Red Pepper, Spinach & Feta Quiche

I have a large extended family and holidays have always meant traveling to parts of Chicago or Wisconsin. The one exception was always Easter. My family would host a small gathering, typically just my mother’s side of the family, and I have fond memories full of sunshine and good food.

This year will be different. A beloved aunt passed away last summer. All of the Schwab cousins have moved away. My brother recently moved to Seattle. And I need to be on my way back to school by early Sunday morning.  We’ve decided it doesn’t make sense to plan a party this year. I’m in agreement, but there is still something sad about a tradition ending. Perhaps next year…

That said, there is a lot to look forward to this weekend. I am attending the eChicago Conference for the second time. Last year I had been accepted to my LIS school, but I was keeping it a secret from co-workers. It will feel good to be able to more fully engage in the library & information science side of the conference this year.

My mother has her first official Chicago Architecture Foundation tours scheduled for next week. On Saturday we are going to meet for her last trial run. It’s pretty awesome to get preview tours all the time now. She is a smart lady. I don’t think I would be able to remember all the details she shares on her two-hour tour.

For those of you celebrating Easter this weekend, or those of you simply looking for a weekend brunch dish, this is my favorite quiche recipe. It is simple, but full of flavor.The bright colors makes me think of sunny spring days, even though we haven’t had too many of those yet this year.

Red Pepper, Spinach and Feta Quiche
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

Ingredients
1 pie crust
1 Tbl olive oil
2 C packed fresh spinach, washed and trimmed
1/3 C sliced red bell pepper
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
3 eggs
1/2 C heavy cream
6 oz feta cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper
Fresh chives for garnish – optional

Method
Preheat oven to 425F, place a baking sheet on the middle rack.

Place prepared pie crust in a deep dish pie pan.

Over medium heat, sauté bell pepper in oil for one minute.  Add spinach and sauté until wilted.  Season pepper and spinach mixture with salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, thyme, and cream together.

Arrange feta over bottom of pie shell, place pepper and spinach mixture on top.  Pour egg and cream mixture over the other ingredients.

Bake on the baking sheet for 15 min.

Reduce heat to 350F and bake another 30 minutes, until set and the center is slightly puffed up.  Watch carefully so that crust does not burn.*

Serve warm or cool. Garnish with chives if desired.

*I find that baking times for this dish tend to vary quite a bit depending on the oven. If you are trying to time this dish for serving, I’d recommend leaving an hour for baking. Watch the crust and cover the edges with tin foil if you are worried it might burn.

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Amber - Gemma, I’m sorry to hear about your family. It sounds like you have a pleasant weekend ahead. I hope you enjoy your time with your mother. Best wishes to you.

Amber - Gemma, I’m sorry to hear about your family. It sounds like you have a pleasant weekend ahead. I hope you enjoy your time with your mother. Best wishes to you.

Erin O'Brien - I’m sorry that you’re not celebrating Easter as you’d like, BUT, sounds like a terrific weekend is ahead.
And the quiche photos are fab! And it looks soooo delish. I will save this one for future use. :)

Erin O'Brien - I’m sorry that you’re not celebrating Easter as you’d like, BUT, sounds like a terrific weekend is ahead.
And the quiche photos are fab! And it looks soooo delish. I will save this one for future use. :)

Recipes Club - This quiche looks fantastic! I have friends who have made great quiche, but I’ve never given it a try. Now it looks like I’ll have to!
~Nancy Lewis~

Recipes Club - This quiche looks fantastic! I have friends who have made great quiche, but I’ve never given it a try. Now it looks like I’ll have to!
~Nancy Lewis~

Gemma - Thanks Amber and Erin. It did end up being a fun weekend, but my fingers are crossed for a more traditional get-together next year.
Thanks Nancy!

Gemma - Thanks Amber and Erin. It did end up being a fun weekend, but my fingers are crossed for a more traditional get-together next year.
Thanks Nancy!

Ann Arbor, Michigan

“Bad dinners go hand in hand with total depravity, while a properly fed man is already half saved.”

So cautions the 1912 edition of the Alliance Cook Book: A collection of tested and approved recipes, contributed by the ladies of the Wollaston Unitarian Church. I spent my graduate school spring break in Ann Arbor, Michigan volunteering in the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive at the University of Michigan. As a library student with an obvious interest in food, the Longone Archive had been on my travel list for quite some time. I had the opportunity to interview Ms. Longone last year and during that conversation she welcomed my interest in a visit. It is difficult to clearly articulate the wonderful experience I had in the archive. Jan is the kind of woman that is simply bursting with energy, ideas, and good stories. She has dedicated much of her adult life to collecting American culinary works that – until quite recently- were largely regarded as unimportant to many institutional collections. We have people like Jan and her husband Daniel to thank for collecting and preserving a portion of this valuable material.

Over ten years ago, the Longone’s generously donated their collection to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and it is now housed in the Clements Library. (I adore this bas relief quote from Professor Ulrich Phillips on the Clements’ facade: “In darkness dwells the people which know its annals not.”) The archive is inspiring not only due to its holdings, but also due to the small dedicated staff (like JJ and Betsy) and the large group of dedicated volunteers that work to process, catalog, arrange, and research the pieces in the collection (like Phil, Lily, and John). Some of the volunteers have been there for ten years!

I spent my week primarily working with community cookbooks from the late 19th century and early 20th century. Some of these books are the only known copies and they document the recipes, family names, and sometimes even the addresses of women who lived all over the United States generations ago. The volumes contain illustrations, marital advice, advertisements, and recipes ranging from molasses cookies to “beef tea for invalids.” I also had the opportunity to work with a fascinating collection of ephemera including a 1941 menu from the Café de Paris in Chicago signed by Chef Henri Charpentier who popularized the dish Crêpe Suzette. I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to spend time with the wonderful staff and material at the Longone Archive – and I feel incredibly honored to have been able to spend time with Jan Longone herself.

Ann Arbor 2 Ann Arbor 3

When I wasn’t at the archive, I was out in search of delicious food and drink in Ann Arbor. As the home to Zingerman’s and a slew of other formidable establishments, this was not a difficult project. Thanks to my friends and readers who offered excellent suggestions before my trip. The deli counter above is a shot from inside Zingerman’s Deli, also pictured first in this post. I had always been under the impression that Zingerman’s was a single location, but in reality the Zingerman’s Deli, Bakehouse, Roadhouse, Creamery, and Coffee Company are spread around Ann Arbor. (You get a t-shirt if you visit them all in one day, though this is sadly quite difficult for those of us traveling on foot.) I was happy to be able to try the superb Roadhouse bread (I hear they consulted the archive when developing the recipe years ago) and the City Goat cheese.

Comet Coffee, unassociated with Zingerman’s, is a charming little storefront in Nickels Arcade that pours the best coffee I tasted in Ann Arbor. This is not the place to go if you need a cup in a rush, but a sweet little company that takes itself seriously – and with good reason. Their pale green chairs out front had me wishing for warmer days. It would be the perfect spot to spend an afternoon with a good friend.

By midweek I was ready to brave the buses and I took myself out to Zingerman’s Roadhouse. I was tickled to find a notice for a recently passed dinner event, Mark Twain’s Feast: “A Tramp Abroad,” that Ms. Longone had helped to organize at the restaurant.

The service didn’t make me feel at all odd for dining solo, photographing my food, and devouring an entire bowl of Pimento Cheese & Bacon Macaroni. They also brought out the heartiest “amuse bouche” I have ever seen.

Ann Arbor 5 Ann Arbor 4

Near the end of the week, Betsy, JJ and I made a trip over to Le Dog, a tiny, red hot dog stand that is widely known for their soups – especially the lobster bisque, which is available on Thursdays and Fridays.

It was quite a surprise, but it turns out one of the best lobster dishes I’ve tasted can be found in Michigan. The soup was the perfect treat for a chilly spring day – warm, rich, and salty. The soups go quickly, so be sure to visit on the early side of the lunch hour and order a Zingerman’s pretzel roll on the side.

Ann Arbor is lucky to have half a dozen brewpubs in the middle of the university district. I tried most of them and sampled a variety of beers – but in the end the best beer bar I visited was Ashley’s. They don’t brew, but they have a huge tap selection and a comfortable environment.

 

 

I stayed with two awesome librarians that I found through Airbnb. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that library professionals are excellent and helpful hosts, providing me with everything from beer recommendations to safe running routes. Their sweet cats (that’s Basil above) were an added bonus.

It was a wonderful trip and I hope to return to Ann Arbor soon.

 

show hide 26 comments

Alex - Le Dog! I went to college in Ann Arbor. Le Dog is greatly missed.

Alex - Le Dog! I went to college in Ann Arbor. Le Dog is greatly missed.

Noemi - Aw, I went to college in A2! I miss it dearly. You definitely hit up the best food spots in town!!

Noemi - Aw, I went to college in A2! I miss it dearly. You definitely hit up the best food spots in town!!

Clayton - Great photography. Love those cat eyes.

Clayton - Great photography. Love those cat eyes.

Eileen - Geez, looks and sounds like such a wonderful little trip. Thanks for sharing, Gem.

Eileen - Geez, looks and sounds like such a wonderful little trip. Thanks for sharing, Gem.

Mathilda - Wow! That archive looks awesome! It sounds like you found the perfect spot to spend your spring break. Thanks for sharing.

Mathilda - Wow! That archive looks awesome! It sounds like you found the perfect spot to spend your spring break. Thanks for sharing.

Wayne Petrie - What, no Blimpy Burger?

Wayne Petrie - What, no Blimpy Burger?

nadia - how i love discovering new places. sitting at cafe sipping while oberserving the city my it’s people!

nadia - how i love discovering new places. sitting at cafe sipping while oberserving the city my it’s people!

sewa mobil - Nice article, thanks for the information.

sewa mobil - Nice article, thanks for the information.

kasia - Lovely post, that sounds fantastic!
I’m also really fascinating by this food-book research combination. I feel like I missed my calling…

kasia - Lovely post, that sounds fantastic!
I’m also really fascinating by this food-book research combination. I feel like I missed my calling…

Christy - Is there a single better name in the universe for an archive than Longone? Simply perfect.

Christy - Is there a single better name in the universe for an archive than Longone? Simply perfect.

Gemma - It was delicious Alex. I’m so glad people recommended it before my trip.
What a fun town Noemi. I’ll admit to being a bit jealous upon my return to central Illinois.
Thanks Clayton. That cat was awesome.
Thanks Eileen! It was fun.
It really was perfect Mathilda!
It was on my list Wayne! Too many good places. Next time. Did you live there? Or did you visit when Brad was there?
Nadia, I agree. It’s one of my favorite things.
You’re welcome Sewa. Thanks for stopping by.
Thank you Kasia. It’s a fascinating area of scholarship. I hope I can work with this kind of material in the future. I think your plans are working out quite well lately! Excited for you.
Isn’t that perfect Christy? I’m glad you mentioned it.

Gemma - It was delicious Alex. I’m so glad people recommended it before my trip.
What a fun town Noemi. I’ll admit to being a bit jealous upon my return to central Illinois.
Thanks Clayton. That cat was awesome.
Thanks Eileen! It was fun.
It really was perfect Mathilda!
It was on my list Wayne! Too many good places. Next time. Did you live there? Or did you visit when Brad was there?
Nadia, I agree. It’s one of my favorite things.
You’re welcome Sewa. Thanks for stopping by.
Thank you Kasia. It’s a fascinating area of scholarship. I hope I can work with this kind of material in the future. I think your plans are working out quite well lately! Excited for you.
Isn’t that perfect Christy? I’m glad you mentioned it.

A.Foster - 1. It’s a funny-weird feeling seeing pictures of oneself in the photo collection of a blog you read!
(I work at Comet and I hope you “hadanicecoffeetime”.
2. TOTALLY UNRELATED: A couple regulars from the shop moved to London a year ago and I went to visit them in January. While there, we tried your rosemary’n’fig mac’n’cheese with cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy. All that to say this: the next time you are in Ann Arbor swing by Zingermans Deli again and pick up some of that Neals Yard cheese and try your recipe again. This time, omit all of the butter. Yup. All of it. Trust me, you wont miss it. Oh and stop by Comet again too and say hi.
Welcome to and thanks for visiting Ann Arbor. Its a small city, but it’s a pretty great one.

A.Foster - 1. It’s a funny-weird feeling seeing pictures of oneself in the photo collection of a blog you read!
(I work at Comet and I hope you “hadanicecoffeetime”.
2. TOTALLY UNRELATED: A couple regulars from the shop moved to London a year ago and I went to visit them in January. While there, we tried your rosemary’n’fig mac’n’cheese with cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy. All that to say this: the next time you are in Ann Arbor swing by Zingermans Deli again and pick up some of that Neals Yard cheese and try your recipe again. This time, omit all of the butter. Yup. All of it. Trust me, you wont miss it. Oh and stop by Comet again too and say hi.
Welcome to and thanks for visiting Ann Arbor. Its a small city, but it’s a pretty great one.

Gemma - Woah! Hello A. Foster. I’m glad you found me. (Sorry it took me so long to respond to your comment.) Comet was great, thank you!
Good tip about the mac and cheese. Neal’s Yard is wonderful. I will give it a try next time.
I hope to get back to Ann Arbor one day soon. I have a friend starting school there next year. I will definitely drop in and say hello when that happens.
Cheers!
Gemma

Gemma - Woah! Hello A. Foster. I’m glad you found me. (Sorry it took me so long to respond to your comment.) Comet was great, thank you!
Good tip about the mac and cheese. Neal’s Yard is wonderful. I will give it a try next time.
I hope to get back to Ann Arbor one day soon. I have a friend starting school there next year. I will definitely drop in and say hello when that happens.
Cheers!
Gemma

Green Milkshake Recipe

For those of you in the United States, the words "green milkshake" might conjure thoughts of the seasonal shamrock-variety. Other than the hue, this recipe has little in common with the fast-food version. Sunshine, bike rides, and outdoor runs have me craving refreshing foods. This green milkshake is a wonderful way to start the day full of energy. 

I grew up with blenders that couldn't chop ice any better than a hand mixer, and perhaps as a result I have long coveted fancy blenders like Vitamix. But, working within my grad student budget, I recently began to look into lower-end models. I decided to try my luck with a $15 model from Hamilton Beach and I couldn't be happier. Now I just hope the motor lasts more than a season. 

Green Milkshake

Ingredients

1 Tbl chia seeds
1 Tbl organic flaxseed oil*
1/2 Tbl organic wheat grass powder* 
1 handful of organic spinach leaves (no need to trim thick stems)
1 banana
1/2 C hormone-free milk
Ice 

Method

Add the ingredients in the order they appear above. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately. I like to use organic products for this recipe, but I generally don't go out of my way to buy organic bananas. 

*These ingredients are optional. For flaxseed oil, I use Barlean's. For wheat grass powder, I use Amazing Grass. These items are a pricey initial investment, but they will last you quite a while.  

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shannalee - I too have jumped on the green shake/smoothie bandwagon, and I’m loving it. Kale every day! Hooray!

shannalee - I too have jumped on the green shake/smoothie bandwagon, and I’m loving it. Kale every day! Hooray!

Hannah - I have this same blender – it’s great, but if you give it something it doesn’t like or it has a hard time blending, it will produce this weird smoky smell… so beware! But it has lasted for a year and a half :)

Hannah - I have this same blender – it’s great, but if you give it something it doesn’t like or it has a hard time blending, it will produce this weird smoky smell… so beware! But it has lasted for a year and a half :)

Gemma - Shannalee, I haven’t moved up to kale yet. I’ll give it a try next week!
That is good news Hannah – thank you! I can stand a bit of a smokey smell if the blender lasts more than a few months.

Gemma - Shannalee, I haven’t moved up to kale yet. I’ll give it a try next week!
That is good news Hannah – thank you! I can stand a bit of a smokey smell if the blender lasts more than a few months.

Mandapants - i make something similar to this- but i add a 1/4 cup pineapple and 1/2 cup mango for a tropical twist! i use peach juice instead of milk (also good for those non-dairy folks out there).. and freeze the fruit so i dont need to add ice. turns out the most lovely color. yummy yummy green shakes!! thanks for this recipe!

Mandapants - i make something similar to this- but i add a 1/4 cup pineapple and 1/2 cup mango for a tropical twist! i use peach juice instead of milk (also good for those non-dairy folks out there).. and freeze the fruit so i dont need to add ice. turns out the most lovely color. yummy yummy green shakes!! thanks for this recipe!

Kelsey, from Happyolks - Yum yum. I’ve been adding pureed pumpkin to my green smoothies lately. SO GOOD. P.s your carrot and white bean post from January looks heavenly!

Kelsey, from Happyolks - Yum yum. I’ve been adding pureed pumpkin to my green smoothies lately. SO GOOD. P.s your carrot and white bean post from January looks heavenly!

Anita - Do the chia seeds, flax seed oil and wheat grass powder add flavor, or are they included only/primarily for the health benefits?

Anita - Do the chia seeds, flax seed oil and wheat grass powder add flavor, or are they included only/primarily for the health benefits?

Gemma - I like your twist on it Mandapants!
Thank you Kelsey! I am looking forward to trying out your pumpkin puree suggestion.
Hi Anita, the flaxseed and wheat grass are primarily for the health benefits. The chia seeds, while beneficial, also add a great texture to the shake. If you haven’t used chia seeds before, I’d compare them to tiny tapioca balls. They suspend in the shake and add something that I enjoy. Great question!

Gemma - I like your twist on it Mandapants!
Thank you Kelsey! I am looking forward to trying out your pumpkin puree suggestion.
Hi Anita, the flaxseed and wheat grass are primarily for the health benefits. The chia seeds, while beneficial, also add a great texture to the shake. If you haven’t used chia seeds before, I’d compare them to tiny tapioca balls. They suspend in the shake and add something that I enjoy. Great question!

Suzanne - Thanks for this great recipe. I’ve been trying out green drinks lately and can’t wait to try this one!

Suzanne - Thanks for this great recipe. I’ve been trying out green drinks lately and can’t wait to try this one!

Gemma - Thanks Suzanne, I hope you like it. I’ve had one nearly every morning since I posted this recipe. I highly recommend starting your day with one!

Gemma - Thanks Suzanne, I hope you like it. I’ve had one nearly every morning since I posted this recipe. I highly recommend starting your day with one!

Jo - Would try this green milkshake. Thanks a lot!

Jo - Would try this green milkshake. Thanks a lot!

Gemma - You are welcome Jo!

Gemma - You are welcome Jo!

Aspirateur Industriel - This is new recipe for me and i must try it. Thank you

Aspirateur Industriel - This is new recipe for me and i must try it. Thank you

Raw Corn & Cashew Chowder » Pro Bono Baker - […] of research I decided on a Blendtec blender and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. I have kale smoothies every morning and I’ve recently fallen in love with this raw summer […]

Rosemary, Black Pepper & Brown Butter Soda Bread

(From the archives.)

This wonderful recipe was suggested by my friend Joanna last year.  I liked the idea of adding rosemary, fresh black pepper and browned butter to this quick bread base to create a decidedly non-traditional version. 

The end result of the recipe was wonderful. A few notes: I found that my dough was quite wet after following the instructions, so I ended up adding about half a cup more flour than the original recipe calls for. Be sure to have a some extra flour on hand so that you can get the texture just right. You want a moist dough that just comes together in your hands.  I didn't knead this bread at all. I simply mixed the dough in the bowl until it formed a smooth ball and then formed the loaves.

Rosemary, Black Pepper & Brown Butter Soda Bread

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients

1/4 C butter
3 1/2 C flour, plus 1/2 C
1/2 C old-fashioned oats
1 Tbl sugar
1 Tbl fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 3/4 C buttermilk

Method

Place a baking stone in your oven and preheat oven to 375F.  (Don't worry if you don't have a baking stone, you can simply use an ungreased baking sheet. Don't place it in the oven as it heats. If you'd like a baking stone, check out this great post on making your own for $3.)

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat and cook until golden brown and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the buttermilk and butter.  Mix well and add the buttermilk and butter.  Mix until the dough comes together in a smooth ball. Add more flour if you need it (I did). Form dough into two rounds with your hands and transfer to the baking stone or baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, cut an "X" in the top of each loaf – about 1/2 an inch deep.

Bake until breads are a deep golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center — about 45 minutes.  Allow to cool for a least 30 minutes before slicing. Serve with plenty of high quality butter.

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dining room table - I like the recipe that you have here. I am really impressed. I would like to try this at home. Great job! I find it so tasty!

dining room table - I like the recipe that you have here. I am really impressed. I would like to try this at home. Great job! I find it so tasty!

Carrie - What a fun twist on an old favorite! This is on my baking list.

Carrie - What a fun twist on an old favorite! This is on my baking list.

Gemma - Enjoy dining room table and Carrie! I love this recipe.

Gemma - Enjoy dining room table and Carrie! I love this recipe.

Erin O'Brien - Why must I love bread so much? Yet another recipe to add to my growing collection of them… :)

Erin O'Brien - Why must I love bread so much? Yet another recipe to add to my growing collection of them… :)

Gemma - Mmm, I love bread too. It’s good for you, especially when you make your own! It’s amazing how many store offerings have crazy ingredients like HF-corn syrup sneaking into them.

Gemma - Mmm, I love bread too. It’s good for you, especially when you make your own! It’s amazing how many store offerings have crazy ingredients like HF-corn syrup sneaking into them.

Pea, Lemon & Crème Fraiche Pasta

 

The snow is gone, my bike tires are filled, and I’m anxiously waiting for a spring day that isn’t too cold, windy or rainy. It’s a bit of project to get to a good grocery store here without a car. I look forward to the imminent biking days that will give me more freedom over my limited free time.

While we wait for the beautiful days ahead, I give you a simple and bright recipe that is delicious with frozen peas, but even better with fresh spring peas. Use what you have available, and color me a bit jealous if you are already enjoying the bounty of the new season.

Pea, Lemon & Crème Fraiche Pasta

Ingredients

8 ounces spaghetti or linguine (I used whole wheat).
1 Tbl olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 C of fresh or frozen peas
1 C of crème fraiche
1 Tbl lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1.5 tsp kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Method

In a large stockpot, bring salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium-high heat in large skillet. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the peas, cooking until they begin to brighten and are warmed through.

While the peas cook, combine the crème fraiche, salt, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. When the peas have finished cooking, turn off the heat and toss the peas with the sauce. Stirring a minute or two to coat. Add the lemon juice and a generous amount of black pepper.

Drain the pasta, reserving half a cup of the cooking water, and toss with the peas. If necessary, add the cooking water a tablespoon at a time until the sauce is your desired consistency.

 

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