June 19, 2019

Dear friends,
Mostly I eat local in the summer, relishing the appearance of each vegetable and fruit as it ripens according to its own unique schedule. But who knows how much longer we can enjoy the gradual change of seasons measured by an asparagus spear or a raspberry? Get this stuff while you can.

My asparagus patches, old and new, are still producing, probably because of the rains. My tomato plants sport marble-sized green fruits that refuse to ripen, also because of the rains. I have been buying cherry and grape tomatoes and roasting or pan-grilling them to compensate for the lack of flavor. Cooking concentrates the sugars and makes them edible.

Last week I combined a bunch of asparagus and a few grape tomatoes in a crustless quiche brightened with lemon and dill. The dill, volunteers from last year’s plant that I allowed to go to seed, have taken over one big planter. There must be 20 fronds in there. I’ll be eating a lot of dill this summer.

My first crustless quiche was a flop. I thought I could make a low-cal version without consulting a recipe, but I learned that simply reducing the amount of cheese in a quiche produces a pie pan full of scrambled eggs.

For the second attempt, I chose a method from Eating Well that replaces milk and shredded cheese with cottage cheese. This produces an eggy pie that puffs up nicely in the oven and — thanks to some flour — holds together beautifully on the plate. The flavor is bland, though, which is why I added some Parmesan, lemon and dill. The asparagus and tomatoes help, too.

Tony and I had this quiche for dinner one night, but I liked it even better as breakfast the next morning. It fits into my current eating plan with 250 calories per serving, which is one-fourth of a 10-inch deep-dish pie.

ASPARAGUS CRUSTLESS QUICHE WITH LEMON AND DILL

1 1/2 cups asparagus spears in 1-inch pieces
1 cup cherry tomato halves
6 eggs
1 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. (packed) chopped fresh dill
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Place sliced asparagus in a small (7-inch) skillet and barely cover with water. Cover pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 2 minutes, depending on size of the spears, until asparagus is al dente. Transfer to a colander and refresh under cold water to intensify the color. Set aside.

Return skillet to stove and spray bottom with olive oil or vegetable spray. Place tomatoes, cut sides down, in skillet and cook over high heat until tomatoes begin to sizzle. Press down on tomatoes with a spatula to release liquid. When most of the liquid has evaporated but the tomatoes are still slightly juicy, remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs. With a spoon, stir in cottage cheese, Parmesan, flour, salt, dill and lemon zest. Stir in most of the asparagus and tomatoes, reserving 4 tips and 3 or 4 tomato halves. Pour into a deep 10-inch pie pan coated with vegetable oil spray. Arrange reserved asparagus and tomatoes on top.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, until the edges turn golden and the center is set. Cool for 20 minutes before cutting into 4 pieces. Each slice has 250 calories.

Adapted from Eating Well.

GUT CHECK
What I cooked last week:
Pan-grilled pork tenderloin cutlets, asparagus with balsamic vinegar, cucumber salad with toasted walnuts, raisins and yogurt dressing; green bean, ham and potato soup with pesto; lettuce wraps with pan-grilled pork loin strips, roasted vegetables and cilantro; asparagus and tomato crustless quiche with lemon and dill; steamed sugar snap peas; awful strawberry gelatin molds.

What I ate in/from restaurants and carryouts:
Chef’s salad with chicken and blue cheese from Sam’s Club; eggs over easy, bacon and grits at Wally Waffle in Montrose; a hot dog with mustard at Canal Park (take your dog to the ballpark day); half of a spicy Thai chicken salad at Panera; sugar-free Dilly Bar at Dairy Queen; tossed salad, Italian bread, veal scaloppini topped with shrimp in garlic butter sauce and a Bud Light at Naples Spaghetti House in Steubenville; chicken burrito salad from Chipotle; seaweed-wrapped rice with vegetables and beef, steamed egg with pickles and bulgogi at Korea House in Cleveland; detox green smoothie from Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Cleveland.

THE MAILBAG

Dear Readers:
No mail suitable for sharing arrived in my in box this week. You probably were too busy building dikes around your houses to write. While you wait out the floods, you’ll have time to try the scrumptious bacon bread knots I saw in a Facebook post last month by my friend, Pennie. Her gourmet group held a bacon night (love it) and these luscious-looking things were one contribution. Of course I pestered Pennie for the recipe.

If the ark you are building has wi-fi, drop me a line.

BACON GARLIC WRAPS
1 1/3 cups warm water
1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
3 tbsp. olive oil
30 strips bacon
5 tbsp. melted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
Marinara sauce for dipping (optional)

Sprinkle yeast over warm water in a small bowl. Let sit 5 minutes or until frothy.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, 1/4 cup Parmesan, sugar, baking powder, salt, basil and oregano. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the yeast mixture. Stir until a ball of dough forms. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is springy, about 5 minutes.

Coat the large bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and turn ball of dough in bowl to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Dust dough with a bit of flour and dump onto a clean surface. Tear the dough into 30 pieces, then roll into 6-inch-long strips. Place a strip of bacon over each dough strip. Tie both together to form a knot. Place the knots on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until bread is golden brown and the bacon is crisp.

In a small bowl mix the butter, garlic and remaining 2 teaspoons Parmesan cheese. Brush mixture over knots and bake for another 5 minutes. Serve warm with marinara sauce for dipping, if desired.

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