Earlier this week I met some dear friends for breakfast at a small, tucked away French restaurant. There were all different kinds of quiches on the menu, ALL calling out to me. I decided on spinach and at the first bite was not disappointed. The baked custard filling was smooth and rich and each mouthful ended with the round, full flavor of cheese. I had the choice of potatoes or a baby green salad with a vinaigrette. Being breakfast I naturally opted for the salad. Mama used to serve us sirloin burgers or grilled cheese sandwiches sometimes for breakfast if she had nothing else to give us. We often had kind of off the wall meals. Anyway, my breakfast was splendid but it left me wanting more! I wanted quiche for dinner. I wanted more of that baked custard filling and if it was lower in fat, well, all the better! Now pie crust being pie crust I just couldn’t compromise. There’s no substitute for butter or lard. You either eat it or you don’t. But I could certainly improve on the fat content of the filling. And I seriously jacked up the amount of vegetables. Paired with a gorgeous baby green salad for dinner…I was one happy girl! We’re not big meat eaters but we do enjoy a bit of the pig for flavor. Often I use a couple of turkey bacon slices crumbled up. A little finely chopped pancetta rendered is lovely as well. I’m really crazy about those huge boxes of organic greens for cooking and salads. To this quiche I’ve used the entire box of baby arugula, baby spinach or a fantastic blend of baby greens called “Super Greens” by Organic Girl. Infinite kinds of cheeses can be used, the flavors just need to complement the pie. Just because I have Pepperjack and Gorgonzola on hand I wouldn’t necessarily throw both cheeses in. What I did have on hand was two small slices of Muenster, two small slices of Swiss and I cut a bit off of my beloved hunk of Gruyere. The Muenster added to the creaminess we all love and the Swiss and Gruyere both brought strong cheese flavors so not much is needed. Also bringing down the caloric and fat content is the number of eggs. In the deep dish pie I used only two whole eggs. Four fresh egg whites completed the custard. Sharing the plate was my baby romaine salad dressed only with a high quality Greek olive oil, a scant sprinkle of Maldon sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. A cold, crisp glass of Pinot Grigio would have finished off my feast perfectly but being that I’m working on my girlish figure it was non laisse’! Just not allowed!
LEEK AND GREENS QUICHE
yield: one deep dish pie
Preheat oven to 350° if you have plenty of time or 375° if you’re in a hurry.
- 1 deep dish pie shell in pie pan
- 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
- 3-6 leeks, washed, drained and white part chopped up to light green part
- 1-5oz. box organic greens of your choice
- 1 small handful minced pancetta or ham or several slices of bacon or turkey bacon crumbled
- 2 cups cheese of you choice, finely chopped or grated
- 2 whole eggs plus the egg whites of 3 or 4 eggs, the equivalent amount may be used of cartoned egg whites
- 1 pint half and half, I use fat-free
- In a large pan heat oil and saute leeks until soft and somewhat clear.
- If using ham or pancetta add to leeks and saute until slightly browned.
- While stirring add greens. Keep tossing and stirring so they don’t clump up into one tight mess.
- When completely wilted and cooked, take the pan off the heat and if using bacon add it to the mixture and stir until well blended. Set aside to cool.
- In a medium bowl scramble the eggs to break up and add half and half. Mix well.
- Add egg mixture to greens, add cheeses and mix well.
- Pour into pie shell and bake until golden brown on top and middle is cooked through. It will take about an hour and a half at 350° and about one hour at 375°. It IS deep dish!!
James and I FINALLY went for his wisdom teeth consultation. It could not have been easier or more stress free! The surgery date was set for after New Year’s. Made me think of the last time I had teeth taken out. I had gotten into my head that as an adult I wanted braces. My now dentist AND employer was, 22 years ago, Pamela’s boyfriend and my dentist. Shortly there after he became Pamela’s husband. We’ve all only had two dentists in our whole lives. Dr. Schloss, Chris’ father, and Chris. We loved his father!! That man was SO nice! AND he had mouthwash! Coming from a household with NO sweets that big doins’! He passed away while I was in college and shortly after, Chris graduated and started his own practice. A few years later I told him at one of my appointments I wanted braces. “What? You don’t need braces! You have beautiful teeth! Don’t do it. Leave it alone.” But nooooo, I had this idea in my head, and, well, had to have ’em. He gave me the name of a colleague and off I went to my consult. Turned out to be a really good guy!! He did, however, tell me I would have to have my four perfectly healthy premolars extracted and if was going to do that I might as well have that last wisdom tooth yanked. I told Chris. He was NOT happy. “Your teeth are great. They’re fine. What if you need those teeth later on in life? What if in your eighties you need a bridge and you need one of those teeth to anchor it?” Hellooooo. First of all can’t you count? I have forty or fifty more perfect teeth in my mouth and second, I’m in my 20’s, I ain’t never gonna turn 80! What, are you crazy?? Jeez. So the date was set with the oral surgeon to extract 5 absolutely perfect teeth. I had never had cavities or anything! It was a couple of months after our wedding…James wasn’t even a sparkle in his Daddy’s eye!!! All I remember about the day I had the teeth out is getting home from the surgery, changing into comfortable sleep clothes and falling into bed. I woke up I don’t know how long later and my mouth was throbbing…killing me. I took a pain pill and fell back into a fitful sleep. A little while later I woke up in worse pain. I looked at the bottle of pain pills. It said “Take as needed for pain.” Well. I’m in pain. I took another. This was quickly becoming awful. I swallowed as best I could whatever it was for pain and tried to nap. Why were these pills not working??? I took another. I spent the rest of the afternoon alternating between trying to sleep and trying to kill the pain with whatever they had given me. That was probably not a good plan. Late afternoon I awoke not only to excruciating pain in my mouth but now I had a fire in my tummy. In a semiconscious tangle I stumbled into the bathroom and got sick. I was dying. I called Pamela in a panic, “I don’t know what to do!! My mouth is killing me, I’m puking, and now I’m bleeding!! I can’t do this!!” “Don’t worry, YaYa!”, she said, “I’m on my way!” The burning fire in my belly was roaring and I had never felt such pain as that which was in my mouth. I ripped off my pajama pants and lay on the bed under the ceiling fan with a t-shirt on trying to cool off and contain the rivulets of perspiration running off my face and down my neck. I heard the kitchen door open. It was Pamela. She came bursting into the room with Chris, DR. SCHLOSS! He had immediately left his office and met her here when she called saying that there was an emergency, “Well, she’s bleeding and vomiting!! It’s serious!!”. He tilted my head back to examine the extraction sites and his eyes fell on the bottle of pain pills. Gently putting my head back, he picked up the bottle and read the directions. There were only a couple of pills left, rattling around on the bottom of the plastic bottle. It quickly got really quiet in the room. I felt self-conscious. I realized I was scantily clad with only a tiny, pale yellow t-shirt on and skimpy bikini panties the size of dental floss. And this was my dentist AND PAMELA’S FUTURE HUSBAND. He didn’t even look at me. He was there out of concern for one of his patients. And I was wasting his precious time. He threw the bottle down and disgustedly said to Pamela, “Tell her to quit taking this crap!”. And that’s the story of when I OD’d. He never talked about it. Never mentioned it. Not even today. But Pamela and I still laugh about it. “Well, you were in pain!”, she’ll say and we’ll scream with peals of laughter!! And then she’ll say, ””Well, it was an emergency!!” More screaming!! Then I’ll say to her, “How could you let me be seen with only a t-shirt on and panties??” and she’ll reply, “IT WAS AN EMERGENCY.” And to this day he’s never made fun of me or made an off colored remark. Ya gotta love him! He’s just the best!!
This is a recipe for Leek and Potato Soup if served warm or Vichyssoise if served cold. Either way it’s silky, smooth paradise. It’s easy and fast but do know, it does not freeze well. And it’s pretty. It’s the perfect dish served cold for all those college students getting their wisdoms taken out. Enjoy!
Leek and Potato Soup
yield: one large pot
- 8 leeks
- 1/4 cup butter or good olive oil. (I use olive oil.)
- 6 red skinned boiling potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
- 2 large bunches flat leaf parsley, washed and rough chopped
- 10 cups water or chicken stock, a mixture of both is fine
- salt to taste
- Leeks can be really, really dirty… sandy. You don’t want grit in your soup. So. Cut off the tough, dark green tops of the leeks and set aside for vegetable stock or discard.
- Without cutting through the root end, cut lengthwise from the base of the leek through the end.
- Rinse well under running water, separating the leaves to get out any lurking grit. Continue with all the leeks.
- Drain and, holding the root, slice from the green end all the way to the root end. Discard the root and slice all the leeks.
- Rinse sliced leeks under water using a colander.
- On medium-low heat butter or olive oil in a soup pot and toss in leeks. Take care not to brown just clarify.
- Add sliced potatoes, parsley and water or stock.
- Simmer until potatoes are fork tender, maybe half an hour.
- Puree until smooth using food processor, blender or immersion blender. I use an immersion blender. I love it!
- Taste for salt and serve.