Friday, December 23, 2011

making do

Matty's mom is down for the count with a nasty stomach bug, so we had to improvise for dinner tonight.

Quiche - when we were making waffles the other day, we didn't see the dozen eggs at the back of the fridge, and ended up getting 18 more. We had to get rid of them. With the 4 eggs going in this one, we were finally able to consolidate down to one carton.

Filling - We were initially just going the caramelized onion route, but Matty found a pack of frozen broccoli that we couldn't resist throwing in.

Crust - We were too hungry to make and chill an actual pie crust, so we beat a package of crescent rolls into submission. Interestingly enough, the crust didn't end up as flaky as I expected, but it was still very rich and buttery.

The three of us scarfed it down in record time, leaving exactly one piece for Debbie. Feel better!

Broccoli Quiche

1 T. butter
3 small onions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 package frozen broccoli, thawed and cut into florets
4 eggs
1 c. milk
salt and pepper
1 package crescent rolls
1 c. shredded Cheddar

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onions and garlic and saute until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add the broccoli and stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.

2. Whisk the eggs with the milk and add a bit of salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. Form the crescent roll dough into a ball and roll out to fit a 10-inch pie pan. Pour in the broccoli-onion mixture and top with the shredded cheese. Pour the egg mixture evenly over top. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until the center of the quiche is mostly set. If the crust is browning too quickly, lower the temperature to 325 degrees and continue baking to set the custard. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

ah, sugar sugar

I think I may have started a dangerous obsession. Waffles.

I forget how it came up (perhaps the Food Network?), but when Matty's parents were in town a couple weeks ago, we lighted on the subject of waffles de Liege - both the delicious, sugary waffles and the food truck from which I tasted them for the first time months ago. I made tentative plans to take them to the truck one day, but I got sent out of town, and they never went before they headed home.

This Christmas, we were given explicit instructions to not purchase any gifts. Never one to be terribly good at heeding parental instruction, I snuck a waffle maker into my checked luggage, had Amazon send the required Belgian pearl sugar to their house, and we woke up early this morning to cook them on the sly before everyone got up. It's only the 22nd - not technically a Christmas gift.

And these waffles were worth the Christmas gift admonitions, the hour-long rise time, everything. They were transcendent. So, so sweet, buttery, crisp, chewy. I mean, we should have made extra and froze them. They make a bit of a mess in the waffle maker - all that butter and caramelized sugar - so making extras for later would have better amortized the cleaning time. Next time.

Liege Sugar Waffles
adapted from Whipped

1/4 oz. package yeast
1/3 c. lukewarm water
1 1/2 T. white sugar
1/8 t. salt
2 c. flour
3 eggs
8 oz. butter, melted
1 t. vanilla extract
3/4 t. ground cinnamon
1 cup Belgian pearl sugar

1. Mix the yeast, water, sugar and salt in a bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes.

2. Place the flour in the bowl of a mixer. Pour in the yeast mixture and mix with the paddle attachment. Add the eggs one at a time, waiting until each egg is incorporated before adding the next. Add the melted butter a bit at a time, and then the vanilla and cinnamon. The batter will be thick and very sticky.

3. Let the dough rest until it has doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Gently fold in the pearl sugar and let the dough rest for 15 more minutes. While the dough is resting, heat the waffle maker.

4. You'll have to play the rest of this by ear depending on what kind of waffle maker you have. If you have a Waring Pro Double Belgian Waffle Maker, set the level to 4 and fill each quadrant with a scant 1/4 cup of dough. Bake for 3-5 minutes, or until waffle is browned to your taste. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

christmas came early

We're safely at the River, surviving even after the 4-hour LA > Chicago flight in which the first-year Bible-studies major and the middle-aged atheist behind us carried on a spirited debate that lasted the entire duration of the flight. Think Valley girl vs. "Da Bears." I could have given the guy next to them a medal for saying, "Are you serious? This is a four-hour flight. You have to keep it down."

But now we're snug, and full of mac and cheese. This is usually our Christmas Eve tradition, but when you get a request for mac and cheese, you make mac and cheese. Good thing - this batch of cheese was alarmingly spicy, and it was the consensus that it wouldn't have gone over well with the extended family's low spice tolerance. Absolutely perfect for tonight, though.

EDIT: Also fantastic under Deb's chili the next night. I haven't been that gluttonous while sober in a long time.

Ngoc + Matty's Spicy Mac + Cheese, 2011 Edition
2010 Edition here
2009 Edition here

1 lb. pasta
4 T. butter
1 c. milk
1 lb. Velveeta, cubed
1 lb. Cabot Hot Habanero Cheddar
seasoned croutons, crushed to make 1 c. crumbs
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Set aside.

2. Brown the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Add the Velveeta and the Cheddar, and stir until melted.

3. Add pasta to saucepan and toss to coat. Pour into a large baking sheet.

4. In a small bowl, combine the crouton crumbs and both kinds of Parmesan. Sprinkle evenly over the pasta and bake in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes or until top is golden-brown.

Monday, December 12, 2011

everything looks better in gold and green

Do I even remember how to cook? I certainly can't remember how long it's been since I have cooked.

Finally home after an impromptu week-long NYC trip, I was greeted by rain and East Coast-style temperatures. I had designs on soup, but when I texted Matty to see what he wanted, he came back with "Fish. Pasta. Chicken. Steak. All of the above?" God, I missed him while I was gone!

So I picked up a couple rib-eyes, put him in charge of prepping them, and focused on the next best thing to soup in cold weather - a nice, cheesy gratin. Although, this was near brimming with health - a bechamel made from milk and enriched by just 2 oz. of Gorgonzola. When you consider all that next to a pound and a half of broccoli, it doesn't seem naughty at all.

I know this is supposed to be a side dish, but I could easily make the whole pan-ful my dinner. I could maybe use just a little more than 2 oz. of Gorgonzola - some bites were absolutely perfect, but some could have used an extra kick. I left the broccoli raw before mixing it with the sauce because the very thought of mushy broccoli that's lost all its green color absolutely turns my stomach. I certainly didn't expect it to turn out as crisp as my roasted broccoli, but leaving them raw really gave them great texture. And they all stayed green.

Leftovers - great on top of pasta, in scrambles - I'm beside myself with excitement of the possibilities!

Broccoli and Blue Cheese Gratin
adapted from Leite's Culinaria

24 oz. broccoli florets
4 T. butter, divided
6 T. panko
2 T. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. whole milk
1/2 t. salt
1 /2 t. black pepper
Pinch of cayenne
2 oz. Gorgonzola

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Trim the florets to bite-sized chunks. Set aside.

3. In a small pan, melt 2 T. of the butter. Add the panko, stir until golden, and set aside.

4. In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt 2 T. of the butter. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the flour until smooth. Return to heat, add the milk and whisk constantly until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add the salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir in the blue cheese and cook, stirring, just until melted. Turn off the heat.

5. Add the broccoli to the sauce and toss to coat. Spoon the mixture into a gratin dish, smooth the surface, and top with the buttered bread crumbs. Bake until bubbling around the edges and golden on top, about 20 minutes. Serve hot.