Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Easter Quiche

While perusing Instagram one day the week before Easter, I ran across a picture of the most amazing quiche. All of the vegetables had been rolled and were standing on end creating a "blooming" vegetable quiche which I thought would be rather impressive to take to Easter lunch. So bright and early Sunday morning I made my dough. Sliced my vegetables. Started on some other side dishes. Realized I forgot the puff pastry for the asparagus tart. Tried rolling out the dough after chilling it for two hours only to find it way too sticky. Attempted to correct the dough (I had made enough for the tart pan as well as a "free form" asparagus tart I decided I was going to attempt). Made the dough a bigger mess by attempting to fix it. Threw half of it away. Then finally rallied around the other half with a lot of flower and made it work.

There was no rustic asparagus tart.

I knew instantly the dough was too wet. I use this recipe all the time and am usually more careful about what I am doing. I added too much water and had a mess.

However, after a struggle, it went into the pan and made it to the oven to blind bake (with a layer of parchment and my "pie beans" to weigh it down).

While the crust was baking, I sliced the yellow squash, zucchini, and carrots. Then put them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes until they were bendable. I should have done the carrots separate as they took longer and the squash went rather quickly.

The carrots really could have cooked a few minutes longer. Several broke or refused to be rolled.

At the end of the day, however, it looked, and tasted, amazing. Here is the complete recipe and instructions.

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Bumper Crop of Tulips

Last October I decided to fill the vegetable beds with rows of tulips I would be able to "harvest" in the spring. They are finally beginning to put on their show, and look glorious. The best part is that I've planted mesclun and radish and kale, and soon beets and carrots, between the rows of tulips. These vegetables will all grow and mature as the tulips fade.

There are many more to come, but take a look at what is blooming now!

This is after I already snipped about three dozen over a few days.

You can see how there's space between the rows for seeds to be planted.

I planted early, mid, and late blooming tulips. Here are all three in various stages of bloom. You can also see some radishes popping up between them.

There are going to be tulips for weeks! Over here we will plant some nursery plants that will be taller, like eggplant or peppers.

I can't wait to see what these look like!

A few rows are full of Darwin hybrids which usually perform well season after season and are truer "perennial" tulips.

I love how the petals flare out on these orange tulips.

Short and lovely. A tulip's stem continues to grow even after it is cut. Cut tulips will also always follow the sun.

I am very excited to see what these parrot tulips end up looking like. Here there are radish on the left and mesclun on the right.

Creamy white with yellow stipes.

More Darwin hybrids.
Out in the larger bed I planted a mixed row that included several peony-like tulips.

A bright goldenrod color.

A softer, truer yellow.

Of course I had to gather another bunch. Now I need to get serious about weeding...

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Flowers From the Garden - Easter on South Calhoun

Easter really is one of my favorite holidays, especially when the weather cooperates and the garden is bursting with flowers for decorating. I didn't do much decorating last year, so it was fun to get everything out and find new places for all of the eggs (both real and fake), critters, and dishes.

Happy Easter!

Two very full vases of daffodils in the bathroom.

I think the jadeite bunnies are perfectly happy in the Kyoto green bathroom.

White and salmon and pink daffodils on the bedside table. The pink-cupped daffodils really didn't do very well this year, nor did the 'Ice Follies' daffodils. I'm not sure if they need to be divided or what. Usually they grow happily, untouched, for years. I need to do a little research. 

Hyacinths from the garden, an Easter lily, and some buri sheep.

There were so many hyacinths this year. I really can't believe I've had three arrangements this large of only hyacinths already this spring.

Some foil wrapped "chocolate" rabbits, three little ducklings, and blown out eggs from Easters past.

More blown out and gilded eggs in some faux bois pots on a bedroom table.

Some newer, fake eggs on the other night stand.

Even the closet gets some flowers. These primroses have been blooming for over a month now. 

Hyacinths and hellebore behind a rabbit candy dish.

This late blooming amaryllis (forgotten on a window sill) is blooming just in time.

More hyacinths and covered candy dishes.

More foil wrapped "chocolate" bunnies and a chick under a cake dome. Some blown out araucana eggs are also under the dome.

Some lamb salt and pepper shakers, blown out decorative eggs done by my great aunts, and a vase of hyacinths, grape hyacinths, and fritillaria sit on the spice rack.

More jadeite in the kitchen. I love the green with all of the copper.

The hen and rooster covered dishes were added to the cake plates.

And the rest of my blown out eggs are under glass.

There's another hen dish somewhere. I also realized I have several little white china baskets hidden away. As well as some other china rabbits. I'll need to look under my bed in the "archives".

And just in time, the tulips have begun to bloom. I hope you have a wonderful Easter Sunday!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Inspired By Boston's North End

My posts about vacation are incredibly out of order, but I cooked on Sunday and wanted to share the inspiration. 

Boston's North End neighborhood is the oldest residential neighborhood in the city continuously inhabited since the 1630's. The North End was a fashionable place to live in the 18th Century until more commercial buildings and a wave of immigrants led by the Irish and followed by Eastern European Jews and Italians began to crowd the neighborhood, and the wealthy moved on to Beacon Hill. By the 20th Century the area was dominated by Jewish and Italian immigrants, and is known today for it's large Italian American population, as well as its many, many restaurants and cafes.

On the one and only sunny day of vacation, we walked all over Boston. From the Public Garden to Beacon Hill, down to Quincy Market and up to the North End. And finally we stopped walking and started eating.
Celebrating 30 years in business this year, Trattoria Il Panino (11 Parmenter Street) was a perfect find after looking over several menus at several restaurants.

We were in the outdoor garden area, covered and heated in the winter.

Let's talk about the meatballs. We had some delicious ones in New York at Cafe Fiorello, but I wasn't mad about these, either.

Contractor had the wild mushroom and black truffle risotto, while I had the perfect pan of ravioli. All of this made me want to cook, so I looked up some recipes and found this one that happened to be from The North End Cookbook.

Then I decided to go for it. Real Sunday gravy. I used Italian sausage, pork chops, and spare ribs. It's called Sunday "gravy" because the meat drippings are the base of the sauce.

Then it was time to saute the onions and garlic and add the tomato paste.

Tomatoes, water, and the meat goes back in for a long, slow simmer.

Then it was time to make the meatballs. And look at my socks...

Combine two eggs, a pound of beef, half a pound of pork or veal, parsley, Parmesan, garlic, and bread crumbs. I grated the garlic rather than mincing it.

And then it was all combined the fastest way. By hand.

Rolled out and ready!

I took the meat out and simmered the meatballs for about 20 minutes. It really did make a lot, and I have some frozen sauce and meatballs for a quick dinner in the future,