last saturday, brian and i hosted a brunch for our friend, christine. she just moved to pittsburgh, and we wanted to welcome her in the best way we knew how. with food and friends. most of the guests are vegetarian, so i had to make something that everyone could eat.. eggs. duh. hosting more than 6 or 8 people usually constitutes the use of a quiche, and i had my mind set on a potato crusted quiche with asparagus. and since i had decided to buy 2 lbs of bacon at the farmer’s market, i thought i should include the vegetarians on some breakfasty like meatish substitute. the only trick here was that i can’t have tempeh because it contains grains. so i did take tiny little bites to taste as i went along. yes, i was in pain shortly after… but our friends ate it up! i guess i had to take one for the team. i made a pretty simple gravy to go with the fritters, and that went over well, also. i made steel cut oats the night before so everyone would have something to pick on while everything else was cooking. -mostly i was afraid we would run out of eggs and fritters. i simply made 8 servings of irish steel cut oats according to instructions, and added 1 tbsp of cinnamon and 1/2 cup milk at the end of cooking. i also drizzled in a little maple syrup. kat brought 3 versions of her always beautiful muffins. christine made a vegetarian marshmallow cream cheese fruit dip, and we had mimosas.. -we waited until after noon!
the quiche was really good. it’s hard to season a quiche because you can’t taste it to see if it needs more of something. you just have to use instinct. the asparagus held up really nicely in the dish. sometimes baking asparagus makes it a little mushy and yucky. the addition of peccorino cheese on top gives it a nice brown salty crunch to bite into. the potatoes will form a really pretty lacy pattern against the skillet walls, and get nice and crisp. we had left overs, and kept it in the fridge to reheat all week for a quick breakfast. -another healthy meal for vegetarians or omnivores.
i served it with a little extra peccorino on the side for sprinkling.. or dumping.
the quiche recipe makes 3 quiches, so i’ll give a smaller version of what i made, to equal 1 quiche.
i put mine in a deep cast iron skillet that is 8″ in diameter. you could use a deep pie dish if you don’t have an iron skillet.
asparagus quiche with potato crust
1 huge yukon potatos
1 lb asparagus
sprig of rosemary, stripped and chopped
salt and pepper
2 tsp butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
peccorino or some other fancy italian cheese (peccorino is the best)
preheat oven to 500f. snap tough ends of asparagus and set them on a large cookie sheet or roasting pan. drizzle with oil, pinch of salt, and pepper. roast them until they are just tender. remember they will be baking a little in the quiche, and you don’t want them too soft. remove from oven and let cool.
change oven temp to 425f. lightly grease skillet and set aside.
shred or rice potato (i kept the skin on), we used the large side of our grater. drain as much water as possible from potatoes. we used our salad spinner, then laid potatoes out on kitchen towel to absorb excess water.
once potatoes are dried out (it is important that they’re pretty darned dry), toss them with a little salt and pepper, then press into bottom and up sides of skillet. brush with melted butter, and bake for 25 minutes or so. you want them just browned. remove from oven and set aside for a few minutes.
scramble eggs in large bowl with milk, salt, pepper, rosemary, and half of the peccorino cheese.
set asparagus into skillet on top of potatoes, then pour egg mixture over that. stick it in the oven for 25 minutes or so. eggs will puff up, and knife inserted in the center will come out clean when done.
remove from oven and turn on broiler. sprinkle with remaining cheese and put under broiler until cheese browns.
it will look like this:
for an easier morning, i started the fritters the night before. they are relatively easy to make and assemble, but i had enough going on that morning. i stored them in the fridge over night and all i had to do was fry them up in the morning. i made the gravy the night before, also. these were a surprise hit. i wasn’t sure how they would turn out, but i found myself frying up fritter after fritter. again, they would be a tasty, healthy food to keep in the refrigerator to reheat throughout the week for quick breakfast. the gravy was equally as popular as the fritters!
potato tempeh fritters:
1 1/2 pkg tempeh (12oz. total)
1 medium yukon potato
1 clove of garlic
1 thick slice of an onion
1/4 cup flour
1/8 cup soy sauce, plus more to taste
1 tsp dried sage
2 tbsp fresh rosemary
pinch of salt and pepper to taste
preheat oven to 450f. grease large casserole dish.
cube tempeh so it fits into steamer basket. steam it with the onion and the garlic for 20 minutes, then set aside to cool.
cube potato into 1/4 inch chunks, and steam for 20 minutes or until tender. let cool. once cool, mash up a little.
while potatoes cook, chop the cooked onion and garlic. stick tempeh into food proccessor for a few seconds until it looks crumbly. don’t puree it. put garlic and onion, tempeh, herbs and spices, and soy sauce into a large mixing bowl and combine. add potatoes and mash around slightly between fingers. add half of flour and mix around some more. if it seems too wet to form into patties, add more flour. if it seems too dry, add more soy sauce.
you should be tasting it at this point to see if it needs more seasoning. soy sauce really helps it taste more savory. adding it will make mixture wet, but you can add a little flour to make up for it.
form into flattened patties and set in single layers in prepared casserole dish. brush tops with oil and bake for 10 minutes.
flip, oil tops, and bake on other side for 10 minutes.
pull them out. you can either fry ’em up at this point, or stick in the fridge to fry up tomorrow.
to fry, heat up a little oil in a skillet and fry over medium heat for 4 minutes or so on each side. serve alone or with a little gravy.
1 cup golden vegetable broth
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
1/8 cup soy sauce
pinch chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp black pepper
melt butter slowly in small saucepan. sprinkle in half of flour and whisk until it forms roux, or a thick brown sauce. keeping heat low, add 1/4 cup broth, herbs, and spices. stir until it thickens and the texture becomes silky. continue to whisk, and add in 1/4 cup more broth. let it get thick again, then add remaining broth. keep over low heat stirring occasionally, until it is silky. season to taste.
i’m glad i included a few side dishes to linger over. i bought a loaf of bread, made right here in pittsburgh, called steel city loaf. it is VERY good. back when i was eating grains, i loved this stuff. i bought the multigrain loaf, had it sliced up, and served it with some unfiltered honey, butter, and raspberry jam on the side. i stuck it all under a cake dome to keep it all moist.
christine made a vegetarian marshmallow fluff to go with the fruit. i’m not sure of the actual recipe, but i’m pretty sure it was equal parts cream cheese (whipped), half marshmallow fluff, folded together with a little vanilla. fresh fruits were washed, sliced up and dipped accordingly. i also toasted some pecans with a little cinnamon for sprinkling. it looked (and tasted) beautiful!
kat is famous for making these amazing breakfast muffins. -muffins are a classic contribution to a brunch, and she has perfected her recipe. i’m not sure of the recipe, either. but i’m sure with a little coaxing she’d give it out. it’s usually some version of a bran muffin with a few different twists. this time, i believe it was bran and flax, bran and cornmeal, and bran, straight up.
i can’t forget to mention that we had a few different brunch beverages. this includes mimosas. after the coffee is gone, these really help the full stomach settle and the fun begin. here is a simple and effective recipe for a mimosa: fill a glass with champagne, and pour in enough OJ to turn the beverage slightly orange. don’t drive afterward.
brunch is probably my favorite meal to host. obviously, i can never nail down just one or two things to serve. i have too many ideas and cravings for breakfast foods, so i just serve them all. this was a particularly fun brunch to host. i don’t get to see this group of people very often because of conflicting schedules, but people tend to make themselves available with the mention of food! i never feel slighted when people can’t contribute. there always seems to be plenty to go around!
christine, welcome, welcome, welcome to pittsburgh. we’re so happy you are here and hope the city treats you well. brian and i look forward to a million more meals and parties with you, and love you very much!