Asparagus or Mushroom Quiche

I love quiche, but I don’t often make it because, let’s face it, it’s not exactly healthy.  When I happen to have a frozen pie crust in the freezer, either fresh or frozen asparagus or some mushrooms, some half and half or light cream, and swiss cheese in the fridge, I decide it’s time to treat myself and my daughter Randi, who loves my quiche.  I have these items handy more often now, because I’ve become a real Costco shopper, and I like to buy their fresh asparagus or mushrooms, and their lite gruyere cheese- which is delicious. This morning, I realized I had all the ingredients with about and hour and a half to spare, so I decided it was time to make some quiche.

for one quiche:

  • 3 extra large eggs or 3 large eggs plus one egg yolk (or 4 large eggs-3/2011)
  • 1 1/2 cups of light cream or half and half –  or 3/4 cup heavy cream plus 3/4 cup whole milk (March 2011, only used about 11/4 cups light cream)
  • about 1 pound or a little more fresh asparagus, roasted or 1/2 box of frozen asparagus spears, defrosted
  • 1 frozen deep dish pie shell, Oronique is my preference
  • 4 – 5 oz.  Swiss or Gruyere cheese ( I like to use lite gruyere or alpine lace, but any swiss is fine)(Used about 1/2 lb. 3-11)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cover sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Cut ends off asparagus spears.  Place on pan.  Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Drizzle a tablespoon of  light olive oil over, toss asparagus with oil.  Roast for about 20 -25 min. till asparagus is cooked.  Set aside to cool.  Then cut spears into bite sized pieces.  Or defrost 1 16 oz. box of frozen asparagus spears,  pat dry, then cut into bite sized pieces, use about 1/2 of the asparagus or more if you wish for one quiche.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.Take a frozen deep dish pie shell in its aluminum pan and place it in a pyrex pie plate to prevent any mess in the oven.   Prick pie crust all over with fork.  Bake for about 10 min.  Then take out of oven.

In medium bowl, whisk or beat with fork, eggs with cream, add salt and pepper.  Spread asparagus (or mushrooms-see instructions below) over bottom of crust, tear cheese into medium to smallish pieces and place over asparagus, pour egg and cream mixture over.   Place on sheet pan in preheated oven, and bake 45-55 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean, and quiche is nicely puffed and lightly browned.  Serve.

for mushroom quiche:

Saute 10 oz. of sliced white or baby bella mushrooms with or without 1/2 chopped onion, with little kosher salt, papper, optional 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, in 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil or only olive oil till caramelized.

Alu Ki Tikki or Indian Potato Patties

I was lucky enough to eat some delicious authentic, homemade Indian food at the home of my friend Swapna and her lovely son Aditya.  I loved it so much that I got the recipe from Swapna and her mother, and tonight I ventured into the arena of Indian cooking, something totally new for me.  My daughter Randi and my son-in-law Dan both love Indian food, and when I told Randi I would be bringing this dish to her house tomorrow, she got really excited.  My son Danny tasted this, and agreed that it is delicious!  To me, these taste like a spicy version of hashed browns, with just the perfect amount of heat and just a subtle hint of cilantro. I’m so glad I tried this recipe!  Thank you Swapna!

This recipe makes about 15 potato patties.

  • 2 very large Idaho or Russet potatoes, washed
  • 2-4 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs, depending on how big your potatoes are (I use Colonna)
  • about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 or 2 small, dark green thin chiles, chopped fine (I used 2, but did not use the seeds), but you may if want more heat
  • about 10 cilantro leaves, torn or chopped into little pieces
  • light olive oil

Place one potato in microwave safe bowl with about 1/4 cup cold water.  Pierce a few times with fork, cover and cook on high for 3-5 minutes depending on size of potato.  Turn potato over, cover and cook another 3-5 minutes till soft.  Let cool, by pouring hot water out and putting a little cold water into bowl.  Turn potato over a few times in cold water.  Then peel potato with your hands.  Place in mixing bowl.  Repeat with second potato in microwave.  Mash first potato, then mash second potato when it is cooked, cooled, and mashed.  Add the salt, cilantro, the chiles, and the bread crumbs, and mix with a fork or gently with your clean hands. Put a little oil on your hands, and form into round patties about 2 to 3 inches round and about 1 inch thick.  Heat large nonstick frying pan up, add  some oil to coat, and gently place potato rounds in hot pan.  Let sit without turning until they are totally brown on bottom, about 5-8 minutes.  You may need to add a little more oil if pan becomes totally dry.  Turn when nicely browned on bottom, and cook till underside is brown, adding oil if necessary, about another 5-7 minutes.  Serve hot.

Note:  You may refrigerate them and serve them later after heating them in oven- 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Amazing Homemade Pizzas

I was really in the mood to make some delicious pizza last weekend.  I remembered that my son Danny had eaten pizza in New York City a few months ago that he had gone nuts for.  I wanted to recreate that pizza for Danny.  I had so much fun experimenting with making the pizzas, and the results were amazing!  First, I used half the recipe for my homemade pizza dough to make one large pie.  The pie was half plain, and half mushroom.  The second pie I made was specifically for my son Danny, to recreate the pie he had in NY.   For that pie, I topped it with some caramalized onions, and then with some shredded romano cheese.  Then I made some homemade spinach pesto, which Danny drizzed over some of his pizza.  I can’t tell how delicious those pies were!  Few pizzarias make pizza that taste this good!

Pizza Dough  (This dough recipe makes 2 large pizzas, but the following instructions are meant to be enough for only 1 pizza.)  For the dough recipe, type in calzone above in the search, and the recipe for the pizza dough will come up.

for the mushroom pizza:  Heat saute pan.  Put a little olive oil in a saute pan to coat. Put sliced mushrooms (about 8-10 oz.)  in hot oil.  Sprinkle with kosher salt, a few cracks of black pepper, and a light sprinkling of red pepper flakes.  Let sit undisturbed till mushrooms brown on bottom.  Turn and cook until nicely browned.  If you have fresh garlic on hand, mince or chop one or two cloves and throw into pan at this point.  Keep moving garlic around so it doesn’t burn.  Garlic just needs to saute for a minute to become translucent and be flavorful.  Although, I didn’t do this, you might want to add a sprinkling of either fresh thyme leaves (leaves from one sprig), or a sprinkling of dry oregano.  Saute another minute or so. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Place sheet of parchment paper on large, heavy duty cookie sheet or half sheet pan. Sprinkle parchment paper with yellow cornmeal (I use Quaker).  Then, roll dough out on a lightly floured clean counter, or lightly floured piece of waxed paper or parchment paper to 1/4 inch thickness into either a large circle or rectangle.  Once dough is rolled out, lift the dough with your hands and transfer it to parchment on cookie sheet.  Then spoon about 1 cup of marinara sauce over dough.  Sprinkle a very light sprinkling of red pepper flakes over sauce (if you like the heat).  Then sprinkle about 8 oz. of coursely grated or thinly sliced whole milk (not fresh) mozzarella cheese evenly over pizza.  Place mushrooms evenly over pizza.  Sprinkle very lightly with dried oregano.  Bake on middle rack in oven for about 15-18 minutes until the underside of the dough is lightly browned.  Then change the setting on the oven to broil, and cook for about 3 more minutes until the cheese becomes bubbly, brown, and beautiful!

for the caramelized onion and romano pizza:

Thinly slice about 4 medium-large onions.  Pour about 1/4 cup olive oil into a large saute pan.  Get it hot over a medium flame.  Add the sliced onions.  Sprinkle them with kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper.  Saute for about 30-40 minutes over a medium flame, turning every so often.  The idea is not to burn the onions, but to brown them.  This takes a little while, so be patient. Set pan aside.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Place a sheet of parchment paper over a large heavy duty cookie sheet or sheet pan.  Then sprinkle some yellow cornmeal (I use Quaker) on the parchment paper.   Roll dough out on lightly floured clean counter or sheet of waxed or parchment paper to about 1/4 inch thickness, either into a large circle or a large rectangle.  Spoon about 1 cup marinara sauce over the dough.  Distribute onions evenly over top of sauce.  Sprinkle about 4 garlic cloves, minced on top.  Then sprinkle about 4 oz. of shredded, not grated, romano cheese (which I use because romano cheese has no lactose in it), or shredded parmesan cheese over top of pizza.  Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt,  red pepper flakes if you like a little heat, a little coarse black pepper,  and sprinkle very lightly with dried oregano.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Bake in the oven on middle rack for about 15 minutes until the bottom of the dough is lightly browned.  If pizza is browning too quickly, lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees.  Serve with pesto on the side, and spoon a little on if your wish.

Slice, serve, and enjoy!

My Cousin Karen’s Delicious and Tasty Quiche

The Combination Of Flavors In This Easy Quiche Is Outstanding! 

I adapted this quiche recipe from a recipe I got years and years ago from my cousin Karen.  Besides being an excellent cook, my cousin is an amazing person.  She is a brilliant doctor with her own practice on Park Avenue in New York City.  She also has many other talents.  Number one, she is a devoted mother of her two amazing twin sons, Matthew and Douglas, and she is a loving daughter and sister.  Plus, she is an accomplished author, and she creates beautiful hand crafted jewelry.  I love spending time with my cousin Karen.  I just don’t get to do it enough!  Karen made this quiche years ago, and I loved it, so of course, I asked her for the recipe.  This quiche is so easy to make, so if you know how to boil water, I think you should try this!

  • 1 deep dish frozen pie crust, such as Oronique
  • 3 ounces French’s fried onion rings (1/2  of a 6 oz. can)
  • 4 to 6 oz. grated or thinly sliced Swiss cheese
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half or light cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • a few grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 dashes cayenne pepper
  • about 2/3 of a 10 oz. box of frozen spinach, defrosted and drained well

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prick frozen pie shell all around.  Then bake for about 10 minutes; set aside.  Then, reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs with half and half or light cream. Add spices to taste.  On the bottom of the pie shell, place 1/2 half of the cheese to cover the bottom of the crust.  Then add the onion rings on top of the cheese.  Next add the spinach to complete the next layer.  Place the remaining cheese over the spinach.  Gently pour the egg and cream mixture over the top cheese layer.  Place the quiche on a half sheet pan and then put in center of oven. 

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until puffed and golden.  Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.  

Helpful Hint:  If you have an oven proof glass or ceramic pie plate, I recommend that you place the store made pie shell in  its tin right into your pie plate before you start the baking process.  This will give the quiche extra support, and if some of the custard leaks during the cooking, it will have somewhere to go.

Variation #1:  Instead of spinach, use 10 ounces of fresh sliced mushrooms, seasoned with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper,  sauteed in 2 tablespoons of butter.

Variation #2:  Instead of frozen spinach, use 1 10 oz. bag of fresh, triple-washed baby spinach, seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper,sauteed in a pan in 2 tablespoons of butter just until it wilts for 1 or 2 minutes.   

Variation #3:  Use a combination of the sauteed fresh spinach and the sauteed fresh mushrooms.

   

Thin Crust, But Not Quite Ledo’s, Pizza

Learn To Make This Outstanding Homemade Thin Crust Pizza!

My favorite pizza in the world is Ledo’s pizza- and I’m talking about the original Ledo’s in Adelphi, Maryland. I graduated from the University of Maryland in College Park in 1977. One of the absolute highlights of my college experience was eating Ledo’s pizza from Ledo’s Pizza in Adelphi, Maryland. The first time I ate Ledo’s pizza it was definitely love at first sight and first bite. When a plain large pie, which consisted of 2 cafeteria trays filled with mouth-watering cheesy pizza was delivered to the table, I was in gastronomic ecstasy! I went crazy for the crust, which was more like a flaky pie crust than a traditional pizza crust. I loved the sweet sauce, and of course the cheese was great too. Luckily, my brother Kenny Fried lives in Bethesda, Maryland with his family, so from time to time when we visit him, we make it a point to make a stop at Ledo’s in Adelphi on our way back to New Jersey to pick up one large pie for the ride. My 3 kids love Ledo’s pizza as much as I do, too. Ledo’s is a franchise now, so I keep hoping that someone will open up a Ledo’s in New Jersey. Still, I’ve eaten at some of the franchises, and none compare to the original Ledo’s in Adelphi.

I developed my own pizza recipe, because I just wasn’t crazy about any of the pizza we can get near our house. This homemade pizza is yummy. It has a thin crust, and my children and friends claim my pizza is very similar to the pizza at our favorite local pizzeria, Federici’s, in Freehold. Last summer, I made this pizza for my son-in-law’s father, Mike Greenhouse and his wife Leah, and they loved it. Leah said it was the best pizza she had ever eaten. What a compliment!

You will be surprised how easy it is to make a fantastic homemade pizza. Give it a try!

for the crust: (This recipe makes 2 rectangular pies- thin crust- each about 16 by 10 inches but you can make 2 round pizzas as well)

  • 1 3/4 cup unbleached flour, plus extra for when you knead the dough
  • 3/4 cup warm water, 105 to 115 degrees
  • 1 package of Fleischmann’s active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon of light olive oil (you may substitute any oil)
  • cornmeal (optional) for baking the pizza

for the marinara sauce (This recipe makes about 4 quarts of sauce, and you will need about 1 cup of sauce for each pie you make, so you can stick the rest in containers in the freezer):

  • about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of light or extra virgin olive oil
  • 4- 28 oz. cans of plum tomatoes in thick puree, or 4- 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1- 6 oz. can of good tomato paste, such as Contadina
  • about 4-6 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium-large onion, chopped very finely in processor or by hand (if you like your sauce smooth, then pulse the onion in the processor until it is the consistency of applesauce)
  • red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper

for the topping:

  • dried oregano -optional
  • red pepper flakes- optional
  • 8 oz grated mozzarella cheese for each pie (16 oz. for 2 pies)
  • about 8 oz of marinara sauce

to make the dough:

Measure 1 3/4 cup flour and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large mixing bowl; set aside.

Measure 3/4 cup of hot water in a Pyrex measuring cup. Put a thermometer in, and when the temperature goes down to between 105 degrees and 115 degrees, sprinkle the package of dry yeast in. Add the 1 teaspoon sugar, and the 1 tablespoon of oil. Stir with a fork just to mix. Let sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast is foamy on the surface of the water.

Pour the water, yeast, oil, and sugar mixture into the mixing bowl with the flour and salt. Gently fold the liquid into the dry ingredients using a rubber spatula. When it is fully incorporated, dump the dough onto a floured board, counter, or table. Knead for about 7-10 minutes, adding a little flour to the board if the dough starts to stick or if your dough is too wet. You will know you can stop kneading when you push your finger into the dough lightly and the indentation disappears. Another indication you have kneaded the dough enough is when you notice that the dough has become harder to knead because it is becoming too springy. Place the dough in a large, clean mixing bowl that you have lightly greased with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Put it in a warm spot in your kitchen. Let it double in size- which it does in about an hour to an hour and a half. If your kitchen isn’t warm enough, it may take about 2 hours for the dough to double in size.

Then dump the dough onto a floured board. Turn it once on the floured board, and then pat it down to deflate it. Cut the dough into 2 equal pieces. Wrap individually in plastic wrap, and place in a Ziploc bag. Refrigerate the dough until you are ready to make your pizza. You can use the dough up to one day after you make it.

to make the marinara sauce:

Pour about 1/4 cup of olive oil in the bottom of a heavy pot. Sprinkle some crushed red pepper flakes in the oil. Saute for 1 minute. Add the finely chopped onion. Saute until translucent. Then add the crushed garlic. Saute for one minute more. If you are using whole canned tomatoes, put them in the bowl of the food processor fitted with the metal blade (reserving the juice or puree in the can), and pulse the tomatoes until they are almost pureed, but still have a little consistency to them. Add the tomatoes and reserved juice or puree in the cans to the pot. If you are using cans of crushed tomatoes, add all the the pot. Add the 1 can of tomato paste. Add kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Stir well. Simmer covered over a low flame for about 1 hour. Add about 1 teaspoon of sugar and a light sprinkling of herbes de provence or Italian seasoning. Simmer covered another 1/2 hour to hour, tasting and stirring every 15 minutes or so. Adjust seasonings -salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to your liking.

to assemble the pizza:

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Put a large piece of parchment paper on a sturdy cookie sheet or half sheet pan. Sprinkle the parchment paper lightly with some yellow cornmeal. Take one of your pizza doughs out of the refrigerator. Sprinkle some flour on a board or your counter. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out so that it is a rectangle, about 13 to 16 inches by 9 to 12 inches. Then spoon about 1 cup or so of sauce so that it covers the whole surface, going as close to the edges as possible. Then sprinkle dried oregano (optional) over the sauce. If you like your pizza a little hotter, sprinkle a few red pepper flakes over the sauce. Then, sprinkle about 8 oz. of grated mozzarella cheese over the sauce, going as close to the edges as possible. Place on low rack in the preheated oven. Bake about 15 minutes. If you like your pizza a little more well done, cook it a few minutes more. Use a pizza cutter to slice the pizza into squares or rectangles and serve immediately.

Note 1: If I don’t have enough time to make my own sauce, or I don’t have any on hand in my freezer, I use a smooth jarred marinara sauce. Shop Rite marinara sauce is inexpensive and it works great! I also like Ragu Organic Marinara Sauce.

Note 2: You can add your own toppings such as caramelized onions or sauteed mushrooms.

Note 3: If you like your crust a little thicker, then roll it out thicker to your liking.

Best Ever Chopped Liver

This Chopped Liver Is Light And Fluffy! 

This is a recipe for the most delicious chopped liver you will ever eat in your life.  My mother, Shirley Fried, got this recipe from my Aunt Florence.  My mother made this recipe once a year, on Thanksgiving.  I think Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday growing up.  Besides my parents, my brother Kenny, and I, we always had my father’s family over, which consisted of his twin brother, my Uncle Larry, my Aunt Florence, and their three children, Karen, David, and Debbie.  Everyone, and I mean everyone looked forward to that meal.  And that meal was the same every single year.  Here is the menu:  for hor d’oeuvres we had my mother’s homemade chopped liver with party rye, Cohen’s little hot dogs in blankets, Cohen’s  miniature potato puffs, Cohen’s miniature egg rolls, and Sacramento tomato juice.  For the main course we had roast turkey (Empire) with stuffing (my Grandma Rose’s recipe), brisket (my mother’s recipe), salad, cranberry jello mold, candied sweet potatoes, roasted potatoes from around the turkey,  and French string beans with glazed baby carrots.  For dessert we had my mother’s homemade apple pies (she baked 2) with vanilla ice cream, and sliced chocolate pound cake or chocolate chip squares.

Everyone loved knowing that the menu would always be exactly the same.  There was something reassuring about that.  My aunt, uncle, and cousins loved the food, and so did my parents, Kenny and I.  What stands out in my memory is how my cousin Debbie, who was the youngest of my three cousins, really overstuffed herself.  She would start yawning at the table, then she’d start to laugh out loud herself because she knew she had eaten too much, she’d say something like, “Debba, what have you done!”, and then she’d have to get up and move over to the couch, where she would sweetly doze off.  I am laughing out loud right now as I picture the expression on her face as she realized how full she was.  Those were the days.  There were none better.  How I wish I could go back and relive them.  What a wonderful family I had!

Anyway, when my mother made the chopped liver, it was quite a ritual.  I can still see her in my mind as she prepared the recipe.  First, she boiled the eggs.  Then she chopped up some onions and fried them in her Farberware frying pan in corn oil.  When they were nicely browned, she transferred them to a bowl.  In the same frying pan, she put the Empire Kosher chicken livers.  She’d cut them in half to make sure there was no blood left.  When they were done, she’d transfer them into the bowl with the onions.  Then my mother and I would go down to the basement where the meat grinder was. She’d attach the meat grinder to a special table that was adequate to do the job.  Then she’d put some eggs in the top of the grinder, some onions, and some liver.  She would turn the big crank.  It was amazing to me how these items went in whole, and came out like little snakes.  When she was all done, we’d go back up to the kitchen where my mother would begin lightly mashing the ingredients together in a bowl.  She’d pour the oil left in the frying pan into the mixture.  She would add some salt and pepper.  Then my mother and I would start the fun part, tasting it.   My mother would ask me if I thought we needed a little more oil, a little more salt, or pepper.  She kept re-seasoning until the chopped liver was perfect.  And it was perfect, and every bit of the preparation was worthwhile.  Oh, did I love that treat.  And so did my father, and my mother (my brother Kenny hated chopped liver).

I have started to make this recipe again.  It’s pretty easy, because I have the grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer.  When I make it, I actually fry the livers and onions in the same frying pan my mother used (she handed it down to me).  I use that pan because it brings back such wonderful memories.   I usually make the chopped liver for holidays like Passover.  I make it now mostly for my mother, who still loves it so much.  She likes to take the leftovers home.  She loves making herself a sandwich on rye with a little mustard.  I just wish that my father could be eating it, too.

See further below for latest version!**

  • 8 oz. Empire frozen chicken livers, defrosted in the refrigerator
  • 2 very large or 4 medium- large onions
  • 8 jumbo or 9 extra large eggs
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • corn oil

Defrost the box of Empire frozen chicken livers in the refrigerator.   Start cooking your hard boiled eggs.  Place my eggs in a pot and cover them with water.  Bring the water up to a boil, and then simmer the eggs for 20 minutes.  Then run the pot under cold water, and then peel the eggs.  Set them aside.  Peel and medium dice the onions.  Put about 1/2 cup of corn oil in a heavy frying pan. Then fry the onions over medium heat.  Season the onions with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper as you’re frying them.  Fry them until they are nicely browned but not burned.  Take the onions out and put them in a bowl, set aside.  Now, place the defrosted chicken livers in the same frying pan, and saute them over a medium flame, turning them as necessary.  Cut them to make sure they are cooked through.  Take them out one at time, and put them in a small bowl; set aside.

Use the grinder attachment of your mixer. Put a nice large bowl under the grinder to catch everything.   Put an egg in, some onions, and some liver.  Run the machine.  Then continue with an egg, some onions, and some liver until you have used everything up.  Pour the leftover oil from frying right in the bowl.  Add some more kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and start to gently mash the ingredients together with a fork, as if you were making egg salad.  If you think the mixture is too dry, add one or two teaspoons more of oil.  Taste frequently, and adjust for seasoning.  Refrigerate in serving bowl or in a plastic container.

Note:  I like to make this either the same day I am serving it, or only 1 day in advance.

**Latest version Passover 2014 (This made 2 1/2 qts.) and it was all eaten except of 1 pint.

  • about 19 oz. chicken livers (I use Bell and Evans now as I can’t find the Empire)
  • 24  extra large eggs
  • about 2-3 lbs. fried onions
  • salt and pepper
  • extra oil as needed