Friday, May 14, 2010

Crustless Quiche with Shallots and Scallions

Getting ready for a short weekend getaway can get a little hectic, and even more so for a two week, international trip. We leave tomorrow for our trip to New Zealand but it seems as though I've been packing since two weeks ago. There are so many little things to remember and to prepare for, such as international electrical adapters, and remembering to place the mail on hold. Thank goodness for checklists!

One other thing that I like to get done before we leave on any trip is to try and finish up the food in the refrigerator, in particular, any perishable food. I can never quite get the concept of throwing away food. Especially fresh, seasonal vegetables from the farmers market. It seems almost irreverent, no?

Shallots and scallions were all that remained from my last trip to the market. Considered together with the remnant of cheeses, cream, and eggs, quiche seemed like the most logical thing to make. For the cheese, I had scraps of cheddar and brie but you can use all cheddar or gruyere or whatever you fancy.

Crustless Quiche with Shallots and Scallions
Serves 4

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups sliced shallots
4 eggs
3/4 cup cream
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 cup chopped scallions
1/3 cup grated cheese

1. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Add the shallots, and saute until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
2. Spray a 9" pie dish with cooking spray and arrange the sauteed shallots across the bottom of the dish. Layer the chopped scallions on top of the shallots, followed by the cheese.
3. Whisk together the eggs, cream, nutmeg, and salt, and pour over the vegetables.
4. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lamb Dumplings with Tomato Sauce

The idea of making dumplings is no longer daunting for me. Thanks to ready made wonton skins. I admit: I've never made dumpling dough from scratch before but it seems like a lot of work. Although I am a proponent of certain traditional culinary methods, I'd pass on this one. Homemade bread I can bake fresh every day, and I prefer to grind and brew my own coffee (my husband even roasts our own beans now), and make my own tart and pie shells, but the idea of making dumpling from scratch... not so much. Wonton skins just make things so simple. And they are so versatile too. Having them on hand opens up many possibilities. I specially like that they make a good substitute for mini quiche and mini tart shells.

While when we think of dumplings, the ingredients that usually come to mind are asian inspired, these are filled with an all spice-seasoned lamb and carrot mixture. So for the dipping sauce I am also offering something slightly different: a chunky tomato puree. And if you find that the edges of these dumplings do not have that traditional wavy appearance, that's because it doesn't. I can never get that folding technique right.

Lamb Dumplings
Makes 2 dozens

1/2 lb lamb, minced
1/2 cup finely grated carrot
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp all spice powder
1 tsp salt
24 wonton wrappers

1. Combine the first six ingredients; mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least thirty minutes.
2. To fill the dumplings: line a baking sheet with a tea cloth or paper towel. Place one tablespoon of filling mixture in the middle of one wonton wrapper. Dampen edges with water and bring the far half of the wonton skin up and over the filling towards you. Pinch edges slightly to form a seal. ( At this point, you can crimp or fold the edges to create the distinctive dumpling pleats, or not.) Place on the lined baking sheet and cover with another cloth or paper towel. Repeat with the remaining wonton skins.
3. Steam the dumplings in a bamboo or metal steamer for twenty minutes. (The water in the base of the steam should be slightly simmering, not boiling. )

Tomato Dipping Sauce

4 roma tomatoes
1 garlic clove, minces
2 tbsp chopped shallots
1/4 tsp all spice
1/4 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp cilantro
1/4 cup grated parmesan

Add olive oil to a skillet over medium high heat. Saute shallots and garlic together with all spice until softened. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes until soften. Remove from heat and pour into a food processor together with cilantro and grated parmesan. Puree and serve warm with dumplings.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Lettuce Wraps with Sriracha-Honey Beef

PF Chang's restaurant chain undoubtedly has one of the most popular versions of lettuce wraps around. Even though I have had it only once, a very long time ago, it still left an impression. I'm not sure if they created the concept but it's genius; such a simple way to bypass traditional carbohydrate-rich wheat wraps.

Lettuce wraps are a great sumer food. Light, easy to make and relatively healthy. My version uses lean beef but this sweet and sour marinade can be used for chicken, pork or even tofu. Sriracha sauce is a lovely addition to meats; I use it frequently in stews too. The one quarter cup used here might prove too spicy for many; if so, use less of it. The honey also nicely offsets the spiciness of the sauce.

Lettuce Wraps with Sriracha-Honey Beef
Serves 3 to 4

1 1/2 to 2 lbs lean beef, sliced thinly
1/4 cup sriracha sauce
3 tbsp honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp red wine
12 to 16 large butter or bibb lettuce leaves

1. Combine sriracha sauce, honey, garlic, lemon juice, and red wine. Add to the beef. Mix well, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least half an hour, an hour at best.
2. Set a skillet (one that is large enough to accomodate all of the meat) over medium high heat. Add the meat, together with the marinade and all, to the skillet. Cook until all of the liquid has evoprated and the meat begins to brown slightly, about 10 minutes.
3. Serve the cooked beef in the lettuce cups, as shown in the photo above.