Sunday, April 09, 2006

Easter comes early...

Happy Palm Sunday! I know that we're still a week away from Easter, and to look at the landscape here, you still see lots of brown, not green. The temps have still been in the 30's at night, so you'd think that the calendar is LYING about the advent of spring. But I have had some definite clues lately that the seasons are changing. First of all, at school, the students are already in shorts and flip-flops. Secondly, I attended what has become an annual tradition in my household--the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast at Sanger's Sugar House in Ingraham, NY (The official count: pancakes=6, sausages=6, cartons of milk=2, nap=1 big one!). But the thing that has convinced me that spring is upon us at last is that my beloved hens have finally started laying like gangbusters (see top photo)! Yes, Easter eggs are plentiful around here, and I didn't even have to dye them. And as a special, unexpected bonus, when I was at the feed store last weekend buying scratch grains for my girls, I serendipitously ran into a nice man who was trying to share his ducks' eggs with the store owner. The owner was kind of scared, saying "I don't know what the wife will think if I bring these home!" So I saw an in, and I made my move, volunteering to take them off his hands (see bottom photo). ;-)

So what is a gal to do with all of these eggs? I'm glad you asked. Now duck eggs are not good fried, as they are very thick, and the yolk is almost pasty. But in addition to being great for baking, if you whip them up with some milk or cream, they make an EGG-cellent omelette or quiche. As luck would have it, I had a luncheon to cater on Friday, so quiche it was! I worked from a basic recipe for Quiche Lorraine from the cookbook without equal, The Joy of Cooking. But instead of bacon, I used hot capicola (a spicy Italian ham), and instead of sautéed onions, I used a large, sweet onion, sliced thinly and caramelized in a bit of butter and olive oil. Wait, that's not Quiche Lorraine! Onions make it Quiche Alsacienne, I believe. Well, anyway...instead of diced Swiss cheese, I used an aged (sharp) provolone, shredded, and doubled the amount called for (as is my way when anything calls for cheese!). The resulting quiche was spicy and delicious! I made two, and they disappeared at the luncheon! Here is the recipe if you'd like to try it:

Capicola, Caramelized Onion, and Aurrechio Quiche

9-inch pie crust

1 large onion (preferably, a sweet variety), sliced thinly
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
4 oz. hot capicola, sliced into very thin strips (a chiffonade, as Martha would say!)
1 cup of Aurrechio (aged/sharp provolone), shredded
3 large (chicken) eggs or 2 duck eggs (or a combo!)
2 cups milk or cream (I like half-n-half)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
few dashes of hot sauce (to taste)
1 tablespoon chives
1 tablespoon parsley

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Press a pie crust into a fluted tart pan and chill. Slice the onion and caramelize it in a hot pan with olive oil and butter and a bit of brown sugar until the onion is a deep brown (20-30 minutes). Sprinkle the sliced capicola in the bottom of the pie crust, then sprinkle the caramelized onion on top of that. Then sprinkle on the cheese.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk or cream and add the salt, pepper, hot sauce, and herbs. Pour the custard mixture carefully over the other ingredients in the pie shell, and then bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the center of the quiche is no longer jiggly. I prefer to serve this warm or at room temperature, but it's pretty good from piping hot to cold from the fridge!

No comments: