Thursday, April 27, 2017

Excellent Remake of an Older Appetizer

As I wrote a couple of days ago, when writing about the foods I made for an Open House, some of the foods were remakes of ones I have made many times previously. One of them was a recipe for Millard's Artichoke Quiches. Originally, the recipe was given to me, and all the neighborhood, by a neighbor named Millard. On first reading the recipe, my first thought was that the recipe should not be able to work as written. 

Still, I decided to give it a shot, and amazingly, it not only came out great - it was really fantastic. The first time I made them was with my sister-in-law, Sherri, and we made them as full-sized muffins. Nothing "mini" about them. We ate them with dinner, as a side dish, and wow, they were good. The flavors were so excellent that I tried making them in mini-muffin size for a get together, and again, they are really wonderful this way. My family and I were dripping Sriracha sauce over top of them when we ate them, certainly upping the heat. And then over the last few years I started experimenting with substitutions for the original ingredients. One was Mini Asparagus Quiches with Feta and Prosciutto, where I was pairing them with a Sauvignon Blanc wine. I made crusts for the quiches in this instance, as any bready-type food helps with absorption of alcohol. They can be made equally as well without the crusts if desired. If you read that blog, I explained my logic.
Smoky Squash & Prosciutto Mini Quiches
Smoky Squash & Prosciutto Mini Quiches (shown on a 4-inch square plate)

Another variation I made in past is Southwest Frittata Bites. Same basic recipe, different substitutions, and that was some time back - I cannot even recall why I opted for that mixture, but they were really good also. I guess where I am going is that this basic recipe allows for a lot of leeway in making new flavor sensations. Just try to keep the quantities of the substitutions similar. Keep the basic 4 eggs and 6 saltines. This gives the basic "quiche" base to work from. Then, play with flavor combinations: 
  • Sub out the 8 ounces of cheddar cheese for other varieties of cheese. 
  • Sub out the 12 ounces of artichoke hearts for about 12 ounces of other foods/flavors, like bacon, asparagus, chicken, prosciutto or other ham, OR
  • Sub out the 12 ounces of artichoke hearts for a combination of things, such as a mix of prosciutto and asparagus, or a mix of canned green chilies and bacon.
If you begin to add too much for the basic 4 eggs to handle, just add another egg to balance things out.  I kept the scallions in all the recipes, sometimes adding in even more than the original called for, depending on what mixture of flavors I was working with. 
Smoky Squash and Prosciutto Mini Quiches
Smoky Squash and Prosciutto Mini Quiches


If you should opt for something like fresh sausage, or other uncooked meat, make sure it is cooked well before it is added to this recipe. The baking time is far too short to completely cook through things like fresh pork sausage or chicken or other fresh meats or fish. Do not add anything you could not eat before adding it. The eggs in the recipe have plenty of time to set around the fillings, but the fillings need to be pre-cooked.

Back to the recipe I created last week, this time I wanted something really different. I baked a butternut squash and pureed it, using just ¾ cup of mashed squash. I had been using Smoked Fontina in other recipes recently and it is a really nice cheese for melting, so I thought I would shred the Smoked Fontina for a smoky flavor and use Prosciutto (actually I used Serrano Ham this time, but Prosciutto is more easily found - they are very similar in style). I also opted to add a bit of Pimenton de la Vera, or Spanish Smoked Paprika, just to help out the smoky flavor.

When I went to the store to get the Smoked Fontina - they were entirely out! So I used an 8-ounce block of Smoked Gouda, which worked wonderfully well. In fact, this particular variation may well by my all-time favorite - they were really addictive. I wanted these to look pretty in photos of the Open House, so this time I decided to slice some cherry tomatoes and set one little slice atop each scoop of the mixture before baking. The tomato does not really cook through, maintaining its red color nicely and making them very attractive.

Thoughts on "mini" muffin tins

I have seen all sorts of things being called "mini". Many are nowhere what I would call mini. When I write of mini-muffin tins, I mean the ones with a base of approximately one-inch in diameter, slightly more or less. It gets more confusing when looking at "Mini-Cheesecake Pans, which fall somewhere between these two in size.

Smoky Squash Prosciutto Mini Quiches
Smoky Squash & Prosciutto Mini Quiches
Smoky Squash & Prosciutto Mini Quiches

Makes about 30 to 35 cocktail bites

4  large eggs
6  saltine crackers, crushed
¾  cup chopped scallions
¾  cup cooked butternut squash, mashed
8  ounces smoked Fontina or Gouda cheese
½  cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3  ounces Prosciutto or Serrano Ham, minced
1  teaspoon Pimenton de la Vera/Smoked Paprika (more or less as desired)
Dash hot sauce
cherry tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With cooking spray, spray the wells of mini muffin tins, set aside. 

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the first 9 ingredients until well combined. Use a small (about 2 teaspoon) "cookie scoop", or use about 2 teaspoons of the mixture into each mini-muffin well. Slice the cherry tomatoes, discarding the two ends. Place one perfect slice on top of the filling in each well. Bake the quiches for about 18 to 20 minutes, turning the pan halfway through the baking time. Out of the oven, let stand for 2 to 3 minutes, then use a sharp knife to loosen the edges, then lift each of the quiches. Set them onto a rack to cool. 
Slice cherry tomatoes, place on unbaked quiches and bake
Slice cherry tomatoes, place on unbaked quiches and bake

They may be served immediately, while warm or at room temperature. They may be wrapped tightly and frozen, for up to 3 weeks. Set them onto a baking sheet to thaw slightly, then reheat at 350 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest at AHOFpin. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.