i used a cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.  add the chickpeas, lemon juice, bay leaves, cumin seeds, turmeric and chili and stir to combine.  place in the oven and roast until slightly caramelized, about 20 minutes.  be sure to stir it at least once to get an even color.   serve over the bulgur with a heaping side of the roasted veggies shown above.

and as always my friends, if you make this dish, do send a photo, i will post it here!  in the mean time, bake on…

tomato pie with caramelized onions and fontina cheese, #37 of 52 pies

for gardeners, tomatoes are the holy grail.  every gardener you meet will have a favorite; hybrid or heirloom, red or yellow, sweet or classic flavored.  the choices are abundant.  in our garden, there are mostly heirlooms and they range in color from striped reds, purple and yellow.  there are cherries and slicers of all sizes.  at least that is what the tags promised.  what the tags do not tell you is that if your summer is extremely hot and dry, you won’t be picking much and what is there, the squirrels will get before it ripens…and if you are as lucky as we are, you will also get a dose of fusarium wilt in the bed to really make it difficult.

getting off to a late start hasn’t helped much either.  we had a cool and wet spring that caused us to put the plants in the bed later than we wanted but it also looks as if a couple of those hybrids we planted might make it and produce a few fruits for us.  meanwhile, my tomato sandwich obsessed husband has had to satisfy his yen for white bread slathered with thick slabs of tomato and mayonnaise by purchasing tomatoes at the farmers market and i have had to cancel my plans to stand in the garden and stuff my face with cherry tomatoes  still warm from the morning sun…

decent tomatoes can be had if you are willing to pay for them and pay you will!  i found some kentucky heirloom tomatoes at my local supermarket for $4.99 per pound and while pricey, they had nice flavor and made it possible to bake this pie.  this recipe isn’t totally original but i did make some changes to it to punch up the flavor.


a red and yellow striped heirloom tomato from the supermarket.  it not only looked like it was home grown, it tasted like it too.  a little sweet and not very acidic, these are one of the varieties that will have you cutting it into wedges and eating it as if it were a peach.

 taking the time to caramelize the onions will add lots of flavor and so will the use of fresh herbs.  we have a lot of basil, oregano and sage in the garden and they made a flavorful addition to the pie.

tomato pie with caramelized onions
and fontina cheese
adapted from simplyrecipes.com
serves 6-8
1 (9″) pie shell-home made or purchased and partially baked
2-3 large or 3-4 medium sized ripe tomatoes
2-3 tablespoons bacon fat (or olive oil)
1 large onion, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/3 cup fresh herbs-measure them first then chop them
salt & fresh cracked pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 cup freshly grated fontina cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
preheat the oven to 300 and prebake the pie shell using the instructions to pie #29 but do not bake it completely since it will be returning to the oven(partially baking the pie shell-it should just barely have color and the bottom crust will no longer appear shiny when you lift out the weights).  turn the oven up to 350.  cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out as much of the juice and seeds as you can.  dice them into bite size pieces, place them in a strainer which is set over a bowl and place a weight on the tomatoes-you want to remove the juice without pureeing the tomatoes so do not use a heavy weight, just one that causes enough pressure to remove the juice.  while the tomatoes drain, heat the bacon fat in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onions.  as they begin to color, stir them to allow even caramelizing.  add the garlic and the herbs once the onions have caramelized and saute them for a minute or two.  remove the onion mixture from the heat and place it in a mixing bowl.  measure out 3 cups of tomatoes and add them to the onions.  toss them to combine them, season with the salt and pepper and then scrape the filling into the partially baked pie shell.  in a clean bowl, combine the mayonnaise and the cheeses to form a thick topping.  carefully spread the topping over the surface of the filling.  bake until golden brown on top, about 45-50 minutes.
and as always, if you bake one, photograph it and send it to me, i will post it here!  bakinbabe116@aol.com.  

vegetarian moussaka pie, #36 of 52

a trip to the farmers market yielded these beauties.  i love tiny eggplants-they are so tender and mild in flavor compared to the big ones.  we grilled some and the rest became the inspiration for this pie.

traditionally, moussaka is made with ground meat but in my attempt to cook more vegetarian meals, i chose to substitute some wheat bulgur.  to increase the flavor of the filling, i cooked the bulgur in vegetable stock.

i roasted slices of the eggplant in the oven and this both softened them and eliminated some of the juices that may have made the filling soggy.

the bulgur was sauteed with onions, garlic and herbs from the garden to make a flavorful substitution to meat.

i layered it all in a 4 cup casserole dish which was lined with some homemade pie dough that was mixed up using an expeller pressed non-hydrogenated vegetable fat-great for my low cholesterol diet.

a thin custard of ricotta cheese and egg whites (a lighter version of the traditional bechamel sauce) was poured over the filling.

a sprinkle of traditional spices over the custard was topped off by the casual folds of the excess dough

fresh from the oven, it was a filling meal that we didn’t feel guilty for eating-chock full of whole grain and veggies and a lowfat custard made it a good choice for my low cholesterol diet.

vegetarian moussaka pie
serves 4 as an entree
1/4 cup wheat bulgur
4-6 finger sized eggplants (4-5 inches in length, 1 1/4″ in diameter)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced onions
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
3/4 cup diced tomatoes-fresh or canned
salt and pepper
1/3 cup part skim ricotta cheese
2 egg whites
1/2 cup milk
a pinch each of cinnamon and allspice
enough pie dough to line a 9″ pie shell
preheat the oven to 350.  cook the bulgur according to the directions on the package using vegetable broth or water.  slice the eggplants into 1/4″ slabs and lay them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  bake the slices until they soften and dry a bit-10-15 minutes.  remove them from the oven and set aside.  in a saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until soft, add the garlic and oregano and continue to saute for another minute.  add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper then set this aside as well.  in a mixing bowl, mix the ricotta with the egg whites and whisk until smooth.  add the milk, cinnamon and allspice and whisk to combine.  line a 4 cup casserole with the pie dough allowing the excess to hang over the outside.  lay half of the eggplant slices over the bottom of the dish.  top this with the bulgur mix and cover the filling with the remaining eggplant slices.  whisk the custard and pour it over the filling in the dish.  carefully lay the excess crust over the filling so that most of the filling is covered.  bake until golden brown and the custard is set, about 50 minutes.  let it rest on the counter for 15 minutes or so before serving.  a green salad completes the meal!
need a recipe for pie dough?  try this one from pie #18.  and as always, bake one and send me a photo-i will post it here!

potato crusted meatloaf pie; #32 of 52 pies

to keep things interesting, i like to use my weekly pie as a means to put dinner on the table.  in this heat, it hit 101 in nashville today, that makes baking any kind of pie, whether it is sweet or savory, a true challenge.  not only does it heat the house up, you then end up eating a hot meal while you sweat.  not at all what i wanted to do!  but i did want to try and make a pie crust of mashed potatoes and a filling made of meatloaf.

the mashed potatoes are slightly drier than usual and they are spread out evenly in a greased pie plate to make a bottom crust.  after prebaking the crust, it is ready to be filled with meatloaf.

the filling is made with lean ground turkey, 93% fat free, and studded with chopped mushrooms, grated carrots and zucchini.  the leaner the meat is, the firmer the filling will be and less fat will be incorporated into the potato crust.  the result is a lean but hearty meal.  another advantage to the filling recipe is that it can be made with any lean meat.  and for those that are gluten sensitive, the bread crumbs called for can be replaced with a gluten free bread or cracker to make this a gluten free meal.

the top crust is spread over the meatloaf filling and it bakes up in about an hour.

potato crusted meatloaf pie
1 (9″) deep dish pie serving 8
potato crust
6 potatoes, fist sized-peeled and cut into cubes
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
place the potatoes and salt in a saucepot and cover with water.  bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender.  drain potatoes and place in a mixing bowl and mash with the butter and salt until almost no lumps remain.  set aside while the filling is prepared.
meatloaf filling
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced onions
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1 pound lean ground meat-maximum fat content of 93%
2/3 cup bread crumbs
3 egg whites (or 2 large eggs)
1/2 cup prepared tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried italian herb blend
preheat the oven to 750.  saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until they begin to caramelize.  add the mushrooms, lower the heat a bit and cover the pan to cause the mushrooms to sweat and release their juices.  continue to saute over medium-low heat until the mushrooms are cooked then remove from the heat and place in a large mixing bowl to allow them to cool a bit.   combine all of the ingredients for the meatloaf in the bowl and using gloves, thoroughly mix and knead the filling together.
to shape the bottom crust, grease the pie dish and place slightly more than half of the potatoes in the dish.  with a rubber spatula, carefully spread and shape the potatoes into a layer that evenly covers the bottom and sides of the dish.  prebake the crust for 20 minutes.  remove from the oven, spread the filling evenly in the crust and top with the remaining potatoes by spreading them evenly over meatloaf.  place the pie on a baking sheet to catch the drips, lower the oven to 350 and bake until the internal temperature reaches 165 for turkey or 155 for beef, about 1 hour.   allow the pie to rest for 10-15 minutes then cut into wedges and serve.
hopefully, you will enjoy this as much as we did.  this is one that i plan to make again, just as soon as the temperature outside drops by 50 degrees, literally…bake one and send me a photo.  i promise that you will see it here!  bakinbabe116@aol.com  stay cool my friends.

lagging behind…#23 of 52, pizzas!

don’t even say it!  it absolutely is too a pie!!!  where i come from (just outside of new york city), they are referred to as pies; large pie, small pie, what ever size or toppings are added, it is a pie.  okay, i will admit it is a little bit of a stretch, but then again, is it?  it starts out with a crust and in the fashion of a free form, out of the pan pie, it gets a topping of what ever you choose.  after baking, it is cut into wedges, just like a pie…

for the teenager, just tomato sauce and cheese

for the husband, exotic wild picked mushrooms, onions and cheese with a little bit of white sauce and a drizzle of truffle oil.

for myself, a trip out to the garden for some spinach, onions and a few mushrooms (the regular button kind) with a little white sauce and cheese.  okay, so it has been very hectic-it’s graduation week, the family is coming.  i had an opportunity to help a friend with her cookbook and now i am trying to get caught up.  besides we were hungry…
no knead dough crust-this is another of jim lahey’s recipes adapted from the recipe posted on the tasting table.  makes 4 (8-10) pizzas each serving one person.  
3 cups all purpose or bread flour ( i used 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and the remainder was bread flour
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
desired sauces, cheeses and toppings:  takes about 1/4 cup sauce per pizza, 1/2-1 cup cheese and up to 1 cup of toppings.
combine all ingredients in a bowl and allow it to sit for 12-24 hours.  mine sat for about 18 hours.  at this time, scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured board and fold the ends in to the middle a few time.  make a smooth ball of dough and cut it into 4 even pieces.  flour them and let them rest under a towel for 2 hours.  heat the oven with a pizza stone in it (for the best results)  to 500, this will take about 20 minutes.  carefully shape one ball of dough into a 8-10 inch circle.  place the crust on a floured peel and add the desired toppings.  quickly slide the pizza onto the hot stone and bake until golden and bubbly-about 10-15 minutes.  shape each dough ball individually and just before it is to be placed in the oven.  it is hard to move the pizza if it has a chance to relax and stick to the peel.
with any luck, i will get the pie for last week as well as this week up soon!  and as always, bake with me!  send me a photo and i will post it here.  bakinbabe116@aol.com

country style pot pie, #22 of 52 pies

it was a cold and dreary day…and just whose idea was that?  it has been so nice and warm and sunny and then suddenly, i’m freezin in here!  when the weather is like that, i have a taste for hot soup.  soup isn’t very pie like though so i decided to go with a pot pie-it’s hot and creamy and perfect for cold and dreary days.

right now, we have lots going on in the garden.  in between showers, i grabbed my basket and a pair of scissors and went out to gather what i would need.  leeks, broccoli, peas and herbs (parsley, sage, oregano and thyme).  in the house i had some mushrooms and garlic as well as some asparagus that my husband had already picked from the garden.  if it seems like something is missing, it is.  when i pulled out the leftover turkey from the fridge, i was nearly over come by the smell.  it had been living in there for a week but i thought it might still be good.  however, it is destined to make the trip to the digester where the worms will enjoy it.

as always, when i am out in the garden, the captain tags along.  somebody has to make sure i am behaving.  as you can see here, he got sucked into the catnip.  looks like he needs the chaperon now…

i prepared the vegetables first.  some were sauteed-leeks, garlic and mushrooms.  others were blanched-carrots, broccoli and asparagus stems.  others were added raw so they would not overcook-broccoli florets, asparagus tips and freshly shucked peas.

using vegetable broth and some half and half, i made a nice creamy sauce and finished it off with the herbs.  then it was poured over the vegetables and topped with biscuits.

into the oven it went and in 30 minutes, dinner was served!
country style pot pie
one (9″) crustless pie which serves about 4 as a main course

filling
the great thing about this recipe, you can customize it however you like!  don’t like broccoli-use something else.  just want mushrooms-go for it!  want it meaty, add cubes of cooked meat and use a beef broth.  you call the shots-me, i’m going for turkey next time.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups sliced leeks, green part only
1 tablespoon garlic
2 cups mushroom-buttons, halved or quartered
3 cups assorted vegetables-for things that will overcook easily (broccoli flowers, asparagus tip), plan to add those raw.  for the hard ones (carrots, potatoes) cook them first
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup flour
2 cups broth
1/2 cup half and half
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh herbs
salt and pepper, to taste
1 batch of biscuits, recipe follows

preheat the oven to 375.  sautee the leeks in the olive oil until soft, add the garlic and continue to saute.  add the mushrooms and cover the pan to cause them to sweat.  when mushrooms are cooked, remove the pan from the heat and prepare the remaining vegetables.  combine them in and even layer on the bottom of the pie dish.  in a sauce pot, melt the butter.  add the flour and cook the roux over medium heat for several minutes, stirring constantly.  whisk in the broth and then the half and half and continue to simmer gently for a few minutes.  off the heat, season with salt and pepper and then stir in the herbs.  pour over the vegetables and top with the biscuits.  bake until bubbly and the biscuits are an even golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.

buttermilk biscuits
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
place the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.  sprinkle the butter cubes over the top and pulse to cut in the butter-the mixture should look very coarse with little bits of butter visible.  add the buttermilk and process long enough to combine.  turn out onto a floured surface and with floured hands, pat it into a 1/2″ slab.  using a 2″ cutter, make small biscuits, reworking the scraps to yield 16-18 biscuits.  arrange the biscuits on top of the pie and follow the baking instructions.

one more round up!
my berry rhubarb pie was an inspiration to melanie.  she used the pie crust recipe i posted with that pie to make her raspberry-cherry pie.  and can you believe that is her first attempt at a lattice top?  beautiful pie melanie, thanks for sending me the photo!
and as always, bake one, send a photo and i will post it here.  go ahead, i dare ya… double dare ya… bakinbabe116@aol.com

kale and ricotta quiche, #17 of 52

while wandering through my little backyard garden last week, i could see it was time to pick the kale.  we have two varieties growing and they had begun to send out flower stalks-in other words, they were going to seed.  we had overwintered them and it was time to harvest the plants.  unfortunately, our red cabbage had chosen the same route.  we never got any heads on the plants, just leaves and now flower stalks.  we love to eat cooked greens but there is only so much you can eat in one weekend.

while perusing through food52.com, i saw that the weekly challenge was winter tarts-sweet and savory.  they post links and invite members to test the recipes and then report back to them.  by the time i had looked at the list, almost all were claimed and i decided not to participate.  on closer inspection, i spied a link to a spinach and ricotta pie.  suddenly, the light bulb blinked on and i realized i had a use for some of that kale and cabbage!

using my new red pie dish, i mixed up a blue cornmeal pie crust.  i recently found a bag of blue cornmeal lurking in the freezer.  using a non hydrogenated shortening, i made a flaky pie crust that appears slightly grey and flecked with little bits of blue cornmeal.

there are two types of kale and some red cabbage in the mix.  looking at the center of the photo you will see a flower stalk from the red cabbage.  to the left of it is the kale we received from jeff poppen, the barefoot farmer and to the right is red russian kale.  all of the flower stalks i cut off were added and they taste a lot like broccoli raab

off to the garden i went-i picked a large bowl full and after washing it thoroughly, i cut it into thin strips.  the total amount ended up being about 5 cups of raw greens.   once sauteed with onions and garlic, it is hard to tell which is which.  the greens and the cabbage looked about the same.

kale and ricotta quiche
1 (9″) quiche serving 8
recipe adapted from lizthechef on food52.com
1 (9″) pie shell, homemade or purchased and partially baked
fresh kale or other greens-see above for amount
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound ricotta-i used a 15 ounce tub from the grocery store
3 eggs
1/2 cup half and half (could use sour cream, yogurt or buttermilk to help cut the richness of the cheese)
1/2-3/4 cup grated cheese-the sharper the better
salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste
preheat the oven to 350.  heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  saute the onions until translucent, add the garlic and saute for a minute or two.  add the kale and saute until tender.  season the mixture with the salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg-season a little more than you think is necessary since the rich cheese custard will be on the bland side.  spread the mixture in the pie shell.  in a mixing bowl, whisk the ricotta with the eggs until smooth.  add the half and half and whisk to combine.  top the kale with the grated cheese and pour the custard into the dish.  stir up the kale a little so that some is on top of the pie-this is a thick custard and the kale will not float to the top.  bake until the custard  is set, about 45 minutes.  allow it to rest for about 10-15 minutes before serving and serve it with an acidic side dish such as a salad dressed in a vinaigrette or citrus dressing.
and as always, bake one, send me a photo and see it here.  bakinbabe116@aol.com

back in business with pie #13, potato knish pie

this has by far been the longest two weeks of my life!  never in my wildest dreams would i have thought that i could miss having my oven.  when the heating element in my oven burned out, my first thought was that it was time for a new oven.  we had already spent a lot of money to have the burners repaired/rewired due to the excessive workouts our cheap electric range gets.  the visions of a new range, a gas range, a gas range with a convection oven…pick one, they all danced around my head like sugar plums at christmas.  then was the realization that i would need to hire a plumber to run the gas lines, buy a not so cheap range and i’m sure i don’t need to explain.  we then thought about just replacing the electric box with another and still, it was more than we wanted to spend right now.  after a quick internet search for elements and youtube how to videos, we went the cheapest route and ordered parts.

the parts arrived and my husband set about installing the new element.  it all went well and i am back in the business of baking.  with the oven out of action for two weeks, i had to use up a big bag of potatoes in a hurry.  normally, i cut the potatoes into wedges, toss them in olive oil and seasoned salt and then bake up oven fries.  but for some reason, i wanted to make a more substantial dish with them-a pommes anna or a gratin/scalloped potato dish and since my in house repair man has a thing for knishes, a knish pie was the solution to my abundance of potatoes.  the nice thing about this dish, it doesn’t really require a recipe.  it can be made in any size dish and with any kind of potatoes.

while my potatoes for the filling boiled, i used my mandoline to slice some potatoes into thin rounds.  they were layered into a greased glass pie dish and brushed with some olive oil.

the boiled potatoes were mashed and mixed with caramelized onions and garlic, seasoned with salt and pepper and combined with some freshly grated asiago cheese.  this was carefully packed into the “crust”.

a final layer of potatoes was arranged over the filling and also was brushed with some olive oil.  into the oven it went!

 an hour and 15 minutes at 400 and my pie was ready.  this pie is so versatile.  the filling could be made with any potatoes you like-how about purple potatoes?  mix in some parsnips or other root vegetables or maybe some of your favorite herbs.  want a vegan dish-leave out the cheese or for you meat lovers, add some crumbled bacon, chives and cheddar for a loaded potato pie.

potato knish pie
1 (9″) pie serving 8

potato crust
6 medium baking potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
wash the potatoes and using a mandolin or similar slicer, slice the potatoes no thicker than 1/16″ thick.  grease the pie dish and layer the slices in the bottom and up the sides of the dish.  brush carefully with the olive oil using a soft bristle brush.  save the remaining slices to decorate the top of the pie.

knish filling
6 cups diced potatoes
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups 1/4″diced onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely shredded asiago cheese
salt and pepper to taste
preheat the oven to 400.  place the potatoes in a pot, cover them with water and gently boil until soft.  heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the onions until translucent-3-4 minutes.  add the garlic and continue to saute until a golden brown color, stir frequently to prevent burning.  drain the potatoes and using a ricer or a food mill (if you have one, otherwise just use what you have) mash the potatoes to remove the lumps.  add the onions/garlic and cheese and mix well.  season them to taste with the salt and pepper.  when finished, carefully fill the crust with the mashed potatoes and smooth it out.  use the remaining sliced potatoes to cover the top of the pie.  bake the pie until the potatoes are a nice golden brown, about 1 hour and 15 minutes for a 9″ dish.  cut into wedges to serve.

this dish can be served with gravy of any kind if you have to eat your mashers with gravy.  a dollop of sour cream may also be a good garnish.  for those knish fans out there, you know that nothing else is necessary!

and as always, make one, send me the photo and see it here!  bakinbabe116@aol.com

welcome back mr. kenmore!