It’s been almost a year since my last Pantry Raid. A year ago, I was living in Rome, with a ginormous kitchen to call my own and a teensy tiny fridge to share with six other girls. Since then, I’ve raided quite a few pantries, including my Dad’s in Los Angeles, my Grandma’s in Tarzana (Deep Valley), my Mom’s in Idaho, one in Tahoe, another in San Francisco, and a few in Boston. It’s been a busy and delicious year, if you hadn’t guessed.
In September, I moved into my first Boston apartment. The kitchen is…cozy, with less legroom than my Roman abode offered but just enough to cook up a storm. Oh, and UPDATE! My childhood dream came true when Grandma Carol hooked me up with the best housewarming gift ever. That’s right folks, I am the proud owner of my very own KitchenAid mixer, in beautiful retro pistachio. She is amazing and I love her. Grandma’s not bad either.
But alas, all baked goods does not a healthy diet make (though imagine if it did). I’ve used skillets, saucepans, whisks, bowls, tongs, Tupperware, and a LOT of dishes to whip up three meals a day for me and whomever else I’ve coaxed into dining with me (it’s not actually very difficult). Without a meal plan, I’ve had to do this a lot, which means I’ve learned a thing or two. For one, crock pots are amazing. For two, great steak takes a skillet and an oven. For three, the difference between light cream, heavy cream and everything in between is fat content, which is necessary for thickening sauces. And for four, this girl can use a LOT of olive oil.
In the past year, I’ve learned about molecular gastronomy and how to roast a whole chicken. I’ve learned that sautéed spinach is the best thing ever and that rice pilaf is a close second. I am still in love with Trader Joes.
But stocking your own pantry makes for a lot less fun in raiding it. Which is why my inaugural 2013 post is not a Mermaid Lounge creation, but rather a Vermont one.
After a crazy semester of classes, extracurriculars, Statistics tutoring (don’t ask how), and a lot of good beer, some friends and I piled into Matt’s Saab and headed to the land of maple syrup: Vermont. We had rented a cabin from airbnb.com (I highly recommend this site for travelers on a budget/with a big group) and stocked up on the best ingredients for a delicious weekend of home cooking, skiing, and board games. I swear, Bon Appétit woulda had a field day with us.
Oh, and by the way, the world was allegedly ending while we were there. What better place to be eaten by zombies/abducted by aliens/condemned by an awful disease than in rural Vermont? If it had to happen, this was the place.
There were five of us. When the apocalypse struck, Matt would be the hunter and Emily the gatherer. Elijah would ration supplies and Liz would keep morale high. Naturally, I would be the chef.
When there was no apocalypse to be seen, heard, or felt, we went on eating and skiing and drinking and eating and playing Monopoly and drinking some more. We sat on the floor and played game after game, taking breaks only to refill on “Dam Sours,” our take on the Amaretto Sour (think whiskey, amaretto, simple syrup, lemon juice, and cider). We stayed up until all hours of the night and traversed the backwoods in search of fallen trees to climb and babbling brooks to cross.
I skied for the first time since age six, and consequently was covered in bruises the next day. I made it down the mountain without falling maybe once and more often than not found myself flying off the side of the slope into the forest. What can I say? I’m a tree hugger!
As far as food went, we each contributed at least one of our specialties. Matt made his famous chili, I made some ridiculous rosemary potatoes, Elijah made oven bacon (of which we do not speak), Liz perfected the Dam Sour, but Emily took the prize. I love a good Trader Joe’s quiche, but her’s put TJ’s and any other contenders’ to shame.
With bacon woven together at the bottom of the pie crust, topped by sautéed spinach perfection, and then finished of with creamy, eggy, cheesy goodness, this recipe is not only melt-in-your-mouth amazing, but pretty easy too! And that’s coming from a girl whose overall après ski condition was not in the best shape.
Emily whipped this thing up, with me as her sous chef, in no time, and thanks to Elijah’s distaste for quiche, I was happy to indulge in seconds.
Make this Bacon, Spinach & Gruyere Quiche for friends and family as a warm “good morning” or a refreshing après ski snack. And do it soon! You never know when the world might end…
· 6 pieces bacon
· ½ cup chopped shallots
· 1 ½ bags spinach
· 1 cup half & half
· 3 large eggs
· ½ teaspoon salt
· ½ teaspoon black pepper
· ¾ cup shredded Gruyere cheese
· 1 deep dish pie crust
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cook bacon in an ungreased skillet until slightly crispy, but still pliable. Remove from skillet and degrease with a paper towel.
3. Place three pieces of bacon alongside each other in the piecrust. Then weave the other three pieces perpendicular to them. Set aside.
4. In a large pot, sauté the chopped shallots over medium heat in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil until flimsy and see-through. Add the spinach and cover the pot for 30 seconds or until the spinach begins to wilt. With a wooden spoon, move the spinach around until it has mostly been coated with oil. Continue to stir and turn spinach until it is bright, shiny, and just past the point of crunchiness. Remove from heat and use tongs to place the spinach on top of the woven bacon in the piecrust so it is distributed evenly.
5. In a medium sized mixing bowl, use a whisk to combine half & half, eggs, salt, and pepper. Then gently stir in the shredded Gruyere. Pour mixture over spinach and bacon so that it seeps into all the nooks and crannies.
6. Place in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until the egg is cooked and the cheese has created a nice browned topping. Let cool for ten minutes, cut into wedges, and serve immediately.