Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Crustless Swiss Quiche with Bacon & Spinach

"A quiche is basically a frittata poured into a pastry shell." ... or not. Today we enjoyed a crustless version so, by definition, did that make it a frittata instead of a quiche? I don't know, don't really care, since the quiche pan held a deliciously loaded custardy something we both enjoyed. Filled with bacon, swiss cheese, spinach and green onions, it was a well-received taste treat. Who says real men don't eat quiche? RL loved it.

Quiche Lorraine was the darling of the menu for ladies-who-lunched in the 60's; a light but rich, sparsely filled, one crust custardlike pie. Over time I recall it morphing into a dense, custardy casserole filled with unusual ingredients and baked in a soggy crust. Not an improvement. Thus my preference for crustless quiches, or it might be my utter lack of the pie-crust baking gene.

We enjoyed half of this quiche/frittata served warm at lunch, and some remaining wedges served chilled the next day. Maybe next time I'll play with a pie crust... or not. 

Crustless Swiss Quiche with Bacon & Spinach

8 luncheon servings, 4 main dish

6 strips streaky bacon, diced
4 green onions, sliced
1 bunch spinach, rough chopped
1 generous cup swiss cheese, shredded (or cut in smallish chunks)
5 large eggs
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Salt & white pepper, to taste

Prehea the oven to 375 degrees F.

Use a large skillet and cook the bacon until done, but not super crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked bacon to an 8 or 9-inch quiche pan. Remove all but 1 Tablespoon of bacon fat from the skillet. Add the onions and spinach to the skillet and heat until wilted. Layer evenly on top of the cooked bacon. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top of the spinach.

Whisk together the eggs, dairy, & seasonings. Carefully pour the egg mixture over the layered fillings. Place in the center of the preheated oven. Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 and cook 15 to 20 minutes longer or until the center is just set. Remove from the oven, let cool for several minutes to firm up; cut and serve warm. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Zucchini Lemon Muffins with Ginger & Nuts

Zucchini is in season somewhere this month, so why wait for summer to stock up on new zucchini recipes. It's barely time to set out plants so, yes, I know I know, I'm rushing our local season by several months. The payoff will come later when facing an overabundance of zucchini, I'll be ready. 

During the past several weeks I've been playing with stuffed zucchini recipes, changing up ingredients and seasonings in pursuit of optimum flavor in addition to scads of health benefits. (posts may or may not follow) All good... until suddenly I couldn't face one more healthy zucchini entree. Okay then, how about a dessert? Zucchini quickbread is an old standby, zucchini-pineapple cake is another tasty treat, but savory zucchini muffins have become our latest favorite. Moist and tangy, lemony and not overly sweet, these little gems are delicious! A bonus feature is they freeze well if we grow tired of them after a few days.

A standard recipe from King Arthur Flour provided the base zucchini muffin recipe, but I didn't stop there. Oh no: swap currants for the required raisins, add some powdered ginger and crystallized ginger, double the lemon impact with more fresh zest and a teaspoon of powdered lemon zest, and then bake in different sizes of muffin tins. All good - so good that the mini muffins disappeared before their photo op. The "regular" size muffins were popular at breakfast and during mid-morning breaks. The larger muffins, baked in a cast iron cornbread pan, were strangely less popular. Commitment issues, perhaps? Evidently it was easier to enjoy several small muffins rather than commit to finishing one larger one. Go figure.

Zucchini Lemon Muffins with Ginger & Nuts
adapted from a classic recipe at King Arthur Flour

Makes 12+ muffins, depending on size of muffin tin used

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups All-Purpose flour
scant 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 TBS baking powder
1 tsp salt
grated peel of 1 medium lemon
1 tsp powdered lemon peel
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1 generous cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried currants
1/4 cup sweet crystallized ginger bits

Wet Ingredients:
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/3 cup canola oil

1 cup (packed) shredded zucchini (not drained or squeezed dry)
optional granulated sugar to sprinkle on top before baking

To Prepare:
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grease or spray a 12-muffin tin (or equivalent). Assemble the ingredients.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients.

Use a small bowl and whisk together the wet ingredients. 

Add the wet ingredients to the large bowl of dry ingredients. Use a large spoon and stir to just combine (don't overmix!). Gently fold in the shredded zucchini.

Using a cookie scoop or ladle, add the batter to the prepared muffin tin, filling each opening about 3/4 full. If desired, light sprinkle the top of each muffin with sugar.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned, or the muffins spring back to the touch. (note: times can vary by 5 minutes or more with different size muffins) Remove muffin tins from the oven and rest for 5 minutes on a baking rack. Gently remove from baking tin and serve warm or cool completely before storing, covered or well-wrapped, for up to 3 days at room temperature. Freeze for longer storage.

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