Prosciutto, Leek, and Swiss Chard Quiche

I think it’s time I came to terms with a disappointing truth: I am not a homemade pie crust person. Wait! Let me finish! As much as I admire those patient bakers who make pie crust by hand, for me, it’s just not worth it.

Other than the cheddar crust for Tenessa’s apple bacon birthday pie, I’ve yet to make a pie crust that rivals the texture or flavor of the ready-made, roll-out crusts you buy in the dairy department. And it’s cheap – refrigerated pie crust bought on sale (on double coupon day) is next to free, and can be stashed in the freezer until a proper pie-portunity presents itself.

I’m glad I tried making pie crust from scratch, and I can file it away with other things I’ve done once, and don’t really feel compelled to do again like camping, or folding the laundry.

If you want to make a pie crust with your own two hands, there are thousands of recipes just a Google away. But this savory, rich, and fluffy quiche will do just fine in a store-bought crust.

I first made it for Mom and Handsome Greg last April, back when I had a job, as part of a luxurious farewell-to-winter brunch. I’ve since adapted it as a recessipe fit for an unemployed lady’s budget that’s exactly the same, but with onions for the leeks. And frozen spinach for the chard. And nothing for the prosciutto. So, yeah. It’s nearly identical.

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Roasted Acorn Squash Risotto with Sausage, Pancetta, and Leeks

So much has happened this summer, my dear imaginary friends. I took a little break from posting to work on my show for the MN Fringe Festival, and I ended up taking a bigger break…from having a job. I was laid off from my job at Search Institute just over a month ago.

My mini summer vacation from blogging has left me with a sizable backlog of delightful – and sometimes schmancy – recipes. Once I’ve shared them all with you, I’ll likely turn my culinary focus to cooking on an unemployed lady’s budget. After I run out of surplus recipes, and until I find a new job, you can expect to find an expanding collection of recessipes here in the galley kitchen.

In the meantime, here’s one of my favorite risotto recipes. This was the main course of Handsome Greg’s birthday dinner, back in January. The recipe makes a ton, so I had leftovers for days. The fresh sage intensified in the fridge, to the extent that I mostly picked out the leaves when I reheated it. But fresh off the stove, it balanced the sweet squash and salty pork rather gently.

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Parsnip and Potato Pierogi

In addition to the three golden delicious crapples included in this month’s Fare for All groceries Mom shared with me, we also received the usual 5-pound bag of russet potatoes.

Last month I faced Iron Chef: Battle Potato by making gnocchi two ways – Gnocchi with Roast Chicken, Asparagus, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Pesto Cream Sauce, and Gnocchi Gratin with Spinach and Gorgonzola. (Yes, you can bake gnocchi. I was shocked, too.)

I have a freckle on my palm. Is that weird?

This month I again resisted my lazy urge to just make mashed potatoes and call it a day. Instead I adapted a recipe by Martha Stewart and made pierogi.

Making pierogi – making pierogi dough – was a natural progression in my breaducation. And really, how can you go wrong with stuffed dough? I love all filled dumplings – ravioli, tortellini, hand pies, won tons.

Stuff you like, wrapped in dough, then baked, boiled, steamed, or fried. Everybody wins.

Using just two parsnips along with the potatoes and leeks in the filling gave the adorable starch pillows the tiniest hint of earthy sweetness. And Martha’s pierogi dough is tender and silky. This one’s a keeper. I have a feeling I’ll be making a lot of pierogi this winter.

Recipe below the fold

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cremini mushroom, goat cheese, and leek crostata with fresh thyme

This year for Halloween I created a monster. Behold, THE FRANKENCRUST!

Oogity Boogity!

This was my very first attempt at making a pie crust from scratch, and while it was not actually a horror show, it’s certainly not going to win any beauty contests. I think I made the right choice, starting with a rustic crostata, rather than a perfect lattice-top pie.

The crust recipe is from a summer fruit crostata by Ina Garten. The only change I made was to eliminate the sugar. I want to tell you that I did everything just right, but I honestly don’t remember – it all happened so fast.

Everything I’d heard about making pastry crust emphasized working the dough very little, and keeping the butter super cold. So, I made the crust as fast as humanly possible to keep everything cold and tender, stopping only to snap a couple photos.

I filled the crust with sautéed cremini mushrooms and leeks, blobs of herbed goat cheese, and fresh thyme leaves.

But I had this silly idea that having too much filling would make the bottom of the crust soggy, and, as Julia Child once said, “Nobody likes a soggy bottom.” So the filling was a little scant. The crust was crisp and delicate and buttery, but there was too much of it for the amount of filling. Next time I make this crostata, I’ll double the mushrooms, goat cheese, and thyme.

Recipe below the fold

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Italian Wedding Soup

My friends Brian and Benji were married on 10-10-10 in a perfectly sweet ceremony with an adorable Muppets-themed reception, and I made Italian Wedding Soup for lunch that day.

I wish I could say that I made the soup in honor of their union, but really, I just love soup.

This is a perfect fall soup – warm and comforting – and a pretty reasonably priced one-dish meal. Also? Tiny meatballs are adorable.

I substituted parsnips for the more traditional carrots and they were wonderful – creamy, just a little bit sweet, and a perfect complement to the buttery fresh dill.

Recipe below the fold

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