Spinach, Mushroom, and Gouda Quiche

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A couple weeks ago on Twitter, someone asked if they could eat quiche for breakfast. The real question is, when can you not eat quiche?

It’s one of the most versatile dishes. It makes a great breakfast by itself, it works for lunch with a salad, and it can be part of a dinner lineup to impress guests (not that we have many of those these days, anyway…).

It’s also a good thing to make to use up whatever you have lying around in the fridge. I had a bunch of mushrooms and a bag of spinach, and a block of Gouda that I couldn’t remember buying, so I combined everything in a quiche. I’m sure the French have more exacting standards for what belongs in a single quiche, but oh well. They would like how mine tastes.

My boyfriend makes quiche a lot and he always uses a premade pie crust. I know you think I’m about to tell you that’s a horrible idea, but I’m not. Actually, I think using a premade crust is great, especially if you’re running short on time and you don’t want to put in all the work it takes to make crust from scratch.

However, if you want to put in a little more work, you’ll be rewarded with a flaky, buttery crust that perfectly compliments your quiche fillings, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you made it yourself.

Also, if you master the crust recipe once, you can use it for almost anything. I use my crust recipe for pies, quiche, and basically anything else that needs a crust. It hasn’t failed me yet.

A few tips for making quiche: One, to check for doneness, look at the middle. If the quiche jiggles too much, it’s not ready. You want it to be set in the middle with minimal jiggle. Two, bake quiche on a baking sheet. You can place the pan with the unbaked quiche right on the sheet and stick it in the oven. That way, if anything sloshes over or a little egg gets out, you don’t have to worry about scraping your oven.

Third, you can use heavy cream or milk for the filling. Personally, I prefer milk because I usually have it on hand and I don’t have heavy cream, but using cream will make the quiche richer and more custard-like, which might appeal to you.

Here’s a song to get you started on your quiche journey. It takes me back to my younger years.

Spinach, Mushroom, and Gouda Quiche

Ingredients

for the crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
4 Tbsp ice water
1 egg, lightly beaten (for brushing the crust later)

for the filling:
4 large eggs
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups sliced fresh button mushrooms
1 cup shredded Gouda cheese
1 cup chopped fresh baby spinach

Directions

First, make the dough for the crust. Pulse together the flour, salt, and butter in a food processor until pea-sized balls form. Then pulse in a tablespoon of ice water at a time until the dough comes together in a ball. Remove it from the food processor and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough a couple times then form it into a ball. Wrap the ball tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for two hours or overnight. I prefer to leave them in the fridge overnight. Don’t worry if your dough is a little wet and sticky at this stage. You can sprinkle a little flour on the dough later when you’re rolling it out.

In two hours or the next day, take the dough for the crust out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. This takes about an hour. Flour a work surface and roll out the dough into a 13-inch circle. Grease a quiche pan or pie tin and carefully place the crust into the pan, pressing it in gently with your fingers. You can trim the overhang and form a pattern on the edge of the pan, or simply press the dough into the rim. Place the prepared crust in the freezer.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and set a rack in the lower part of the oven.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper until blended. Stir in remaining ingredients. Take the prepared crust out of the freezer. Pour the filling into the crust.

Bake the quiche on the lower oven rack for 30-35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the center of the quiche stops jiggling. Let it stand for 10 minutes on a wire rack before cutting into it. Enjoy!

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Vegan Horchata

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Believe it or not, there are some good things about being in quarantine. One of them is the ability to take stock of what you have.

I’ve spent the past couple weeks doing a thorough inventory of my apartment, keeping what works and tossing what doesn’t. Of course, this extends to my refrigerator. I’ve thrown out some bags of plant-based flour (hello, June 2019 expiration date), consolidated some fruit, and found way more cashews than I ever knew existed.

I decided to make some cashew milk with the latter. Plant-based milk sounds scary to make at home, but it really isn’t. It’s all about technique, which comes with practice and patience. To make my cashew milk, I put two cups of cashews in a big bowl and covered them with filtered water. Filtered water is key here, because regular tap water can add some funky flavors to your finished milk.

Then I put a lid on the cashews in water and let it sit in the fridge overnight. I took them out the next day, drained them, rinsed them until the water ran clean, and then put them in a high-power blender with two cups of filtered water. I blended it on high for a couple minutes, and then I added another two cups of filtered water, four teaspoons of vanilla extract, a pinch of sea salt, and three tablespoons of maple syrup. I blended it on high again for about a minute.

At this point, you’ll want to assess the situation. If the milk looks well blended and you don’t see any floating bits of nuts, you can pour it into a container and put it in the fridge.

If not, you’ll want to strain the mixture over a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth, and then pour the resulting liquid into a storage container. This is just an extra step to make sure you don’t have any tiny bits of cashew floating around.

The milk only keeps for about four days in the fridge, so you’ll want to find ways to use it right away. I immediately thought of making vegan horchata. I love horchata, especially in the summer months when it’s so hot in St. Louis you can barely catch your breath. Today isn’t like that at all, but it is sunny and relatively warm, so horchata is definitely in order.

To make horchata, put a few ice cubes at the bottom of a glass. Sprinkle on about a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Fill up the glass with your homemade cashew milk, stir, and then sprinkle a little more cinnamon on top. It’s easy, fresh, and delicious. I might pour myself another glass right now.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this song. I hope no matter where you are, you’re finding ways to make quarantine a little more bearable.

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Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

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We all need banana bread in our life right now.

There are few things as easy, or as comforting, to make. Plus, you can take advantage of your hoarding instincts. Buy too many bananas, let them go bad, and then make this banana bread.

I usually use the bowl of a stand mixer to whip up batter, but in this case, I mixed everything by hand. This banana bread is actually the easiest thing to make. You combine all the ingredients in a big bowl, stir with a spoon (mine was oversized and probably supposed to be used for tasting soup), and then pour it into a prepared loaf pan.

What is a prepared loaf pan? you might ask. Basically, it’s a loaf pan that has been sprayed down with canola oil within an inch of its life and then lined with parchment paper. I heard from one of my friends who owns a bakery in town that the best advice she ever got from one of of her former bosses was to always overspray. This advice has served me well.

Also, a trick for lining the pan with parchment paper is cutting it too thin, not thick. I think a lot of people (myself included) try to cut the paper to fit the very edge of the pan, but if you do that, you’ll always fail because the paper needs to fit snugly along the bottom. Try laying the piece of paper flat along the top edge, seeing where the inside line is, and cutting along that.

The best part about this bread is the smell. My whole apartment smells like banana chocolate paradise, which is a pretty good smell to have right now. I feel happy sniffing the air, which is even more important because I’m doing that 24/7 these days.

If you’re not a fan of chocolate chips (who are you), you can use chopped nuts or dried fruit in this bread. However, I’d recommend the chocolate route. I usually use chocolate chips, but I’m rationing them so I cut up a big bar of chocolate and sprinkled it in the batter. It’s my best combo yet.

Here’s a song to get you started on your banana bread journey. It made me cry yesterday. Just a friendly reminder to feel your feelings right now.

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

Ingredients

2 cups mashed ripe bananas (spotted or brown)
1/2 cup neutral oil (I used canola)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp ground flax seed plus 5 Tbsp filtered water
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp sea salt
4 oz bar of dark chocolate, chopped

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix all the ingredients except the chocolate together in a big bowl. Stir in the chocolate. Pour the batter into a prepared loaf pan (see blog post for instructions) and then smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake the bread on the top shelf of the oven for about an hour, or until the top is golden brown and cracked and it springs back to the touch. You can also test for doneness with a toothpick. Insert it into the middle of the loaf and pull it out. The loaf is done when there are only a few wet crumbs. Let it cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

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Tips for Homemade Pizza

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I’ve loved making pizza at home for as long as I can remember. I mean, maybe not when I was eight and I thought that homemade pizza meant those bagged, bread-like crusts and sauce that squirted out of a plastic packet, but anytime after that.

A lot of people think that making pizza at home isn’t worth the effort. When you can get Dominoes delivered to your house in less than 30 minutes, why would you bother with an hour-plus long activity?

The answer is, quality. I know there’s a good argument for eating cheap pizza. I’m not above it. But take a look at all your pizza eating experiences, and ask yourself if you were as satisfied by a store-made pie or one made with more attention and fresher ingredients? Maybe you’re satisfied by the former, but that’s not the case for me.

During the coronavirus pandemic, I started dreaming about my favorite Neapolitan pies. I decided to make some pizza at home. I don’t have a wood-fired oven, obviously, so some of the flavor is automatically gone. But I do have a decent oven, a rolling pin, and flour. And to be honest, that’s really all you need.

I find this video to be extremely helpful for making pizza. It shows you how to shape the dough, which is probably the scariest part of pizza making for most people. You start by setting a ball of dough (homemade or store bought) on a floured surface for 30 minutes. Cover it with a clean tea towel to protect the dough while it sits.

Then, remove the towel and start rolling out the dough from the center, turning it occasionally so you get a nice, even circle. Once it’s about 1/2 inch thick, take it in your hands and carefully turn it like a wheel so it spreads a little. I want to emphasize carefully, because this is the part where things can get a little out of control. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if the dough tears because it gets too thin, but you want to avoid this situation if possible.

After that, I like to take my thumbs and pat a crust into the dough. All it takes is digging your thumb into the dough, not so hard that it rips, but hard enough that it leaves an indentation.

Then, you can throw on all your toppings. Some of my favorites are marinara sauce, mozzarella pearls, and basil leaves, and pesto sauce with mushrooms and cheese.

Recently, I experimented with using cornmeal for the crust. I know a lot of people do it, but I wasn’t sure if it would work for me. I was especially skeptical of using it as the base to bake my pizza in the oven. I thought the pizza dough would stick to the baking sheet, but I was wrong.

If you want to go the cornmeal route, spread a decent amount over a baking sheet, and then carefully place your pie on top. Sprinkle more cornmeal over the crust.

Then you can bake your pizza for about 20 minutes in an oven set at 475 degrees F. I start checking at 20 minutes. Sometimes the pizza needs to bake longer. A good test is how the cheese looks. If it’s slightly brown, melted, and bubbly, and the crust has a nice golden brown sheen, you can probably take it out of the oven.

Writing this has inspired me to start a pizza making class. Maybe I will when the world goes back to normal.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this song.

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Dalgona Coffee

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Last week, I was scrolling through Instagram stories when I saw one from Ben Mims, the cooking columnist for The Lost Angeles Times. Ben was making a coffee drink that looked like a cross between a latte, meringue, and milkshake. “I need to make that immediately,” I thought to myself.

The drink, Dalgona coffee, is taking off during the coronavirus pandemic as people seek alternatives to store-bought lattes. It started in South Korea but it’s making the rounds on social media, where people are sharing pictures of their creations and using hashtags to boost their posts. You can read more about it in this LA Times story.

Dalgona coffee could not be easier to make. I mean, it’s not as simple as throwing ground coffee in a French press with hot water, but it’s more rewarding. You go by a 2:2:2 ratio for ingredients: 2 tablespoons of instant coffee (I used Ferrara), 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of hot water. You whisk those ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a small bowl using a hand mixer, until the mixture is golden brown and thick. This will take about 3-5 minutes.

Then, you put some ice cubes in a tall glass, pour in a cup of milk, and use a spatula to put the coffee mixture on top. Use a spoon with a long handle to swirl the coffee mixture into the milk. Then, let it sit for a second. Eventually, the milk will settle and the top of the drink will become light and frothy. The frothiness is my favorite part of this drink.

So yeah. If you’re sick of your normal coffee routine and you want to switch things up, make this Dalgona coffee. It’s creamy, rich, frothy, and light. It will make you miss cappuccinos and lattes a little bit less, if only for a minute. It’s basically the coffee milkshake you never knew you needed.

Here’s a song to get you started on your Dalgona coffee journey.

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Dimanche (That Means Sunday)

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Welcome to this edition of Dimanche (That Means Sunday), a roundup of things that caught my eye this past week.

This past week was…I’m having trouble finding the right word. Challenging? Definitely. Maddening? Yes. Weirdly fulfilling? Also yes. I’ve been cycling through a lot of emotions, as I’m sure we all are, but often, I circle back to the present. What can I do in this moment to make my life a little easier and more joyful? I ask myself that question throughout the day.

Often, it means baking and cooking to relieve anxiety. Other times it means chatting with friends and family. Today, it meant finishing a watercolor painting that I started yesterday with a pencil drawing.

I read once that we should pay attention to activities that make us lose track of time, because that’s where our true calling lies. I don’t know if my calling is to be a watercolor painter, but I do know that it involves being creative. Whether it’s painting, writing, or working with my hands to make food or flower arrangements, I get the most satisfaction when I’m doing something that requires creativity.

That’s why this period is just as rewarding for me as it is difficult. I have a lot of anxiety about the state of the world and the health of the people I love, but I balance those fears with lots of meaningful activities that perhaps I didn’t have as much time for before. I hope that wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find your silver lining.

Without further ado, here is Dimanche:

Have you visited The Washington Post‘s Coronavirus page yet? If not, I’d highly recommend checking it out. The newspaper has done a great job covering the pandemic. I trust them more than other news outlets. Even though it’s good to take a break from the news once in a while, especially if you’ve been plugged in all day, this is a place to go to become informed.

I enjoyed writing this story about Known & Grown. The organization, which promotes sustainable farming practices in the St. Louis area, is helping people get fresh, local food during the pandemic by compiling a spreadsheet full of farmers, CSAs, and farmers’ markets, and instructions on how to get their produce. Read more about Known & Grown in my story for Feast Magazine.

Making sourdough bread from scratch is one of my baking goals, so I enjoyed this story from The Washington PostThe newspaper sent a writer to a bread baking camp in Kentucky. The writer already had some experience baking bread, but she became even more adept after attending camp. Read the full story in The Washington Post.

Speaking of bread… The Post also put out an article recently, “The 10 Best Breads in the World.” Not sure if I completely agree with their rankings (hello, challah?), but it’s a fun story to read. Check out the article in The Washington Post.

Need a work-from-home playlist? Paste and I have you covered. The music publication put out a Spotify playlist geared toward people working from home who need some soothing tunes. I’ve been shuffling through songs all week. Check it out here.

You’d be surprised how many things you can make at home instead of buying them. Now is a time to consider this as the government warns people not to make unnecessary grocery trips. Stock up on some ingredients and give these recipes from The Los Angeles Times a try.

We could all use a laugh right now, so without further ado, I bring you these humorous posters from national parks. The posters were inspired by bad Yelp reviews of the parks. “Trees Block View, and Too Many Rocks,” reads a poster based on a one-star Yelp review of Yosemite National Park. Scroll through the posters in this AFAR article.

The pandemic could change the way individuals access mental health care. This story from my friend Tanya Basu covers how the recent relaxation of HIPAA constraints could allow some individuals to access therapy via telehealth. Read more about it in this piece from MIT Technology Review.

Finally, I made some really good iced coffee and I can’t stop thinking about it. I saw on Instagram a recipe for dalgona iced coffee, a South Korean coffee drink that has gained popularity during the pandemic. Why is it so popular? you may ask. Well, for one, it’s delicious, and two, it’s easy to make with ingredients you probably already have at home. Get the recipe in this LA Times story.6712D2F8-0572-4EE5-A01C-F31C68BCAF16.JPGEnjoy your week! Here’s a song to get you started. The Weeknd is a genius.

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Sea Salt Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

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About a month ago, I posted my definitive list of best chocolate chip cookie recipes. When I did, I got a message from my best friend’s Aunt Gail.

Gail sent me her recipe for espresso chocolate chip cookies with sea salt sprinkled on top. I was excited to try them because I love a coffee chocolate combo, and, as you probably guessed from my definitive rankings of chocolate chip cookies, I love sea salt. I’m a big fan of any sweet recipe that has salt. It’s all about balance.

I made these cookies last night as part of my anxiety baking during COVID-19. Everything was going well until I put them in the oven. I thought I spaced them an inch and a half apart, but apparently, that was not far enough. I took the baking sheets out of the oven and the cookies had all run together.

A part of me wished I would have messed up even more and it would have become a cookie dough sheet cake. Another part of me was ashamed because usually, I don’t make rookie mistakes. The biggest part of me was like, oh well. I moved on.

This morning I separated a few and had them with coffee. I guess the moral of the story is, there are bigger things to worry about than if cookies all run together on the sheet, especially at times like this. Also, as long as the end product still tastes good, you shouldn’t care.

I’m including Gail’s recipe below for those of you who asked for it. I’ll also leave you with this playlist. It’s gotten me through some rough moments this week.

Sea Salt Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter
2 tsp instant espresso powder
1/2 cup (99 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (106 g) light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup (120 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
8 oz (226 g) dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Turn off the heat and stir in the espresso powder. Make sure to turn off the heat because the espresso will burn if you’re not careful.

Transfer the mixture to a medium heat-safe bowl, and let cool for about 5 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar to the butter and whisk to combine. Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk well to combine.

With a silicone spatula, add the flour and baking soda and stir the mixture just until it is fully incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chunks, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 25 to 30 minutes.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Scoop the dough into 1/4-cup-sized balls onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between each cookie to allow room for spreading.

Bake the cookies until they are set around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool completely on the baking sheet.

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