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Spring Vegetable Quiche

I set out this afternoon to make a quiche with asparagus and wild mushrooms.  I thought, so seasonal! So local! So delicious! But, being me, I can never leave well enough alone.  When I got home with my groceries for the week I thought, well, I can add some chives from Tuesday’s dinner, some green onion from Wednesday night’s dinner, some cherry tomatoes from Thursday night’s dinner (I know, not seasonal).  I kept adding until it was this mass of vegetables floating in egg.  I’m not complaining.

With the exception of the tomatoes (for which you can substitute dried), this dish is a symphony of spring flavors.  The thing that I love about quiche is that it is hearty and light at the same time.  The vegetables danced in the fluffy eggs, and paired with a rich crust it is the perfect anytime meal.  Great for brunch, great for dinner.  Great for life.

Since that’s pretty much all I have to say about the quiche (except try it, it’s awesomely vegtastic), I thought I’d wax poetic about my newest accomplishment.  It’s not really an accomplishment yet, more like a lead to what I hope will be an accomplishment- I think that I’ve found a way for us to have a garden.  I’m exploring my options between community gardens in Baltimore City and yard sharing through a site called hyperlocavore.  Either way I have my heart set on gardening this season so I’m planting seeds (a little late) in these egg shells.  In the past we’ve wrestled with the biodegradable planting pots, which never seem to totally degrade, so I’m excited to try planting in egg shells.  It’s composting and gardening at the same time.  Wish me luck.

Spring Vegetable Quiche

6 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup grated american cheese

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1 cup diced wild mushrooms, cleaned

1 cup diced fresh asparagus, cleaned

1/4 cup cherry or dried tomatoes

2 tbsp minced chives

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1/2 red onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt & pepper

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Pinch of cayenne

Crust (recipe here, subtract sugar and add 1/2 tbsp salt)

Prep all vegetables.  Whisk together eggs, milk, and cheeses.  Stir in vegetables and spices.

Spread crust out into pie pan and pour mixture into it.  Bake at 350 for 1 1/2 or until solid and golden brown.  Let sit 10 minutes.  Enjoy.

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Perfectly Light Asparagus

Okay, so first things first Internet.  We are moving.  We are moving to Baltimore.  Soon.  Maybe this month, maybe next month, but definitely soon.  We’re searching, I’ve been looking at a few places a week and we’re trying to find the one that will best suit us.  We’re moving to Baltimore because it’s a little more our style, a little more our pace, and the opportunities have led us there.  This is a great thing, we’re totally pumped.  It means being in a city we love in an area that will be a little more tailored to the lifestyle we want (ie urban).

Here’s the thing about moving (more) urban, we’re going to have to sacrifice space.  Even the biggest apartments I’ve seen are a step down in size from where we currently are (which isn’t very big) so we’ll likely be losing square footage.  And a dishwasher.  And probably all of our This End Up furniture.  My point being, I’m going to need some tips.  How do you cook in a tiny kitchen, what gadgets have you sacrificed, what do you do for storage?  I need suggestions, Internet, and you haven’t failed me yet.

On to the asparagus.  I’m reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (on loan from my sister in law Megan) and loving it.  I just got through the section on asparagus, the food her family uses to kick off their year of eating locally.  In tribute to this riveting (and inspiring if we can ever afford outdoor living space) book, I picked up some local asparagus and cooked it up to accompany a light pasta dish.  I like my asparagus cooked to a minimum and freshened with lemon juice.  It’s light, fresh, and the perfect way to honor spring’s first vegetable.

Perfectly Light Asparagus

1 bunch fresh asparagus

2 lemons

2 tbsp grated parmesan

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt & pepper

In a wide pan, bring 1/4 inch of water to a simmer.  Add juice of 1 lemon and a little s&p.  Cut the bottom 1/2 inch of the asparagus and place in the pan.  Cook 5 minutes or until bright green.  Drain, drizzle remaining lemon juice, parmesan, & s&p over, and serve.

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Chorizo Shrimp & Grits

I would like to begin this post with a disclaimer- I am actually a pretty healthy (and diverse) eater.  We only eat meat two or three times a week and I try to cook with fresh, organic, local ingredients.  I promise I don’t drench everything in bacon fat.  I bring these sorts of recipes (the pie and the bacon and the grits) to you because I know that’s why you come here.  I just wanted to assure you that, despite what this site might reflect, I have a pretty well rounded diet.

Now, onto to the sausagey goodness.  When we go out to dinner and I see shrimp and grits on the menu, I am always compelled to order them.  I am of the opinion that my go to recipe, which is adapted from the famous Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, is perfection.  It’s cheesy and bacony and everyone that has ever tried it has been in a state of grit bliss.  As a result, I am usually disappointed by what I order at restaurants.  Not for lack of trying, the flaws of these dishes range from poorly made grits to dishes that just have too much going on.  I have, however, had a few variations of chorizo shrimp and grits that were good.  Some even pretty good.  So I decided to try my hand.

I’ll admit, I was underwhelmed with this dish.  It was good, and with a few tweaks it could have been very good, but I never once rolled my eyes back into my head with delight the way I usually do with my Crook’s Corner recipe.  And I wouldn’t say that you shouldn’t try it, just that it wasn’t the best thing ever or even the best shrimp and grits ever.  It was just good shrimp and grits.  Different.  Sausagey-er.

Instead of nitpicking through why this dish wasn’t as good as a dish that I’ve loved for years, I’ll tell you a funny story.  So we had the Turcottes (Dan’s sister Megan, her husband John, and their 3 1/2 year old daughter, Meredith) over for dinner on Saturday night.  We feasted on falafel, melon, and handpies- it was delightful.  After dinner we were sitting around trying to teach Meredith jokes.  The first one John told was the knock, knock joke I’m sure you’ve all heard that ends with “orange you glad I didn’t say banana.”  The next was another knock knock joke that ends with “I’m drowning.”  The third (courtesy of Dan) was the interrupting cow knock knock joke.  Then I told my Grammy’s favorite joke about a chihuahua (a joke for another time).  Then, it was Meredith’s turn.  It went:

Meredith: Knock, knock.

Us: Who’s there.

Meredith: Orange.

Us: Orange who?

Meredith: I’M DROWNING!

The kid is a comedic genius.  Or her parents need to tell her more jokes.

Anyway, back to the grits.  I’ll give you the recipe, plus the tweaks I would have made if I could do it again.  You should try it, you should tweak it, and you should tell me whether or not I’m just being crazy and it’s actually a great dish.

Chorizo Shrimp & Grits

2 Spanish style chorizo sausages

1/2 pound raw shrimp (unpeeled)

1 red bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

1 red onion

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp bacon fat (I told you it would come in handy)

1 cup grits

2 cups milk

2 cups beef stock

1/2 cup beef stock

4 tbsp butter

Red pepper flakes

Salt & pepper

1/2 cup gruyere

Begin by cooking your sausage.  Remove the casing from the sausage and cook it over medium heat, using a spatula to break it up.  While that is cooking, peel and clean your shrimp (tutorial here).  Boil a cup of water and add a pinch of salt.  When the water is boiling, add your shrimp.  Cook them until pink 2-3 minutes.  Remove and set aside.

When your sausage is cooked, set it aside.  In the pan where you cooked it, quickly saute the shrimp and then set those aside as well.

In the same pan, heat your bacon fat.  Chop garlic and add it to the pan.  Slice your onion and peppers.  Add them to the pan and reduce the heat to low.  Cook for 1 hour or until the onion and peppers are completely caramelized.  Add in 1/4 cup stock, stir the shrimp and chorizo back in, and simmer.

Start in on your grits.  Heat the milk and remaining stock over medium heat.  Add butter and salt.  When the water boils, add in the grits and lower heat to simmer.  Cover and cook until thick (approximately 20 minutes).   Stir in the chorizo mixture and salt to taste.  Serve.

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