Monday, May 27, 2013

Spring Vegetable Quiche

Home is a great place to be. Sleeping in my nice big bed, seeing all my friends and coworkers, and my mother buying groceries are certainly the main reasons I love being here!

There's a Whole Foods in my town, and we do the majority of our grocery shopping there. My parents, while extremely healthy to begin with, have just read Salt Sugar Fat (available here) and are becoming more conscious of the food they eat.


We eat a lot of vegetables at home and make whatever we can from scratch. Therefore this slightly modified recipe for spring quiche (from this great food blog) is an instant hit in our house. While it is slightly involved when it comes to making the dough, it's an extremely simple recipe that yields delicious results.

You will need:
 -1 and 1/4 cups of flour
 -6 tablespoons of unsalted margarine (any solid fat will do!)
 -salt and pepper to taste
 -approximately 1/3 of a cup of water
 -9 or 10 asparagus stalks, with ends removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
 -4 cups spinach
 -4 green onions (scallions)
 -5 large eggs
 -1 cup milk
 -approximately 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
 -3/4 cup of crumbled feta cheese
 -1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese
 -9-inch pie pan

For the crust:


Grab a mixing bowl (ours is two quarts), flour, margarine, salt, and pepper.


Start by measuring out a cup and a quarter of flour, and put it in your mixing bowl.


Cut up your margarine into small chunks, pop them in the bowl, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Mum did this part, since she is the undisputed pie crust queen.

 Get a pastry cutter (or a knife/fork/something sharpish) and mash your butter into the flour.


Keep cutting it all together until it looks like this: there should be no chunks of butter left in the mixture. It should resemble coarse meal.


Here's where it gets a bit intuitive: pouring a little bit of water in at a time, combine the flour/margarine mixture with the water until it barely starts to stick together. It should resemble the above picture and you will probably think it is too dry. Trust me, it's done when it juuuuust sticks together. For this batch, we added just about 1/3 of a cup of water.

Still mum!

Pick the dough up with your (clean) hands and make a loose ball with it. Wrap it in saran wrap/clingfilm and pop it in the fridge while you prepare the filling. See? Isn't that easy?


You begin the next steps by turning your oven onto 375˚F and...

Start by laying out your vegetables in neat, easily photographed rows... then chop them up! The spinach stays whole, but the asparagus need the ends removed and then need to be chopped into inch-long pieces. Once they're cut up, throw them in the bowl with the spinach.

Remove the roots/hairy bits of the green onion, then chop them up finely. Keep these off to the side.


In a pan over medium-high heat, pour in about a half-tablespoon of olive oil (though I tend to eyeball it), then throw the spinach and asparagus in. All you want to do is wilt the spinach and slightly soften the asparagus.


While the vegetables are cooking, whisk together the eggs and the milk. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Then, add the feta cheese and 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese. When your vegetables are done, move them into a strainer and gently press out the excess liquid.


Once you've mixed the eggs and milk together, you can start to roll out your pie crust. Remove the dough ball from the fridge and saran wrap, then place on a very well-floured surface. Sprinkle more flour over the top, and using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until it's about twelve inches in diameter. It's going to have to fit into a 9-inch pie pan, so make sure it's enough!


Transport your dough to the pie pan. We do it by folding the dough in half, then in half again, then picking it up, plonking it in the pan, and unfolding it. Lightly press the dough into the corners of the pan, then trim off the excess hanging over the edges.



What we like to do is sprinkle a light layer of mozzarella cheese (about half of what's left) on the bottom, so that the crust doesn't get soggy. Once that layer is down, lay your vegetables (the cooked ones and the raw green onion) evenly over the dough, then pour the egg, milk, and cheese mixture over the top. Sprinkle with the rest of your mozzarella cheese.

Now, place the quiche into the oven. Congratulations! You're almost there!


Bake the quiche for about forty minutes, when the filling is set and the top starts to turn golden-brown.

Let it sit for about fifteen minutes, since it will deflate a bit as it cools.

We generally serve this quiche with baked potatoes and peas. Delicious, nutritious, and healthy!

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Katsuya

This past Thursday, my friend N's mother was in LA and took N, me, and our friend J out to dinner in LA Live.


J and N had tickets to the Kings/Sharks game, so we had to eat a quick, early dinner. We decided on Katsuya, the famous Los Angeles restaurant.

Now, I'd never been before, but I've heard great things. To be frank... I wasn't that impressed with the food, even though the ambiance was stellar. However, minor disclaimer, sushi restaurants are rarely exciting for vegetarians. There's only so many avocado and cucumber rolls I can eat before I've eaten them all!

We started off with edamame (predictably good), and before we were even finished, our various rolls and dishes started coming.


First up, my vegetable bento box. Three little sample-size dishes inside: a fairly average vegetable roll, followed by mushroom and avocado in a really delicious sauce (didn't catch the name of it, whoops), and then vegetable tempura waaay over on that far end. All in all, quite tasty, but nothing extremely special, and left me a little hungry.


This is one of Katsuya's specialties--the Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna. The restaurant calls this one of their specialty dishes and their "most flavorful", but my dinner companions were not incredibly impressed. While they did find it good, they didn't find the dish as awe-inspiring as the menu made it out to be.


Next up for my friends was the Spider roll; soft shell crab, ponzu, cucumber, and avocado. Again, a pretty typical sushi dish that was executed solidly. While all of the pieces were eaten, I don't think it was anything to write home about. The next roll however...


This was the one that was unanimously everyone's favorite... the Rock Shrimp Tempua roll. The base is tuna roll, topped with a few pieces of spicy tempura shrimp. These went really, really fast. According to my companions, their complete uniqueness added to the level of enjoyment. Really though, how often do you see a dish like this?


As you can see, I couldn't get a picture of the Wagyu Ribeye before N and her mother started tucking in. Cooked medium-rare and served sizzling on a plate with mushrooms, everyone said it was delicious. Apparently it was prepared and executed extremely well, and tasted wonderful.

I swear I just got a picture during a lucky people-free moment!

All in all, Katsuya's decent food was really improved by the ambiance and location. LA Live was bustling and exciting, as it normally is, and sitting outside and people-watching made the dinner even more fun.


Of course, the TV playing the Bruins game certainly improved it for me! Our fellow diners were extremely friendly and we struck up conversation with a few of them about their dishes. Of course, all of them had ordered and were raving about the Rock Shrimp Tempura roll.


Once we paid the bill, we snagged a quick picture in the wooden chair at the entrance, and we were off. N and J had nosebleed seats to the game, and I was back to school for an evening of Graham Norton and Arrested Development.

On a separate note, I'm back home in Massachusetts for the summer now! Expect lots of recipe posts now that I've got a full-size kitchen and my mother's well-stocked pantry.

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Roundup, and Jacks N Joe

Well, folks, life's been happening. School's been a little psycho, but my last final is Wednesday and I'm home next Sunday!

A quick recap of what I've been up to since I last blogged:


I got a behind-the-scenes look at my friend J, shooting for her fashion blog. Check it out here!


If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen that my friend L surprised me with macarons from 'Lette. They were just as delicious as they looked!


My friends and I built a fort. We're still ten years old. It's casual. We hibernated in there for an entire Saturday night with absolutely zero regrets.


I made some smores. I had to run extra-far the next day... just look at that delicious, melty goodness sandwiched between those graham crackers. Yummm.

But now, to the real point of my post: Jacks N Joe. Located just off campus on South Figueroa Street, this is a place solely devoted to breakfast. I've been here a few times and thought I'd finally share! There's generally a line out of the door, but the food is fast and delicious--totally worth the wait.

I cleaned my iPhone camera lens right after this shot!

The back side of the menu is devoted to various omelettes, cereals, and drinks. It's extremely tough to decide! Normally I decide on egg dishes, but everything I've ever tasted/bites I've stolen from my friends have been delicious.


A few weeks ago, I ordered their "Seven Minutes in Heaven" french toast. Three thick slices of their homemade french toast, slathered with Nutella and topped with bananas, strawberries, and powdered sugar. My only complaint? I could have gone for more Nutella, per usual!


When I went on Thursday with my friends, I was determined to get photos of everyone's food. What I ordered is not on the menu--Jacks N Joe has their own "secret menu", and this is one of the items on it. They're loaded hash browns; a bed of hash browns, topped with two eggs any style, sausage, bacon, cheese, green onion, and aioli. Two pieces of toast come on the side. I choose to get my meal without meat, but it was nonetheless delicious and completely filling. I was comfortably full until dinner!


L got a make-your-own omelette. Price depends on what you order (she got a lot of vegetables and avocado) and sides are addition. However, as you can see, you definitely get your money's worth!

Coffee at Jacks N Joe is $1.50 for bottomless refills. I'm not a big coffee drinker, but my friends love it; strong coffee, refilled about every five minutes.


M ordered one of the combos--two eggs any style, bacon, homefries, and two chocolate chip pancakes. I had a bite of the pancakes... oh man. They were absolutely heavenly. Rumor on the street is that Jacks N Joe puts cookie dough in their pancakes (okay, not a rumor, but awesome nonetheless).

Jacks N Joe is pretty essential breakfast food; fast, delicious, and very reasonably priced. It's a good ten-to fifteen-minute walk from campus, so it's nice to stretch your legs after cleaning your plate.

For anyone interested, Jacks N Joe is located at 2498 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA. I highly recommend it.

And one last little tidbit: the LA sky a few nights ago!


Follow me on Instagram @kat_herine_w. I update there almost daily!


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