Monthly Archives: May 2012

Dog Days of (Almost) Summer: Smoked Salmon Quiche with Sauteed Leeks and Chevre

Smoked Salmon Quiche with Sautéed Leeks and Chevre

People often ask me where I get my recipe ideas. Well, they come from all places, and inspiration tends to strike at the oddest times, leaving me foggily trying to remember what brilliant foodie idea I had while standing in the yard at 3a with the new foster puppy silently beseeching her to “do your business” so I can go back to bed.

Yes, there’s a new pup in town and we call her Ella. She arrived from Georgia on Sunday, having been pulled at the 11th hour from being put to sleep. She is as sweet as they come, and we are excited to see the lovely dog that emerges with love. Sadly, she is currently at the 24-hour vet clinic, having taken ill with severe pneumonia. We are keeping all fingers and toes crossed that this special little girl pulls through and can go on to find the loving forever home she so deserves.  (To learn more about the rescue group Georgia Peaches, please visit our Facebook page).

Slowly beginning to trust us and giving in for a little snuggle.

This particular meal idea is good old-fashioned copying. The Columbia City Bakery (which incidentally was just recognized by Bon Appetit as making one of the 10 best baguettes in the country), had the most amazing quiche the other day and I enjoyed every crumb of it. It was a smoked salmon quiche with sautéed leeks and chevre. Their crust is to die for, and there was almost too much goat cheese to seem like it was okay, except that I (not so) secretly loved it.

I’m pleased to say my carbon copy was pretty dang close and was the perfect center piece for a Saturday morning brunch before wine tasting in Woodinville. The perfect addition to any lazy morning, or light summer supper.

Smoked Salmon Quiche with Sautéed Leeks and Chevre

1 Pate Brisee (recipe follows)

4 oz smoked salmon, thinly sliced (you can add more or less pending on your affinity for it)

1 leek, white part only, split in half, thoroughly washed, and thinly sliced

1 TB olive oil

1/2 cup goat cheese (yes, it’s a lot, but it’s worth it)

1/2 cup half and half

1/2 cup 2% milk

3 large eggs

1 TB chives

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put rack one rung up from the bottom of the oven.
  2. In a non-stick skillet on low saute the leeks until nearly all color is gone, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the pate brisee until a slightly larger circle than the pie plate. Fold in half for easy transfer, and move over to the pie plate. Unfold, trim the edges so even, fold crust under itself, and flute the edges.
  4. Sprinkle the leek mixture evenly along the bottom of the crust, follow with the goat cheese, and top with the salmon, creating a pinwheel design if you like.
  5. In a glass mixing bowl combine the eggs with the cream, milk, and chives and whisk until foamy.

    An assortment of garden herbs can be added, pending on preference and what’s in your pots.

  6. Pour over top of filling and carefully move to oven.
  7. Cook until egg is fully set and crust is golden brown. About 30-35 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Makes beautiful leftovers too.

Pate Brisee (aka buttery pie crust)  – From the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook

1 1/2 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup ice water

  1. Using a food processor fitted with a steel blade, (because it makes it so easy, and hey, there is no shame in that) process the flour and salt just to sift and mix.

    Making the pate brisee.

  2. Add the butter and process with repeated pulses until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

    Pulse until the butter and flour mixture resembles a coarse meal.

  3. With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube and process until the dough leaves the side of the bowl.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, shape into a thick circle, and wrap in plastic wrap.
  5. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before using. If chilling overnight, pull out 30 minutes before use to allow to slightly thaw.


Filed under Breakfasts, Entertaining, Make ahead, Seafood, Uncategorized

Summer Loving: Baked Tomatoes topped with Fresh Garden Herbs and Pecorino

How do I love summer, let me count the ways.

When I was a sophomore in college, my friend Jay  earnestly told me, “Saturdays are for playing. Sundays are for resting.” Now this might not sound like rocket science, but for someone as hard working and always on the go as Jay was, it was revolutionary. Over the past 10+ years (dear god) I’ve taken that sentiment to heart. As much as I’m able, (we are talking about me after all) I try and get my to-do list done during the week so that Saturdays can be all about friends, food, traveling, and parties, and Sundays can be all about resting, recovering from said parties, and recharging for the week ahead.

Sunday brunch is a critical part of the Sunday resting, so I’m always striving to think of recipes that will be utterly satisfying, while easy to make and clean-up from. Baked tomatoes fit that bill to a T. Easy to make, only one dish required, beautiful to serve, and the perfect complement to just about anything else you can think of, they are a standard in my kitchen. Make these on a Sunday when life has slowed down enough to let you take a deep breath and enjoy the idea of doing nothing but resting.

Baked Tomatoes topped with Fresh Garden Herbs and Pecorino
Serves 2

Beautiful baked tomatoes.

Two tomatoes (heirloom, hot house, roma, they all work), carefully cored, and cut in half
1/4 cup grated fresh pecorino or parmesan
Sprinkle of fresh garden herbs (whatever appeals, chives, thyme, sage, garlic)
Olive oil for drizzling
Salt and Pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Put tomatoes cut side up in a small baking dish (for two serving a bread pan works well)

    Is there anything so great as perfect ingredients prepared simply?

  3. Top with cheese and then herbs

    These can easily be assembled ahead and then popped into the oven right before you want them.

  4. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  5. Bake 15 – 20 minutes until juices are flowing, tomatoes are slightly wilting, and cheese is bubbling
  6. Perfect served with toast, scrambled eggs, and bacon


Filed under Breakfasts, Entertaining, Health Conscious, Make ahead, Vegetarian

Picture Perfect: Lemon Tart with Raspberries

Don’t let his good looks fool you.

The other day was, simply put, not my day. It began something like this:

Erina, “Do you think Duke still needs to wear the harness when I walk or run with him? I don’t think he does….he’s such a good boy. I mean, he’s perfect!”

Matt, “I don’t know…it’ll depend how much he pulls when he sees something he wants.”

Erina (dismissively), “It’ll be fine.”

5 minutes later I clipped up the “perfect” Duke, sans harness, and grabbed the bottle of champagne and my bottle of water (my new secret anti-hangover device..bring a bottle of water and chug it like it’s my job). We trotted up the hill, en route to our friends CJ and Nadia’s house and no sooner had we turned onto their street (which incidentally is down hill, on a wet sidewalk, covered in moss), than Duke took off. CJ is after all his most favorite person and in his opinion there is no greater place on earth. I had done exactly what they preach you should not, never ever, not even a little bit do in puppy school and had wrapped the leash around my wrist. I went flying, the champagne went rolling, Duke kept running, and the next thing I know I’m being dragged along on the sidewalk, my pants ripped, my knee swollen, and my ego very bruised.

It gets worse.

Upon being scolded by CJ for my less than surgical cleaning of said wound, I was promptly sat in a chair, hydrogen peroxided to the hilt, wrapped and taped up, and then plunked with a bag of peas and my ever-expanding knee in the middle of the action. On the plus side, people did bring me champagne, so nothing wrong with that.

If you asked me, Mr Hippo had it coming…

A few hours later I decided to hobble around the kitchen and make a pizza. And what a beautiful pizza it was. Fresh dough, sautéed jalapeno cheddar sausage and mushrooms, buffalo mozzarella…I could go on. I cooked it perfectly on the pizza stone, spinning it to make sure it was done just right, and pulling it out at exactly the right moment. I topped it with garden fresh chopped basil, and then I went to cut it.

Perhaps it was being shaken up from the fall, or perhaps it was the champagne, or maybe it was the universe telling me to slow the hell down, but here I am cutting it and the pizza board (which is only 80% on the counter, but who notices that kind of thing) slips, the pizza goes flying and suddenly there is beautifully sautéed jalapeno cheddar sausage and mushrooms, and buffalo mozzarella, and garden fresh chopped basil all over the god damned kitchen floor.

CJ offered me her gluten free pizza, Nadia assured me that she’d just swept and it would be fine to eat, and Matt ordered take out. I was utterly defeated and went gingerly home, crawled into bed (at 6p), pulled the covers up over my head, and pouted for all I (and that beautiful pizza) were worth.

Don’t worry Mom…I’ll watch the table of beautifully prepared food for 30!

This Lemon Tart is the absolute antithesis to my dreadful Sunday. It is beautiful, and perfect, and sinfully delicious. My mama made it first, and we quickly scarfed it up, oohing and ahhing over the perfect combination of sweet raspberries, tangy lemon filling, and crunchy crust. This travels very nicely so is a great dessert to bring to a dinner or an event. Make it when you need to be picture perfect, and tied up in a bow.

Lemon Tart with Raspberries
Adapted from “William Sonoma Desserts”
Serves 8


Butter Cookie Dough, 1 disk at cool room temperature (recipe follows)

2 Eggs

2/3 C White Sugar

12 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature

1/2 C Sour Cream

2 tsp Lemon Zest

1 Lemon, juiced

2 TB Flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 carton, about 6 oz, raspberries

  1. Put the dough disc between 2 large sheets of parchment paper and roll out into a 12-inch round, 1/4 inch thick. Fold the dough round in half and transfer to a pie plate. (A tart pan with a removable bottom would be better, but I don’t have one of those). Unfold the round and ease into the plate, patting firmly into the bottom and up the sides. Trim the edges to form a 1/2 inch overhang. Fold the overhang back over itself and press into the sides of the pan. Freeze for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, line the crust with foil, fill with pie weights, place on a baking sheet, and bake for 12 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and continue to bake until set and slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  2. In the food processor, combine the egg and sugar and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the cream cheese, pulse to break it up, and then process until smooth, about 15 seconds. Add the sour cream, lemon zest and juice, flour, and vanilla and process just until smooth, about 20 seconds. Pour the filling into the partially baked crust.
  3. Bake until the top looks firm and is set when you gently shake the pan, about 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 1 hour. If using a tart pan, remove from the pan. If using a pie dish, leave as is. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight. Spoon the raspberries on top of the tart just before serving.

Butter Cookie Dough

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/4 cups cake flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 1/4 cups unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 TB vanilla

  1. Sift together the flours and salt into a bowl. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low-speed, beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the flour mixture and mix just until a moist dough forms. Form the dough into three equal disks and wrap separately in plastic. Chill until firm, about 45 minutes. Storage tip: You may store the disks, wrapped tightly in plastic, in the fridge for up to 2 days, and in the freezer for up to 1 month.


Filed under Desserts, Entertaining, Kitchen Trials and Tribulations, Make ahead, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Rainy Monday: Roasted Cauliflower, White Bean, and Cheddar Soup

These beans give soups a wonderfully creamy consistency without the guilt.

If you live in Seattle right now you are likely cursing the rain. For it has returned. In droves. Or sheets. Or buckets. Pick your poison.

Admittedly the past two weeks have been abnormally spectacular with gorgeous day, after gorgeous day, taunting and teasing us with the idea that perhaps this year the Seattle Summer Curse of not beginning until after the 4th of July would be broken. Well friends, as I sit here typing and the rain sits outside pounding, I’d say we might have spoken too soon.

While I’m going to grumble like a good Seattle-ite, I should also confess that there’s something fun and cozy about the rain returning. It’s an excuse for a few more winter meals and big red wines. And sweatshirts. Big sweatshirts.

This soup is a piece of cake to make, very healthy, and just so damn good. Roasting the cauliflower gives it an even richer flavor, and the white beans add a creaminess you would swear was the result of gallons of half and half. It’s quick to make, healthy to eat, and when served with a crusty piece of bread and mixed greens the perfect Rainy Monday Meal.

Roasted Cauliflower, White Bean, and Cheddar Soup
Serves 5+
Adapted from Closet Cooking

Roasted Cauliflower, White Bean, and Cheddar Soup

1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 can cannellini beans or white beans, rinsed
1 1/2 cups aged white cheddar, shredded
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss the cauliflower florets in two TB of oil along with the salt and pepper and arrange them in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
  3. Roast the cauliflower oven until lightly golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.

    Roasting the cauliflower, which really brings out the flavor.

  4. Heat the remaining oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.
  5. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  7. Add the broth, cannellini beans, and cauliflower, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
  8. Puree the soup until it reaches your desired consistency with a stick blender.
  9. Mix in the cheese, let it melt and season with salt and pepper.
  10. Mix in the milk and remove from heat.


Filed under Cheap Eats, Comfort Foods, Health Conscious, Make ahead, Vegetarian

Out of This World: Mini Quiches with Brie, Caramelized Onions, and Chile Sausage

Mini Quiches with Brie, Caramelized Onions, and Spicy Sausage ready to go into the oven.

I love eggs. And I also love everything to be neat, tidy, and in its proper place. I believe in kindergarten they called that “structure oriented”. My friends and family now might call it horrifically type-A, neurotic, and obsessive compulsive, but doesn’t “structure oriented” just sound so much better butter? Anyhow, given my longing for order, it will come as no surprise that not only do I like to make baked eggs in muffin tins, but I also find them to be the perfect vessel to make oh-so-delicious, two-bite, mini quiches.

These were a bit of a mistake if I’m being honest. I’d offered to bring appetizers to my Aunt and Uncles for dinner and then just had way too fun a day and forgot to pull anything together. An hour before we were to head over for my cousin Margot’s “Welcome Home from India Party” I realized I’d better get cracking, so looked to see what options the fridge would provide. The result was surprisingly delicious quiches that were beautiful to boot. Puff pastry makes for a snap assembly, and the combination of the stronger flavored brie, with the slightly sweet onions, and the spicy sausage proved magnifique. Incidentally, if you’re looking for a great cookbook that’s all about Puff Pastry I highly recommend checking out Katherine Martinelli’s “Puff Pastry at Brunch“, a wonderful eBook with “10 sweet and savory recipes to start your day.”

Make this when you need to use up whatever is in your fridge and you want a sure-fire crowd pleaser. They also make delicious leftovers for a good on-the-go breakfast the next morning.

Mini Quiches with Brie, Caramelized Onions, and Chile Sausage
Makes 18

I assure you, these went quickly.

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed and rolled out slightly on floured surface
4 eggs
3/4 cup milk (cream also works for something richer)
4 hot sausage links, quartered lengthwise and slices into cubes about the size of a pea (I used Hillshire Farms for this)
1 wedge brie (doesn’t have to be fancy), cubed
1 cup caramelized onion
Fresh dill to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. In a small non-stick skillet saute the sausage until beginning to brown.  Set aside.
  3. Grease regular muffin tins (I don’t have mini muffin tins, so just used regular, though either would work)
  4. Using a juice glass or something similar, cut circles out of the puff pastry and gently press into tins. Assemble pastry scraps, re-roll, and cut remaining dough into circles and press into tins.
  5. Whip up the eggs and the milk.
  6. To assemble, evenly divide amongst the 18 cups the brie, caramelized onions, and sausage. Top with the egg mixture. Sprinkle a pinch of fresh dill into each cup.
  7. On middle rack bake for 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown and egg fully set.
  8. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, pop out of muffin tins, and serve! (Can also make ahead and serve cold or lightly reheated).


Filed under Breakfasts, Entertaining, Make ahead

Slim and Trim: Baked Eggs with Sauteed Spinach, Garlic, Artichoke Hearts, and Cheddar

Mr. Martini, you know I love you, but we need to take a break.

I told you how amazing the last month was, right? And it was, truly amazing. Lots and lots of precious time with friends and family, and many a good meal shared. In fact, perhaps too many a good meal shared. It was days upon days of epic eating and drinking, and with bikini season looming, the harsh, cold reality came crashing down that I tragically no longer have the metabolism of a prepubescent teen, and unfettered weeks of “wine, bread, and cheese, repeat” can take its toll.

A blissful, and much enjoyed, weekend away in the San Juan Islands.

I’ve never been one of those people to go on crash diets, I like food too much for that, but I do appreciate the merit of recalibrating things with a bit more exercise, a few less calories, and a general increased commitment to health and wellness.

Eggs are one of my favorite teammates to eating well…high in protein, low in calories, massively flexible, and utterly satisfying. These little baked eggs are made in muffin tins, so they are just so neat and tidy (yes, I’m evenly hideously Type-A in my food presentation preferences), and when served with some light mixed greens and a piece of multigrain bread, make the perfect way to begin or end your day. I made this combo because they sounded good, and they supported what leftovers I had in the fridge, but feel free to add, delete, and subtract as your cravings, and pantry, dictate.

Baked Eggs with Sautéed Spinach, Garlic, Artichoke Hearts, and Cheddar

Serves 1

So delicious and cute to boot.

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Divide 1/2 TB butter between two non-stick muffin cups in a 6 cup tray.
  • Pop into the oven, and allow butter to melt, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from oven.
  • Set muffin tin in a larger baking dish, filled with 1 inch water. Make sure that the water isn’t going to splash into the muffin tins when you move it. (although it’s not the end of the world if it does)
  • Sprinkle a little salt and pepper in each cup.
  • Add about 1 TB sautéed spinach with garlic to each cup
  • Add one artichoke heart to each, coarsely chopped
  • Crack one egg into each, taking care not to break the yolk.
  • Top each with 1 tsp heavy cream, and a little grating of cheddar
  • Baked until white is firm, and yolk is thickened, about 15 minutes.
  • Gently pop out of tin and serve with mixed greens and buttered multigrain toast.
  • Note: If a little water does splash on, not to worry, simply pop out of the tin and allow to rest on a paper towel for a minute to absorb the moisture.


Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Breakfasts, Cheap Eats, Health Conscious, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

I’ve Missed You: Crab Cake Eggs Benedict

Crab Cake Eggs Benedict with Roasted Tomatoes

Crab Cake Eggs Benedict with Roasted Tomatoes

Hello, there. I’ve missed you! April came, I blinked, and now it’s gone. While in Shut Up & Cook land I have nothing to show for the past thirty days, in my “real life” I’ve had a month bursting at the seams with:

  • House guests
  • Foster puppies
  • Delicious dinners
  • Too much wine
  • Lots and lots of laundry

If you have a heart and a soul, which you must since you’re reading this blog, I imagine you’re most curious about the foster puppies…because let’s be honest…who wouldn’t be. Yes, in a moment of sheer genius I decided that a month with 20 days of house guests was really lacking something…a certain je ne sais quoi. That something quickly became not one foster puppy, but two. Crazy? Yes. Worth every minute of insanity? Absolutely.

Sweet Kaya, pulled just hours before being euthanized or "red lined".

Amazing what a good night sleep can do for a pup.

Our two little foster puppies, Kaya and Deacon (formerly Kyan and Raisin), came from the Clayton County Animal Shelter in Georgia, a rescue that due to extreme crowding and over population has one of the highest kill rates in the country; literally thousands of dogs are put down there each year. The group I’m partnering with, Georgia Peaches, works to bring puppies out and place them into Seattle homes where they are loved and flourish. Both these puppies got placed within a week into utterly enviable homes and have literally transformed in front of our eyes, turning from scared, sick, malnourished little creatures into thriving, happy, squeezably cute, puppies.

Doesn't this just melt your heart?

Deacon, living the good life on his first night here.

When not standing in the back yard and cheerfully willing the puppies to “Go pee. Go pee. Go pee.”, there has also been quite a bit of cooking, made oh so much better for the visit of some college friends, one of whom is a tremendous chef and food stylist. Chelsey quickly put me to shame in the kitchen, and I was positively giddy at being relegated to sous chef/dishwasher. She is a delight to watch, creating delicious meals that are seemingly effortless, utterly intuitive, and absolutely satisfying.

Saturday morning she decided to whip up some Crab Cake Eggs Benedict for myself, Matt, Julia, and Kate (because be honest…who doesn’t just whip that up?).

It was….to die for. Decadent. Over the top. Amazing. It also helped me conquer my fear of making Hollandaise sauce (although if I’m being honest I did have a brief moment of panic when it didn’t emulsify correctly at first).   Make this on a Saturday morning when life is bursting with activity, and nothing sounds better than slowing down and indulging.

Crab Cake Eggs Benedict
Serves 4

The start of all good things: eggs.

  1. Place on warmed plates 4 English Muffins, split, toasted, and buttered
  2. Arrange still warm crab cakes on the muffins , recipe follows
  3. Top each muffin with one poached egg, recipe follows
  4. Coat with 1/4 cup Hollandaise Sauce, recipe follows

Crab Cakes

A good crab cake should be decidedly crabby in my opinion. I’m not a fan of adding vegetables, such as red peppers or scallions, though you’re certainly welcome to and people to. I prefer to keep it simple.

  • 1 lb lump crabmeat
  • 1 Egg lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 TB Dijon Mustard
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 2 TB butter, melted
  1. Combine the crab, egg, mayo, mustard, salt and pepper, and bread crumbs.
  2. Shape into 8 small cakes.
  3. Chill in refrigerator if you have the time, though not required
  4. In a non-stick pan, grill in melted butter until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  5. Put in oven to keep warm.

Crab Cakes About to Go Into the Oven to Stay Warm

Poached Eggs

  1. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, bring 2 to 3 inches of water nearly until boiling.
  2. Add 1 TB vinegar (any type, I used cider vinegar)
  3. Gently swirl the water, and while swirling crack each egg into a small cup and then gently slide into the simmering water. (you can probably do 2-4 eggs at a time, pending on the size of your pan)
  4. Cook until the whites are set and the centers are still soft.
  5. Remove with a large slotted spoon and set in second pot of warmed water to 150 degrees.
  6. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes, reheating to 150 degrees if necessary.
  7. Drain each egg with a slotted spoon and hold against a clean, dry dish towel to absorb as much water as possible.

Hollandaise Sauce

  1. Place in the top of a double broiler 3 large egg yolks and 1 1/2 TB cold water
  2. Off the heat, whisk the egg mixture until it becomes light and frothy.
  3. Place the top of the double broiler over, not in, barely simmering water and continue to whisk until eggs are thickened, 2 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the eggs get too hot.

    Whisking the eggs for Hollandaise.

  4. Remove from heat and whisking constantly slowly add in 1/2 cup warm butter.
  5. Whisk is 1 – 3 tsp lemon juice, a dash of hot pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.

Note: The trick with making Hollandaise is the emulsion, or adding the butter to the egg, you must do it slowly and whisk like your life depends on it. If the sauce is too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water. Sauce may be kept warm for up to 30 minutes on a very low simmer.


Filed under Breakfasts, Comfort Foods, Entertaining, Seafood, Uncategorized