Real Men Eat Quiche

March 31, 2009

I whipped up Martha’s Asparagus, Leek and Gruyere Quiche when I was stumped about what to make for dinner.

asp-quiche1This is easy to make, especially if you cheat like I did and use a store bought crust! You cook the asparagus and leek in a pan. Grate your cheese (I wish Gruyere did not smell so bad! Who wants stinky feet in their quiche?) and put it in the bottom of the crust. Add the veggies then the egg and cream mix. That’s it. Bake for about 50 minutes.

Mine came out very nicely – puffy and slightly golden. I thought it tasted asp-quiche3great and was a nice alternative to the quiche I seem to always make, which is spinach and mushroom. It’s a nice way to use asparagus if you have a lot.

How did the quiche go over with the family? Teen Martha wasn’t home. Mini-Martha would not touch it. Mr. MarthaandMe said it was “ok”. He and mini-Martha scarfed down the Polish sausage I cooked up for them happily asp-quiche4and ate his one piece of quiche. I guess real mean eat quiche, but prefer Polish sausage.

Now that you’ve read how the dinner went, let me tell you what happened afterwards. I got really sick. Mr. MarthaAndMe was not affected. I didn’t believe it could be the quiche, but all I had with it was bread and melon. So the next day I ate it again. And I got really sick again. Again – Mr. MarthaAndMe not affected. I can’t explain it, but I don’t think I’ll be making this again ever! Now this is not to say I am saying the recipe is bad, instead I’m guessing there was something wrong with one of my ingredients.

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Egg-Citing Easter Crafts

March 30, 2009

Easter eggs. Anyone can do that, right?  Well, that’s what I thought anyway. I decided to do some decoupage eggs as Martha shows in April Martha Stewart Living and also the glitter eggs that are mentioned at the front of the magazine as being online (and are also in the Craft Encyclopedia). This sounded like something I could manage.

The first step was getting the eggs. Blowing out eggs was way too much work for me. Martha says in the magazine you can find blown out eggs at “any craft store”. Ha! Neither Michael’s nor Joann had them. Joann had no eggs of any kind – nothing wooden, paper, etc (and snotty people working there who were not interested in helping me). What craft store has NO wooden or faux eggs available 2 weeks before Easter?

Michael’s had wooden eggs so I bought some of those. I also bought some Mod Podge glue. As for decoupage, I simply do not have the fine motor skills to cut out the shapes in the template in the magazine. Not a chance. So I thought I would be clever and buy some Easter stickers and some cute little confetti.

Sticker Shock

Sticker Shock

The first thing I did was to paint the eggs I was going to decoupage. The first problem was that that the price stickers would not come off!

I don’t know how you paint these without getting fingerprints all over them. I ended up doing several coats and got it all over my hands and the table. I kept dropping the eggs (good thing they weren’t real!).

Painting

Painting

Glue for Glitter

Glue for Glitter

While those dried, I attempted to do the glitter eggs. I read the instructions in the craft encyclopedia several times. It says to hold the egg and paint it with glue then set it in the glitter and cover it. If you hold the egg while putting glue on, the glue comes off on your hands and does not stick to the egg. When you pick the egg up out of the glitter, the glitter comes off on your hands. This is why my first egg ended up with bald spots! I tried to dab a little more glue on and put more glitter, but that was unsuccessful.

Bald Patch

Bald Patch

I was ready to toss the damn eggs out the window, when Mr. MarthaAndMe suggested sticking a nail in the bottom of each one so I could hold the nail. The man is a genius. This worked perfectly and I ended up with evenly glittered eggs that looked pretty darn nice. He made some holes in a piece of wood so we could just stick the nails in it and let the eggs dry. My father-

The Solution

The Solution

in-law says you can do anything if you have the right tools, and again he was proven correct. I think the instructions for this craft made it sound far too simple and did not offer enough guidance.

Next, onto the decoupage. I have never decoupaged, but after hearing Rosie O’Donnell rave about it for years, I thought, how hard could it be? I’ve seen her demonstrate it several times and it looked so easy.

Disaster

Disaster

Wrong. The problem probably lies in my materials and I am willing to admit that up front. The stickers did not work. First of all, they were too large and crumpled at the edges because the eggs are curved. Mr. MarthaAndMe said they were too thick to work and that somehow the adhesive on the stickers interfered with the glue.  Similar problem with the confetti – it would not stick. I was using Martha Stewart confetti and it was kind of stiff.

The Ones that Turned Out

The Ones that Turned Out

Again, I was ready to open the window and pitch the damn things out, but Mr. MarthaAndMe suggested we just hole punch some white paper and use the dots to make polka dots with decoupage. You can see why I married this man. This worked pretty well. I had some trouble with the glue making the paint moist and the paint smearing and coming off.  I was also able to use the tiny Easter egg stickers I had – some of them stuck and some of it didn’t.

Was this fun? Umm, no. It made me crazy. It made a mess. It was not cheap. I would rather buy some decorative eggs for display than monkey around with this and have it never be quite right.

I guess the Easter bunny will not be too happy with me this year.

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Stromboli

March 29, 2009

The April issue of Martha Stewart Everyday Food has a recipe for Broccoli, Tomato and Mozarella Stromboli. In this neck of the woods, we call these pizza pods, which are made at a local restaurant called Pizza Plant. We like to go there because you can custom order your own pod. I usually order one with a spinach dough and spinach and mushrooms inside. Mr. MarthaandMe likes his with anchovies. The kids have always liked it there too because they bring some fresh dough to the table for kids to play with.

stromboliSo, I was happy to give Martha’s stromboli a try. I bought wheat pizza dough at the grocery store and reserved 1/4 of it for Mini-Martha, who wanted to make a small pizza instead of a stromboli. I rolled the other 3 pieces of dough out, but it was difficult to get them to the right size.

Next, I piled on the ingredients. Mine had broccoli (and can I say this recipe calls for frozen broccoli which I have never in my life bought before – I was brave and bought it), spinach, salami, mushroom, cheese and sauce. Mr. MarthaandMe’s had mushrooms, broccoli, salami, cheese, sauce and anchovy paste (blech!).

strombolo2Rolling them up was a bit of a challenge because, as you can see,  I may have overstuffed them a teeny bit!

Now we come to the part where things got a little hairy. I rolled them up and put them on the baking sheet, seam side down. The recipe says to line the baking sheet with foil. I was a bit surprised by this since Martha seems to have a paranoia about foil touching food and all of her recipes tell you to put parchment between the foil and the food. Not so in this recipe. It says to put the strombolis on the foil. So I did, then I baked them.

stromboli3They turned out gorgeously brown and puffy with some filling oozing out. Then I tried to get them off the baking sheet. Right. Not happening. The foil stuck to the bottoms and would not peel off. It was a huge mess. I may have lost my temper and had a few choice words for Martha. Sometimes I get so tired of spending all this time and effort and having things not turn out.

I may have thrown down my spatula in disgust and walked away. Mr. MarthaAndMe valiantly stepped in. He ended up cutting the foil between them, flipping them over and peeling off tiny pieces of foil one at a time. Very frustrating and ridiculous.

I was so upset I forgot to take a photo of the inside, so you’ll just have to use your imagination. They tasted good and I enjoyed the salami, which is not something I would normally have added.  Would I make this again? I don’t know – I think I would rather just have a pizza. Same ingredients and less mess.


Just for the Halibut

March 28, 2009

I know, corny header. Couldn’t help myself since I needed something to perk me up after making Steamed Halibut from April Martha Stewart Living (also featured on the tv show).

steamed-halibut1I wasn’t excited by the idea of this recipe, but honestly Martha totally raved about it when she had it on the show and it looked easy, so I gave it a shot. I couldn’t find halibut steaks, so I used filets. Martha says to steam the fish on a bed of herbs. I had some flat leaf parsley so I used that.

It steamed very quickly – 5 or 6 minutes. Very simple. It looked pretty when I served it on the bed of herbs with some lemon. How did it taste? Eh. That’s about the best I can do. It was ok. Nothing to write home about (yet apparently enough to write on a steamed-halibut2blog about!). The fish was flaky and moist. It did have a hint of the parsley flavor. But it was bland and boring. The lemon helped a bit but not a lot.  I would not serve halibut this way again.

And please let me point out that I used a metal steamer and all the herbs sort of cooked onto it and it was a pain in the watusi to clean it.  That’s my complaint of the day.


The Asparagus Chronicles

March 27, 2009

I loved the asparagus article in the April issue of Martha Stewart Everyday Food. I was excited to discover some new ways to make asparagus, so please join me for my personal asparagus festival, also known as the Festival of Spears.

I make asparagus a lot, and particularly when my father’s crop comes in, I get bored with it. There are a few ways I normally make it. The first is just cut up and boiled with butter and salt and pepper. My preferred method is to roast it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sometimes I coat it in panko and pan fry it.

asp-goat-cheeseFirst up is the asparagus with goat cheese. I cooked my whole asparagus stalks in a pan with a tiny bit of water. They cooked very quickly. I sliced the goat cheese into rounds and coated them with flour then panko and froze them and quickly browned them in a pan. I loved the goat cheese on this! The rounds looked gorgeous and brown and so very professional. This is a terrific way to dress up plain asparagus with not a lot of work and I will definitely be making it again. This one is truly fab.

Asparagus experiment number two is Spaghetti with Shaved Asparagus. I was intrigued by this- I had never thought of shaving asparagus. Martha saysshaved-asparagus1 to take a vegetable peeler and peel shavings off your asparagus. This was a totally weird thing to do and let me just say it is pretty wasteful. You do not use the tops (and as my mother, Big MarthaAndMe will tell you, the tops are the best part, since she and her brother used to fight over them) and you end up wasting a good portion of the spear itself.

You boil some spaghetti (I used whole wheat) and reserve some of the cooking water. Then you add the shaved asparagus and lemon shavings. Drain it and add butter, salt, shaved-asparagus2pepper, lemon juice and reserved water which comes together to make a very light sauce. You shave some parmesan over the top at the end.

This is interesting looking, but the thing is you do not taste the asparagus at all! It just tastes like a mouthful of pasta with something green in it. I was quite disappointed by that. First you waste so much of the asparagus, then you don’t even taste it? Bah! Skip this one – I wouldn’t make it again. Asparagus tally? One yes, one no.

Asapargus with Mustard Sauce

Asparagus with Mustard Sauce

Now for asparagus recipe number three, Asparagus with Creamy Mustard Sauce. This tells you to steam your asaparagus and chill it. Then you mix up a quick cold sauce with mayo, olive oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper. That’s it! Pour the sauce over your asparagus and go to town. I thought the mustard sauce had a nice flavor. This strikes me as a summer dish though. It would taste wonderful for a supper on a hot day. At this time of year it was not so terrific as a cold dish, although it had a nice flavor, it just was not palate pleasing to eat a cold vegetable.

Total tally: One definite, one maybe and one no.


Oh for Oreo

March 26, 2009

In the April issue of Everyday Food, Martha has a recipe for what is called Chocolate ‘n’ Cream Sandwich Cookies.  AKA Oreos. A recipe that lets you make Oreos at home? Oh yes! I was in.

Cutting Out

Cutting Out

First you make the chocolate dough. Martha directs that you roll it out in two pieces to 1/4 of an inch thick. The recipe says to put the dough between two pieces of parchment paper to roll it out. The problem is, you then cannot roll it since it slides all over your counter. It actually takes two people – one to hold it in place and one to roll.  There was much grumbling during this step of the process, I must admit! The next step is to refrigerate (of course – is there a Martha cookie recipe that doesn’t require refrigeration?).  I don’t have a round cookie cutter so I used a tiny glass measuring cup. The pieces came out easily, but there was LOTS leftover (we’ll get to that in a second) and the recipe does not say to roll it all out again.

Cream Filling

Cream Filling

I popped the cookies in the oven and baked them until they were “firm and fragrant” as the recipe directed (which seemed sort of a weird description, but I went with it). While they cooled, I made the cream filling. You beat butter until it is fluffy then gradually add in the sugar. I did as directed and started to panic! All it looked like was a bowl of sand. It was not becoming creamy in any way. Eeek. I ditched the mixer and went at it with a spoon. Finally I found that if I smushed it against the sides, it would come together. Whew.

The Final Product

The Final Product

Mini-Martha (my 11 yr old son) and I filled the cookies and put them together. They looked pretty good, if not completely professional. How did they taste? You’re not going to believe this, but they really tasted like Oreos! The cookie is crunchy and sweet and the cream has the right flavor. It was pretty amazing. Total thumbs up. A true Good Thing.

Now for my complaints, if you will bear with me. First of all, the recipe says it makes 15 cookies. 15??? Who is going to do all this work for a mere 15 cookies? That’s pretty ridiculous. After cutting out the cookies, there was a

The Leftovers

The Leftovers

lot of dough leftover, and as I mentioned earlier, the recipe does not say you should roll it out again, which seems very wasteful to me. Mini-Martha in particular was distressed at the thought of letting this go to waste. So, in typical 11 yr old fashion, he suggested we make the world’s largest Oreo.  Together we rolled the dough out into two big pieces and baked it. He filled it with the remaining cream. The result was pretty huge and quite full – like a double

Giant Cookie in the Making

Giant Cookie in the Making

stuff Oreo. He was pleased with the result though.

MSL RADIO

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I’m Going to be on MSL Radio!

March 25, 2009

Tomorrow (3/26) at 9:05 I will be joining Kim and Betsy on Martha Stewart Living Radio to talk about this blog! You can tune in on Sirius channels 112 or XM157. If you don’t have Sirius, the producers tell me you can download a free 3 day trial on the Sirus site. Please join me!


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