Thursday, May 25, 2006

Burger King vs. Quiche

You've probably seen the new Burger King commercial promoting the Texas Jalepeno Whopper or whatever its called. You know, the one where some guy is sitting in a snobby looking restaurant with his girlfriend when he is served a large plate with 3 or 4 small splotches of frou-frou looking food on it. He proceeds to break into a song about how this "chick food" is not sufficient to satisfy his man sized hunger. He leaves the restaurant where he's joined by a crowd of other men who share his frustration with such food and desire something more hearty, more flame broiled. Naturally they head to Burger King for a big ol' Texas Jalepeno Whopper. Over all it's a pretty normal commercial. But one thing about it has been making me angrier and angrier every time I see it. Just as the undernourished guy is joined by the chorus of other men as he's leaving the restaurant they sing "oh yes, I'm a guy. I'll admit I've been fed quiche." As if quiche was in some way unmanly. For anyone who might not know, quiche is basically egg pie with other stuff in it. One popular type is Quiche Lorraine which is filled with crumbled bacon, sauted onions and grated cheese. Does that sound in any way unmanly? That shit has like 300 calories per square inch. What this tells me is that Burger King's target demographic is not one which actually knows what quiche is. Kinda sad.

Crustless Zucchini Quiche

This recipe is based on the recipe from my Grandfather's self published cookbook which is in turn based on a recipe in a book called "Quick Meals" published by Sunset Books in 1963. It was a favorite of mine when I was living in the Evergreen State College dorms because I was often to lazy (read: stoned) to make a proper crust. Crusts are hard. Especially in a drastically limited kitchen.

Butter a 9 inch glass pie pan heavily. Add 1/4 cup wheat germ or matzo meal, tilting the pan so that the wheat germ or meal sticks evenly to all sides. Discard any excess.

bottom layer: 1/2 cup shredded Swiss or Jack cheese
Next Layer: 1/4 cup chopped green onion
3rd layer: 2 small Zucchini, usually less. Don't try to pack it all in if it doesn't fit naturally.
4th layer: 1-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
top layer: 1 cup shredded Jack cheese

all this should fill the pan roughly to the top. If it's over the brim remove some of the cheese and zucchini. Whisk together:

7-9 eggs
1/4 cup milk

Pour egg mixture over filling. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before serving.

It should be obvious that you can put just about whatever you want in there. To make Quiche Lorraine simply substitute the things listed above for the filling. I would recommend either Swiss or cheddar for this variation. My grandpa also recommends adding a tablespoon of tomato paste to the eggs and filling it with cooked shrimp and sauted onions. Briefly cook the shrimp with the onions and a little white wine of dry vermouth.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Knife Law

I'm beginning to suspect that there is a somewhat complicated set of unwritten, unspoken rules regarding knives in the kitchen. Some of the knives, possibly all of the good knives seem to belong to one of the cooks, not the restaurant. No one has ever told me that I can't use this knife or that knife, and no one has ever asked me to give them a knife I was using. Nor has anyone told me that I should bring in my own. There are plenty to go around. Its really just a vibe that I can't explain that gives me this feeling. Maybe in less laid back kitchens there are more pronounced rules about knife use and I'm just feeling an echo. Maybe its all as simple as "don't take other people's knives". Or maybe its just all in my head.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Preserving the butter chunks

I haven't been updating much because I've had little new to say. Kitchen work in a restaurant is very repetitive, at least for me. I'm not complaining. I still love it but the past couple weeks have led to few insights.

I did learn something that I've decided is worth sharing today however. Jason taught me the proper way to make a shortbread crust. It was for the lemon tart but it's not in any way specific to it. It's just about as basic as it can get, consisting of flour, sugar, butter and water. I'm accustomed to simply pressing the dough into the pan with my fingers when making tarts at home. Instead, Jason told me to put the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap and roll it out so that it's about and inch wider than the pan at every point, flipping the dough over as needed. Once the dough is rolled, carefully remove the top layer of plastic wrap and turn it into the pan before removing the other layer. Carefully fold over the overhanging dough and press it to the sides so that its even all the way around. This method preserves the large chunks of butter which give the crust its tender flakiness.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Larry's Market is soon to be no more

My love of food extends from cooking and eating into grocery shopping. Going to the grocery store is one of my favorite things to do. Especially since I've managed to delay complete adulthood and independence for a few more months by living with my parents, meaning that I don't have to actually pay for any of it myself. Today is a sad day for grocery stores. This article was on the front page of the Seattle Times today. That's right, Larry's Market is soon to be no more. To many people this might not make much difference. But Larry's Market is/was a special place to me. A place that in a way inspired many meals. And all you people who didn't support when you had the chance should be ashamed, deeply.

Friday, May 05, 2006

In the "dish pit" at the end of the night, the removable basin thing where excess chunks of food collect, is filled with a soggy and odd smelling sludge. Today said sludge was rich with bright and vibrant colors.
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