Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bridal Shower Power

Summer Garden Bounty Quiche
It's wedding season. And wedding season means showers of the bridal variety. On Saturday we celebrated Lacey's bridal shower and were asked to contribute to the feast. No problem! With my garden bursting with zucchini and my hens laying overtime, I had the perfect idea in mind for a potluck brunch. Quiche is an ideal take-along meal. It can be made ahead of time, travels easily, and is great at room temperature. While I toyed with the idea of adding bacon to the recipe, I ended up creating a vegetarian dish to appeal to a variety of eating habits. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful gathering - cheers to Lacey and her upcoming marriage to Jeff. There couldn't be a more ideally matched couple.

- 1 medium zucchini and 1 medium yellow squash, sliced thin crosswise
- 2 small sweet yellow onions, peeled and sliced crosswise into disks
- salt and pepper
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano and thyme
- 1 c. heavy cream
- 6 eggs
- 1 c. smoked cheddar or mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 batch Perfect Pie Crust recipe (omit sugar)

Melt butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir and allow the onions to soften and turn translucent. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow onions to slowly brown for 20-30 minutes. As the onions begin to caramelize, add sliced zucchini and squash and stir to combine. Allow onions, squash, and zucchini to continue to cook down until all the vegetables are softened, browned, and sweet (an additional 10-20 minutes). Sprinkle in fresh chopped herbs and stir thoroughly. Allow vegetables to cool before mixing into eggs.

Meanwhile, make the pie crust. (Using a pre-made pie crust is perfectly fine, but my Perfect Pie Crust recipe is fantastic. You will only need to make half the recipe and omit the sugar for a savory dish, such as this quiche.) Roll pie crust out on a floured surface and press into a 9 1/2" pie dish. Pinch the edges in a decorative manner and place crust in refrigerator until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 400˚F. While oven is heating, whisk together eggs and heavy cream. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add cheese and cooked vegetables and stir to combine.

Pour egg mixture into prepared crust and bake for 35-45 minutes until the eggs are cooked through and the edges of the crust are just beginning to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Garden Fresh

Lemony Lamb-Chops with Summer Garden Pistachio Pesto  
 I have been woefully negligent on my food blogging . . . but I do have an excuse - really! Spring quarter was a busy one personally and professionally between teaching, directing prep, getting engaged, and buying my first home among other things. Whew! The home has been amazing. Matt and I set to work priming, painting, and making it our own. It's taken a lot of work and love and we've ALMOST gotten rid of the previous owners' poor taste. In spite of the ugly colors on the walls - the cute little house came with the perfect set of raised planter beds. I've been gardening up a storm and taking advantage of Oregon's long summer days and, so far, the garden has been good to me with a bounty of delicious herbs, greens, and tender young zucchini and yellow squash. This pesto and lamb dish was pulled from my summer garden. It was easy, fast, and super taste. Feel free to experiment with what you have growing in your garden! (Note: I made four small lamb chops - plenty for two people, but the amount of pasta would easily feed four if you want to add more meat for a larger crowd.)

- 4 individual lamb chops
- 1 shallow, chopped
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
- 2 lemons (juice and zest)
- 1 lb. dried pasta
- salt and pepper
- 4 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint, divided
- 1/3 c. pistachios
- 1 c. basil leaves
- 2 c. spinach leaves
- 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 c. Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 young zucchini and 1 young yellow squash, trimmed, halved and then sliced into matchstick-sized pieces
- 1/4 c. plus 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- splash of cooking sherry

Sprinkle both sides of lamb chops with salt and pepper, set in a shallow dish. In a small bowl, whisk together juice from 1 lemon, oregano, thyme, 2 Tbsp. mint, shallot, and 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Pour mixture over lamb chops, cover dish with plastic wrap, and allow lamb chops to marinate for at least 20 minutes. While lamb chops marinate, make pesto.

Mince four cloves of garlic in a food processor. Add nuts and pulse to a coarse texture. Add remaining mint, juice and zest from remaining lemon, spinach, and basil. Pulse to combine. Add cheeses to mixture and begin running machine. Slowly add 1/4 c. olive oil while machine runs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set pesto aside in a medium-sized bowl.

After lamb chops have marinated thoroughly, complete the meal by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente (depending upon the shape it's usually between 9 and 11 minutes). When pasta is cooked, drain reserving 1/2 c. of pasta cooking liquid. Add cooked pasta to bowl of pesto add a little cooking liquid at a time until the consistency is smooth and silky.

While pasta is boiling, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a heavy pan over high. Add lamb chops and marinade and cook until browned on both sides (about 4 minutes per side for medium rare). Remove cooked lamb chops from heat and let rest on a plate, tented with foil. Add a splash of cooking sherry to the pan to deglaze, scraping brown bits off with a wooden spoon. Turn heat down to medium and add zucchini, squash, and remaining garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables of soft and have soaked in the marinade juices. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss cooked vegetables together with pesto pasta. Divide among plates and top each serving with two lamb chops. Enjoy the bounty of your garden! Yum!