Frankfurter Fantasies and Quick Quiche

June 14, 2010 at 4:18 pm Leave a comment

   Sensory memory.  For me, that concept translates to strolling by a grammar school cookout in June, 2010, and being engulfed by multiple vivid sensations, a surge of yearning swelling my chest.  Dramatic, perhaps, but this passing exposure to youthful laughter and romping third graders transported me right back there

With the snap of a mental shutter, I could see my eight-year-old self scuttering along in my little blue, knife-pleated cotton skorts, gleefully hopping onto the child-propelled park merry-go-round; with the whiff of grilling Oscar Mayers, I could sense that great mushy fluff of bun filling my mouth and feel the pop of the hot dog skin against my teeth, spilling rich, juicy goodness and the sting of yellow mustard onto my tongue, soon followed by the substantial crunch of a cascade of curly Fritos from my own little personal chip bag.  Later, maybe a  Hostess Twinkie® or a banana Popsicle® for dessert. 

I used to cherish the specialness of such a break from the yearlong routine, and today a warm flush creeps over me just contemplating the multiple joys of picnic food and sweet anticipation captured in that last-day-of-school outing.  Being blessed with a greater understanding of nutrition and a body that has acquired its own wisdom, I doubt that I’d find the same innocent pleasure in those fondly remembered treats now.  But I do rush home from my walk and grill up a nice chunk of smoked turkey sausage, slap it on an Ezekiel bun slathered with dijonnaise, and throw some carrot sticks and radishes on the plate for that requisite complementary crunch.  Add a mound of simple Three-Bean Salad, and my grown-up palate is saturated with satisfaction.  Yogurt-Dipped Frozen Bananas could serve as an updated dessert. 

Meanwhile, the combined lifetime habits of word-association and multi-tasking soon lead me back to the future to devise the perfect after-church brunch menu for a beloved former pastor and his (equally beloved) wife, which I offer to you as a reward for having indulged me in my hazy ramble through a snippet of childhood.  We’ll start with a Sausage and Cheese Two-Way Quiche, then add Broccoli Salad, a big bowl of Cubed Apples with Grapefruit and Orange Sections, and to round things out, Squash-Sweet Potato Bake and Toasted Whole Wheat Bagels.  And for the reformed Twinkie eaters in the group, Whole Grain Banana-Pear Date Cake.  See; being a grown-up can be fun, too.

The quiche is basically a low-carbohydrate dish, having shed the superfluous pastry crust that drives so many similar recipes into the “once-a-year” category.  But with a few sneaky substitutions, it can be a lower fat dish instead: 

8 oz ground pork breakfast sausage              OR  8 oz lean ground turkey

8 eggs                                                           AND            10 oz frozen spinach, thawed, drained, chopped

1 C shredded cheddar                                         OR  1/2 C cheddar and 1/2 C skim mozzarella

1/2 C cream                                                             OR  1/2 C fat free half-and half 

Preheat oven to 400° and coat well a 10″ deep-dish glass pie plate with canola oil spray.  Brown the sausage (or lean ground turkey) in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring often to crumble the browning meat.  (If using turkey, season well with poultry seasoning or salt, pepper, and sage.)  Drain meat well and allow to cool while you whisk the eggs well and then stir in the spinach, cheese, cream or half-and-half, and cooled, crumbled meat.  Bake 25-30 minutes then let stand a few minutes before cutting into six wedges.  The guys at my table had seconds, so make two pies for hearty appetites. 

My revised-for-brunch broccoli salad calls for: 

5 C of fresh broccoli florets              2 scallions, chopped – white and green

1-8oz can sliced water chestnuts            1 TB red wine vinegar

1 TB canola oil                         2-3 large radishes for garnish

salt                                                       pepper 

Fill a large bowl half-full of ice water.  Bring a big pot of water to a boil and carefully plunge the broccoli into the boiling water; be ready to scoop it out quickly with a slotted spoon or mesh skimmer after one minute of blanching time.  Place blanched broccoli immediately into ice water and let sit 2-3 minutes.  Drain well.  Toss in scallions and slivered water chestnut slices. 

Whisk the vinegar and oil together and pour over vegetables.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate until serving time.  Cut each radish in half top-to-bottom, then carve it into a fan shape by slicing thinly, close to the base but not though it.  Tuck fans in around the edge of the serving bowl. 

And the guest-pleasing squash-sweet potato bake has been streamlined for time considerations, using a microwave with a turntable: 

1 medium kabocha or buttercup squash    2 large sweet potatoes

2 TB olive oil                                                           2 TB maple syrup

1 tsp kosher salt                                                    1/4 tsp pepper

1 clove garlic                                                         10 dried sage leaves 

Pierce the flesh of the squash and microwave it on high for six minutes; cool; peel; cut into 1″ cubes.  Pierce the sweet potatoes and microwave them on high for 6-7 minutes, taking care to cook just until slightly tender but still firm enough to cube.  Cool; peel; cut into 1″ cubes.  Toss the cubes (about 5 cups total) together in a shallow casserole dish; whisk maple syrup and oil with salt and pepper and pour over cubed vegetables.  Toss gently to distribute.  Lay dried sage leaves and intact garlic clove on top.  Refrigerate until one hour before serving time (then let sit at room temperature for 30-40 minutes) or bake immediately – at 400° for 20 minutes, either way.   Remove sage and garlic before serving.

I’ve been intrigued with the idea of an olive oil cake ever since I saw one made on an Italian cooking show, and I love the bundt cake for all its extra edges, forming a crisp exterior shell over the moist, fragrant interior.  This banana pear cake is my version of a hearty but healthy sweet ending: 

1/2 C extra virgin olive oil                1/2 C brown sugar

1/2 C maple syrup                                4 eggs

3 ripe bananas                                        3 ripe pears

1 C fat-free sour cream                      1-1/2 C flour

2 C whole wheat flour                          1/2 C wheat germ

2 tsp baking soda                                  1/2 tsp salt

1 C chopped pecans                             1 C chopped dried fruits

1 C double-dark chocolate chips

In bowl of standing mixer, beat olive oil, brown sugar, and maple syrup; beat in eggs to combine well.  Whir bananas and pears in a blender to yield three cups and beat liquefied fresh fruits into sugar mixture.  Slowly beat in sour cream.  In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, wheat germ, soda, and salt. 

Add dry mixture slowly to wet ingredients, on low, to blend.  Stir in nuts, dried fruits, and chocolate chips.  (I used a combination of dates, dried pears, and dried apricots leftover from a baked fruit compote, but try whatever combination appeals to you.  Some dark – prunes, maybe? – should be included.)  

Grease a non-stick bundt cake pan, pour batter into pan, and bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes. 

As for those two bonus side-dish alternatives hinted at in my introduction… 

An easy bean salad I invented for a quick lunch or dinner dish: 

1-1/4 C red kidney beans                2-1/2 C blanched green beans

1-1/4 C butter beans                         2 small chopped scallions, white and green parts

1 TB olive oil                                         1 TB lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt                                           plenty of chopped flat leaf parsley 

Combine the beans and the onion.  Whisk oil and lemon juice with salt and pour over bean mixture.  Sprinkle liberally with chopped parsley.  Toss to coat and store in refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before serving. 

And, from the folks at the Cheerios web site, frozen bananas:  

4 firm-ripe bananas                                    8 flat wooden sticks

6 oz peach low-fat yogurt                         3 C Cheerios® 

Cover a cookie sheet with waxed paper then peel and cut bananas in half crosswise and insert a Popsicle® stick into the cut end of each piece.  Spoon yogurt into a flat dish and roll each impaled banana half in yogurt to coat well, then in Cheerios®.  (You might want to crush the cereal a bit for better adherence.)  Place coated bananas on lined cookie sheet and freeze one hour or until firm.  Wrap each in plastic wrap at this point for more long-term storage. 

Fun, indeed.

Entry filed under: Musings of a Midwestern Foodie. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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