Not all meals come together. Last night’s didn’t.
Yesterday afternoon, we plotted a course through my ragged and much-thumbed copy of Molly Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. In Newcastle, the temperature clings to the low fifties with crabby obstinance, clouds alternately dispensing bouts of dyspeptic showers and lingering dankness. How could we warm up our moods?
Quiche. A spinach crust. For the custard, a splurge on still-available (thank you, low fifties) asparagus, mixed with tarragon and dill.
We drove to the co-op and bought organic, locally grown spinach (soon, we will have our own… little slow on the spinach/arugula/lettuce front, here in our backyard). The crust recipe called for 3/4 pound and we settled for 1/2, sure I’d remember when it came to proportion-fixing during mixing. We opted for conventional asparagus from the supermarket. Compromise. Local? Organic? Money? Politics of this? We picked tarragon and dill from the garden.
Preheat oven to 375 (just finished baking bread at that temperature, so the kitchen was a little warmer already… things were looking up!) Proceed to wash and dry spinach. Whirr in Cuisinart. Pour into 3 TB (no I didn’t measure) sizzling olive oil (Molly calls for butter, not oil) and saute over medium heat until well-wilted and a little dry. (Maybe I cooked it too long?) Then sift together 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose four, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, a little salt and a little nutmeg, then add 1/4 cup flax-seed meal (Molly uses 3/4 cup wheat germ instead of the ww flour and flax meal). When we mushed the spinach into the flour mixture, it felt and looked leaden. We shrugged at each other. Lotta nice and expensive spinach potentially down the drain.
(Mini break here. Grace is making a sandwich again using the rest of those roasted winter veggies from a few days ago. She’s spreading honey mustard on one slice of toasted bread from last night [yes it is good, a salvaged moment in an otherwise sad meal], green-olive hommus on another, then adding a few leaves of arugula, and the reheated roast veggies. I see now a smiling Grace. I am jealous… smells so good! Lacey stares longingly up from the floor. Bird presses one paw against the raised screen. He has no thoughts of hummus. He’d rather eat a mouse.)
I finished pressing the soggy, weird crust into a 9-inch Pyrex pie pan, then into the oven it went. (I remembered, having substituted flour and flax meal for wheat germ, that I forgot to compensate for the missing 1/4 pound of spinach. Molly, believe me, i am not blaming you!) We chopped the asparagus (making sure to snap off each spear where it wanted to be snapped, then cutting the usable parts into bite-sized pieces) and dumped into heated olive oil. Stirred for a few minutes, then added a little white wine and let it simmer some more. Then minced tarragon and dill. THAT smelled very fragrant and enticing. Great combo and thank you Molly.
In the fridge Grace found some Dubliner cheese. This tastes to me like a cross between very good, sharp cheddar and Parmesan. It’s not too pricey at the supermarket. (Dubliner cheese comes from Ireland, go figure, which is important to me because I can be more certain it isn’t made with milk from hormone-enhanced cows. Politics again. I want to support dairy farmers in Wisconsin. In my opinion, they’ve got enough problems with Scott Walker steering their state. But I also want to know what I’m eating, and if federal law prohibits the specification by cheesemakers of the milk used in their product, well, I’m not buying it. Dairy farmers of America, rebel! Please! Allow me to want to purchase cheeses made in Wisconsin!)
She grated the cheese into a bowl, using the coarsest holes on our grater. I sprinkled it onto the hot crust, where It melts to form a barrier that resists the soggying effect of a wet filling. Grace spooned out the asparagus/tarragon/dill onto the cheese, then poured over this three eggs whisked with one cup of milk. (Hood… no hormones in their cows. Ditto Oakhurst. Good on New England. What’s with Wisconsin? Is it federal law, or state, that’s the problem?) Back into the 375 oven for forty minutes.
It smelled so good. So did the bread. Grace made a salad using the rest of our lettuce and most of the arugula (she was eyeing a few leaves for her future lunch), red peppers, avocado and feta. We called to Bill and prepared three plates. We forked, we chewed, we chewed, we grimaced. We swallowed. The filling was, eh. Bland. The delicious odors emanating from that saute pan dissolved on our tongues. But, way worse was the crust! Chewing cardboard. Bill uttered not one word. He didn’t have to.
Having enough asparagus to try again, maybe we will attempt asparagus quiche again, in a different crust. But, with a few more taste-enhancers for the filling. Ideas, anyone?