A versatile dish for any time of day

The best thing about quiche is that you can eat it at any time of day, at any temperature and with anything in it, as long as you have a good base recipe.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with quiche, it’s a simple egg dish baked in a crust. It usually contains cheese, vegetables and meat, but is also simple enough to improvise and include only what you want. The base recipe I use is from Joy. I know I’ve posted a few recipes from the book so far, but there’s a reason it’s an American classic. I use Joy’s Pat-in-the-Pan Butter Dough for the crust and the Cheese Quiche recipe for the filling.

Gouda is my favorite cheese to use and I like to add red bell peppers, crispy prosciutto and chives to the filling. I’ve found that sauteing the vegetables and herbs ahead of time helps them cook better. If you choose to use spinach, make sure you cook it before throwing it in the filling. The general rule of thumb is not to leave the pieces of chopped vegetables too thick and not to overload the quiche — don’t use more than about 1 1/2 cups total of additions. If you use more, there may not be enough egg mixture to hold it together.

Once the quiche is done, you’ve got a meal that you can eat hot or cold at any time. It’s a good standby to have in the fridge, whether you’re expecting company or just know you won’t have time to cook during the next couple days.

Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into eight pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 beaten egg yolk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir flour and salt together. With your hands or the back of a fork, mash butter in until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle heavy cream over the top of the crust and mix in until the crumbs look damp and hold together. Pat dough into a pie dish or tart pan. Prick crust with a fork so it won’t bubble up while cooking. Bake crust for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.

After the crust comes out of the oven, turn the heat down to 375 degrees and brush the warm crust with the egg yolk.

Filling
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (Gouda, cheddar, Monterey Jack and Swiss work well — you can use more than one kind if you’d like)
1 cup heavy cream
3 eggs
1/2 small onion, grated
1/8 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper
(1 1/2 cups total of any chopped vegetables, meat or other additions)

Sprinkle the cheese onto the crust. Whisk the rest of the ingredients together in a medium bowl until no streaks of egg white remain. Pour the mixture evenly over the cheese in the pastry shell. Bake until the filling is puffed around the sides and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Advertisements

Hummus meatballs

Meatballs

As a single person, it’s easy to fall into the trap of heating up microwavable meals on a regular basis. Lately, I’ve been avoiding that by broadening my cooking repertoire and finding recipes that are simple enough to make when I get home from a day of deadlines. This week, I needed to make something that would work with the pita I made last weekend. I saw a recipe for Hummus Meatballs in Associated Press Food Editor J.M. Hirsch’s “High Flavor, Low Labor” cookbook — which is loaded with great recipes that are easy to make when you don’t have a lot of time — and decided they would fit the bill.

A few years ago, when I first started teaching myself how to cook, I’d buy every ingredient listed in the recipe I wanted to try. That habit left my cabinets littered with partially full jars of curry paste and specialty spices and ingredients for which I otherwise had no use. I’ve since abandoned that tendency and tried to use what’s already in my kitchen.

For this recipe, I didn’t have a red onion, parsley, cilantro or cumin. I used basil-flavored hummus, which I felt incorporated the herb flavor I might otherwise have missed. I only had white pearl onions, so I chopped a handful of those and substituted them for the red onion. As long as you have the hummus, bread and meat, you can substitute whatever you’d like in this recipe.

I cooked the meatballs for 20 minutes and they ended up being tender and slightly charred on the bottom, which actually tasted pretty good. Next time I make these, I’ll likely add some chopped sun-dried tomatoes because I felt the end result was a little bland.

Ingredients
3 slices whole-wheat bread
1/2 small red onion
1/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup prepared or homemade hummus
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound lean ground beef (ground turkey could be substituted)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray

In a food processor, pulse the bread until it is finely ground. Add the onion and pulse until it is finely chopped and blended with the bread.

Add the parsley, cilantro, cumin, cinnamon, allspice and paprika. Pulse several times, or until thoroughly blended. Add the hummus, egg, salt and pepper, then pulse until blended.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the beef, then mix well.

Use your hands to form the mixture into balls by the tablespoonful. Arrange them on the prepared baking sheet, Spritz the meatballs with cooking spray.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked through.

Makes about three dozen meatballs.