by Danica Waters
This is one of the most brilliant recipes in my collection. It’s like a work of art. When you taste it you’ll see what I mean. (And it’s not bad to look at, either!)
One of the most elegant picnics I’ve ever put together featured this quiche baked into mini-muffin foil papers. I just took a tiny bit of dough, dropped it in the base of the foil paper and pressed down with my thumb to create the crust and followed the directions accordingly, reducing baking times, of course. Since then, they’ve been with me camping, to the zoo… you name it! The quiche travel extremely well (just keep them refrigerated), take no time at all to make, and taste expensive (but they’re not).
Spinach, Red Pepper and Feta Quiche
(Gourmet March 1994)
1/3 C plus 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
1 Tbsp cold vegetable shortening
1-1/2 Tbsp ice water plus additional if necessary
1/3 C sliced red bell pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 C packed fresh spinach leaves, washed thoroughly and trimmed (about 5 oz)
2 large eggs
1/3 C heavy cream or milk
1/3 C feta cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
In a small bowl with a pastry blender (or in a food processor) blend together flour, butter, shortening, and a pinch of salt until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add water and toss until incorporated, adding additional water if necessary to form a dough. Pat dough onto bottom and one-half inch up the sides of a 7-1/2” tart pan with removable fluted rim, or a 9” pie plate, and bake shell in bottom third of oven until set and pale golden, about 7 minutes.
While shell is baking, in a large skillet sauté bell pepper in olive oil over medium-high heat, stirring until soft, about 1 minute. Add spinach and sauté, stirring, until wilted and tender, about 1 minute. Remove skillet from heat and season spinach mixture with salt and pepper. (Don’t be shy – this is the only seasoning in the quiche, so season until the flavor is strong but not too strong)
In a small bowl whisk together the eggs and cream. Sprinkle feta cheese over the bottom of shell and arrange spinach and pepper mixture on top. Pour cream mixture over spinach and bake quiche on a baking sheet in the middle of the oven (425 degrees F) 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and bake until set, about 10 minutes.
by Danica Waters
One of the fastest, most all-around satisfying meals we eat around here is the good old fashioned frittata. While you can add anything to them (sort of like a quiche), one of my favorite combinations for a brunch or light dinner is a frittata with potato and zucchini. This recipe will feed eight people; however, I’ll make it and refrigerate the leftovers for late afternoon snacks or lunch the next day.
I especially love this recipe because it only uses one pan. Be careful, though – never use a non-stick pan under the broiler. The temperatures will exceed the recommendations for almost ALL nonstick, which is not a good thing. I use my cast iron skillet – it is a bit deeper than my full-core stainless and delivers perfect textures and rich golden color every time.
Frittata with Potato & Zucchini
4 large or 6 medium potatoes (russet or red are fine – and for a fantastic alternative, try sweet potato! It is awesome with the whole cumin!)
5-6 cloves garlic sliced cross-wise
1 large onion
1 -2 tsp whole cumin seed, or more or less to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste and heat preference (start with ¼ tsp and work up from there)
1/2 tsp kosher salt or more to taste
2 medium zucchini, washed and sliced into 1/8” thick rounds
4-5 large eggs
1 C shredded cheddar or monterrey jack cheese, or a combination of both
Slice onion crosswise to form generously- sized rings. Slice garlic crosswise. Bring 12” skillet to temperature and add olive oil (oil should not smoke when added to pan). Add onions and garlic, sauté until they turn a light-golden brown color. Add whole cumin seeds and sauté for about a minute, until they become fragrant and light golden as well. Add potatoes and cook thoroughly until they are crisp-tender and pale-golden brown, stirring frequently to prevent over-browning. Add zucchini slices and cook until tender, again stirring frequently.
In electric oven, set rack to medium-high position and preheat your broiler to High setting. (If you’re using gas oven, remove broiler pan to allow room for skillet) Crack eggs into medium bowl, add salt, cayenne pepper, and 2 Tbsp water. Beat egg mixture ‘til fluffy. Add ¼ C shredded cheese to egg mixture. When zucchini slices are tender, be sure that potato an d zucchini mixture are evenly distributed within the pan, and pour egg mixture over the top. As egg starts to brown, scrape the sides with a thin spatula, tilt and turn pan evenly to allow liquid to run down, as you would for an omelette. Once the egg is “set” but still moist on top, distribute remaining cheese across frittata. Immediately place under broiler, and cook until cheese is melted, bubbly and golden. Remove frittata from broiler and allow to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes or so. Cut into wedges, serve and enjoy!
P.S. – This is great served with fresh, hot Buttermilk Biscuits!
by Danica Waters
This is one of my most coveted recipes EVER. I cannot express the looks I get when this hits the table, nor can I convey how the eyes roll upwards in bliss when folks get their first taste of this recipe. The smells that pour out of the kitchen as the torte is baking hit every single feel-good synapse to such an extent that it’s nearly like… well, I’ll leave that up to imagination. It looks hard to make, but it isn’t. (Don’t tell anybody. It should be our little secret. )
What this recipe does involve is a little time. Now, keeping in mind that the recipe is designed to fill a 9″ springform pan, and the only time I’ll ever use a 9″ springform pan is when I’m serving, like, the whole block, I make two of these out of a single recipe, filling two separate 5″ springform pans. Yes, this means a little more time, as you’ll have to make four wee omelettes instead of two big ones, but trust me when I tell you it’s worth every minute. This recipe freezes exceptionally well, so you can either make it ahead and freeze the whole lot, or bake one and have one for emergencies later…
I think it would be loads of fun to hear your stories about this recipe – feel free to share!
Vegetarians: all you have to do is omit the ham, or use some sort of vegetarian substitute. Please note that I haven’t really experimented with vegetarian meat-substitutes, so if you have a recommendation of a vegan/vegetarian ham that you think is awesome, PLEEEASE let us all know! Leave a comment!
Oh! and as an FYI – anytime I publish a recipe that calls for ham, I’ll tell you right up front that I’m using Turkey Ham. Nobody has EVER been able to tell the diffference. (And if they did, they were so busy eating they didn’t have time to let me know.)
Brilliant Breakfast Torte
adapted from the Land o Lakes Treasury of Country Recipes
17 – ¼ oz (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed
¼ C butter
3 C (6 med) sliced 1/8” red potatoes
1 C sliced 1/8” onions, separated into rings
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
- Melt butter, and add potatoes and onions and cook over med. High heat until potatoes are slightly browned and crisply tender – do not overcook, as you want potatoes to maintain their shape. Remove from heat and set aside.
2 Tbsp butter
¼ c chopped fresh parsley
Pinch of salt and pepper
2 Tbsp water
- Prepare pan, melt butter, and add ½ of omelet mixture. Cook over medium heat. As omelet mixture sets, lift slightly with spatula to allow uncooked portion to flow underneath. Continue cooking until set, (2-3 minutes). Slide omelet onto cookie sheet, repeat with remaining butter and omelet mixture.
½ lb. thinly sliced cooked ham
2 C shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg slightly beaten
1 Tbsp water
On lightly floured surface roll each sheet of puff pastry into a 12” circle. Place first sheet in bottom and up sides of a 10” springform pan. Layer ingredients into pan on top of puff pastry in following order: 1 omelet, ¼ lb ham, half fried potatoes, 1 C shredded cheese, remaining potatoes, ham, cheese, and omelet. Top with remaining sheet of puff pastry. Press together edges of both sheets of puff pastry to form a rim; trim off excess. (you can use the extra to decorate the top of your torte by rolling pieces and cutting with cookie cutter… nothing like an artistic torte!)
Note: you can freeze torte at this point – it keeps well and cooks beautifully – I think the flavors set even better if allowed to mingle for a while) If you freeze torte, thaw overnight in refrigerator, and then before baking, allow to stand at room temperature 30 minutes prior to baking.
Bake in 375 degree F oven 30 – 35 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes, use sharp knife to separate crust from pan and remove from springform. Allow to stand another 5 minutes on platter. Cut into wedges.