Good things from the oven spark springtime dining options

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Zucchini and green onions spark this delightful cheesy quiche.

As I sat down to write today’s column, I was still thinking of the sensational omelet I made this morning. In a total of about 10 minutes, I created such a satisfying breakfast I wondered why I don’t do it more often!

Actually, “omelet” may not be kosher — what I did was more glorified scrambled eggs — but here’s the how-to: I put a teaspoon each of butter and olive oil to melt in my small 6-inch cast-iron skillet (it’s even older than I am!), tossed in some sliced brown mushrooms and a tablespoon of chopped chives and let them sauté on medium-low heat till ready to eat, then turned the heat up a bit and poured one large well-beaten egg* over it all. After a sprinkle of grated Cheddar and dash of salt, I covered it tightly and let it cook. By the time I toasted and buttered a slice of ciabatta bread and lifted the skillet lid, the omelet was puffed up and baked beautifully. It was so savory and delicious I just had to share it with you!

* I use a teaspoon of water instead of cream to beat my egg.

I always have dried herbs at hand hanging from hooks and could have used crumbled rosemary, sage, dill or thyme — all last season’s harvest, and that’s the answer to nearly everything I cook, the extra fillip of herbs. As for the mushrooms, morels will be popping up soon for true gourmet dishes. I usually have a small flush of them around my property each year, so I am blessed indeed.

As you are aware, a quiche is simply an omelet in a crust, and I found this next recipe -and illustration — as a happy addition to today’s column. This makes enough filling for 8 4-inch tart pans or 2 8-inch quiche pans.

Onion-Zucchini Quiche

1 cup lightly packed shredded zucchini

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1 Tb. flour

1/2 cup finely chopped green onions with tops

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups half-and-half

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper

Line your chosen pans with pastry dough — your own or purchased — and press dough evenly up sides and to rims; place pans on large baking sheet. Set oven at 350F.

In a bowl, combine shredded zucchini, cheese and flour, tossing to blend. Divide equally among pastry shells, sprinkle with onions. In another bowl, beat eggs, half-and-half, garlic, salt and pepper until blended. Divide equally among pastry shells, careful not to let overflow. I you wish, arrange 3 small, thin zucchini slices atop each quiche as shown.

Bake uncovered on lowest rack of oven for 35-40 minutes or until filling puffs and tops are lightly browned. Remove to counter to cool for 10 minutes — filling will settle. When cooled enough to handle invert a large plate over top of quiches, tip upside down to remove from pie tins and return right-side up to board to cool further or to serving plates. Serve at room temperature.

Complement your quiches with simple go-withs — such as the pictured grapes — and/or perhaps the following quick-bread option.

Peppery Cheese Bread

1 2/3 cup flour

2 tsps. cane sugar

1 1/4 cup cracked pepper

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 large eggs

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/3 cup oil (veg. or olive)

2 small green onions thinly sliced with tops

2 tsps. spicy brown mustard

2 tsps. milk

Stir together first six ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in cheese; make a well in center of mixture. Whisk together eggs and remaining ingredients, add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Spoon batter evenly into 4 lightly greased mini loaf pans - 4 1/2x2 1/2-inch. Bake at 350F 22 to 23 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes, remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

Following is a delectable dessert to welcome the much awaited and hopefully soon-to-bloom ingredients. Clip and have this one ready!

Scrumptious Rhubarb

-Strawberry Pie

9-inch double crust (your own or purchased, unbaked)

Filling:

4 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into ½-inch pieces

3 cups sliced fresh strawberries

1 1/3 cups cane sugar

1/3 plus ¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons plus 1½ teaspoons quick-cooking tapioca

½ teaspoon grated orange peel

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons butter

Glaze:

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon sugar

Have crusts prepared and ready for filling. Set oven at 425 degrees. Prepare filling: Combine rhubarb and strawberries in large bowl. Combine 1 1/3 cup sugar, the flour, tapioca, orange peel, cinnamon and nutmeg in medium bowl. Stir well, add to fruit, tossing to coat. Spoon filling into unbaked bottom pie shell; dot with butter. Moisten pastry edge with water. Lift top crust over filled pie. Trim ½-inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold top edge under bottom crust, flute with fingertips. Cut slits or other design for steam escape. Brush top crust with beaten egg and sprinkle with the tablespoon of sugar for glaze. Place in oven.

Bake 40-50 minutes or till filling in center is bubbly and crust is golden brown. Cover edge with foil if necessary to prevent overbrowning. Allow to cool to just warm to serve as is, or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Valle Novak writes the Country Chef and Weekend Gardener columns for the Daily Bee. She can be reached at bcdailybee@bonnercountydailybee.com. or by phone at 208-265-4688.

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