Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fish Quiche

OK, I have caved in. I thought I could hold out until Thanksgiving to dig out the Christmas decorations, and I guess technically I am, because today is Labor Thanksgiving in Japan, which is about as close as Japan gets to expressing a feeling about something by a holiday.
So I am getting into to cold-weather food mode. The picture is of a spinach-salmon quiche. It is salmon season here, so I could find fairly cheap salmon fillets (watching out for the bones, of course), and spinach is in season, so I could get a bunch (meaning an armful for next to nothing. Probably the cheese was the biggest expense.
I cheated on the pie crust by using a mix, but it's really not hard to make a simple crust either way (the long way is flour, a pinch of salt, shortening and a bit of ice water. Prebake the crust. That only takes about 10 minutes at 350F (160C).
When I make a quiche, I use a block of cheese. Any kind works, depending on the flavor you want. I used Gouda this time, shredding a generous cupful.
Poach the salmon in a little white wine. This is to separate skin and bones from the edible part more easily. I then flake the meat, let it cool and stir in with the shredded cheese. I am not sure how much spinach was involved in its raw state, but I rinsed it, put it in a container and microwaved it at 900W for 50 seconds. This, I am told, helps keep up to 90 percent of the vitamins. Blanching (basically dumping boiling water over it) retains about 70 percent, while boiling the spinach leaves only about 30 percent of the vitamins.
Anyway, I wound up with enough spinach that, wheen squeezed and chopped, it yielded about a cup. I added fresh basil, Italian parsley, rosemary, chervil, oregano, thyme, whole rose peppercorns, ground black pepper, a dash of nutmet and stirred all that together with the spinach, cheese and salmon.
Separately, I beat four eggs into a frenzy, added a cup and a half of fresh cream (don't use fake cream. Quiche is not about counting calories). Beat that again so it is a bit thick. A blender can deal with this nicely, but beating by hand, although tiring, lets you see the consistency best.
Stir the egg-cream mixture into the spinach/fish/herb stuff, then spread it over the baked pie shell. Sprinkle a little paprika over the top to add color. Bake at 375F (180F) for about 30 minutes.
It's pretty good stuff and good any time, for example with a salad and a little Chardonay as a simple supper, or warmed over at breakfast (if there is any left).
I had mine for brunch with more coffee while digging out the Christmas decorations. And what I consider Thanksgiving is still a few days away. Can I hold off until then? Stay tuned.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Season Change

The cicadas didn't try so hard this year, and very quickly their chatter was overtaken by the crickets, and now, even though it is not really cold in Tokyo, the ducks and various seabirds are practicing takeoffs and landings in the river outside my window, preparing for their journey to presumably warmer places.
The menu, which is probably more a part of my life now than it was even a few years ago, is also more attuned to cool weather. We had a Halloween fest with chili and polo loco, for example, and this weekend -- this post is being posted on Culture Day -- was different kinds of comfort food. Yesterday was German--roast pork and onions and potatoes, beets and red cabbage kraut, white asparagus (out of season here, but it must be Spring in Chile, where this came from) and a nice 2007 Riesling. Today was three kinds of curry -- mutton, spinach and chicken keema -- with nan and kashmiri rice (saffron, cloves and raisins jazz it up a bit), with lassi and a coconut milk-tapioca-cinnamon concoction after to help put out the fire. This feels like a good night for hot chocolate with little bitty marshmallows. No fireplace here, but that would be a nice touch. It's not cold enough to turn on the heaters yet, but it is definitely good sleeping weather with an extra blanket. Six o clock comes awfully early in the morning!