Quich'up n down, a qwirky name for such a wonderful twist on quiche

There is always a time during the year for a nice serving of quiche. The flavors of eggs, cheese, meats, and a flaky crust are such a treat for our taste buds. There was a time when it was the rage; however, as all things do, quich came and went and eventually found its niche. For those not aware, real men do eat quiche.

As always, I love to give traditoinal dishes a bit of a twist in my quest for renewal. I created the following recipe for a quiche like dish that through the aid of a fellow Food Buzzer, came up with a catchy name, Quich'up n down. Now you might wonder what the up and down is all about. Well, there is a crust at the bottom and a crumble crust at the top, but no crust around the edges. I took a big chance, wondering if when I unsprung the springform pan, the filling was going to hold like a cheesecake or ooze into a flat pudding type mess. Afterall, I not only had some good money invested in this, but also my pride. I will not keep you in suspense, it held tight to its shape. Eureka! But you already knew that just by the picture above. Let's get started with this very easy recipe with easy to use ingredients:

4 whole eggs
2 cups of milk or non fat half n half
1 tablespoon of flour (sifted)
1 1/2 cups of grated Gruyere
1 1/2 cups of grated Swiss
1/2 cup of fresh crab meat
1/2 cup of fresh shrimp, cut in pieces
4 cups (1 package) of fresh spinach chopped
1 puff pastry sheet
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 dashes of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper

There is a very interesting thing that happened that led to the making of this recipe. Originally, the puff pastry was to be made into little tart shells. Everything was going fine at the start, the pastry lined the tart molds, the oven was preheated, and in went the tart shells. Well, when they came out, I realized they had shrunk to the point where the sides were no longer sides, and the pastry was simply a set of "disks". Disappointed, I was not about to be defeated. I made a good thing out of a bad situation and after the puff pastry had cooled, I cut them all up into pieces, threw them into the food processor and made puff pastry crumbs. I added a tablespoon of butter so that the crumbs would stick together well. With that, I proceeded to make a bottom shell for this dish, using about a 7 inch springform mold. I saved some of the crumbs to cover the top once my quiche was half way through the cooking process. So now you know the story. Let's get on with the creation of this dish.

Preheat your oven to 400. Make sure to grease your springform pan completely before adding the crumbs to the bottom. Don't forget the sides! Take the springform pan that has the bottom crust and bake for about 10 minutes, carefully watching so that it doesn't get too dark. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. At this time leave your oven on, reducing the heat to 350.

In a bowl, add the eggs, the salt, and pepper and beat well. Set this aside. Take the milk and in a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup, heat on high for about 4 minutes to just before it comes to a boil. Do not boil otherwise it will just be too hot.

Once milk has been heated, carefully and a little at a time, add to the eggs while constantly beating. If you add the milk too quick, it will give you scrambled eggs. If you follow these directions, you'll have no problems and your custard mixture will be very smooth and velvety. Continue to add the milk a little at a time until you have completely mixed it well with the eggs. While the mixture is still hot, add half the cheese and the parsley and mix well. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan until it just begins to smoke over medium high heat. Quickly saute the spinach for about 1 minute, remove and allow to drain. You want as much moisture out of the spinach as possible so your quich will stay nice and solid.

Now saute in the same manner, the crab, shrimp, and shallots for just one minute, enough to draw some of the moisture out. Add to the custard mixture and still well. Pour the custard in you mold. Sprinkle the spinach evenly over the top and allow it to sink in a bit. Then sprinkle the remainder of the cheese over the top and pat the surface down so that the mixture has a smooth surface. So that your pan doesn't leak, line the bottom with foil and transfer to the oven. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. About 30 minutes before quiche is finished baking, add the rest of your crumbs to the top and return to the oven for the remainder of the time.

When fully baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool some for about 45 minutes. At this time, you may sprinkle some dry dill over the top as I did. Before you remove the springform, take a sharp knife and scrape around the edges so that the sides will no stick. Serve with a wonderful salad of Frizee lettuce with just a touch of olive oil and enjoy.

Brown Sugar Roasted Vegetables is sure to spark interest amongst Vegans

I'm always trying to come up with new ideas using traditional dishes as a base and I am happy to report that I have done just that with Brown Sugar Roasted Vegetables. You won't believe the incredible flavors that blast out of this dish. You already know how wonderful roasted vegetables are. Now tick it up a notch and add a shot of Brandy, some brown sugar, butter, and wow, that's all I can say. I had my doubts with brown sugar and the Brandy. I was afraid it was going to be sweet as dessert. But that's not what happened. These two ingredients actually enhanced the true flavors of each vegetable used. Vegans, take note. You have to try this dish, you will NOT be disappointed. And for all you others out there, do what I did and pair it up with a nice pan fried breast of chicken. I've got leftoevers and it's going into my lunchbag for Friday.

This is simple to prepare and the predominant vegetable here is the carrot. Check out these other ingredients that will serve 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main dish:

8 medium carrots sliced diagonally in 2 inch lengths, peel left on
2 medium parsnips, sliced diagonally in 1 inch lengths, peel left on
12 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
6 large boiler onions (about 2 inch diameter), peeled, left whole
1 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt (or less)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
1/4 cup of Brandy

I like leaving the peel on when appropriate because there are so many nutrients in the peelings of vegetables. OK, that being said, prepare your vegetables as mentioned above. Preheat your oven to 400.

In a large fry pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Once heated, simply toss all your vegetables into the pan and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring a few times during the course. You're doing this so that you can lightly brown them and releasing the flavors.

Now, add your salt and pepper and carefully pour the Brandy into the pan. Stir and then add the butter. Once butter has melted, lower your heat to medium low and sprinkle the brown sugar over the vegetables. Stir well so sugar and butter coat all pieces.

The final step is to transfer the pan to the oven and roast at 400 for about 40 to 45 minutes, stirring once at the 30 minute mark. You will notice the vegetables will caramelize with the butter and brown sugar. Remove from oven and let set for 5 minutes before serving. If you want, you may sprinkle a little nutmeg over. Transfer the vegetables to a serving dish and enjoy. I kid you not, you will love these. This side dish would be perfect for special holidays with turkey, roast chicken, pork loin, just about any meat.

Don't get puffy with me, pizza! Wow, with these flavors, get as puffy as you want.

Lighter and less filling, puff pastry makes a wonderful alternative to regular pizza dough when you're in the mood for a change, I kid you not! Puff pastry is such a wonderful discovery, what would a nonchef do without it? This pizza (I hate calling it a pizza because it really isn't) offers a very flaky crust and a very nice mix of flavors. I think I'll call it Puff Pastry Seafood Tart. And as always in keeping with the theme of our blog, it's so easy to make and takes less than an hour from prep to eat. Here's what we need to get going:

1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
1/2 lb of fresh bay scallops
2 cups of your 2 favorite cheeses, grated
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
5 button mushroom, sliced
1/2 green pepper (Italian), chopped
1/4 cup of parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of flour
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of pepper and 2 pinches of salt

Preheat your oven to 400. Next, do all your prep work, slicing, dicing, chopping, and measuring. Put all aside. About 2 hours before preparing this recipe, be sure to remove and thaw 1 pastry sheet.

Once thawed, spread the flour over a cutting board so that it well coated. Rub some of the flour on your rolling pin as well. Lay your pastry sheet out and begin to roll it out so that you can cut a 12 inch circle. Don't roll it out too thin or your bottom (of the sheet) will become soggy when cooked. Using your best Geometry, cut out a perfect (or close to) and set it on a large round pizza pan.

In a bowl, add all the vegetables, scallops, olive oil, salt and pepper, along with a couple of small handfuls of the cheese. Mix very well with your hands. Begin by sprinkling some grated cheese on the surface of the pastry dough, careful to leave about an inch around the edges free of any ingredients.

Next, begin to add the mixture of vegetables and scallops evenly over the dough, leaving that 1 inch edge clear. Once done, add the remainder of the cheese on top.

With a brush and some cold water, moisten the 1 inch edge and then begin to fold the edges at a slight angle so that the fold goes right to the edge of the ingredients but not over it. When folded, you will have about 1/2 to 3/4 inch edge that will be elevated a bit and will have a nice design. Check the picture carefully so that you can see exactly how to fold.

Place on the middle rack of your oven and bake approximately 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to sit for about 15 minutes. This will serve 4 people comfortably; a wonderful and simple tossed green salad will compliment this dish very well. This dish will also work very well for brunch alongside a nice glass of champagne. Enjoy!

Almond Raisin Bread Pudding.... is not just another bread pudding

By now, you are probably thinking "oh no, not another bread pudding recipe!" Well, just deal with it :) I had leftover bread from several packages and hate the idea of throwing this staple out the door. So I decided to make a bread pudding using raisins and almonds. You will be delighted that I did because this pudding turned out wonderful and highly recommended for breakfast or brunch. To top it all off, it's very simple to make. Instead of a thicker creamy sauce like Creme Anglaise, I chose to make a Brandy flavored sauce using Brandy, butter, sugar, and water. OK, let's get right to it and get our ingredients together.

4 cups of bread *
3 whole eggs
1 egg yoke
3 cups non fat half n half (or milk)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 cup of raisins
1 cup of slivered almonds


3 tablespoons of Brandy
2 tablespoons of butter
4 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 cup of water

*use of old or stale bread including the crust or heel are perfectly acceptable and encouraged. Remember, bread pudding gives the opportunity of using what you might throw away.

Preheat your oven to 400 before you start anything. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and yoke until well beaten. STOP STOP STOP!! I want to take a moment to discuss something about the spelling of egg yoke. Is it 'yoke' or 'yolk'? Before you decide you are certain that it's one or the other, check the internet out and get confused. It's amazing that it is spelled both ways about 50/50. I know that one spelling is equipment used for horses. Can anyone be definitive? I use yoke!!

Back to our bread pudding. Once the eggs are well beaten, add the milk or half n half, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar, whisking to mix ingredients well. Take your bread and with your hands tear it up in pieces. Add them to the liquid and mix so that bread is completely soaked. Add the raisins and almonds and continue mixing. Let sit for about 10 minutes.

Pour the bread pudding mixture into a well greased rectangular bread baking dish and then sprinkle a bit of sugar over the top. Transfer to oven, turn heat to 350 and bake for 60 minutes. Once baked, turn oven off and leave pudding in while you are preparing your sauce.

The sauce preparation is very simple and quick to make. Start by melting your butter in a sauce pan on medium heat. Once melted, add the Brandy and lower your heat to medium low. Add the sugar and stir well. Add the water and allow the mixture to come to a slow bubbly boil. Continue to cook while stirring until sugar is well deluted and your sauce has a clear color. Remove from heat and set aside.

Take the bread pudding out of the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Periodically go back to your sauce and stir. Once pudding has cooled a bit, transfer it to a serving platter. With a knife, poke some holes over the top. Now spoon the sauce over the pudding, making sure that the top is well covered and is dripping down the sides. Let set for about an hour at room temperature so that sauce thickens and has allowed penetration into the pudding.

To serve, cut a 1 inch slice and spoon a bit of the sauce over it. You will love this bread pudding. Have it for breakfast, brunch, dessert, or even for that afternoon break with hot tea and cream. Enjoy!

Chicken Breast Stir Fry is always a favorite amongst weight watchers

It's been a busy week and NonChef's blogsite has suffered for it. A week without a new recipe post is completely out of the norm and sincere apologies are called for to all who follow. It's Sunday evening and time has finally opened up to post a recipe that is always a favorite quick meal that provides easy calories, low fat and cholesterol, without sacrificing flavor (and it ain't bad looking too).

Chicken Breast Stir Fry is a very easy dish to make and it will satisfy every member of your family and there's nothing like making a wonderful Asian dish from home. It's worth mention that this dish should be accompanied by a nice bowl of steamed white rice sprinkled with finely chopped scallions. Let's get our ingredients together for this dish that will serve 4:

4 boneless chicken breast halves, sliced thin diagonally
3 medium carrots, peeled and julienned thin
1 medium zuchini, sliced thin
6 button mushrooms, sliced thin
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, slivered
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
4 oz. of haricots verts (French green beans)
1/4 cup of chopped parsley
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
4 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of water, white wine, or rice wine (your choice)

As it is always recommended, get all your prep work done. There is a good 15 to 20 minutes of prep work for this dish with all the slicing, chopping, etc. If you have a wok, I would suggest using it as it is ideal. Since this stove top is a glass top, a wok will not work, so if you're in the same situation, get the largest saute or frying pan you have.

What you are going to want to do is to cook certain ingredients separately, on very high heat, and quickly. We will start with the chicken breast first. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, it's hot enough. Quickly saute the chicken. Within a couple of minutes, it should be cooked with a wonderful semi golden color. Remove from pan and set aside.

Now, add the remainder of the olive oil and first add the green beans and carrots and saute for a couple of minutes until some of them begin to slightly char. Next, add the onions, garlic, and green bell pepper, toss and continue to cook. You may at this time lower the heat to medium.  Continue to saute for about 2 more minutes and finally add the mushrooms and zuchini. Quickly toss and stir, saute for another minute but no longer. Remove vegetables from pan and add them with the chicken.

No deglaze the pan by adding the water or wine, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar and stir, reducing heat to medium low. Add your salt and pepper, stir well. Now add your sauce to the chicken and vegetables and toss well to coat everything. Finally, add the sesame oil to the dish, along with the sesame seeds and parsley and toss gently one last time. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot with the rice. Enjoy this dish. It's a wonderful way of making stir fry. The vegetables will be done al dente and not over cooked. The flavors and absolutely wonderful!