30 November 2010

Rustic Quiche with Maple Apple Chicken Sausage

For more than a year now we've been a part of a wonderful CSA. They provide us with great vegetables and local products year round. We don't grow much wheat for flour in Vermont, but we do grow some other grains and as a result we've a pantry full of mixed grains, oats, barley, etc from the CSA. Figuring out what to do with them has been a challenge. They aren't really foods we've cooked much.

So, over the weekend when I was wondering what to make...feeling like we had a house full of food and nothing to cook...I decide to venture out and make what I'll call a "rustic quiche." - mixed grains, whole wheat flour and a little maple sugar to sweeten the crust, leftovers from the fridge for a filling  (maple apple chicken sausage, broccoli, potatoes from breakfast and a few onions), topping it all off some good Vermont cheddar cheese. The results were, well, the kind of meal that makes you feel good, full and warm.

Multi-grain Crust
Mixed Grains
Whole Wheat Flour
Maple Sugar

Cook the mixed grains on simmer. One part grains to two parts water. Cook until the grains are soft and the liquid has mostly evaporated or been absorbed. You'll need to stir occasionally to prevent the grains from sticking and burning to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and add flour. I'd say about equal parts mixed grain and flour, but start slowly it may not actually be that much - continue to add flour and mix until the mixture holds a shape. Add maple sugar (I used about 1/4 cup - translates probably to roughly a quarter part). Place the mixture into a pie or desired baking dish and press until evenly distributed along the bottom and sides - about a half inch thick.

The Filling
The filling could really be anything you desire. I imagine ham and leek would be wonderful or bacon, swiss chard, and onion.The opportunities are endless. 
Chicken Sausage
Cheddar Cheese
For this particular version it was chicken sausage, potatoes and broccoli. I mixed 8 eggs with about a cup of milk (remember I really just cook and don't measure much - so go by what feels right). Seasoned the mixture with salt and pepper and set aside.

Sliced two links of maple apple chicken sausage and lined the bottom of the crust with these. I then add some frozen broccoli. Again maybe a cup. I then poured the egg mixture over the the broccoli and sausage. I then added the pre-cooked potatoes. Distributing them evenly over the top. Finally, I topped it all with a generous amount of cheddar cheese.

The quiche cooked in 375 degrees. I pulled it out when the crust was golden and the eggs had set about 40 minutes. Served with a small side salad and a glass of red wine.

15 November 2010

Crepes: the Perfect Vehicle for Maple Syrup

Growing up my brother and I would race to see how many crepes we could eat - five, six, seven (each) - mom and the electric frying pan struggling to keep up, my brother and I jockeying for the next one with plates puddled with maple syrup. I don't race the way I used to, but I still probably eat more crepes at one sitting than most. To me they're they perfect vehicle for maple syrup. They don't absorb the syrup,  but instead simply allow you to wrap it up leaving the flavor of the syrup pure and unmasked. Plus, with a crepe you don't waste all that stomach space on the vehicle like you would with a pancake or waffle, which well leaves more room for more crepes, and maple syrup.

Crepes rather than pancakes were the standard in house growing up. My mother always cooked them by feel just kind of throwing them together. I've never been able to get an exact recipe from her, and well now, I've fallen to the same fate as she - just kind of throwing them together. I've actually adapted her recipe a bit adding a little whiskey, which nicely complements the flavor of maple and seems to create the perfect crepe batter every time (even if you don't measure like me). 

Crepes with Maple Syrup
1 3/4 Cups Flour 
1 Tsp Baking Powder
2 Tbsp Maple Sugar
Pinch of Salt
3 Cups Milk
1 Large Eggs
 2Tbsp Whiskey
2 Tbsp Butter

Combine flour, baking powder and granulated maple sugar. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add milk, water and whiskey. Mix well.  My mother actually mixes the ingredients in her food processor. I usually do it the old fashioned way (it helps me feel a little less guilty about all the crepes I eat). Add eggs. Blend until batter is smooth, or nearly smooth.    Liberally grease a frying pan, crepe pan or griddle with  handle on medium high heat. Pour approximately 1/4 cup of batter into the pan. Swirl the batter by lifting the pan and tilting it in a circular motion. The batter should form only a thin layer across the bottom of the pan. Bubbles will form on the top of the crepe, when the bubbles have all popped the crepe is ready to flip (the crepe will also be golden brown). Flip. Cook the second side for an additional minute or two. Serve with plenty of maple syrup.  They're also good with fresh fruit, yogurt, whipped cream, ice cream, or, well, nearly any other topping you desire. Enjoy!