Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Convenience Food

You know those days when you wake up, make coffee, and then in what seems like 6 minutes, it's somehow time for baths/books/beds already?  Sunday was one of those days.  With the hope of starting this nutso week of evening Vacation Bible School on top of our normal to and fro schedule feeling organized and prepared, the latter 50% of the weekend vanished in a blink.  Though feeling somewhat frantic under my time constraint*, I enjoyed the cook-for-the-week rally.

*while Dad and son played miniature golf and visited a park and I prayed that daughter enjoyed a nap free of heaving....sorry for such a reference on this, a food blog; it was just my reality.

With happy music and apron on, I embarked on two dishes, both to strategically yield leftovers, that could be entirely prepared in advance.  This would ensure that the 17ish minutes I had to get food in my child between his afternoon swim lesson and VBS check-in would require only the effort of a 50 second microwave stint.  I hoped he'd have time to at least begin digestion.  My choices - bolognese and cheddar broccoli quiche - were somewhat odd given the season.  But they both sounded tasty and kid friendly.  Besides, I've been dying to try Anne Burrell's bolognese for months. 

Pasta Bolognese (Click here for Recipe)

Let's start with that one.  It is unlike any bolognese I've had before, and that is probably because the preparation is unlike any I've done before.  She starts with pureeing and browning (yes, browning) carrots, celery, onions and garlic in olive oil.  The kids had no idea these veggies were hiding in that thick, rich sauce!

Next came the browning of the beef and tomato paste (yes, browning again...her recipe thoroughly and passionately explains this), adding/reducing red wine, and then adding/reducing water.  I wondered at the time if this was an exercise in futility.  Add water and then reduce it away?  But I had to try it to ascertain for myself if this truly is "where the flavors really develop".  Friends, it is!  As far as I'm concerned, this is my new bolognese recipe.  The aroma from this simmering sauce was out of control.  More importantly, the flavor was downright incredible.

Despite his sweet effort to shield it, I could see the disappointment in Ryan's eyes when I pulled out the whole wheat pasta instead of classic white spaghetti.  I try to make this substitution when I can, but it's taken a bit of convincing for the other family members.  Thanks to Ms. Burrell's divine recipe, nothing was lost here.  Phew!  An added bonus: this dish tastes even better the second day.

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche (Click here for Recipe)

So some might question whether quiche is dinner worthy.  Well I'm all about it.  It's easy, fast, substantial, and tasty.  Sold!

Kudos to the recipe's instruction to saute the broccoli as opposed to the classic steaming preparation.  Browning (have I mentioned that yet in this post?) imparts a far better flavor in my book.  I admittedly used just a wee bit more butter than the prescribed amount and also added some olive oil after the broccoli seemed to drink up the moisture before they were properly cooked.  The decision to use a larger quantity of broccoli than suggested negated the least in my brain.

The cooked broccoli goes into the (store bought given aforementioned time constraint) crust first.  Next goes a - fat, if you're me- layer of shredded cheese.  As opposed to the often bland shredded mozzarella suggested in the recipe, I opted to get a good block of sharp cheddar and shred it myself.  The last layer is the egg mixture.  Multiple recipe reviews - which I always nerdily peruse - noted that the milk/egg mixture quantity might be a tad excessive.  So instead I used 3 eggs plus an egg white whisked with just a couple glugs of milk (probably 3/4 cup) and seasoned it generously with salt and pepper before pouring the mixture into the crust.


To quote Andrew, "I just love this delicious pie."  Good thing, since it was on the menu not once, but twice!

So far so good with our crazy week, and my little energizer bunny is loving every second of VBS.  I'd be lying if I said I'm not looking forward to a long holiday weekend respite though.  Now, what to make?


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