Thursday, May 20, 2010

Far from the Madding Crowd (with apologies to Thomas Hardy)

After several weeks of uncertainty that I talked about in my last post things have started, but just started, to become clearer. Apparently, some progress has been made in negotiations betwen our workers committee and the administration of Hadassah College. No agreement yet although I have received a summons (rather ambiguously worded, of course) for a hearing. They also mention that there is a chance I might be fired. Like there is a chance of some other outcome. Really!! All of this talk, while important because it determines my severance package, only convinces me more and more that leaving this place is really a good thing. I mean, who wants to be working in a place where they treat you like this?

The other thing that has happened is that all of this tension has spurred me on to new cooking and baking projects. My recipe collections are bursting and I find new things everyday. New ideas and new recipes, what could be better!! This being spring time I've mostly been gathering recipes for salads, and light soups, and, of course breads. More that anything, I have been learning about universal methods which then can be applied to hundreds of recipes. Once you understand about making a certain kind of sauce, for instance, then it becomes possible to apply that knowledge and vary the technique and even the ingredients to create something new but in the same 'family' so to speak. So a simple white sauce becomes a mornay (add a nice sharp cheese and melt but not on the heat) or a veloute (use some kind of stock instead of milk). We just celebrated Shavuoth a holiday which is traditionally associated with dairy foods a few days ago. The ongoing uncertainty at work along with the new recipes I've collected made for some great food.

I went out the day before and stocked up on all the local cheeses. BTW, there are some truly great dairy products in Israel and this holiday is a perfect time to try them all. I know I overdid it and invariably spent too much money at the supermarket, but.. what can you do?

This year's menu consisted of two quiches, some rolls and a cheesecake (which my daughter took to her friends for a party. Along the way I made some homemade ricotta for one of the quiches. Here's how...

Crust for the quiches

3 cups all-purpose flour
180 g (about 6 oz) cold butter or margarine cut into smallish pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon ordinary vinegar

Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and whirl to mix.
Add the cubed margarine or butter and pulse until the texture is like small and grainy. Do not let the margarine melt but it should be small and granular.
Add the vinegar and pulse until the texture is now large and grainy. Again, do not let the margarine melt. Gather the mixture into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
After an hour remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out thin on a lightly floured surface. Place the rolled dough into a 9 inch (23 cm) pie pan. Preheat the oven to 350 F or 180C. Cover the surface of the crust with foil then place uncooked beans or rice on the foil to weight it down so the dough will not bubble while baking. Place in the oven for about 12 minutes. Afterwards, remove the foil and the beans and continue to bake for another 3 or 4 minutes. The crust will now be about half-baked (no pun intended). Well maybe!!

Now for the quiche itself....

150 g (about 5 oz) sharp cheese (cheddar is nice) grated coarsely
150 g (about 5 oz) piquant cheese (kashkeval is nice) grated coarsely
150 g (about 5 oz) ricotta cheese
about 250 g (about 8.5 oz) sun-dried or oven-dried tomatoes

for the royale filling...

2 large eggs beaten
1/2 cup cream for baking (about 15% fat)
salt and pepper to taste

Assembly time...

Place the ricotta cheese in the crust and scatter to cover. Then place the other cheeses (mixed) over the ricotta. Spread the chopped tomatoes over it all.

Mix the royale (beat the eggs and the cream with salt and pepper) and then pour it all over the cheese and tomatoes. Make sure it is all evenly distributed.

Bake for around 35 minutes or until the quiche is set. This can be eaten hot or at room temperature.


BTW using this crust and almost any combination of cheeses and veggies you can make hundreds of different kinds of quiche. The other one I made used artichoke hearts (quarteres and sauteed with some purple onion and garlic). Make the crust, place some grated cheese then the veggies and finally the royale. Yum!!
Until next time...

1 comment:

  1. Is there such a thing a too much cheese? :) Not being a fan of dried tomatoes, I would choose a different veggie, but all-in-all this sounds delicious!

    And Morey wants to know whooooo taught you how to make home-made ricotta - lol!