Spring cleaning is in full swing. Outside there are birdboxes to be emptied of last year’s nests, weeds to be pulled, seedlings to be potted up. Inside, it’s fridge clear-out time. In this recent clearing I dealt with farmers market leeks, some cream, the last of some market eggs, and a frozen pie crust. The result is a creamy leek quiche adapted from the BBC’s Good Food Creamed Leek Tart. It would be great for lunches throughout the week, or weekend brunch with your peeps.
Creamy Leek Quiche
1 frozen pie crust or 1 portion shortcrust pastry
Heat oven to 400 degrees F, roll out the pastry on a floured surface to fit your baking pan (the tart kind with the removable base is best), saving any scraps. Gently press the pastry into the pan, using scraps to fill in any tears or holes. Prick all over with a fork and blind bake for about 10-15 minutes, until lightly golden.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the butter and stir in the leeks, season to taste with salt and pepper and lightly fry until softened, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
Mix the milk, cream and eggs together, then add to the leek mixture, and stir in the cheese. This is where you add a pinch of ground nutmeg if you wish, or a pinch of the English mustard.
Place a couple bay leaves at the base of the crust, and pour the leek mixture into the pastry case, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. The center of the quiche can be a little wobbly, it’ll firm up as it cools. Let it cool at least 10 minutes before removing the sides of the baking pan.
Best served room temp, or lightly chilled. With salad!
Backstory: my Grandmother Kraft used to cook several items that we will forever associate with her. Those are bread rolls and caramel rolls. Probably using the same bread recipe.
My mother doesn’t believe in timers, so her version of grandma’s caramel rolls have resulted in the traditional blackened burnt caramel rolls my family has been consuming around christmas every year.
I reached out to my cousin Tina, who seemed more dialed into the caramel roll recipe grandma used. It turns out she doesn’t use grandma’s recipe, but hers is good and it’s wildly popular with her family, who also demand it every christmas season. She sent it to me, and since I already had some dough rising, I gave it a try.
Sticky Pecan Rolls
1 loaf of frozen Bridgeford frozen bread dough, thawed. (They come in three packs in the freezer section)
1/4 cup + 1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup + 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans + more to taste
1/2 cup whole or slightly chopped pecans + more to taste
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
(Adaptation: I used homemade bread dough, based on my bread lab recipe.)
* Roll dough out on a floured surface until it becomes an 8×12 inch rectangle.
* Brush dough with 1/4 c melted butter. Sprinkle with mixture of 1/4 c brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 cup ground pecans, to taste.
* Roll up lengthwise and seal edge.
* In a sauce pan, melt 1/4 c butter, 1/2 c brown sugar and 1 Tab light corn syrup. (Adaptation: I used agave nectar in place of the corn syrup)
* Pour this into the bottom of an 8 or 9 inch square pan. (I used a 9×12 pan)
* Add 1/2 cup whole or broken pecans to taste.
* Cut the rolled dough into 9 segments and space evenly in pan. (I made 12 cuts, spaced 3×4, see Photo 1)
* Cover and allow to rise until doubled. (Photo 2)
* Bake at 375 until the center is no longer doughy, about 30 minutes. Start checking after about 15 minutes (see notes).
* Cool 2-3 min, then invert on a plate. (Photo 3 and 4)
Notes: it might be nice to roll the width of the dough out more, so there is more surface area to cover with goodies like butter, caramel and nuts.
If the top of the bread starts browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil. Using a metal pan might also help the bottom bake faster, too.
It is okay to bake this without a foil or parchment liner. The caramel base stays liquid gooey enough that it does not stick. Only use a liner if you absolutely cannot bear to lose any of that caramel, because you can pull off the liner after inverting and scrape any lingering caramel back onto the rolls.
Finally, it might be cool to roast the pecans slightly first, as they really do not toast much while swimming in the pool of caramel in the pan.
This is part of the Freezer Clear Out Project. Items from the freezer: butter and almond meal.
There is FIVE POUNDS of almond meal in my freezer. Donna Hay magazines often have recipes that use almond meal to make cakes and baked items moist, but most use a quarter cup here, half a cup there. I browsed some of her older issues and found the perfect item: almond cake. Using 2.5 cups of almond meal per cake.
Almond Cake (adapted from Donna Hay magazine, issue 18)
6 and 1/3 ounces of butter (about a stick and a half)
* Heat oven to 320 degrees.
This tastes good on its own, dusted with confectioners sugar, or dressed with a syrup, or turned into a Victoria Sponge easily. The cake isn’t overly sweet, and is very elegant looking.
I have tried both the 1 cake and 2 layer cake pans. I prefer the 2 layer cake pans. It bakes faster, more evenly, and thre’s no mess or risk when slicing the single cake into two layers.
For the strawberry almond cake, I sliced fresh market strawberries and marinated them briefly in a little sprinkled sugar to release juices, then added a tablespoon for limoncello. The liquids then soaked into the lower cake layer (right photo).
If you have whipped cream to fill the cake, even better.
3.14!! It’s Pi Day.
I made quiche, that should count. It used a pie crust.
It’s based on this past quiche recipe that used asparagus. But this time I added lightly steamed cauliflower, and mediterranean yoghurt cheese, and chopped spring onions.
This is one of my Fridge Clear-Out concoctions. I had milk, eggs, cheese, cauliflower, and the spring onions all beginning to show a little age.
Seems to be edible! I’ve had one slice and still live to tell the tale.
Time for new sandwich bread. I made this loaf of roughly 3:1 all purpose flour to wheat flour. It’s great for grilled sandwiches at work.
I used the Bread Lab recipe.
Of course, a few slices had to be sampled while it was fresh and hot.
It was time to bake a new loaf of bread for lunchtime sandwiches. I set to it Sunday morning and pulled the new loaf out of the oven before noon.
As with all my previous simple loaves, I used the Bread Lab Recipe from Santa Barbara City College’s botany lab class, designed to teach the little ones about plant respiration.
Fresh out of the oven, I had a small slice of bread with sweet butter and a sprinkle of salt, and about half an hour later made myself half a PB&J using farmers market almond butter and homemade strawberry jam. Delish.
I was hoping for a cool and misty morning for a big oven session this weekend, after the surprise rainstorm on Friday. I didn’t quite get the drizzle, but it was also hardly beach weather. I’m okay with being in the middle.
I worked on several baking and roasting projects, including some small cakes, a roasted pork loin with Thai chile sauce, fresh garlic and lemongrass from the garden. I also roasted farmers market beets, caramelized a batch of onions, and cooked down some large cans of diced tomatoes to a thick sauce for cooking later this week.
But the main item was a nice loaf of plain white bread, for general snacking and lunch sandwiches. I used the bread lab recipe.
The yeast was from costco, a 2 lb bag for about $5, that I split up and share with family and another baking friend. My last tub of yeast was several years old and, well, pretty dead. This yeast made my bread rise up like a champ, and the only additional warmth came from the rising bowl sitting partially in a sunny window.
Here’s the little baby on its final rise in the loaf pan. I use a small ceramic paring knife to make the slashes in the dough.
The bread came out nicely browned and with a satisfactory crust. I had a slice when it was fresh from the oven, using sweet butter and a crank of sea salt. The rest is going to sandwiches for lunch. In fact, I’m going to put one sandwich of gruyere cheese and caramelized onions through the sweet panini press in the office today.
This is my first try at making quiche. I had pie crusts in the freezer and the canned white asparagus had been sitting in my cupboard for a while. Also, it’s really freaking cold and I thought I’d heat the place with my oven. The quiche came out okay!
White Asparagus Quiche
* 1 (9-10 inch) unbaked pie shell – I used the frozen one from Trader Joe’s
Line a pie pan with the crust, prick over with a fork and bake the pie crust at 375° for 10 minutes to partially cook.
The feedback I received is that the custard of the quiche was good and creamy, but the base of the crust could be more firm, so maybe I’ll prebake the crust an additional 3-5 minutes next time.
Back in the day when I actually had a job somewhat related to my academic studies, ye olde botany days, I prepped the college botany labs.
For most of the college kids, this was their first time baking bread and probably their first time even seeing bread being made. That is very sad as I do recall watching and helping my mother knead bread as a child. The instinct on kneading never goes away. But making bread in the teens and 20s is certainly better than never making bread at all. Imagine whole generations of Americans who have never made bread. It’s boggling, especially with a recipe this easy.
Botany Bread – for teaching the science of respiration
1 tablespoon oil – olive or canola (plus extra to grease the bowl)
3 1/2 Cups all purpose flour (or 2 1/2 c. all purpose plus 1 c. bread flour)
Mix the first four ingredients in a small bowl to make the sponge. Let it sit until the mixture is foamy.
Sift together flour and salt in a large bowl.
Add wet mixture to the dry and combine with a spoon, then mix with hands.
Place out on a floured board and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic – 5 to 10 minutes.
Form into a ball. Put a drizzle of oil into a large bowl and place the dough in it, turning it over to coat all sides with oil. Cover with a cloth and set aside in a warm place away from drafts for about an hour or until risen to twice its size.
Turn out onto the board, punch down and knead a few more times. Form into a log and set into an oiled and flour 9 inch bread pan, seam side down.
Cover with a cloth and again set it sit in a warm place away from drafts until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Brush with melted butter for a soft crust, or with water for a crunchy crust.
Bake at 375 F for 40-60 minutes or until the top is browned. Tap the bottom to test for doneless – if it sounds hallow it’s ready.
Best served warm and fresh.
I got the recipe from Sandrine. It’s in her journal, but I’m putting a copy here for my reference.
1 cup all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 x 9-inch square pan, or similar sized dish.
Alternatively, pour the batter first into a greased pan and put the fruit on top. I happen to like it with the fruit on the bottom, so the top batter can get golden brown.
Bake for 30 mins. Serve warm, with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.