HAM AND BROCCOLI QUICHE: Cleaning out the Christmas Kitchen

How you can help—or get help—after the Marshall Fire

To make a tiny flute on the edges of the dough like this, use the side of your thumb instead of the pad of your index finger.

Away from home and in an airbnb for two weeks at holiday time could be a recipe for disaster for many cooks. Dull knives, warped and nicked non-stick pans, dollar store utensils, and no pantry but for the ubiquitous old oil, salt, pepper, and weak coffee are the earmarks of many rental home kitchens. There are the rare gems stocked to the nth degree with nearly everything of which you could hope to find in your dream kitchen including All-Clad waffle irons, Breville food processors, Henckel knives, Italian coffee, and, of course, the most spacious of air fryers and instant pots. I’ll give you that, but such happy deals are few and far between and are usually in upscale houses for big groups. Having rested our poor weary heads in a large variety of these smaller houses over the years — often with friends — we come prepared. A small bag of our favorite spices makes the journey with us along with a whisk, a pastry blender, one great knife, a stovetop grill pan, a pie plate, and even a big soup pot if we’re going by car. While the store sometimes (but not always) sells nearly everything you’d want, it’s best to bring a few things along to avoid what might otherwise look like the largest grocery bill of your life. Even then, be prepared for the sticker shock that moves many vacation folks to skip cooking and head to restaurants. While we’d do a bit of that in good times, we’re currently avoiding restaurants like the plague. To coin a phrase. On the road, we do a drive-through at lunchtime in the winter, but are tossing meals into a cooler along with a nice bottle of wine for in-hotel-room dinners. No searching for take-out in the cold and dark and the dogs are happy to stretch out on the floor hoping for dropped crumbs from something way more interesting than grilled chicken sandwiches. Sorry, Wendy’s.

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Friday Fish–Garlic + Ginger Shrimp and Broccoli with Sticky Rice


I made my Friday fish on a cold day in Colorado where we’ve had weeks of snowy weather that I’m only beginning to tire of. Rosie, on the other hand, misses the more frequent walks of sunny days. She spends a lot of time in front of the windows–which are about to be replaced. (These freeze and melt inside the house–very cold and very sad.) You’ll also see Tucker-scroll down- on our in-process new staircase.IMG_2354


The beginning ideas for my shrimp, broccoli, and sticky rice meal originate in a book you’ve heard me tout before:  Quick & Easy Chinese by Nancie McDermott. I’ve simply appropriated a few methods and added them up into dinner; I think Nancie would like this meal.  If you don’t own this book, you really might like to buy it.  You’ll still get Chinese take-out, but you’ll also be quite happy with the meals you create right in your own little wok. While I cook many things –most, really — without recipes, I’m not comfortable enough with Asian techniques to go rogue. Nancie’s clear, simple, and concise instructions — along with fine photos — are perfect for me. (This would make a beautiful wedding shower gift and you could give a gorgeous set of rice bowls, a wok, or a tea set for the wedding gift.)


Halfway down the stairs is the stair where I sit. Tucker:

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Curried Broccoli-Almond Brown Rice Salad–Gluten Free and Vegan for Thanksgiving

IMG_6886I’ve been dreaming about a gluten-free and vegan Thanksgiving dinner for the blog.  Not that I truly follow either diet totally (thought I eat vegan quite a bit for health reasons); I simply want the challenge.   Either direction is simpler than both together, as anyone who’s tried to make both vegan and gluten-free bread will tell you.  While I’ve got several recipes in-process, I thought it might be fun to have more than one entree or main dish. As it was Dinner on the Grounds at First Congregational Church in Colorado Springs — the time when we celebrate our congregation’s giving and commitments — I made this quick brown rice and broccoli dish for the meal.  While it might feel like a salad, and perhaps it technically is, I think it’s hefty enough to fill you up for days and feels more like a casserole!  This recipe makes a big bowlful and is enough for 12 side servings or maybe 8 as a main dish.  Even if you don’t eat gluten free or vegan, you’ll like this healthy and tasty dish.  I was very sad to see there was none left to take home.

how you might change it up……

I used currants in the dish, but feel free to substitute dried cranberries for a more festive Thanksgiving table. Raisins or chopped figs or dates would be fine, too; I just like the tiny sweetness of the currants myself.  There’s no garlic, though you might add some –no more than a single finely minced single clove unless you cook it with the rice. Minced celery could be an addition to increase the crunch factor. Walnuts or pecans could replace the sliced almonds; toast them in a dry skillet over low flame for 6 or 7 minutes.  Could you use white rice?  Sure; brown rice has more protein, though, which is a big consideration for a vegan dish. Wild rice would be glorious, I’d think. Carnivores:  Throw in a couple of cups chopped chicken or leftover turkey.

This morning I’m cooking a big pot of beef-vegetable soup for Inter-Faith Hospitality Network (IHN), which is a group of local churches that houses and feeds homeless families, as well as helps them find jobs and permanent homes.  I’ve been cooking these meals for many years now and not much feels better when you love to be in the kitchen like I do. Dave will go with me and we’re working with the folks from Temple Shalom. This time we have a companion dog, too; I get to bring dog treats!

Try this:


12 side servings  or  6-8 main dish servings

  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • Extra-virgin olive oil –can sub canola oil
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 10 scallions, minced – white and green parts
  • 1 1/2 – 2 pounds cooked broccoli florets
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, plus extra for garnish
  • Red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup dried black currants or 1/2 cup dried cranberries, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt

In a medium pot, heat water to boiling; add rice with a drizzle of olive oil and a few grinds of pepper.  Lower heat to simmer, cover, and cook 45 minutes or until tender.  While still hot, add 1/4 cup olive oil, the cooked broccoli, and almonds. Stir well and drizzle with 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar.

Stir in currants, curry powder (start with 1/2 teaspoon, adding more to taste), crushed red pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix well. Taste and readjust seasonings, including curry powder.  Add an extra drizzle or two of vinegar and/or oil to moisten and season if needed. You might also want to add more  almonds or currants to taste; I liked the dish garnished with extra for looks and flavor.

Serve immediately at room temperature.  You can also cover the dish well, refrigerate overnight, bring to room temperature, and serve the next day.  If the rice seems dry, moisten using a tablespoon or two of olive oil and stir well.

{printable recipe}

(Below:  Rosie and Tucker taking a nap while I made the beef stock this morning and granddaughter Piper doing a little dance to her own beat.)


Piper dancing to her own beat!󾌬

Sing a new song,



38 Power Foods, Week 6 — Broccoli — Broccoli Soup with Toasted Brie


When my kids were growing up, they all loved broccoli.  Pretty unusual.   One of them adored spinach and one of them always wanted pickles, but all of them would eat broccoli.   So broccoli it was.  A lot. To this day, when our youngest, Emily, is home from grad school, she asks for Chicken-Broccoli Casserole (a quick Chicken Divan known as “Government Girl Casserole” around the D.C area) and I don’t have to look for a recipe.

You get the picture:  I seldom make broccoli anymore.  Being a healthy (see below for nutrition information) and relatively inexpensive cruciferous ( a family of plants which have four petals arranged like the arms of a cross, as the mustard, radish, turnip, etc.) vegetable, I know I’d like to buy it more, but some days I just can’t.  I have fallen in love with broccolini (a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli) and often sauté it with large shards of Parmesan until the cheese is a golden, crispy chip-like accompaniment.  The Parm-crusted broccolini is then laid gently atop greens and tiny tomatoes with a bit of lemon, black pepper, and olive oil for a filling main-course salad.

Working on the soup cookbook for the past two months (I got an ISBN number yesterday..AHHH!!) has been one of the most positive, annoying, interesting, and P-Offing of all my cooking experiences.  Somehow, the first soup I worked on (can’t remember why) was broccoli.   Too funny.   Maybe I had a plethora in the vegetable bin for some terribly odd reason; I don’t know.  Maybe it was on sale.  Whatever; that soup is out to a couple of testers now, but I’ll share it here with you.  I’ve made it  several times shall we say.    If you make it, I’d enjoy knowing how your soup turned out.   Read this carefully as we’re in the middle of a wretchedly hot summer in the U.S. (unless you’re an Australian or Scot reader):

This soup is luscious hot or cold.  The cold version is served differently:  instead of the brie toasting on top, you put a spoonful of peppered (or you could use lemon peel) yogurt down in the middle of the soup as a surprise to your table mates.  Being sure ahead of time, naturally, everyone eats dairy.  To serve cold, make it early in the morning before the heat of the day claims your kitchen.  Let cool and refrigerate covered until dinnertime.  

Shopping note:  Fine French brie is an expensive, highly caloric treat.  While I’m crazy about it,  I wouldn’t necessarily use it in this soup, though of course you can if you like. (I like my French brie as is.)  Domestic brie, often made in the great state of Wisconsin, is sold for a great deal less and is fine here.  The Whole Foods in St. Paul, for example, sells a good-sized wedge for $2.99–a sale price, but it’s often on sale.  I haven’t checked the Colorado Springs Whole Foods for its availability.  Anyway….

Try the little preview from my soup book and have fun!



This soup is warm and filling without being heavy.  Made with puréedbroccoli and other vegetables, it appears to be a cream soup, but contains no cream. Topped with a slice of brie and slipped under the broiler for a few minutes until toasty, it’s a perfect lunch for guests arriving midday.  Ladled into tiny bowls or cups, hot or cold, it’s a first course for a birthday dinner with the surprise of a tiny spoonful of peppered Greek yogurt hidden in the middle.  While it may take a few minutes past the 30-minute mark, it’s worth it!

Still working on getting a good picture!

Broccoli Soup with Toasted Brie         4-6 servings

  • ·        2 quarts low-salt chicken stock**, heated in microwave or on stove
  • ·        2 tablespoon olive oil
  • ·        Crushed red pepper, fresh ground black pepper, and kosher salt
  • ·        2 garlic cloves (one left whole to flavor oil and one chopped for the soup)
  • ·        1 medium onion, peeled, trimmed, and cut into eighths
  • ·        3 stalks celery, trimmed, and cut into 2” pieces
  • ·        2 carrots,  trimmed, and cut into 1” pieces
  • ·        ½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • ·        1½ teaspoon herbes de Provence (or a mix of dried basil, thyme and rosemary)
  • ·        5 cups fresh broccoli, trimmed well, and chopped finely*
  • ·        Hot sauce, 4-6 drops, or to taste
  • ·        Zest and juice of one lemon
  • ·        6 1-oz slices of Brie
1.     Heat the chicken stock in the microwave or on the stove. (I like an 8-cup Pyrex measuring cup for the microwave.)
2.     Place the chopped garlic clove, onion, celery, and carrots into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until chopped coarsely. (Or chop by hand.) 
3.     In an 8-qt stock pot over medium heat, sauté a pinch each of the pepper and salt along with the other whole garlic clove for one minute.  Add the chopped vegetables, stir, and cook covered about five minutes until beginning to soften.
4.     Meantime, preheat the oven broiler.
5.     Add the broccoli, hot stock, hot sauce, ½ t each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, and lemon zest and juice to the stockpot. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat a bit, cover, and cook until broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir once or twice.  Using an immersion blender (or process in batches in food processor), puree the soup.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
6.     Ladle soup into broiler-safe bowls and top each with a piece of Brie cheese.  Place bowls on baking sheet about 4 inches under broiler and broil 3-5 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned. (You could also bake this soup at 350 degrees F for several minutes if you do not have broiler-safe bowls.  Alternately, simply place the cheese in the bottom of the bowl, ladle soup on top, and let sit a couple of minutes to melt cheese.)     
  7.   Serve hot or let cool, chill covered in refrigerator, and serve cold with a surprise small spoonful of peppered plain Greek yogurt hidden in the middle of each bowl.
*You could also use leftover cooked broccoli here to hasten cooking.
**Use vegetable stock for vegetarian option
Accompaniments:   Midsummer, a small plate of ripe tomatoes and peppered cottage cheese with crackers for lunch.   Add a salad and grilled salt and pepper baguette for supper anytime of the year.
Wine:  I like a California Chardonnay with this soup, but a French Sauvignon Blanc with its grassy nose would also work.
Dessert:  Blueberries and a spoonful of lemon ice cream or sorbet.

a few facts about raw broccoli

According to the USDA Nutrient Database, a standard 100 g serving of raw broccoli has 34 calories with .37 g fat, 1.70 g sugars, 6.64 g carbohydrates, 2.6 g dietary fiber and 2.82 g protein. Broccoli also contributes greatly to your daily vitamin and mineral requirements. For example, raw broccoli delivers 89.2 g of vitamin C, which equates to 149 percent of your daily allowance. In its raw state, broccoli provides 9 percent of your daily requirement of potassium and 12 percent vitamin A.


Every Friday for the foreseeable future, I’ll be blogging one of the 38 healthiest ingredients from POWER FOODS : 150 DELICIOUS RECIPES WITH THE 38 HEALTHIEST INGREDIENTS by the editors of Whole Living Magazine.

38 Power Foods is a group effort!   Stop by these other blogs and see what they’re cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available.

Jill – SaucyCooks 

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Anabanana – adobodownunder.blogspot.com
As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved.  If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com


in memoriam
One of my great cooking heroes, Marion Cunningham, is now cooking in that great perfect kitchen where the Tupperware bowls and lids all match and the whole world comes to the table in peace to ease their hunger….  Read my tribute to Marion on the Dinner Place Blog.


Bannocks- a simple, flat, oaty, crispy Scottish cracker-bread..from Marion’s BREAKFAST BOOK

Sing a new song; cook something of Marion’s,