#6 Radish Sandwich and Leek Quiche

We picked up our fourth bag of CSA produce today and so far I am really enjoying the experience.   The only item we have not used since we started four weeks ago is the bok choy.  I just cannot find a recipe that appeals to either Dave or I.  Our share today consisted of spinach, lettuce, peas, radishes and strawberries.  We will definitely use all of this week’s bounty.

In addition to many salads, roasted potatoes with fresh dill and sweet strawberries, I have also tried a few new recipes which was part of the reason I signed up for the CSA.  We have had a large supply of radishes and although Dave really likes them, I think he was tired of just eating them in his salad or with a little salt as a snack.  I remembered that my Dad use to make an open-faced radish sandwich I thought I would try.  The radishes are sliced very thin, then laid on bread that is generously buttered.  A touch of season salt and pepper topped it off.  Simple, but great for lunch.  Dave loved it.

Last night I made a leek and mushroom quiche which was inspired by a recipe on SmittenKitchen, however my version uses less butter and no cream.  The pie crust recipe I picked up years ago in a KRAFT FOOD magazine.  I mixed the crust ingredients before work and put it in the fridge to chill until time to make dinner.  It really was a quick process for something that looks pretty fancy.

Leek and Mushroom Quiche

For the crust:

1 ¼ c flour

1 tsp salt

½ cup shortening

2-3 Tablespoons ice water

For the filling:

2-3 leeks (white part only)

1 cup mushrooms, sliced and washed

¼ cup cheese of your choice (I used parmesan)

2 Tablespoons butter

½ cup skim milk

  1. Mix flour and salt in a medium bowl.  Cut in shortening with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. Add water, 1 T at a time, mixing lightly with a fork until flour mixture is evenly moistened and clings together when pressed into a ball.
  3. Shape dough into a ½ inch flat disk, wrap with plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  4. When ready to assemble the quiche, lightly flour the work surface, then roll dough into a circle at least two inches larger than the tart pan.
  5. Lightly transfer dough into pan and mold to sides with your thumb.  Remove excess crust hanging over the pan.
  6. Cover crust with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Remove foil and bake about 2-3 more minutes.
  7. While the crust is cooking, sauté the sliced leeks and mushrooms in melted butter until soft.
  8. Mix the leeks and mushrooms with four eggs, milk and the cheese.
  9. Pour the egg mixture into the tart pan and bake uncovered in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

Now, I also have to share my sad kale story.  I have never eaten kale before and since I am not one for cooked greens, I thought I would try a recipe I kept seeing for kale chips.  Each recipe I looked at had raves over the taste of these chips.   I did not print any of the recipes because the process was pretty simple. I started by washing and drying the kale as directed.  The instructions specifically said to allow the kale to completely dry because if it were still moist when baked it would steam instead of roast.  I actually washed it in the morning, dried it, then let it sit in the fridge for the rest of the day.  I then tore the leaves into smaller pieces and put them in a bowl with olive oil and kosher salt, mixing to coat.  The individual pieces were then laid on a baking sheet in a single layer.

This is where it all goes wrong.  I thought for sure the recipe said 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Guess what, it said 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, but I did not know that until the tragedy was over.  At about 18 minutes I saw smoke pouring out of my oven.  When I opened the door all I could see was a brownish-black residue on my baking sheet.  The kale was literally incinerated.  Hopefully I will get kale again in my CSA share so I can try again, although I probably do not deserve it!

National Grilled Cheese Month

Did you know that April is National Grilled Cheese Month?   I am not sure who decides these types of things, but what the heck, I love grilled cheese and it sounds like as good a reason as any to celebrate.  I ran across this reference to grilled cheese month when a couple of the blogs that I regularly read mentioned it and posted their own versions of grilled cheese sandwiches.  WOW, I had never considered some of the possibilities.

My own experience in this area, although vast, is pretty simple, just your basic grilled cheese with two slices of sandwich bread and whatever cheese I have in the fridge.  If I am feeling a little adventuresome I might add sliced pickles or maybe tomato slices.  I think those simple days are over based on what I have just discovered.

Maria at two peas & their pod posted a recipe for Parmesan Crusted Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  Does that not look amazing?

Marla at Family Fresh Cooking shared recipes for incredible sandwiches like, Gourmet Grilled Cheese with Marinated Mozzarella, Apple Pie Grilled Cheese and Strawberry Mozzarella. Who would have thought?

By the way, Marla is also a great photographer!

In honor of National Cheese Month, and really because I was dying to try a few of these variations, I made grilled cheese sandwiches for our dinner last night.  When I mentioned the plan to Dave, he said, “You are going to put meat on mine, right?”  I just do not understand his need to have “das fleisch” (meat in German) at each meal.   So, I headed to the store to get some really good bread for our sandwiches and some “das fleish.”   I came home with Braided Vienna bread which has a soft, moist body with a crispy, flaky crust.  I also picked up some VOLPI Romano Salame which is a pepper-encrusted pork salami.  I knew Dave would love that.

I was having a really hard time deciding which to make so I settled on making four different varieties using the recipes from the blogs above as inspiration.  In line with our attempts at eating healthier these days, I decided to make open face versions and then share them since most of these ingredients would not be considered low fat or low calorie.  Please note, I passed on the “das fleish” version!

To begin, I melted  butter for brushing on the bottoms of each piece of bread.  Then I assembled the different sandwiches:

#1 – Salami and Cheese (I made two of these, one with cheddar cheese and one with mozzarella.)

#2 – Thinly sliced apples and cheddar cheese

#3 – Sliced strawberries and mozzarella cheese

#4 – Pesto and parmesan cheese.

On the grill they went……

Because they were open-faced, the cheese on the top did not melt very quickly.  Looking back I should have put them under the broiler for a few minutes or even used the broiler instead of the grill.  No matter, the results were amazing.

My absolute favorite was the pesto and parmasan cheese, followed closely by the apples and strawberry versions. Dave loved his salami style as well as the apple and pesto, but did not care for the strawberry sandwich.  We loved these sandwiches so much that we made them again today for lunch.  I stuck with the pesto/parmasan, but this time on the “das Fleich” version I put a thin layer of pesto on the bread first.  Let me know if you try any of these and what you think

By the way, I just picked up my first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) basket of goodies…….more to come on what we do with this freshly picked (like this afternoon) produce.

Happy Grilled Cheese Month!

#1 – Join a CSA

Raise your hand if you know what a CSA is…….just as I expected, only a few of you know about this concept.  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is a model that allows consumers to purchase fresh, local foods and establish a relationship with the farmer who produces it.  It works like this, the consumer purchases a “share” from a farmer for the season and the farmer provides a basket of vegetables each week to the consumer in return.  Many farmers also include other items like eggs, meat, cheese, homemade bread, fruit, herbs and flowers.

I have been interested in CSA’s for several years but have not gone so far as to actually purchase a share.  I love the idea of eating locally grown produce because we all know that taste and quality of a food product is directly related to it’s freshness.  Over the years, as I have harvested my pitifully small number of tomatoes or cut a few leaves of basil, I often thought of how nice it would be to have a bountiful amount of fresh vegetables available.

Yes, I know I can have this experience by supporting the local farmers market each week and I do frequent them often during the produce season.  However, another reason to join a CSA is to be exposed to new vegetables that you would typically not select on your own.  It is an opportunity to broaden your culinary experience.

One of my daughter’s friends from college joined a food co-op a few years ago to overcome her pickiness about food and eat healthier.  You can read about her experience starting with bagel bites as a staple in her diet to learning to cook and enjoy the likes of okra and squash at Lizziecookingforone.blogspot.com.  She said the experience was “challenging, but it really changes the way you cook and think about food.”

I have decided this is the year to act and not just talk about it.  I have done some research and have purchased a share from Red Ridge Farms out of Odessa, Missouri. Starting in mid-April and for the next 25 or so weeks, I will be receiving a weekly basket of fresh, locally grown produce.  There were several CSA’s in the area to choose from, but I selected Red Ridge Farm when I discovered one the proprietors, Farmer Ami, has a Farm Blog.  I love the idea of reading about life on the farm that grows what I will be eating each week.  Her blog not only provides recipes to use on the vegetables they grow, but offers interesting information about the farming process.  Yesterday she was talking about how she is dealing with bugs, from a sustainable, chemical free farming perspective.  Visit Ami’s Farm blog at redridgefarms.wordpress.com.

Last year’s “shareholders” from Red Ridge Farms received the following as part of their weekly basket; lettuce, radishes, spinach, arugula with microgreens, eggs, wild garlic, pickles from last summer’s cucumbers, spring onions, carrots, potatoes, kale, asparagus, pea shoots, honey, pac choi, cabbage, eggplant, strawberries, basil, dill, chives, cucumbers, broccoli, zucchini, jam, beets, rhubarb, tomatoes, squash, jalapenos, green peppers, green beans, sweet corn, cantaloupe, edamame and pumpkins.  Wow!  I cannot wait to get started!!!

I hope to take a field trip in the next couple of weeks to meet Ami and see the farm first hand.  Here’s to a spring, summer and fall of fresh taste and new cooking experiences!