Cooking in New York City – Hive Cooking: How to Eat Well and Work Too

Try this at home. Springtime is almost here.

If you’re working or if you’re not, you’re probably looking for ways to save money. And if you’re like me, with food as your biggest expense after rent, that can take some extra work. While I was freelancing I had plenty of time to cook, shop, and plan. My work could get done any time, day or night.

But now that I’ve returned to the ranks of the midtown brigade, it’s not so easy to both eat well and save money. It requires forethought. It demands tupperware. And it helps to have a significant other (or even roommate) who’s willing to cook when you can’t. You can freeze leftovers for weeks or even months later (depending on the item in question), or cover it up and take it to work the next day. You’ll be eating far better than your fellow corporate drones, and saving money too. In fact, going over my finances, I’ve cut my total food expenditure by about $300 a month, just by cooking at home more and not being suckered in to that $10 soda and sandwich at overpriced purveyors of mystery meat slathered in chipotle mayo.

But like I said, it’s tough when you’re pulling late nights like I have. That’s when it helps to have backup. Mine is my significant other. Here’s how it went for the beta-chef in the relationship.

Real Women Make Quiche

“I get home from my office around 7ish, and realize I have to make dough for the crust.  I pull out my trusty KitchenAid Mixer (in tangerine orange!) and dump in the butter, flour, salt, and sugar.  With the mixer, it only takes about five minutes to get the right consistency, I throw in a bit of cold water (just enough to get it to turn to dough), and stick it in the freezer to chill.”

Freezer is probably overkill, actually.

“While it’s chilling, I start slicing the asparagus – I have cruddy knife skills, and my pieces aren’t nearly even sizes, but I’m just proud to not slice my hand off.  When that’s done, I wash and slice the leeks (see Russell’s earlier article on how to use leeks).  I toss them both with some salt and pepper into a pan and sauté them for about 8 minutes.  Don’t forget to stir…oh, crap!  THE CRUST!”

See. Told you so. Or, I would have.

“I pull the crust from the freezer, and now that it’s been in there for almost an hour, it’s like rock solid.  Whoops.  I roll it out as best as I can, and shove it into the pie tin.”

For this it helps to have a good rolling pin, and by good I mean a simple, smooth one with tapered edges (“French” style), not a steamroller thing that takes away all control. Start from the middle and move out. Or so I’ve heard.

“The veggies are done, and it’s time to make the egg mixture.  Oh, crap (once again…) I don’t have half and half.  We’re a soymilk household!  I decide to substitute, and pour the mixture into the tin.  Apparently a full pound of asparagus is WAY too much, and I get egg mixture EVERYWHERE.  Whoops, once more.  But, once in the oven, it bakes well.  I surprise even myself, Ms. Can’t Cook for Shoot.”

The results? I risk sleeping on the couch from now ’til doomsday, so I’ll say this: really nice flavor even days later, though a few changes would help it be more custardy: Cream or half-and-half instead of soymilk, less asparagus, and/or more liquid and fewer eggs (as little as one egg to one cup liquid). Try to not spill your egg mixture, either. Anyway, the more you reduce the latter ratio the more custardy your quiche will be. That is, so I’ve heard. Try for yourself, or get someone else to try for you.

Asparagus, Leek, and Gruyère Quiche:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 leek (white and green parts only, thinly sliced, well washed)

salt and black pepper

3/4 lb asparagus (not 1 lb)

4 large eggs

1 1/4 cups Plain Silk Soymilk

nutmeg

pie crust (see below)

1 cup shredded gruyère cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350, with rack in lowest position.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium.  Add leek and asparagus, season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender, 6-8 minutes.  Let cool.

2. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, soymilk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, some of the cheese, and a pinch of nutmeg.  Place crust in tin, and sprinkle with some of the cheese.  Top with asparagus and leek mixture.  Pour egg mixture on top.

3. Bake until center of quiche is just set 50-60 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes before serving.  (To reheat, bake again at 350 until center is warm)

Pie Crust:

1 1/4 all purpose flour (plus more for rolling)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter

2-4 Tablespoons cold water

1. Combine dry ingredients and put into mixer.  Using mixer, add butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with just a few pea-size pieces of butter remain.

2. Sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons cold water, and work dough until crumbly but can hold together when squeezed with fingers.  If needed, add more water.  Do not overwork.

3. Chill dough for 1 hour in fridge.  When chilled, roll until 1/2 in thick.

Pie crust from Everyday Food, November 2007. Quiche adapted from Everyday Food, April 2009.)

Original post – 3/12/09 @ 10:45

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