Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year, Coffee Mates!

Well, here we are. Another year, all wound down and coasting to a stop. Time to snip off the loose ends and tuck everything in and put it away. It was certainly a year full of highs and lows for this sturdy band of Coffee Mates. Some of us welcomed brand new loved ones into the world, some of us suffered grievous losses when loved ones left this world. And everything in between.

So here we gather at this end of the cycle, all ready to open the door and let in the next year. Before 2010 toddles in, though, I just wanted to let you all know I've loved hanging with you this past year and will be very grateful to be able to extend the privilege through the next one. Whether you've spent 2009 up, down or sideways, I have a hug for each of you -- some for celebration, some for consolation, all for friendship. Hugs are healthy. It says so right here.

Oh . . . no matter how late you stay up tonight, I'll have the coffee on for you. (See above.) Special coffee. Magic coffee. Enhanced coffee. (wink, nudge)  See you next year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Art of Twisting

Still munching on leftovers, are you? Me too. Good thang I love leftovers, that's what. It's so much fun to figure out a new twist on a regular dish and what didn't get eaten the day before just sort of sits there and asks to be reinvented, don't you think?

Like the mashed potatoes. Lots of things you can do with mashed 'taters. Topping on a nice cottage pie. Shaped into patties and fried -- or baked. Added to bread dough. Made into gnocchi. But today I got hungry for a quiche and thought, hey, how about a quiche with a mashed potato bottom crust? So I Googled the idea and, sure enough -- all kinds of examples of mashed potato crusts, most of them being more or less of the twice-baked variety. That is, one bakes the crust while it's still empty, then fills it, then bakes the whole thing again.

For the most part, I'm not giving you specific measurements. This is the sort of thing you play by ear, according to what ingredients you have on hand. Also, you have to build according to however many you plan to feed. I put this quiche in a 9 inch pie pan but it really isn't enough to feed a hungry family. Nice for one or two people but you put any more at the table and somebody is going to get stabbed with a fork. I'm just sayin' . . .

Anyhoo, I slapped about 2 cups (guesstimate) of mashed 'taters in an oiled graniteware pie pan and patted it fairly even across the bottom and up the sides. Baked it for 40 minutes at 375 degrees but I think next time I'll do it for half an hour at 350 degrees because the edge will brown more on the second bake period.

While the crust was baking, I rummaged through the fridge, deciding what vegetables might work well in the quiche. Some leftover roasted carrots, cut into coins. Some minced green bell pepper and minced onion, sauteed lightly, just to get the raw edge off. When the crust came out of the oven, I sprinkled the veggies around, then scattered about a cup of grated mozzarella cheese over everything. Whisked 3 eggs and 1 cup of buttermilk together, seasoned it liberally with salt and pepper and poured it over the veggies and cheese. Poifect! (I could have added chopped up meat of any variety but wasn't in the mood. Your mileage may vary.)

Back in the oven, 350 degrees, 30 minutes. As you can see, the top edge of the crust got very brown but it was still tender-crunchy and delicious. The filling will be all poofy when you take it out. You're supposed to let it set for 10 minutes before cutting into it. The poofy will go down as it rests and you will go nuts trying to keep yourself from tearing into it too soon. It smells incredibobbly good.

I could have taken a picture of the first slice I pulled from the pie. And I would have -- except I messed it up. My fault entirely. Cut the piece way too big (well, I thought I was starving) and it is, after all, merely a mashed potato crust. Needs some support as it's lifted out of the pan and my piece was so wide, some of it fell off. Didn't look pretty at all. Smelled pretty. Tasted gorgeous. Yes. I ate the evidence and there's nothing you can do about it. Unless you want to make your own twisted leftover quiche. Might want to double the egg/milk mixture if you make a larger pie. You'll know. Have fun!