Apple and Leek Quiche

apple and leek quiche

Now that we’ve entered the holiday season, it’s nice to have some simple yet impressive dishes up your sleeve for family gatherings or even those increasingly rare quiet moments at home. I love this dish as a simple brunch offering or as a side dish on the buffet. I opted to use puff pastry for the crust since it has such great texture and isn’t as dense as the usual pie crust. If you’re feeling super adventurous, feel free to make the puff pastry from scratch. I used Trader Joe’s brand, though it can be found at any grocery store or Whole Foods. Once again, I’ve included some options to modify this dish based on your personal tastes. I’ve made mine with sharp cheddar, though a blue cheese or Gruyere would also be delicious. If you’re making this for breakfast or brunch, a few slices of bacon that have been cooked and crumbled would make a great addition. Finally, I would recommend serving this with a light salad: just some fresh greens or arugula tossed with lemon and olive oil would be delightful!

quiche and salad

Ingredients:

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 medium leek, cleaned and cut into half moons
1 apple, cored and cut into small cubes
3 pieces of bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
1 cup sharp cheddar, grated (or crumbled blue cheese or Gruyere)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
3 eggs
1 cup cream or half and half

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 425*.
  2. Roll puff pastry to an 11-inch square. Transfer to 9-inch pie pan and trim the edges.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leek and apples and sauté until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, nutmeg, thyme, and salt.
  5. Distribute the apples, leeks, and cheese (and bacon) evenly in the pie pan. Pour the egg mixture over the top.
  6. Bake until the eggs have just set, about 25-30 minutes. Allow the quiche to rest for about 10 minutes before cutting it. This will let the eggs finish setting up.

apples and leeks

pouring eggs

Root Vegetable Salad with Blue Cheese and Mint

root vegetable salad ingredients

In the Fall our inclination seems to be to roast everything in sight. I totally understand this, but sometimes your body starts to crave fresh flavors again. This salad is the answer to these cravings! Enough to serve two for lunch or more as a side, this salad embraces the more delicate flavors of celeriac and apple while keeping things grounded with undertones of earthy beet and blue cheese. If you don’t have a mandoline slicer in your kitchen arsenal, I highly recommend putting one on your Christmas list. Without one, feel free to use the coarsest grater on a box grater or food processor to give the salad a slaw like texture. Finally, I’ve included the option to add some sliced prosciutto to the salad. If you’re enjoying this as a lunch, the addition of prosciutto will bulk things up and add some protein.

root vegetable salad

Ingredients:
1 celeriac bulb, peeled and grated
1 small beet, peeled and grated or thinly sliced
1 large carrot, grated
1 apple, grated
1 small bunch of mint leaves
Juice from 1 lemon
3/4 cup crème fraiche or sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup blue cheese
1/4 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, lightly crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 6 slices of prosciutto, sliced into ribbons
Method:

  1. Mix together the lemon, sour cream, blue cheese, and Dijon with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  2. Roughly chop the mint. Reserve a tablespoon to the side for garnish.
  3. In a mixing bowl, toss the celeriac, beet, carrot, apple, and mint in the sour cream dressing.
  4. Place the mixture in a serving bowl and top with nuts and mint (and prosciutto, if using).

Winter Borscht

winter borschtBorscht is a hearty Eastern European soup that can be served hot or cold, though in this weather I’d recommend serving it warm. It is an extremely versatile soup whose ingredients can be easily adapted to what’s in season (I’ve enjoyed it with golden beets and corn, for example!). Regardless, it is very nourishing and warming on a chilly autumn night. I’ve noted a few possible changes in the ingredient list below. Cabbage is a common ingredient in borscht, but the kale in week 3’s CSA box is a simple substitution. It is traditional to enjoy borscht with slices of dark rye bread.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 medium onion or 2 small shallots, small dice
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups beets, peeled and coarsely grated
1 small head green cabbage or 1 bunch kale, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 parsnips, diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 qts (8 cups) beef or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 bay leaf
1/2 tablespoon whole juniper berries (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Small handful of dill, chopped
Sour cream (optional, garnish)

Method:
1. Heat butter or oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add onions and cook over medium low heat until they start to soften. Add garlic and beets and continue cooking until beets are tender.
2. Add remaining veggies (cabbage, carrots, parsnips, and potato) to the pot and stir to mix all ingredients together.
3. Add broth, bay leaf, juniper, and lemon juice. Bring soup to a low simmer and continue to cook for 20-30 minutes- until potatoes are cooked through. Taste occasionally and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
4. To serve, dish into bowls and top with sour cream, cracked pepper, and fresh dill.

winter borscht

Spaghetti Squash with Moroccan Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti squash

I know, I know, I know. Another squash recipe?! ‘Tis the season! Maybe I’ll have to rename the blog “Squashyard Kitchen.” Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. 😉 This simple recipe is a play on one of the most common preparations of spaghetti squash. Any vegetable that masquerades as pasta is fine by me. Spaghetti squash is particularly great because its light flavor allows it to easily absorb any sauce you choose to top it with. This is an easy peasy weeknight meal that requires very little hands on time. It’s also very versatile. Moroccan food is full of exotic spices that add wonderful warmth to a simple tomato sauce. To keep things bright, I made my tomato sauce with cilantro, but if you’re one of those folks that thinks cilantro tastes like soap (another genetic predisposition I’m afraid), please feel free to substitute parsley, basil, or even mint! I also topped mine with some crumbled goat cheese, though feta would be great too. Finally, if you’d like to add some protein, whip up a batch of meatballs to serve with the dish or simply add some canned chickpeas to your tomato sauce after you’ve blended it.

Ingredients:
1 Spaghetti squash
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp thyme
1 pinch chili flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch cilantro
Goat cheese for garnish

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 400*. While it’s heating, use a sharp knife to cut off the stem end of the squash. Next cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Lightly brush the inside of the squash with olive oil and sprinkle it with salt. Place face down on a baking sheet and place in the oven. It will bake for 30-45 minutes, until easily punctured with a fork.
2. While the squash it cooking, heat your olive oil in a saucepot and add your shallot, garlic, and spices. Heat them over medium heat until the shallot begins to turn translucent.
3. Add the canned tomatoes (including the liquid) and bring the sauce to a low simmer. Allow to cook for about 15 minutes.
4. When the sauce appears to have thickened a bit, go ahead and blend it using an immersion blender or in small batches in a regular blender. Remove it from the heat and stir in a small handful of cilantro leaves. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper as you see fit.
5. When the squash is cooked through, carefully use a fork and grate it along the inside of the squash. The “noodles” will easily separate.
6. Dish the squash into bowls and top with tomato sauce, some goat cheese, and fresh cilantro. Enjoy!

Tackling Butternut Squash

Butternut SquashLet’s talk about tackling the big, scary butternut. Every time I used to see a recipe that called for cubes of butternut squash, I would cringe and move on. The thought of figuring out how to slice that beast was completely overwhelming. Luckily, I’ve since learned there’s a simple technique to cutting up butternut squash. The most important tools for this are a peeler and a sharp knife. I cannot emphasize enough how much safer a sharp knife is than a dull one. Please, do yourself a favor and have your main kitchen knives sharpened a couple times a year! There are some great local businesses in the Seattle area that do a great job!

Trim butternutBack to that pesky squash. First, you should trim off the stem and flower ends of the squash.

imageNow that your peeler has a surface to grip, go ahead and peel the whole squash. After the squash is peeled, you’re ready to start cutting.

separating butternutThe first cut will be to separate the neck from the body. When doing this, remember to let the knife do the work for you. Don’t apply all the pressure straight down, try to let your knife slide through the squash.

butternut roundsOnce the neck is separated, go ahead and cut it into rounds the proper width of what your recipe calls for.

cubed butternutYou can then easily cut the rounds into cubes.

renove seedsFor the body, cut it in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds – saving the seeds to roast, of course.

half moonsNext, cut the body into half moons the same width as the rounds from the neck. You can then cut these into smaller pieces to match the cubes from the neck.

finished butternutVoila! You’ve conquered the great and terrible butternut! A final note: butternut squash has a tendency to release a sticky, slimy film when peeled and cut. This is a natural reaction that is caused by the squash trying to repair itself as it would when still on the vine. To avoid having this film stick to your hands (it will wear off eventually), wear gloves or try to hold the squash with an old kitchen towel. If you do use a towel, please be extra careful to keep track of where your fingers and knife are – we don’t want any accidents!

Now enjoy your new found freedom! Go cook up some butternut squash!