Posts tagged ‘Creme Fraiche’

October 14, 2012

Crustless Leek Quiche | quiche aux poireaux sans pâte!

I feel like so much has happened in a month’s time.  I am slightly surprised by how time consuming working, going to classes, tutoring and trying to live my life has been.  I feel like I used to have impeccable time management skills in college and all of that went out the window when I got to France.  Maybe I am not used to balancing things.  Maybe this time period has been exceptionally hectic.  Maybe.  Maybe I should be working right now and I haven’t done squat just yet because cooking my lunch for the week seemed much more important.
Because how can I be expected to get things done if my lunch isn’t something that I look forward to greatly throughout the early morning hours of the day?

An amazing person gifted me with a bento box for my back to school days and I couldn’t be happier (and often, he fills it up for me with delicious home-cooked healthy lunches.)  So today I wanted to brainstorm a fairly easy contribution to the bento box in order to fill up his double decker delicious vessel.
And how about a quiche?  Nothing says miam miam like a single serving quiche.  Jam packed with egg protein, moderate cheese deliciousness and leeks.  Leeks were a vegetable I did not know about prior to coming to France.  Now it is something that my quiches must always have! Why crustless, you may be asking?  Well, it is a whole lot of butter and I didn’t have one on hand.  Consider this: quiche lite.  Consider this remorse cooking after eating not one but 2 birthday fondues last night (but my goodness weren’t they so good.)
Though I’d love to sit and chat, I must get back to my work.  But à l’aise fraise will be more attentive….I promise…

Crustless Leek Quiche | quiche aux poireaux sans pâte!

makes four single serving quiches

What you’ll need:

  • 2-3 medium leeks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 5 large eggs
  • 600 mls milk
  • 2 tbsp creme fraiche
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch (maizena)
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) shredded Gruyère

Now what?

1. Preheat your oven to 350 f / 180 c degrees.

2. Meanwhile, cut off the roots and green leaves of leek.  Cut each leek lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide slices.  Rinse in a bowl of water to get rid of dirt (be sure to swish the leeks around.)  Remove the leek by hand from the bowl of water and drain well.  Toss those babies into a preheated skill with olive oil.

3.  While the leeks are cooking (about 12-14 minutes), combine the eggs, milk, cream, cornstarch and half of the gruyère.  Season this well (I like to add a little cumin for absolutely no explainable reason.)  Whisk together until well mixed.

4.  Butter quiche dishes in order to ensure easy removal.  First, add the leeks equally to the dish or dishes to make sure that each quiche has a fair amount of leeks.  Finally, pour the egg mixture over the quiches and sprinkle with remaining gruyère to get that golden brown top often dreamt about.

5.  Bake 30-35 minutes or until a knife comes out clean and the tops are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before removing. Enjoy hot or room temperature! Put it in your bento box for a quick (originally wrote quichke) lunch!

August 6, 2012

Grandma Edith’s Ricotta Cheesecake | Cheesecake à la ricotta

I am an Italian American which means that I grew up feasting on all things delicious (and saying things like ‘rigoth’ instead of ricotta and ‘ganol’ instead of cannoli).  As a child though, I didn’t fully appreciate the allure of this cake.  Every Easter, I poo-pooed it and grabbed some Cadberry eggs instead, satiating my sophomoric taste buds.  But there is something funny about being across an entire ocean that makes me rethink all of those old recipes that I grew up knowing but turning my nose up at out of sheer ignorance.  When spending Easter without your family, for example, all that you can think about making is your Grandma’s cheesecake, even though you can’t seem to remember exactly how it tastes.  In just creating the cake with your own hands, it brings forth an entire culture, familial history and series of memories that are essential on all days, but on holidays in particular.

But it’s no such holiday right now and I am simply fulfilling a request for an Italian cheesecake.  Using ricotta instead of cream cheese really changes the texture a whole lot.  Don’t poo-poo this cake like I did a very long time ago.  Make it just once and it will be your go-to cheesecake for a while!

Usually this produces an enormous amount of batter.  Since I was cooking for 8 (on two separate occasions, I know, cheating my way out of baking two separate desserts! How dare I!),  I thought I would make single serving portions out of wax paper.  This could be a very fruitful idea, in theory, but be sure to press your crust INTO place to prevent overflowing cheese rivers that create your very first  kitchen “debacle.” I did manage to salvage four cheesecakes (which I believe to be kitchen karma telling me I should’ve never lump-summed two desserts into one…)

Grandma Edith’s Ricotta Cheesecake

What you’ll need:

  • 1 ½ lb (600g) ricotta
  • 1 cup (250 g) of sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup (32 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½  tsp vanilla
  • 4 egg whites
  • ¼ cup (60 g) heavy cream, whipped
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups graham crackers (or speculoos cookies), crushed

Now what?

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Beat drained ricotta until smooth and gradually add ¾ cups sugar and egg yolks, beating after each addition.
  3. Beat in flour, lemon zest and vanilla.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with remaining sugar until stiff and then combine with whipped cream.  Gently fold cream mixture into ricotta mixture.
  5. Turn into 12-inch spring form pan (or mini vessels, or mini muffin tins, or mini ramekins or whatever you’d like) which has been well buttered and sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs.
  6. Bake 10 minutes at 425 and then lower oven temperature to 350 and bake for one hour or until golden brown and wobbly to the touch.
  7. Turn off heat and allow to cool in the oven with the door closed.
  8. Cool in fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.

(the vessels)

(the cream)

(the very minis)

(the salvaged)

(the explosion)

(the massacre)

August 4, 2012

Very Vegetarian Lasagna | Lasagnes végétariennes

My roommate Alexis told me that he wanted to cook for us the other night.  I said, sure, no problem, thinking that it would be nice to come home to a hot meal every once in a while.  When the hour came for dinner, I arrived at our apartment ready to feast on whatever he had in store for me.  I entered the kitchen and saw a pile of frozen spinach sitting on a plate, an oven that was not preheated and an unconcerned Alexis opening a bottle of red wine.  I glanced at the clock and read 9pm.  He told me that he wanted to wait for the spinach to defrost.  I looked around for a few more clues and when I found a box of lasagna noodles perched on the windowsill, I knew that dinner wouldn’t be before midnight (or the next day, if we waited for the spinach to defrost on its own.) But the French eat late, I told myself.  But I had been hungry since 5pm.  He informed me that we would be eating spinach, crème fraiche and sun vegetable lasagna (rough translation.) My appetite now whet, I pounced into action in order to help this roommate-chef of mine so that soon that lasagna could be in our bellies.  While there is a copious amount of crème fraiche and ricotta in this recipe, the addition of a ratatouille sort of vegetable combination makes you feel slightly reasonable.  After it was finally cooked, he took his bottle of red, and me my bottle of white, and we settled on the couch (in front of the television) in true Franco-American style.

Very Vegetarian Lasagna

What you’ll need:

  • 450 gr fresh spinach
  • 1 eggplant, cut in circles
  • 1 zucchini, cut in circles
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • flat parsley
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 pinches oregano
  • 6 leaves fresh basil
  • 300 gr ricotta
  • 15 cl crème fraiche
  • 2 eggs
  • 15 lasagna noodles (no pre-cooking necessary)
  • 90 gr parmesan
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Now what?

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 f.
  2. Wash the spinach twice in cold water and then blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes.  Plunge them immediately in a large bowl of cold water so that they keep their green color.  Drain them and remove as much water as possible with the help of paper towel.
  3. Heat the shallot in a pan with a little olive oil for about 5 minutes until they are fragrant and clear.
  4. Simultaneously beat your eggs, ¾ ricotta and ¾ of the crème fraiche.  Add the shallots, spinach and the parmesan.  Salt, pepper and then put it off to the side.
  5. In the meanwhile, fry eggplant circles until slightly golden in a pan.  Once finished, place on the side on plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil.
  6. Place all remaining vegetables in a pan with a little extra olive oil.  Add eggplant, 2 tbsp of parsley (fresh or dried), thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, and cover it with a lid.  Let it simmer on low heat for approximately 15 minutes.  Once it is a nice mixture with a ratatouille like texture, add cut up basil and let it cook for 5 more minutes.
  7. Butter or oil a baking dish to the size of your liking (we used 26×20 cm).  Place three lasagna noodles on the bottom, followed by a layer of vegetables.  Add three more lasagna noodles and then spread (thickly) a layer of the spinach mixture.  Repeat this process until you are out of all of your ingredients or until you are out of dish space! Be sure to finish with lasagna noodles.
  8. Finally, combine the remaining ricotta, crème fraiche and some parmesan cheese to get a very cheesy top layer to cover your lasagna mountain.
  9. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the lasagna begins to turn golden brown.  Serve immediately with some extra parmesan cheese, as if there just wasn’t enough already…

 

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