spanikopita triangles

Spanikopita

Jump straight to the spanikopita recipe or the steps.

spanikopita

When I was a kid growing up in Monte Sereno, California, we had Greek neighbors. Let’s call them the Constantines. All the Constantines had dark brown eyes and black hair, which, in my world of blond-blue-eyedness, I found beautiful.

At Easter, the family dyed all their Easter eggs red, to signify “God’s blood,” Greg’s older sister Andi told me. Eastern Christian, or Eastern Orthodox Easter does indeed opt for bright red eggs as opposed to the pastel rainbow favored by Western Easter, both secular and religious.

However, in my over-romanticized child’s view of the world, I was sure she said, “the gods’ blood.” I managed to convince myself that the family worshiped all the Greek gods—and since my Greek mythology book was one of my favorites, I thought that was very cool indeed. Those red eggs surely symbolized some exotic ritual that had something to do with pomegranates. It was wildly exciting.

Eating Spanikopita

I didn’t try Greek food until years later, when I lived in Ithaca, NY, for an interesting experiment of a year at Cornell. (I was in the MFA acting program and it didn’t really take, particularly since I got a chance to move to New York City and live in a downtown apartment for $265 a month.) The Greek restaurants—really diners—in Ithaca are wonderful. It was there that I ate spanikopita for the first time.

Between fall of 1983 and the following spring, many a helping of spanikopita was had by me in this very location.

Greek diner spanikopita tends to come in a big pan, kind of like lasagna with filo. Fun fact: Filo (or phyllo, depending on which box you buy) and strudel are basically the same thing. Why?, you may ask. Well, think about geography. The Austrian-Hungarian empire went pretty far east; Turkey and Greece, as you can see, are not that far to the south.

Those inventive cooks and bakers who transformed a handful of flour, water, and fat into a Nerf-ball-sized lump of dough, which they then rolled out to about the size of a bed sheet, inspired and probably taught the Magyars, Serbs, Croats, and Bulgarians how to make the same stuff. Next time you tuck into a crispy, shattery apple strudel, realize it could just as well be spinach and feta cheese, or honey and pistachio nuts between those layers.

By the way, you can use this same recipe to make the lasagna-esque version of spanikopita. Still, I prefer these little triangles, which are only a little time consuming, and otherwise easy. And while it helps to have a decent size counter to work on, I have made these in tiny NYC kitchens. So it can be done.

Here’s how.

Making Spanikopita

  • Take a package of frozen spinach, thaw it, and squeeze the hell out of it, until it’s as dry as possible. I always use thawed frozen spinach. The volume of raw spinach necessary to cook down to 10 ounces takes up a ton of room in the fridge.
spanikopita-squeeze
  • Chop scallions, dill, and parsley. Add to a bowl with the squeezed-dry spinach. Mix in one egg, a pinch of salt, a sprinkle of nutmeg, and 4-6 ounces of crumbled feta. Naturally, the better quality the feta, the yummier this will be.
spanikopita mix
  • Melt about a stick of butter and have a pastry brush ready. (If you use coconut oil instead, you will have a cracklier spanikopita, which may be fine for you.) Line a counter-top the size of a cookie sheet with parchment. You can work directly on your baking sheet if you want, but it will have some butter on it afterward, and that could smoke up your oven.
  • As lightly as possible, brush the sheet with butter, then lay down your first sheet of filo. Brush that lightly with butter, lay down another sheet, until you have 3 sheets.
  • Put a heaping tablespoon of filling at the top of the sheet. Then repeat so you have four tablespoons going across the sheet.
spanikopita
  • Take a sharp paring knife and cut rows down the length of the sheet.
a
  • Fold one corner of the sheet over in a triangle, the way you’re supposed to fold a flag. Just keep flipping, until….voila.
This format was an experiment; next time, I won’t be shooting in portrait.
  • Repeat, then repeat the whole exercise until you run out of filling.
  • When you’re done, brush the tops of completed triangles with butter. You can either freeze them in layers. Or you can bake the spanikopita in a preheated 350º oven for about 12-15 minutes. They should be nicely golden.

Spanikopita are, to my mind, the absolutely perfect Easter meal appetizer. But they are really pretty darn wonderful any time of year. Just hunker down, do the work, and feel safe and secure that you have a store of yum in your freezer for the next 6 months. You probably won’t need a reminder to eat them.

The Recipe

Mushroom Arugula Crepes

Jump straight to the mushroom arugula crepes recipe or the steps.

mushroom-arugula-crepes

There was a period in, I think, the late 70s, when the crepe pan was the must-have appliance—kind of like the instant pot today.

a crepe cookbook from the 70s
How adorable is the subtitle? I think the authors want to make sure you don’t take them too literally and actually try to do anything with crepes, like wear them to a ball or patch a roof leak.

Everybody who had a respectable kitchen owned a crepe pan. It was just a round, 8 or 9-inch skillet with a perfectly flat bottom, and I know Dad rushed out and bought one. And for a few weeks we ate a lot of crepes.

I don’t have a pic of Dad cooking, but this is us sometimes in the 70s. The crepe pan is nearby..

My dad was a pancake guy, and he made excellent ones. He loved to cook; Julia Child was his girl. He’d sit in front of her PBS show and take notes. Mom got a kick out of it; she never liked cooking, and was happy to abdicate the fancy stuff to Dad. She always said, “I think he likes her because she’s so messy.” As was Dad. Stuff got spilled, experiments went wrong. But he also embodied joy and tranquility in the kitchen. I remember him focused on flipping flapjacks in our cast iron skillet, or on kneading bread with his giant powerful hands, his breathing even and deep.

As noted, Dad’s pancakes were outstanding; he made his own starter dough. But his crepe pan flirtation was brief. The issue, I think, was that, rather than fluffy pillows to absorb a blob of butter and a hearty pour of syrup, crepes by their very nature require a delicate touch. They’re also often wrapped around filling. Dad wasn’t big on cooking that involved steps. He liked to get things done in one go. Eventually, the crepe pan moved to the back of the cupboard and the pancakes returned.

Mushroom Arugula Crepes: Steps

I didn’t try cooking crepes for years, and in the late 80s, when I began to learn to cook, they were out of fashion. But when I whipped up my first batch for brunch, I was stunned at how easy they were.

Recently, I bought some mushrooms and had no idea why. So I thought, as I often do, what would Bert Greene do? If you’ve spent any time here, first, thank you. Second, you know Bert Greene is one of my cooking heroes. I stumbled on this recipe, which incorporated mushrooms and watercress. And while I had no watercress—alas, because watercress is amazing—I did have arugula. I thought, mushroom arugula crepes. Whoa. Also, why the hell not?

mushroom arugula crepes ingredients

Greene loved to experiment, and over the course of his cookbooks, you find lots of variations on the crepe theme. And due to the fact that hardly anyone outside of Normandy eats crepes any more, I thought, wow, that sounds good. High time for a renaissance, don’t you think?

Crepe batter isn’t hugely different from pancake batter, though it’s thinner. It also lends itself to flavoring and improvisation. This version sautés mushrooms before throwing them in the blender. There, they go together in a flash, achieving the perfect aerated consistency, and a pretty pale green color.

mushroom arugula crepes batter

You pour out a few tablespoons on a hot pan, swirl the pan to get the crepe thin. Let it sit for a minute or so….

mushroom arugula crepes after pouring

…then flip it. Less than a minute later, it’s done, and you place it on a parchment-lined plate, run the end of a stick of butter over your pan, and pour in the next batch.

mushroom arugula crepes after flipping

Now, Mr. Greene said the mix would yield 12 crepes. I don’t have a crepe pan, just a big flat skillet. So I couldn’t do quite the fancy wrist spin I could have done with Dad’s old crepe pan, due to the pan’s weight. I ended up with 6 crepes that are a little thicker, but so, so tasty. I filled them with the remainder of the mushrooms sauteed and dressed up with more arugula and a touch of blue cheese since I didn’t have sour cream. Oh, and I threw on a little bacon, which is totally optional.

mushroom-arugula-crepes

Crepes are a luxurious lovely meal. Your eaters should feel thoroughly pampered; you may want to insist people recline on chaises upholstered in deep red velvet while you play louche German songs in the background. There’s zero need to tell anyone how easy they are. A good thing, as, once you serve a batch, you’re likely to get requests for more.

The Recipe

sesame zoodles

Sesame Zoodles with Chicken Meatballs

Jump right to the sesame zoodles recipe—it looks more complicated than it is because of the ingredients, relax—or the sesame zoodles steps, or just keep reading to find out how I got there.

sesame zoodles

A bizarre thing has happened to me. Me, carb lover extraordinaire, now sees a big bowl of noodles and thinks….shrug.

Maybe it’s aging. Maybe it’s not having my own kitchen for 2 months and eating out every damn day, and going at one point almost an entire week without, as Queen Victoria would say, A Successful Movement. Well, the movie version of her said that.

sesame zoodles help successful movements
I feel ya, Vic

Now meanwhile, what I missed the most in 8 weeks of traveling was having my own kitchen. We did not have an AirBnB this time, but stayed with a family to up the immersion level (we’ve just returned from 8 weeks studying Spanish in South America). But I don’t like cooking in someone else’s kitchen, using their invariably crappy knives and cutting boards, and sharing the not-so-spotless fridge and stovetop. So what I looked forward to more than anything was cooking.

Then again, I didn’t want to think very much. If you follow my instagram (and if you don’t, I’d be deeply grateful if you would: @nanlechou), you have seen me downright rhapsodic lately about Tieghan over at Half Baked Harvest. Tieghan is a wonderful cook and photographer, and she prints her weekly menus in a really delightful post called “Nine Favorite Things,” which is more like 50. So I’ve been making her stuff, mostly verbatim, except for this dish, because…well, it’s mostly noodles. I also wasn’t crazy about ground chicken, because I prefer meatballs to little floaty ground chicken crumbles.

But please, if you like, cook Tieghan’s version. Here’s the link to her recipe for Better than Take-out Szechuan Noodles.

Sesame Zoodles: The Adaptation

This was a super easy adapation. I kept Tieghan’s sesame oil, which is kind of genius; I also had plenty left over to roast some veggies the next day. You can see the sauce in the main pic above; I didn’t think to get a solo shot of it.

I made the zoodles and threw in a carrot.

You can buy these already spiraled, but wow, they’re kind of pricey. The spiralizer was a gift from my late and deeply missed brother-in-law, Larry Cobler, so when I cook with it I think of him and that is delightful.

I have been planning to do a meatball post forever, and finally, whoomp, here it is. For these, I used (of course) ground chicken, a mix of panko and uncooked oats for the bread, soaking those in a mix of about 1/1 ratio of soy sauce and sake. I also added a bunch of parsley and dill. Cilantro would have been awesome, but I didn’t have any, and lately I’m truly digging the subtlety of dill in combo with Asian flavors. There’s also a chopped up kale leaf and some cabbage in the veggie mix.

sesame zoodles

Finally I added an egg and some salt and mixed it all up.

sesame zoodles meatball mix

For the sauce, I liked Tieghan’s idea of saucing the noodles with a mix of honey, soy sauce, and vinegar. But for me, sesame noodles have to have some kind of nut butter, because that’s how the take-out versions are in New York, where I learned to love them. So, as you’ll see in the recipe below, I just sort of screwed around and did my own thing.

The result was super yummy, filling without feeling heavy, and—gasp—actually completely paleo other than the grains (which a die hard paleo could leave out or replace with cooked quinoa).

So here they are: Sesame Zoodles fit for any hungry, hungry hippo on your list. Enjoy with a little green tea or a light rosé. Spring DOES eventually show up. This may help you remember that.

sesame zoodles with chicken meatballs

Sesame Zoodles with Chicken Meatballs: The Recipe


meatball blueprint

The Meatball Blueprint

Jump straight to the Meatball Blueprint recipe. Or to the Meatball Blueprint step by step. Otherwise, stick around for an autobiographical ramble, secure in the knowledge that a recipe DOES appear at the end of this post.

I am just now returning from south South America—Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile, to be precise, and mostly Buenos Aires. For most Yanquis, when you think Argentina, you think beef, at least if you are a lot of people. Also probably tango, and….well, maybe not much else.

Our school was 1 block from the Casa Rosada, or Argentine version of the US White House—the Pink House!! My pic, btw, shot with an iphone; the sky is That Blue.

Well, let’s save tango for another post. But let’s deal with the whole meat thing now. I do not eat beef, and I’ve mostly avoided it throughout my life. (Save for an unfortunate decade that featured a monthly Taco Bell freakout. I would hang my head, but no longer do shame.) From an earlier age, I hated, hated, hated the texture, and wasn’t super thrilled about the flavor, for that matter. Mom used to cook it a lot, because Dad loved it. To this day, the smell of roast beef makes me want to vomit, something I once did at the dinner table when Mom, doing her best Joan Crawford, insisted I eat a slice. Boy, did I get a talking-to for that!

Nonetheless, when people find out that in the course of the past two years I’ve spent over 2 months in The Wonderland of Edible Cows, they get this sort of weird, glazed-over look of bliss on their faces, envying my good fortune being around all those steaks.

Well, I didn’t eat meat while I was in Argentina. Meanwhile, what the hell does this have to do with meatballs?

Why Ground Meat?

Truth is, I didn’t eat meat in Argentina because I still hate the texture of any red meat that isn’t ground up or turned into bacon. But I do like good, spiced-up ground meat, which explains the whole Taco Bell business. And I love a good meatball or meatloaf even more. I genuinely don’t feel right about eating beef, though I’m not going to get all preachy here when there are already so many people who do that much better. Then again, ground turkey and chicken taste like total meh unless you season the hell out of them. Hence, they make a fine go-to for taco filling, as well as being perfectly versatile on the meatball/meatloaf front, open to pretty much whatever flavors you want to throw in.

Whatever protein you choose, meatballs and meatloaf are super simple to make, and you can vary them endlessly—which is why I call this a meatball blueprint rather than a recipe, which implies you follow it to the letter.

My approach is specifically designed for poultry, but you can easily swap in what you want. I have yet to find a non-animal meatball that really works, btw, but that hasn’t stopped a lot of vegans from tackling the issue. (Isa Chandra Moskowitz is a favorite spokesperson on this particular front; here’s a recipe of hers for lentil meatballs that sound pretty darn good.)

meatball blueprint, a vegan alternative
Issa’s lentil meatballs, recipe linked above. Alas, this pic is from 2011 before everyone had become a mad-skill food photographer. But a recipe from Issa has never let me down.

Here’s how you do it.

The Ingredients

  • The meat. As noted, mine is ground chicken or turkey thigh, because the thighs are fattier, which means: more flavor. Many people mix meat here, using some beef and some pork, and if you do mammals, go ahead. Honestly, birds are just fine with me.
  • Crumbs. Along with the egg, the addition of bread is what makes a meatball/loaf a meatball/loaf. The two substances work to bind the mix of meat into one coherent thing. According to Jane and Michael Stern in their marvelous Square Meals, “Extenders give the loaf that distinctive pulpy texture that soaks up gravy so well.” Extrapolate that to whatever sauce your meatballs are soaking in. Stale bread is classic, but panko, smashed crackers, rolled oats, or some cooked leftover rice or quinoa also work beautifully.
meatball blueprint grains
Be sure to cook the quinoa, or you will have little rocks in your meatballs. All the other stuff is fine as long as you soak it.
  • If you do choose a dry crumb option, be absolutely sure to soak the crumbs in a little liquid first. Milk—unsweetened plant milk is fine—is as classic as stale bread, but also consider broth or a mix of broth with a little sherry, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or whatever you want to flavor your meatloaf. If you have leftover soup or some salsa, they work pretty great. And even if you use a pre-cooked grain, which doesn’t need to soak, a 1/4 cup or so of a thicker soup or tomato sauce add flavor and moisture.
  • Onion and herbs: Yes. You need to finely chop some kind of onion, whether it’s green, red, or yellow, to add to your mix. Also whatever herbs you have on hand, as long as they fit the flavor profile. Parsley goes with everything. Dill, surprisingly, works beautifully in combination with soy sauce, especially if you mix it with cilantro (it’s the fennel/anise undertone). Basil, sage, tarragon: all will work, in pretty much any mix.
meatball blueprint veggies
  • Optional but very excellent chopped vegetables: You can make your meatballs/loaf even healthier by chopping any greens you have lying around very fine and adding them to the mix as well. Note the cabbage in the above pic, as well as the egg.
  • Egg: For binding.
  • Salt: Essential, especially with poultry, which is super bland.
  • Seasonings: yes, the spices that fit with your sauce, but also any thicker sauce, like gochujang or good ol’ ketchup. You only need a spoonful of either of the latter, but man, do they add a nice flavor hit.

Meatball Blueprint: The Steps

  • Assemble your ingredients (see the list above).
  • Chop the veggies.
  • Mix everything together.
meatball blueprint mix
  • Form into meatballs, or push into a loaf pan or crock pot.
meatball blueprint meatballs
It is super hard to make meatballs look pretty. Take heart, and go to the next picture.
  1. For meatballs, cook about 15-20 minutes at 400º. If you’re going to add the meatballs to a sauce that you’ll simmer for any length of time, you can go a little short, because they will cook more in the sauce. For meatloaf, about 50 minutes for a pound of meat (before the add-ins) at 375º. In a crockpot, about 2 hours on medium does the trick.
  2. Enjoy! I’ll be adding this recipe in a quick minute; it’s chicken meatballs with zoodles, carrot spirals, and chopped cabbage in a sesame sauce. But you can put these babies in anything.
meatball blueprint final

The Meatball Blueprint: The Recipe

cookiepalooza-2018

Cookiepalooza 2018

Jump straight to the Cookiepalooza 2018 recipe links.

cookiepalooza-2018

I will start by admitting that I love the idea of making cookies. I like the aftermath of making cookies, despite the temptation factor. (By the way, November and December are the essential months to get your 10,000 steps in by hook or crook or….whatever. Because: cookies.) 

But I don’t really enjoy making cookies. They seem like they’ll be so simple. Cream some butter and sugar, throw in an egg, add the dry ingredients. Voila! Cookies!

Except…..cookies. You gotta then actually form the damn things. 

Look, I don’t even attempt to come up with baking recipes. Cooking is one thing; it’s intuitive and in some ways, the less precise you are, the better. Baking is an altogether different bête.

That’s why people are generally one or the other: great bakers or great cooks. Yes, of course annoying pastry wunderkinds exist. But that super detail-oriented, tedium-friendly approach necessary for perfect swirls of icing and caring about things like crumb size….well, it ain’t me.

(Weird but true: Mom was one of the least detail-oriented people I ever knew, yet a dandy baker. I shall never understand this.)

Anyway, when it comes to baking, I slavishly follow recipes. Every year, all the magazines go crazy with page after page of cookie goodness, and every year, I’m all, whoa, cookiepalooza!! This week, I decided to make the first two recipes each from Bon Appetit’s and Cooking Light’s respective December issues. Cooking Light’s, by the way, features this complete bummer of a cover. 

And they still keep pestering me to re-up my subscription. So strange. 

Anyway, here’s the report, with links. Notice that if you go to the links, their cookies are TONS more beautiful than mine. Explanations below. Grades are my opinion of the recipe, but as one professor used to say, grades are completely subjective. Please pop on over to the originals and give them a whack on your own.

Cookiepalooza 2018: Snickerdoodles with cornflakes and toffee

cookies-2018

I completed this Bon Appetit recipe first. The resulting cookies are good, though not quite delectable enough that I’d make them again. Probably I should have used Skör bars like they suggested, but screw that, because I don’t even know where you get those. Also, you were supposed to sprinkle them with something called disco dust, and I refuse to spend 4 bucks on something called disco dust. I would rather just go the the disco already. Anyway, there’s not much to report with these. They’re fine, and I probably did something wrong, because they really seemed like a great idea. Crush the cornflakes more and you may have better luck. Also, when you jump to the link you’ll see that theirs are WAY prettier. Sigh.

Grade: B

Cookiepalooza 2018: Two-toned Chocolate Shortbread

cookies-2018

Ok, these were called “Zebra-Striped” in the original recipe. Guess who didn’t read the recipe carefully? Yep. I dumped all the dry ingredients in one bowl in one giant cookie assembly line of dry ingredients, then went to make them and swore loudly and with great despair. Because the originals are GORGEOUS. Seriously, click that link and check them out. Mine: not hideous, but not so special.

Rather than toss the whole thing—a thought I did entertain for a minute—I scooped out as much of the cocoa powder and about half the flour. Fortunately, they don’t have baking powder or anything. I ended up with these kind of two-toned chocolate critters. And by heck, they rock. I didn’t roll them in exciting sugar because, again, hell with that. I imagine you’re getting the picture: When selecting a talent, I did not go to the front of the baking line. Nor the bedazzler line. I was too busy running around to a half dozen other lines like an insane person, thus emerging as the hodge-podge that is moi. And which my friends assure me is Super Delightful. 

Anyway, even with the mishap, these turned out quite wonderful, super buttery, and really, how much chocolate is too much? Will this ever be answered? No. It will not. Also, getting these guys into that cool swirly thing is surprisingly easy.

Grade: A

Cookiepalooza 2018: Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints

cookiepalooza-2018

Look, these totally worried me. (Original recipe over at this Cooking Light link.) For one thing, I made them in my big-ass mixer which weighs, I swear, one thousand pounds. I kinda hate that thing. It is SO hard to control the mixing. You just kinda have to hope for the best and stop and start it and scrape and do it again and again and I’m exhausted just at the memory. 

The dough emerged crumbly. I pressed it together so I could get a thumbprint. You know what? These taste really aces. You fill the center with 2 parts melted chocolate chips to 1 part melted tahini, and let me just tell you the recipe tells you to make twice as much as you need. Which is great, because: homemade Nutella, but it’s not Nutella. 

cookiepalooza-2018

Interestingly, Bon Appetit also has a cookie with a tahini/chocolate mix, so it’s an idea that’s making the rounds. Or they’re working with the same group of recipe creators who are all, ok, how can I make this just different enough? The BA version is more like the Linzer cookies below, but with the tahini spread peeking through the window. Meanwhile, they also have a thumbpring cookie, but they put a pecan in theirs. I think candy is more fun.

One last thing: I decided to grind the candy canes in my little spice grinder and ended up with this sort of peppermint dust. While the busted candy canes look prettier, I like that there are no tooth-chipping surprises this way. 

Grade: A

Cookiepalooza 2018: Linzer Cookies

Ok, these were the simplest to make. Like the shortbread cookies above, the originals win cookie beauty pageants. Click this link and see what I’m talking about. But these were also the biggest pain in the ass to make. Lots of rolling. Then baking. Then cutting those little holes out after rolling out the top cookies, and I don’t have a one-inch cutter because: I didn’t check. I mean, doesn’t everyone have one of those? No. Everyone does not. I used a 1/2 teaspoon and a knife and you can see these are not pristine. The asymmetry, however, is intentional. It gives the cookies “a more modern look” according to Cooking Light. Dude, I so want to be modern. 

cookiepalooza-2018

I also ran out of jam, but I had….my trusty leftover fake Nutella! Hooray!

These are pretty swell, though I do have to know them down to a B+ primarily because I like super gooey cookies, and of course that’s not going to work in this case. Oh, I also forgot to sprinkle them with powdered sugar, because that makes a mess and to hell with that. 

Anyway, the recipe yields a lovely lemony sugar cookie that really isn’t anything like classic Linzer dough, which has ground almonds, not almond flour, and a sieved hard-boiled egg yolk mixed in for some reason. All that said, I pigged down a few. My son said these were his favorites.

Grade: A-

Cookiepalooza! 2018: Recipe Links

There you have them. Here are the links all in one place. And if you do pop over, explore the approximately 9 billion other cookie recipes as well. And you know, try at least one. This time of year, everybody loves a cookie. Even my carb-phobic husband. Ha! Gotcha, husband.

Snickerdoodle Party Cookies from Bon Apetit

Zebra-Striped Shortbread Cookies from Bon Apetit

Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints from Cooking Light

Almond-Currant Linzer Cookies from Cooking Light

Also, the following sites are particularly wonderful on the cookie front. Over at Half Baked Harvest, Tieghan routinely blows minds. Lindsay at Pinch of Yum delights continuously (and check out her button-cute new baby, Solvi). Finally, Chocolate Covered Katie comes up with all sorts of original ways to be vegan and delicious.

Sweet Potato Crust Quiche

Jump to the Sweet Potato Crust Quiche step by step or Sweet Potato Crust Quiche recipe.

sweet potato crust quiche

Ok, regular petits et grands choux (I just called you small and large cabbages…in French! I’m all about the culture) must acknowledge I love me some quiche. And while I completely dig a buttery, beautifully flaky crust, that crusts digs me, enough to permanently deposit itself on my thighs. So I’m all over the alternative crust bandwagon. The original recipe that inspired my version appears in the December 2018 Cooking Light magazine. 

One of the things that excited me most was the chance to use a hen of the woods mushroom that found its way into my kitchen. I think my daughter picked it up. This super-crazy mushroom occupies center stage on the cutting board. 

sweet potato crust quiche

Nuts, yes? But so delish. The aroma wafting through the air screamed classic, earthy mushroom goodness. (So often, store-bought mushrooms bring more texture than flavor to a meal.) You just cut all the little floaty things off the top, then dice the the bottom small. The recipe actually calls for 4 cups, so I added a package of store-bought mushrooms, chopped up. 

Sweet Potato Crust Quiche: How To

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, slice the peeled sweet potato thin. I used 2 smallish-to-medium ones here. Line a pie plate with them, then bake at 400º.

Cook times, by the way, represent my biggest departure from the original. The original said to bake the slices for 15 minutes. Mine were nowhere near done, so I gave them another 15. THEN I could gently press them against the sides and bottom of the sprayed pie plate.

While the crust bakes, you sauté the mushrooms.

sweet potato crust quiche

Also, mix eggs with milk (I used cashew) and grated mozzarella with thinly sliced chard. You could also gently sauté the chard leaves with the mushrooms. I like a lot of greens, more than the recipe called for, so I ended up with a green top rather than that nice yellow egg mixture to bind everything together. That said, I did like that the chard kept a little texture—not much, but I’m not big on mushy anything, and particularly greens. I also threw in some Parmesan not called for in the original, because I love cheese and think it makes a quiche more luscious.

 Now, you have all your layers. 

Add the sautéed mushrooms as the first layer. I’d added finely chopped chard stem to the sauté mix, btw; that’s what the little red things are. Also, be sure to salt and pepper everything.

The egg mix goes on top of that.

Then you bake it for about 20-35 minutes, til the eggs are set.

The finished product looks overly dark. Frankly, the pesto called for in the original, which I added, is a mistake. I thought it might be; pesto and sweet potatoes? Weird. But otherwise, this worked out to be a lovely brunch. Most interesting take-away here: the sweet potato crust. You can fill this with pretty much anything. In fact, I’ll experiment with a southern-inspired version later this week, and if it works, I’ll post. Meanwhile, enjoy this comfy, healthy, paleo/gluten-free/vegetarian take on quiche goodness.

sweet-potato-crust-quiche

Sweet Potato Crust Quiche: The Recipe