Monday, October 12, 2009

Here we come a wassailing

In a recent phone conversation with my sister we talked about spiced cider/wassail. Don't worry, we also talked about fun, juicy stuff too. But we spent a significant amount of time pitying the throngs of people who spend this crisp season drinking sub par fall drinks. Apple juice with melted Red Hot candy? Seriously? Prepackaged spice mix dumped into microwaved juice? Don't even get me started. Sarah and I grew up with heavenly nectar-ish Wassail. Our grandmother passed the recipe to Mom and she passed it to both of us. It's great for cold nights, dreary mornings, and is an excellent source of vitamin C for the sniffles that often accompany this season. So put down that mug of sad-slightly-spiced-blandness and warm up your percolator!

Mamaw's Wassail

4 cups apple juice (I use Simply Apple)
2 cups cranberry juice (cocktail is okay)
1 cup orange juice (Simply Orange plus calcium for us)
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (allow some of the pulp into the mixture)
1/2 cup sugar (raw is yummiest)
1 teaspoon WHOLE cloves
1 teaspoon WHOLE allspice
5 sticks cinnamon

Pour all juices and sugar together into percolator. Place the spices in the basket. Allow mixture to percolate for at least an hour for best taste.

If you don't have a percolator you can use a stock pot and simmer the wassail over the stove. Put the spices in a tea infuser and allow mixture to simmer and slightly boil for an hour. Enjoy in your favorite mug, preferably with a special someone.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Oklahoma-made Texas Quiche

I'm newly rededicated to this blog. Some sweet folks on Facebook commented about it and so I guess I should probably show it some love. For those of you who do not blog you should know that commenting on a post is the fuel that feeds a bloggers soul. I'm not fishing for comments here, but it's rather disappointing to put yourself out in a blog post and have 0 comments. Enough about that though and onto some quiche.

My favorite lunch spot in the WHOLE WORLD is The Peach Tree in Fredericksburg, Texas. They are famous for their quiche and peach mimosas...oh my. If you've never eaten there and live within reasonable driving distance you need to run, not walk, and order lunch. Seriously, stop reading this and GO. (While you're in Fredericksburg you should definitely stop at The Rather Sweet Bakery, owned by Dan Rather's sister, and order a piece of Key Lime pie or a Hello Dolly bar. Life-changing desserts.) Anyway, this Texas Quiche is one I've slightly adapted from The Peach Tree Tea Room Cookbook. It's impossible to go wrong with this recipe, especially if you use a heavy Pampered Chef pie plate. Feel free to play with the ingredients too. You can sub out the same amount of almost any veggie and protein and have the same delicious end results. Also, I apologize for not having any pictures of this meal. Once you have a taste you'll understand why it never lasts long enough for photo ops.

Texas Quiche
1 1/2 cups unsifted unbleached flour
*I often use 3/4 cup unbleached flour, 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, just a healthier option
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons shortening
6 tablespoons CHILLED butter
*not margarine, real unsalted fatty fat butter, trust me on this one
5 tablespoons ICED water
*Just fill a glass bowl with iced water and dip your tablespoon into it.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 400 degrees.

1. Mix flour and salt in bowl. Use a pastry blender to cut in shortening and butter until crumbly.
2. Add ICED water, a little at a time, mixing with pastry blender until well blended. I've found that it's best to add a little extra water if the weather has been particularly dry. Roll dough into a ball. Place dough into a plastic bag and gently press into a flat disk. Seal bag. Refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. This allows the gluten to develop in the dough.
3. On floured board, carefully roll dough to fit quiche pan. Roll dough onto your rolling pin and unroll into quiche pan, carefully trimming dough, and rolling edge under to for a rim. Flute the edge.
4. Put a layer of foil over dough and fill to the top with either pie weights or dry beans. This prevents crust from puffing up or shrinking.
5. Bake crust for 15 minutes.
6. Remove beans and foil, prick crust bottom with fork several times, and bake 10 more minutes. The crust is now ready for filling.
*This is my favorite crust recipe, and I use it for everything from quiche to chocolate pie. It's easy, predictable, and flawless every time.


Texas Quiche
*This filling actually makes enough for two quiche (quiches? quichi? not sure what the plural is). You can either make two crusts and take one to a friend OR freeze the unused filling for the next time you have a hankering for quiche. I usually opt for the first option. It's a great way to turn casual acquaintances into BFFs.

1/3 cup sliced mushrooms
2 small carrots, sliced thin
2/3 cup chopped chicken breast
1 tablespoon butter
10 eggs
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
*You can use regular pepper, but the white keeps the quiche pretty and light in color.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon comino or cumin
2 teaspoons sliced pickled jalapenos with juice
2 1/2 cups canned evaporated milk
*I like to use reduced fat, it works just as well.
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
*Please don't ever use the pre-grated cheese, it's just nasty.
1/2 cup canned green chiles, drained and sliced into strips
Garnish: Sour cream, (or low-fat Greek-strained yogurt like Fage, subbing this for sour cream in all instances helps with calorie intake. I can't tell the difference.), black olives, and cilantro

1. Saute mushrooms, carrots, and chicken in butter until chicken is done and carrots are soft.
2. Beat eggs in blender with white pepper, salt, comino and jalapenos and juice.
3. Add evaporated milk to egg mixture.
4. In prepared crust, place 1/2 cup of the Monterey Jack cheese on bottom. Layer with mushroom, carrot, chicken mixture. Add green chiles over the mixture. Sprinkle another 1/2 cup of Monterey Jack cheese over the top.
5. Pour half of egg and cheese mixture over the layered ingredients, filling only to just below the top of the crust's rim.
6. Bake in oven for 1 hour and 45 minutes or when knife inserted in center comes out clean and top is golden brown.
7. Allow quiche to cool and set for 15 minutes for easiest slicing. Garnish each slice with a dollop of sour cream (or yogurt), a few black olives and cilantro.

The quiche will make your house smell like heaven on earth. When we first moved into our new place I made this and it made us all feel like we were home. This dish is great by itself, or served with a dark leafy green spring mix salad. I highly recommend a peach mimosa along with it. For my very Baptist readers go ahead and just pour yourself a tall glass of OJ, you'll be okay too. The best thing about making quiche for dinner is that it's great with coffee the next morning for breakfast. It reheats well for lunch leftovers too. You'll be the envy of the lunch room! Comment, email, or call if you have questions. (979)204-9607