Monthly Archives: August 2014

This Weather has Me Thinking about Fall…and Pie (or at least Crab Quiche)!

CrustOk, ok, I know, that headline sounds kind of crazy, but we’ve been having an absolutely amazing summer in the Philadelphia area.  The temperature hasn’t been too warm, and, more importantly, the humidity has been low.  I have absolutely loved it, but now, as kids are starting to go back to school, and the unofficial end of summer is just days away, my mind is already on fall.  Of course, it could be because fall is my number one favorite time of the year.  I love the cold chill in the air, the cozy sweaters, the festive holidays, the leaves changing and crunching under your feet, and, of course, the food.  Actually, I just always love the food, but I digress.

Dishing Up MarylandFor me, nothing says fall like pie.  Call me crazy, and I may be alone here, but for some reason during the fall I think about the holidays and Thanksgiving, and, well, Thanksgiving’s all about the pies.  Anyway, since it is August for a few more days, and I can’t really be jumping into pumpkin pie just yet, I thought instead I’d talk about one of my go-to breakfast items, especially in the summer, crab quiche.

For anything crab, as many of my friends from Baltimore repeatedly tell me, you have to turn to Maryland.  And so, for crab quiche, I turn to Dishing Up Maryland, a great cookbook that talks about the different areas in Maryland and the different specialties.  I’ve modified the crab and Gruyere quiche recipe just a bit, but it’s definitely a winner.

Crab and OnionsFirst, the pie crust.  There are instructions in the recipe for making a pie crust, but I always use my tried and true recipe from my great Aunt Angie. She made the best pies! Maybe one of these days I’ll share that with you. 🙂 But feel free to use any pie crust recipe you like, or just pick up one from the refrigerator section of your grocery store.  I won’t tell.  You’ll need to line a greased 9 inch pie plate with the pie dough.  But the important part for this recipe is the filling.

This is where I mainly differ from the recipe.  The recipe calls for 1/3 cup onion, raw.  For me, I think the raw onions, even after being cooked in the quiche, are too overpowering.  Instead, saute 1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped, with 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped, until the onions are soft and have some color.  I usually do this the night before, then just keep them in the refrigerator.  Sprinkle the onions and garlic over the dough with 1 lb lump crabmeat, and 4 oz. shredded Gruyere cheese.  You can Swisssubstitute Swiss if you can’t find Gruyere, and usually get the block and just shred it in the food processor.  Then, whisk 4 eggs with 1 cup 1/2 and 1/2, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.  Carefully pour this mixture over the quiche.  I put the pie plate on a cookie sheet and put it right next to the oven before I pour, just to minimize my transfer time and the chances of me making a huge mess.

Bake the quiche at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes, until golden.  Definitely let it cool a bit before you cut into it, maybe 10-15 minutes, so that it doesn’t run.

No matter what you’re making this Labor Day weekend, or if you’re not making a thing, I hope you have some time to yourself to enjoy the end to the summer!  Happy Labor Day!

Good Use for the Harvest…Roasted Peppers

Red PepperI will admit, I am absolutely terrible when it comes to growing bell peppers.  I’m not sure why.  I know tons of friends who have an abundance of delicious peppers in all colors, shapes, and sizes, but for some reason, every year I’ve tried to grow them, I got maybe one sad little pepper.  That’s it.  So, needless to say, I gave up on growing peppers a long time ago.  But, if you’re not like me, and you have success with peppers, or if you just find a good deal at the grocery store, one of the best ways to use them up is to roast them.  And, bonus, they are delicious and easy!

I learned my roasting technique fromReady for the Oven Lidia Bastianich and her “Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen” cookbook.  She gives two ways to roast peppers.  One, turning them over a gas burner until they’re charred, seems like torture to me.  But the other version, roasting at a high temperature in the oven, is as easy as it gets.

Before I start, I always cover my sheet pan in aluminum foil.  It just makes the clean up that much easier.  Then, as Lidia suggests, I turn the temperature to 475 degree.  Make sure your rack is at the highest spot that you can put it but still get the sheet pan with the Out of the Ovenpeppers on it in the oven.  Then, just spread the peppers out on the pan.  I usually use 4 large red peppers, which makes a nice batch and doesn’t crowd the sheet pan.  I’m not sure why I always use red, but it just seems like you should.  And all you need to do to the peppers is wash and dry them thoroughly…nothing else…and put them in the hot oven.

I check the peppers after about 5-7 minutes.  You want the skin to start to char and blister.  The first side can sometimes take a little while, but keep checking.  Once it’s Covered in Plasticcharred and blistered, turn the peppers a quarter turn.  Keep them in for about another 3-4 minutes until that side chars.  Then, just keep checking and rotating until all sides are charred, and the peppers have softened.  It will only take 15-20 minutes.  And don’t worry if you don’t get every side, as long as they have some color and are softened, they will have that great flavor.  But don’t be afraid of the charred, burnt look.  It really does add a tremendous amount of flavor.

PeelingAs soon as you take the peppers out of the oven, transfer them to a bowl that you can cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Drop them all in and cover.  This will steam the peppers as they cool and make the skins very easy to remove.  Lidia says to leave them for about 40 minutes, but I usually just go and do something else and forget about them for a while.  Once you can handle them, pull out the stem and seeds, and peel the skin away.  It should come off very easily with your hands.  It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it!

Ready to EatOnce I have my peppers roasted and cleaned, I like to slice them into strips and add some flavoring.  I add 3 garlic cloves, crushed, along with about 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and a few tablespoons olive oil.  Give that a stir and let it rest for the flavors to come together.  I usually like to make them the night before I’m serving them, but you don’t need to.  You can store them in the refrigerator.  I like to take them out early before serving so they come to room temperature.

Roasted peppers, some crusty bread, maybe some wine…sounds like a great dinner for a warm late summer night!

Growing and Growing and Growing…the Garden!

This summer has been absolutely beautiful.  It’s been cool with low humidity, and just about perfect, or at least where I am.  In fact, it’s mid-August, and I don’t even have the air on.  Judging from the way the garden is performing this summer, the plants are enjoying the mild weather too.

This year, I haven’t had to do much watering, not even in the vegetable garden.  And the weeds haven’t been as bad as they’ve been in the past.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m out there pulling weeds quite often, or just letting them slide, but it doesn’t seem as bad this year.  Maybe it’s the mild weather.  So, since the garden keeps on putting on a show this summer, I thought I’d give you an update.

As you can see from my picture above, the butterflies are loving the butterfly bush.  And, this time of year, it’s covered with beautiful lavender blooms.

Hot Pink Crape MyrtlePink and Purple Crape MyrtleI have three kinds of crape myrtle in my garden, and they are spectacular this time of year.  These above are the hot pink, which I think is my favorite, but also purple and pink.  If you look closely at the second picture, you can see the purple blooms.  They’ve sort of grown into each other.  One of my absolute favorite shrubs.

Black-Eyed SusanThe black eyed susans are at their peak this time of year.  I have yellow blooms all over the garden.  They add such great color, and, as you can see from the picture, they are just covered with beautiful blooms.

PhloxAnother show stopper this time of year is the phlox.  I have white and purple, but this one steals the show.  It’s a pink and white mix.  I just love it.  Too bad the phlox season is a short one.

HollyhockThe hollyhock are also putting on quite a show this time of year.  When I first planted hollyhock, I think I was in college.  I bought seeds and planted a great double variety I found at Burpee.  I loved their bold colors and huge double blooms, but, as I get older, I appreciate the simple single blooms as well.  The single blooms have more of a cottage garden look to them, and I love the show they put on, rising high above the rest in the garden.

DaisyDaisies have to be one of the best perennials out there.  They are so versatile, with there beautiful white blooms.  They are so hardy.  And, probably the best thing, they have a long blooming season.  These have been blooming for a while.  And, although the show isn’t as big as it first was, they are still popping up in the garden.Cone FlowerThis one is a new addition to my garden this year.  It’s a coneflower named Raspberry  Truffle.  Isn’t it just great?  The blooms are big and colorful, and it’s quite a showstopper!20140805_194601Another must have for any shady spot in the garden is a hosta.  I have quite a few in my garden, and this time of year they send up those lovely blooms.  I am a huge fan of the big, beautiful leaves, but when those blooms come up, they are just perfection!

PumpkinsAs a lesson to everyone about the importance of properly disposing of pumpkin seeds, I found this surprise in my perennial bed in front of my back porch.  I must have dropped some pumpkin seeds last Halloween, and it looks like they sprouted quite a big pumpkin plant.  I can’t wait to see what starts growing off this shoot.

TomatoAnd because an update of the garden wouldn’t be complete without a vegetable update, and I have spoken enough about the squash and zucchini, this is a picture of one of my favorite things!  It’s my FIRST red tomato of the season!  This beautiful Brandywine was found just 2 days ago, and I couldn’t have been happier.  I have been waiting for a long time for these to turn red.

Of course, I couldn’t wait to dig in, so, I turned that beautiful baby into one of the best bruschettas I ever made!  Bruschetta

Hope you’re enjoying your garden or maybe a neighbors! 🙂  And I hope you’re having great weather this summer too!