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Friday, December 30, 2011

Carrot & Pumpkin Soup

Turkey, ham, stuffing, hashbrown casserole, gravy, prime rib, mashed potatoes, repeat. Yes, that sounds like my week. 

Actually, I am lying... I forgot to mention the curried puffs, chorizo fig cups, samosas, cheese sticks, cookies, lemon tarts, cranberry pudding.... the list goes on and on.

It has definitely been a week (or more) of fantastic eating. And eating. And eating some more.  A way to get together with family, hang out, and bond.

But after all this time of overindulging, it's time for something, well, a little lighter. And nothing does this trick like soup. This particular soup is perfect because it is quite filling, but with lots of good stuff. It really is the guilt-free end to a fantastic holiday season.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Quiche Lorraine

The Quebecois make tourtière around the holidays. It is a meat pie made usually with minced pork and sometimes also with veal or beef, onions, and spices.

Pies are not really a tradition in our household around the holidays, although I have toyed with the idea of trying to make one. But instead, in a similar theme, I decided to make Quiche Lorraine for my husband. Again, not something I usually make during the holidays, but I know he has been missing France lately, and in anticipation of our trip there next month, I thought it would be nice to get in the spirit. Plus, it is great for entertaining. It could be a cocktail hour treat (and could be made into little bite sized quiches), or could be served just like this in small slivers, or of course, for a holiday brunch.

This recipe is so versatile, because you could really add whatever you want to make this quiche your own. My in-laws don't like cheese (go figure... they are French and have unlimited access to some of the best cheeses in the world, but won't touch them with a ten foot pole), so we often omit the cheese, or you could add mushrooms, spinach, sausage, bell peppers.... the list is endless as long as you keep the eggs, milk, and cream the same.

So make your own holiday quiche or ring in the new year with a quick, make ahead brunch.

Quiche Lorraine
Makes 1 Tart

1 Tart Shell (See my recipe for a Homemade Whole Wheat Pastry Crust or a Regular Pastry Crust)

6 slices bacon, cut into pieces
1 Large White onion, finely chopped
4 Eggs
1/2 cup Milk
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
 1/8 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2 tsp White pepper
1/4 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Extra Old Cheddar (traditionally, Gruyere cheese is used)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll on a floured surgace until about 1/2 cm thick. 
Place into a tart tin (preferably one with a removable base). Prick all over with fork. Cover with foil and fill with pie weights or beans. Blind bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, remove weights and foil, and let cool in the tart pan. 

Reduce the oven to 375 degrees.

To make the filling: In large skillet, fry bacon pieces over medium-high heat until the fat renders. Transfer the bacon onto a paper towel lined plate.

Dispose of the fat from the pan, then sautee the onions until they soften.

In large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream and dijon mustard. Stir in the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add in the bacon, onion, and grated cheese (at this point, you could add whatever fillings you want to the egg mixture). Pour the egg mixture into the tart shell.

Bake in the 375 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the quiche comes out clean. Let cool on a rack until ready to serve. You can serve warm or room temperature.

If you want to make it ahead, do everything as above, but let the quiche cool completely, then refrigerate.  You can reheat in the oven at 350 degrees until warm, about 15-20 minutes.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Maple Walnut Fudge

Nothing says Christmas like fudge! And thanks to the Cookin' Canuck, her Nutella Fudge with Sea Salt has become a holiday staple and favorite.

But this year being our first year in Vancouver for Christmas, it was time to combine the old Christmas favorites with some new recipes. So, I decided to make a new fudge. After all, fudge is easy to make in batches and then enjoy all holiday season long, it's easy to transport, and great as a gift.
This fudge combines Canadian Maple Syrup with walnuts and white chocolate to make a delicious Christmas treat!

Maple Walnut Fudge
Makes 1 pan 9" by 13"

2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup 2% Evaporated Milk
1 1/3 cups Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
2 cups Mini Marshmallows
300 grams White Chocolate Buttons or Chips
1/2 cup Walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
50 Walnut Halves

Butter the bottom and sides of the pan and line with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, evaporated milk, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. Add the marshmallows and stir rapidly to melt the marshmallows. Remove from heat and stir in the white chocolate, chopped nuts and maple syrup.

Pour into prepared baking pan. Press the walnut halves into the top of the fudge in rows. Cover and refrigerate until the fudge is firm. Cut into squares.