Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cold Yogurt Soup

The movers come in an hour to pack up our house for the big move back to Door County.  We are down to pretty bare bones when it comes to the kitchen, so making this easy soup is a snap, especially on a hot summer day.  

Firstly, find everything and anything green in your fridge!  I had green onions, cucumbers and tons of fresh herbs.  And some radishes for color and bite. 

I used 500 grams of kefir, which I hear has found a market in the U.S. 

A handful of radishes.

And an equal handful each of the herbs.  I'm going to miss the cheap abundant herbs in this part of the world, I know that already.

And two cucumbers.

This is ridiculously easy.  Pour the kefir (or yogurt plus water) into a large bowl.

Finely chop several scallions, here I chopped a small bunch.

I chopped about 2 tablespoons of fresh mint.  Mint is my new favorite herb.  I've really only recently taken it from the obvious cocktail to anything with vegetables. 

Since this is an herb soup don't skimp on the herbs!  Add a ton of parsley.


Cilantro.  Or is this the parsley?  Or chinese celery come to think of it?  I always need to scratch-n-sniff to tell the difference.

Radishes, finely diced.

Peeled, seeded and finely chopped cucumbers.

And for a little kick, very finely diced hot chili pepper.

Mix all the ingredients well and then taste.  Add salt and pepper as needed. If I had sumac on hand I would have added it, but I didn't so I didn't.  

Very refreshing.  Very healthy.  Very tasty.  Check, check, check.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

From Dushanbe to Sturgeon Bay: The Big Move!

We're moving home!  We've lived abroad for the last 10 1/2 of 13 years and are going to give it another whirl.  We are excited and sad at the same time.  Excited to reconnect with family and old friends, but sad to leave our latest home and our Dushanbe family.

I knew this time would come, eventually, but I didn't think it would come this soon.  Two years is nothing, after all.  Or, better put, two years have passed too damn fast.  I feel like Dushanbe is still becoming my home, that there's a lot that I have yet to learn about it.

To say that it's been a whirlwind lately - of activity and emotions - is an understatement.  It's sort of akin to being on a 24/7 rollercoaster.  One minute my arms are high over my head and I'm screaming with delight and the next minute my arms are clutching my stomach and I'm ready to barf.

In a sweet gesture of support, my husband bought me this.  Anti-stress soap.

The joke wasn't lost on me and the brief chuckle I enjoyed managed to lighten the moment, for a little bit at least.  And then I continued my trajectory to the lipyoshka.  C'mon people, empty promises versus carbs.  Which would you turn to?

Bread makes everything better, doesn't it?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bright Lights Chard Quiche From Scratch

Yesterday we went to a good friend's house for brunch.  I had half of Martha Stewart's pate brisee in the fridge so I knew a quiche was the way to go.  But I didn't want the heavy bacon/ cheese/ ham/ potato/ prosciutto/ more cheese kind.  Rest assured, I know that there is a time and a place for that kind of quiche, but the rainbow chard "Bright Lights" in my garden has been very, very good to me and I wanted to make a quiche that showcased this beautiful dark leafy green, allowing it to be the center of attention.  I adapted this recipe from Martha's website. 

Despite being in the fridge, the dough quickly became too soft to roll out.  Rather, my kitchen was too much of a hostile environment for the dough.  It must've been about 400 degrees in my kitchen.  So after a few attempts at rolling the sticky mess, I resorted to pressing it into the pie plate.  I'm sure I broke someone's cardinal rule about pie dough pressing, but it worked for me!  The only thing I'd do differently is build the sides higher so the shell could hold more liquid.

I blind baked the pie by cutting out a round of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the dough and filled the pie with about a pound of dried kidney beans and baked at 375 degrees for about 12-15 minutes.  After removing the parchment paper and the beans, I continued baking the crust for 5 minutes until lightly golden.  

While the crust cools, move on to the filling, which couldn't be any easier.  Five eggs. 

One cup heavy cream and one cup of milk. 

Three tablespoons of flour. 

Whizz one egg and the 3 tablespoons of flour until a paste is formed.  Ignore the bit of eggshell.

See?  It disappears!

Add the final four eggs and whizz. 

Drop in one teaspoon of salt.

Add the cup of cream and cup of milk while the processor is running.

Add about a teaspoon of dried thyme.  Or really any other herb you like.

And some freshly ground pepper. 

Whizz one last time, and you have the liquid part of the quiche filling. 

Once the pie shell has cooled, it's time to put the last bits together.  I used about 1/4 cup of cheddar.  Not much cheese at all. 

Chop the stems off the chard and use them for something else.  I chopped them finely and sauteed them with some olive oil and garlic and then put them into an omelette this morning.

Pass a knife through the chard leaves, making wide ribbons. Pack that chard and cheese into the pie shell, alternating as you go.

Once you think you have enough chard, go ahead and pack another handful or two right in there.  I basically halved all of the other ingredients in Martha's recipe, but I didn't cut back on the chard at all.  

Then pour your liquid over the greens. 

And tamp down the chard to make sure it's covered with the liquid.  Then pop it in the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes at 375, then reduce the heat and bake for about 45 - 50 minutes at 350.  

The final result.

Isn't this gorgeous?  But wait.  Once you cut into it, the show really begins.

Just look at the ribbons of chard!  Doesn't this look like the veins in blue cheese?  Seriously.  Isn't this incredible looking?  And it tastes just as good as it looks!  Not to mention you get your daily fill of dark green leafies!