Fearless Fridays: Quiche

 Bacon Herb Quiche made in a peanut and fish free environment because I have allergies and have anaphylaxisTwo weeks ago J and I had no ideas for a Saturday lunch because of the lack of groceries in our house.  After opening all cupboards, freezers and the fridge we came to realize that we had enough to make a quiche! We had bacon…and fresh herbs!

Now, hear me out. I KNOW not everyone keeps a ball of pastry dough or a pre shaped crust in their freezer. (Seriously, why wouldn’t you!) But what people do have access to if they do not want to make their own dough is store bought crust.  I have also had success in making quiche that does not have a crust!I have also had success in making quiche that does not have a crust. Pouring directly into a baking dish gave me the same results as using a crust would. What a great gluten-free option! I think everyone should try and make their own crust though, even one time. Maybe a post should come shortly on that about pie dough.

Quiche is a great and easy recipe to make for a breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Quiche is a baked custard dish. It involves a ratio of eggs and dairy (milk or cream) plus any ingredient you choose to add to the recipe. Once you have the liquid proportion down that you enjoy most, the world is yours in your quiche! Just remember some tips about the milk, the higher the fat content…the creamier the consistency in your quiche. So if you are using skim milk the filling would be more watery than if you were to use a half and half cream at 6% which would result in a firmer and more well rounded flavour (fat is flavour!).

Bacon Herb Quiche made in a peanut and fish free environment because I have allergies and have anaphylaxisBacon and Fresh Herb Quiche 

I find a lot of recipes do not call for blind baking (pre-cooking) their crust.  For me personally, the added step of pre-cooking my crust yields a super crunchy crust that is never soggy.

I cup light cream (6%)
3 large eggs
¼  tsp salt
¼ tsp white pepper (or fresh cracked black pepper)
4 strips of bacon chopped (cooked until fat is rendered but not yet crisp)
1 tbsp fresh chopped chives (or 1 tsp dried chives)
1 tbsp fresh chopped oregano (or 1 tsp dried oregano)
1 tsp  fresh chopped thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
1/2 cup soft goat cheese

For a pre-baked 9” pie crust or greased baking dish.
If you are not pre baking a pie crust, add an extra 20-30 minutes of baking time to the recipe.

In a bowl, whisk eggs and cream together. Add salt, pepper and herbs.

Sprinkle over the bottom of the pie crust the bacon and half the cheese. Pour the filling over the crust and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until quiche has puffed up and the top is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Bacon Herb Quiche made in a peanut and fish free environment because I have allergies and have anaphylaxisOther flavour combinations!
Broccoli and Cheddar
Asparagus and Spinach with Smoked Gouda
Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese
Caramelized Onions with Thyme and Mozzarella
Mushroom and Bacon

A New Friday Theme

I am flattered that my blog name sometimes gets called “fabulous” as an alternative to “fearless”. My friend B has inspired me this week with an idea to combine the two words for a new weekly Friday blog called “Fabulous Fearless Fridays”.

Each Friday I hope to inspire you with a new recipe, idea or meal plan for the upcoming weekend.  Sometimes an extra bit of motivation and encouragement is all one needs to be creative with food.  It has been an honour to have such an enthusiastic audience since the beginning of my blogging journey.  Thank you to you all who listen to my stories.  And thank you for stirring my creative juices. I have enjoyed taking pictures each day to post along with food ideas and information.

As with all my posts, it will be PEANUT, FISH and SHELLFISH free. I also hope to encourage myself in the future to create gluten-free recipes and make other substitutions.

FearlessFoods Goes Camping Part 2

Camping should be a relaxing way to unwind from the hustle of the city. I love to go camping but I am a bit “indoorsy” so I do like to bring the luxury of my indoor kitchen with me to the woods.

A trick for me when I go camping is to make a great meal plan for the duration of the trip and precook at home. Not only does this help me not forget small miscellaneous items (like a can opener or cheese grater) but it helps me create a meal that is exciting, healthy and hits all dietary restrictions.  Long gone is a meal plan that includes tuna salad sandwiches for lunch, peanut butter on toast and boxed convenience foods.

I found with thirty minutes of advanced kitchen time at my house I am able to make quick, delicious and scrumptious snacks. It also cuts down the amount of preparation time of meats if you choose to cook raw products at a campsite.

Some ideas of what to make in advance before a trip to make cooking a breeze:

–          Boil local nugget or baby potatoes for hash browns in the morning (there has been so many times I have been unable to roast potatoes on the fire the night because of a fire ban!)

–          Pancake mix ( the dry ingredients  in a bag and the wet ingredients in a litre mason jar)

–          Cut up vegetables for dinners and fruits for snacks

–          Fresh dips for veggies or a spread for sandwiches

–          Pre marinated meats for barbequing

–          Fresh seasoned ground meat for hamburgers

–          Yummy allergy friendly baked goods to curb any cravings for something sweet so everyone can enjoy a treat no matter what restrictions.

Some ideas of what to pack to take on a camping trip when travelling in a group if you have allergies or anaphylaxis:

–          Salt and pepper from a safe source (I bring my pepper grinder and salt in a mason jar) for no chance of cross contamination

–          Personal plates, serving utensils and cutlery

–          Your own cutting board

–          Knife

–          Dish cloth and dish towels

–          Easy and food-safe snacks for the road

–          Personal frozen water bottles to double as ice packs so there is no sharing of water bottles

–          Fresh herbs from the garden to make dull dinners or sandwiches delicious

Homemade roasted garlic tzaziki made in a peanut and fish free kitchen in Vancouver because I have anaphylaxis. Served on top a marble slab and stored in mason jars.Roasted Garlic Tzatziki

When working with a long English cucumber, cutting the cucumber lengthwise and removing the seeds give the dip a thicker consistency. For an even drier consistency, place the grated cucumber into a towel or cheesecloth and wring out any juice. I find when working with baby cucumbers there is no need to peel or seed when making this dip.

500 ml Greek yogurt

1 tbsp olive oil

½ cup grated cucumber

2 tbsp chopped mint

1 head roasted garlic, pureed

Juice and zest of ½ a lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and mint in a bowl until well combined. Add yogurt and cucumber and mix thoroughly. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and store in the fridge and let sit one hour before serving. For a stronger flavour, let sit overnight.

Homemade roasted garlic tzaziki made in a peanut and fish free kitchen in Vancouver because I have anaphylaxis. Served on top a marble slab and stored in mason jars top left and bottom right. Mint leaves from the garden.

FearlessFoods Goes Camping Part 1

A couple years ago our family planned a trip to a local island to go camping.While packing I had my mind on other things but remained organized enough to make salted caramel popcorn though, recipe here).

At the ferry terminal, as we inched pasted the long line of cars and passed through the booth, the manic search for my purse occurred. Due to the rush to get out the door to “relax” I had forgotten not only my wallet and cell phone…but the more important medicine for my food allergies. I couldn’t continue this trip without my medicine so I parted ways with my family and went home while they continued on. The guilt of forgetting my medicine and missing a vacation was a feeling I would never forget.

We all look back and laugh…and caramel corn made the rainy weather more tolerable.

I am heading out on my first family camping trip of the season.  I am super excited to get out on the road to vacation in the woods.  Where the main focus is everyone catching up on sleep and seeing how much food we can stuff in our faces. An important time to be organized and ready for any events that could arise!

As an adult with anaphylaxis, I’m in control of my decisions and take full responsibility for my actions when it comes to my safety. I chose to travel with people who are dependable and conscientious because they make me feel at ease.

Road trips always include my mental “safety first” checklist:

  • Who am I travelling with?
  • How long am I going to be out of my house?
  • Do I have enough food for that amount of time?
  • Do I have all of my medicine?
  • Is everyone that I am travelling with aware of my allergies?

This year I’ve prepared a travel kit for my household for when we travel in a car. These are things I that stay in the trunk of my care .  A trip to the dollar store, a discount grocery store and previous purchased items made this an under $5 project.

In a plastic bin:

  • A box of tissues (great in a box because they do not smush and also do not get damp or fall out when camping.
  • Disinfectant wipes (doors, tables etc but also good for minor cuts or accidents in the woods)
  • Sanitizer
  • Biodegradable toilet paper (just in case!)

It is simple technique and most already do this especially if they have kids. But it has a convenience and a place when travelling which makes it an important safely must.

Freezing for the Season

Strawberries in Vancouver garden Currently in Vancouver we have STRAWBERRIES in season. Three weeks late due to a wet spring, local berry buyers are eager to scoop these berries up! I have fond memories of my family going out to pick berries each year at the farms. My brother and I were known to eat more than we put in our bucket, leaving the farm with full bellies and stained faces.

Strawberries are delicate and juicy making these delicious gems very perishable.  Processing should happen the day of picking and purchasing.  Some ways to process strawberries would be in jars (make a pulp to use when pureed strawberries are needed), make jam and storeyour freezer.

My favourite way to save the season is to freeze. This way I have access to beautiful fresh tasting berries after the summer season is over. By doing this work myself I also can ensure that my berries are processed in a safe and allergy-free environment. The opportunities are endless when they are frozen whole, but they can be frozen sliced or in a sugar syrup.  Make sure the berries are firm, unblemished and bright red.

Strawberries from the Garden How to freeze strawberries (or any berry when in season):

  • Remove stem and hull (or slice off tops) strawberries.
  • Rinse gently under cool water to remove excess dirt. Do not soak.
  • Place on paper lined cookie sheets in a single layer and place in freezer.
  • After the berries are frozen completely, you can either store in a plastic freezer bag or airtight container.

One way I love to use frozen berries in our house is to make breakfast smoothies.  We go through quite a bit of berries this way so to make the berries last until the following spring, I label each bag with the month on it. When the berries in the bag are finished, that is it for the month for the strawberries until the next month.  It works our great and everybody wins because I love to hoard and J likes to eat.

Multi photo of strawberries from Vancouver garden Resources:

http://www.bcstrawberries.com/

http://www.eatlocal.org  -Your local FARMERS MARKET

Favourite strawberry farms in the Vancouver area:

http://www.wafarms.ca/ Richmond

http://krauseberryfarms.com/ Langley

Birak Berry Farm –Richmond

5 Tips to Have a Safe Environment for a Guest with Anaphylaxis

Dealing with anaphylaxis can be scary for a host because it is such a severe health condition. Of course there is more than these five tips, but these are really important things to consider. Being clean, organized and aware are key components to being a wonderful host.

5 Things to Do in Your Home When Having a Guest with Anaphylaxis or Allergies Over

  1. Wash all surfaces where there is food preparation and consumption. Use soap and water to thoroughly wipe and sanitize so that all surfaces are clean and uncluttered.  Being uncluttered shows that you have diligently considered their allergies because you are aware of all items on your counter.
  2. Wipe down all handles (like fridge and oven doors) and faucets.
  3. Change all tea towels and dish cloths. If you do not feel comfortable using yours, paper towels are a good go-to cleaning towel.
  4. Think about dedicating a cupboard or fridge shelf to contain the items that your guest is allergic to. Tell your guest that you have taken the time to decontaminate the other cupboards and you are aware where you keep and store these items. This information can also give your guest the areas to avoid in your kitchen.
  5. Be aware of items that could have come into contact with allergens so that there is no cross contamination. These are items like jam, margarine containers, mayo jars or ingredients from bulk food bins.  Squeeze bottles, spice jars that shake, and brand new containers can make your guest feel more comfortable.

There are a few other things to consider:

Offering to tell your guest the last time you cooked something they were allergic to in your kitchen is very thoughtful. My friends and family try not to cook or bake something that I am allergic to if they know I am coming over for a few days before. They always like to tell me what they have done to make me more at ease.

Be aware a person dealing with anaphylaxis may not feel comfortable eating at your house. They also might offer to bring their own food.

Honesty is the best policy and make sure there is good communication between you and your guest!

Mac ‘n Cheese…Meet Caramelized Onions

Happy Father’s Day

A celebration shout-out to all the dads today.

Hosting dinners at my house is a common event when there is a celebration because of my food allergies to fish and peanuts. I am always looking to expand my repertoire because I rarely cook the same meal twice. I like keeping it simple and I do love to make an impression.  With hosting any type of meal, planning in advance is very important. The focus and main priority should be the guests once they have arrived. Like Martha Stewart has taught us, the guest should think your party was executed effortlessly and you just “whipped this up. Mise en place for your recipes should be completed; dishes and clutter should be removed from eyesight.( Of course, this does not always happen because in real life time runs out because of busy schedules and there is never enough dishes in the kitchen.) And honestly, at the end of the day…sometimes you just want to impress your guests.

Onions waiting to be caramelizedThe following recipe is my new “having people over on a weekday night and we are celebrating” meal. This indulgent dish is rich and delicious. I have found it is a great recipe to make in advance the night before and pop in the oven when ready to serve.  I also have made this in my father’s home and split the recipe into two casseroles, one for eating and one for freezing. He suggests when you reheat the casserole from the freezer to add a touch more liquid before baking.

Oven-Baked Orecchiette with Caramelized Onions and Smoked Cheese

You can make this vegetarian by removing the pancetta. This recipe can be replaced with any type of melting cheese like a fontina, sharp cheddar or mozzarella. Serve with a light salad and a glass of wine.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup diced pancetta

2 large sweet onions, sliced thinly

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound orecchiette (little ears) pasta

1 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup grated Parmesan

8 ounces grated smoked cheese

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sauté pancetta in a small skillet over medium heat for three minutes or until crisped and golden.  Drain on paper towels.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and salt them immediately.  Sauté for three minutes or until they are coated in oil.  Turn heat to medium-low and continue to cook onions for 30 to 40 minutes until they become a thick golden mass.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil.  Add orecchiette and boil until al dente 8-12 min.  Drain immediately and transfer to large bowl.  Stir in cream, butter, 1/2 cup Parmesan, onions and smoked cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a buttered baking dish, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and dot with butter.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until pasta is hot and top is slightly browned.

Serves 4.

Published from The Globe and Mail September 2003 by Lucy Waverman and “A Matter of Taste” by Lucy Waverman and James Chatto (An excellent cookbook about seasonal menu recipes and  wine pairing.)

Weekends Away From Home

Travelling short distances from home should be easy and relaxing. As I grow older, travelling safely in the company of my parents and siblings has grown into friends with our family to weekends away with my husband and our friends. Travelling in a group has its challenges, but when it is well planned out it can be a joyful and restful time. Having anaphylaxis, my mind never is at ease. Instead, my mind is whirling around about what I am going to eat for the next meal, who is eating what and the safety of my access to my next meal.

I have written out how I organize myself and bring awareness to others when I am travelling away from home with a group of people.

  • Email the whole group to remind them about your allergies in advance. Sometimes just a quick reminder will jog their memory about what not to eat. Good friends will always care about your health! Email is great because if there is a member of the group you do not know is going they will have all the information about you going into the trip. Also, a written message can make certain there are no misunderstandings.
  • Ask the group to check any labels of any store bought food. There could be a hidden ingredient inside of a product (i.e. Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies)
  • Travel to a destination with a kitchen or kitchenette. From camping to a hotel room or staying in a condo, having a fridge and cooking appliance saves money and stress. Being able to travel with ready-made food or “foodsafe” products can be a convenient way to store and heat food, especially in a time of hunger.
  • Meal planning. Whether it is “family style” meals or “bring your own meals”, ensuring that no one is cooking and/or eating an allergen is important for safety.  Letting the group know what you feel comfortable being in contact with can ease everyone’s mind. Cross contamination is a leading cause of allergic reactions. Friends and family understanding this type of food safety is an essential element of sharing food.
  • Clean all surfaces with soap and water, the best buddy I could ask for. Make sure you or someone in your group wipes down all surfaces where food preparation and eating occurs.
  • Snacks, snacks, snacks. From a day trip to a week-long vacation, I like to be prepared for hunger attacks. Bringing more food than you think you might need is important. There could be delay before a next meal or an unplanned circumstance.

At all times, I carry my Epi-Pen which is always in my nearby purse. My husband, J, always knows where it is and if I am not travelling with him I give the location to a close friend. Understanding the severity is key when dealing with your personal health and safety. I have learned over the years to not be embarrassed about my condition and to not be shy about voicing my concerns about if I feel uncomfortable in a situation.

The Joy of Cookbooks

Learning, reading and cooking from cookbooks helped me to become empowered in the kitchen. When managing my allergies I feel that cooking in my own kitchen is the safest environment. As a kid being exposed to my family cooking everyday was wonderful, and as I look back on my childhood, cookbooks were just as important. I never once felt that my edible world was small. Reading cookbooks opened my imagination, challenged my skills and gave me a freedom from anaphylaxis.

From childhood memories of forcing my mom to stay in bed while I made her breakfast in bed to working full time in professional kitchens, reading cookbooks stimulated my mind and mentally challenged my culinary foundation.  I read about muffins and why not to overmix the batter. I read about marinating and how they helped create added flavour and balance. I read about seafood to gain knowledge about a product I would never be able to eat. The most important lesson I learned about cooking was that I could be in control of what I ate if I cooked it. And if opened my imagination in the kitchen I could create a world where I felt like I was not missing anything. I could ignore all those comments like “Oh my, what CAN you eat!” or “Meh, you are not missing anything, it is gross anyways.”  Of course the challenge is with allergies to feel safe, maintain a nutrient rich diet and not feel excluded from group events.  We do not have a choice to not eat something; we have a responsibility to put our health and safety first.

I am thankful to have been reading books from the library for as long as my memory can jog backwards. It was a weekly event in our house; my mom drove my brother and I to the local branch to pick up books to read (it was common to have as many as our arms can carry with our chins resting on the top of the pile). Man, I loved it. The only thing I hated was the smell of the carpet. That was my least of my worries once I got into the children’s section. Highlights were the blasting through the cookbook section by the age of eleven, twirling the paperback stands to find another book in the newest novel in a children’s series, and trying to ignore the feeling of nausea because I started to read in the car.

Thank you to all the authors and chefs for allowing us readers to read about wonderful dishes, create a sense of freedom and stimulate our own creativity.