Crustless Bacon & Cheese Quiche

With a change in jobs and a new addition to our family, the last few months have been busy to say the least. I have to confess that my passion for cooking these last few months has been stifled and ordering take out has become more frequent. As we ring in the new year I don’t expect to become any less busy, but I do hope to get back to my passion of cooking and sharing more with you.

When I started Erik Eats a year ago, I told myself that if my mom and a few other family members would read my food blog, it would be a success. Well, I have been more than surprised in this last year by the number of you that have visited my blog, over 1,000 people per month! One of my first posts included a video on how to make restaurant quality pizza at home. To my sheer amazement that one video on YouTube has been viewed over 20,000 times, incredible!

Today I bring you a dish that is easy to make and just perfect for sharing on New Years day for breakfast. Bacon & Cheese Crustless Quiche. What’s even better is that you can make the quiche in advance, and just heat it up in the oven in minutes. While great for breakfast you could eat the quiche at any meal, hot or even cold. Prep is simple and can be done in 10 minute or less. You can serve them hot out of the oven, reheated the next day or freeze them to have on hand.

What you need –

The instructions are for one quiche, but you will have enough eggs & bacon to make 3. (A dozen eggs and precooked bacon usually comes with 12 strips) purchase some additional cheese and pie tins and you could make all three. You could always freeze the remaining 2 in ziplock freezer bags or feed a big group. One quiche will serve 3 – 4 people.

8″ Store bought aluminum pie tin
Precooked bacon – 4 slices diced
4 large Eggs
1 cup of whole Milk
1 8oz Package Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Black Pepper
Cooking Spray
Sliced Tomatoes (Optional)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Spay your pie tin with cooking spray.

In a food processor add the 4 eggs. (I crack mine into a bowl first incase any shell decides to jump in). Add a cup of milk and a pinch of black pepper. Blend together for about 20 seconds. This will make the quiche light and airy. Next add the whole package of cheese, blend again for about 5 seconds. Then add the chopped bacon and blend very briefly. You just want to mix it in, if you over blend, the bacon will become chopped to finely. Next pour the entire mixture into your pie tin. If adding sliced tomato lay them over the top. Lightly sprinkle with nutmeg and pop it into the oven for 35 – 40 minutes, until the top becomes golden brown and the center is no longer runny. Once they are done let them rest for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.

*I don’t add any salt, the bacon and cheese makes them plenty salty. If made ahead (or defrosted from the freezer) to reheat place them in the oven for 8 minutes at 375 degrees fahrenheit. From my family to yours, Happy New Year!

Bread ~ You’ve Got the Time

For the last few months I have been polishing my artisan baking skills. I’ve never liked to bake, it’s too exact. You actually have to measure ingredients, but making bread is really enjoyable and dare I say it, tasty. I’ve found that a homemade loaf of bread can turn a good meal into an extraordinary meal. Aside from the great taste, your friends and family will be impressed by your effort. There is just something about freshly baked bread, it compliments so many meals perfectly.

Your thinking, are you crazy!? I’m so busy, the last thing I have time for is to make bread. You would be surprised, while making bread is a process, it’s really pretty easy to make. The amount of prep time is minimal. A majority of the time you actually don’t have to do anything, but wait. You could go read a book or watch a movie, maybe go take a nap while the dough rises or bakes in the oven. (You may want to set an alarm if napping while your bread is baking. Burnt bread is not so good). For the most part all you have to do to make bread is portion out the ingredients, mix them together (preferably with a Kitchen Aid) and shape the dough. Besides for homemade bread being wonderfully delicious, its kind of fun to make too.

A few meal suggestions to serve your freshly baked bread with ~

Beef Bolognese
San Marzano Marinara
Meatballs & Sauce

Recipe inspired by Michael Rulhman
What you will need –

4 Cups Bread Flour
12 oz Warm Water (about 100 degrees, but I never take the temp)
2 tsp Active Yeast
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Honey
2 Tbs Kosher Salt
Sea Salt for topping the bread
Olive Oil for topping the bread

I use a Kitchen Aid with a bread hook to mix and knead my bread. If you don’t have one you will need to knead the dough by hand, and yes it will require a little more work. Pour your warm water into a bowl. Add the honey and olive oil to the water and mix. Add the yeast and mix until it is dissolved into the water. Let sit for five minutes. In the Kitchen Aid mixing bowl add your flour and salt. Add the water, yeast, olive oil combination to the mixing bowl with the flour. Lock your Kitchen Aid and on low speed with the dough hook combine all of the ingredients. You are going to knead the dough in the Kithchen Aid for 10 -12 minutes. I will turn the Kitchen Aid off about 3 times and pull the dough off of the dough hood and then turn the machine back on to make sure the at the dough is well kneaded.

After 10 – 12 minutes sprinkle a light amount of flour on your countertop and place the dough on top of the flour. Coat your hand lightly with flour so that the dough does not stick. Fold the dough into itself forming a nice dough ball.

In a bowl, rub a little olive oil so that the dough doesn’t stick. Place the dough ball into the bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Make sure the towel doesn’t touch the dough. Let the dough sit in a warm area of your kitchen for about 1 – 2 hours (depending how much time you have). The longer you let it sit the more time the yeast will have to work, producing extra flavor. At a minimum you want the dough to rise so that it doubles in size. This usually takes about one hour. (Plenty of time for napping).

You can add fresh chopped herbs to your dough, like rosemary (see the green rosemary below)

When the dough has fully risen you then need to punch it down. Which just means that you knead it again to push out any of the air created while rising. I don’t use the Kitchen Aid at this point. You can simply knead the dough by hand, taking the dough from the outside of dough ball and pushing it into the middle. Once done, let the dough ball rest on your kitchen counter for 15 minutes. Then you are ready to shape the bread and bake it.

So many different shapes and sizes of bread. Decisions… Decisions. I have tried two different shapes. The traditional loaf and the ciabatta. Each is very different. I like to top either of these with a high quality garlic infused olive oil and some sea salt. Before placing the dough in the oven to cook I rub the olive oil all over the top of the bread and then sprinkle evenly with sea salt.

For the traditional loaf – place your hands on each side of the dough ball and rock it back and forth. The idea is to roll it back and forth so that it stretches and forms into a loaf about 8” to 10” long. I like to use a dutch oven to cook the loaf in. If you don’t have one you can cook it on an insulated cookie sheet. With the insulated cookie sheet you won’t burn the bottom. Coat the bottom of the dutch oven (or cookie sheet) with a little olive oil. I like to use a garlic infused olive oil on inside the bottom of the pan and to top the bread, but regular olive oil will do just fine. Place the loaf of dough in the dutch oven. With a sharp knife cut a shallow line down the center of the loaf. This will help the bread stretch as it cooks. Place the lid of the dutch oven on (one secret to great bread). If you are not using a dutch oven, place one cup of water in an oven safe pan and place it in the oven with the dough. This will help to steam the bread making for a nice crispy, yet chewy outer crust. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Place your dough into the oven. After 10 minutes reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and remove the lid from the dutch oven. Continue cooking for 35 to 45 minutes. You want the outside of the bread to be golden brown. If you tap on it with your fist you want it to sound hollow. This means your bread is done.

For the ciabatta loaf – (Ciabatta means slipper in Italian) you are going to carefully stretch the dough ball into a long oval shape… similar to a slipper. I start by holing one end of the dough ball with two hands and letting gravity pull the dough slowly towards the ground. I will then grab the opposite end of the dough with both hands and again let the dough stretch towards the ground. Once the dough has stretched as far as it will with gravity place the dough back on the countertop and pull it gently apart with you hands to finish stretching it out. You want the dough to be about 1 foot long and about an inch thick. Lightly coat an insulated cookie sheet with olive oil. Place the dough onto cookie sheet. (I’ve tried the ciabatta in a large dutch oven, but I think it comes out better on the cookie sheet).

Straighten your fingers and press them into the dough all over creating little dimples across the entire loaf. This helps create that ciabatta goodness we a like. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Place 1 cup of water in a oven safe baking dish or pan. Place both the ciabatta loaf and the pan with water into the oven. After 10 minutes reduce the oven temperature and cook for about 30 minutes, until the ciabatta loaf is golden brown. Same as with the traditional loaf if you tap on it with a fist you want it to sound hollow. Pull out some nice butter, cut the bread and serve with dinner.

Chefs Note – In my experience freshly baked bread is not very good the next day. I recommend that you freeze any left over bread immediately after dinner in freezer safe bags. When you want to use the bread, simply pull it out of the freezer about 2 hours before dinner.

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Kate Mignault is the wife of Erik Mignault. Who would have thought it? On top of being a great Mom, house cleaning and diaper duty, Kate is the baker in our family. The best baker I’ve ever known! I welcome the newest author to Erik Eats. (For the record, since I am eating Kate’s wonderful baked goods, it’s still technically Erik Eats).

Although I don’t see myself as a domestic goddess I sure do dream about it at times. In between loads of laundry, dirty dishes and diaper changes I really don’t have much time to bake. As for the original domestic goddess, I’ve always had a keen liking to Nigella Lawson. I have also loved Nigella’s look, a dark haired, light skinned, curvy woman that wouldn’t be found in any fashion magazine or on a runway as a model. To me she is the definition of what a true woman should look like, a real woman, one like me, who eats cookies.

Her cookbooks are fantastic and I love watching her show. The way she communicates, just makes me giggle with delight over whatever it is that she’s making. You want to taste it, you want to try it right then and there, which makes you get out your “list” and write down what you need to do, exactly that. I sometimes read her cookbooks late at night in my jammie’s, looking through the lovely photos and perusing the ingredient lists always thinking in my head “don’t I have all of that in the pantry? Can I make that right now?” More times than not I find myself just reading her intros to the recipes, drinking in her words. There is something comforting about it, like hot tea on a cold day, like a good conversation with an old friend, or a spontaneous belly laugh.

These Triple Chocolate cookies are not only filled with chocolaty deliciousness, but they are fast to make and any extra dough can easily be frozen for later. You should eat them right away, even if you burn the top of your mouth… OK, well maybe not, because you won’t be able to taste the next one, two or in my case 5 that I eat after the first. They are best eaten the day you make them, but if you can’t get them all down, or don’t have anyone to help you, the freezing tip below works out well. I have also enjoyed them piping hot out of the oven with a scoop of ice cream to crush their steaminess and create a river of creamy vanilla flowing over them. You’ve got to try it!

Triple Chocolate cookies
Inspired by Nigella Lawson – Nigella Express

4 oz semisweet chocolate
1 cup flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
1 tsp baking SODA
½ tsp salt
½ cup sofened unsalted butter (one stick)
½ cup light brown sugar backed
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extra
1 egg, cold from the refridgerator
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips plus a little more for good measure
1 cup dark chocolate chips plus a little more for good measure

preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Cut up the 4 oz of semisweet chocolate and put it in a microwave safe bowl. Heat it for 30 second intervals until it is mostly melted, then with a spatula stir it until all of the chocolate is melted. (I say this so you don’t over heat or burn the chocolate)

Put the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a bowl, whisk it. This will sift all of the ingredients and keep you from having a “salt or SODA” pocket in a bite of a cookie.

Using a hand or freestanding mixer, cream together the butter and the sugars. Try it for quality control 😉 Then add the melted chocolate, again sample it. This is so you can get a taste of what I believe Heaven will be like, okay, back to baking.

Continue mixing on low speed and add the egg and vanilla until incorporated. Then add your chocolate chips.

Line your baking sheet with parchment or a silicon pad. Grab your ice cream scoop or the largest  “baller” you have and start scooping the batter. Turn your chocolatey friends out onto the lined sheet, don’t squish them down, keep them in that wonderful round shape about 2 inches from one another.

Bake for 18 minutes, you can test them for doneness with a toothpick, but it might be in vain since you will probably hit a chocolate chip that is warm and melty. I always use my nose, if the house is filling up with a delicious smell, we’re getting close to being done.

Give them 2 to 3 minutes on the baking sheet, then using a large spatula or flipper transfer them to a cooling rack. If you can stand it, let them cool for a few more minutes. Enjoy with milk, chocolate milk, ice cream, whip cream, or whatever makes you smile.

FREEZING NOTE: to freeze these lovelies, just ball the dough out and put them in the freezer on a lined baking sheet (I used the cardboard lid of a pizza box, because it was laying around doing nothing) for 5 to 10 minutes. You want the dough to harden up a little before you transfer them. Once hardened, transfer them into a zip lock bag or air tight container. When you can’t stand it anymore and you just need a chocolate fix, or someone has shown up for dinner unexpectedly and the last thing you want to do is cook, bake and clean your house, pull them out! 20 to 30 minutes out of the freezer should do the trick for them to thaw out. Pop them in the oven and follow the above cooking instructions.