Sunday, April 28, 2013

Crab, Bacon, & Smoked Gouda Quiche

Day 28

Copyright, Doug Kapustin, 2013
Each state or region has some dish that it rallies around, and it’s no secret that crab dishes are Maryland’s claim to fame. The Smith Island Cake is another favorite here, I’ve noticed. When we lived in Virginia, I especially enjoyed making dishes that incorporated Virginia Country Ham as often as possible. Come to think of it, today’s recipe could be just as delicious if we substituted the bacon and salt for Virginia’s classic salty smoked ham.  Whatever the regional favorite, the central idea is to use it in interesting new ways.

Because I’ve been living in Maryland for about five years now, I’ve developed a taste for crabs. Honestly speaking, they are still not on my top ten list, but I do enjoy them more than before. I have tried many delicious crab cakes and crab soufflés since we moved here, and I find that most people prefer unadorned crab dishes in order to savor their delicate flavor. 

Today’s recipe is filled with delicious crab morsels, to be sure, but crab is not the only star of the show. My Crab, Bacon, & Smoked Gouda Quiche blends the flavors of the three main ingredients in a very pleasing way. Most of the chefs I enjoy following use only heavy cream and about six eggs in each quiche.  I have experimented with fewer eggs and different ratios of milk to cream, resulting in my definitive conclusion that six eggs mixed with just heavy cream make the best texture for a quiche. Also, most quiche recipes use Cheddar or Gruyère cheese, but I’ve chosen smoked Gouda because of the way it best enhances the crab and bacon flavors. 

I hope you’ll try the quiche with your friends and family and that it will become a dish you might choose to add to your personal recipe collection. 

Crab, Bacon, & Smoked Gouda Quiche
Copyright, Doug Kapustin, 2013

1 9-inch pie crust 
1 ½ cups shredded smoked Gouda cheese
6-8 slices of cooked and crumbled bacon
½ cup chopped crabmeat
¼ cup finely chopped onion
6 large eggs
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 tbs. Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Place pastry shell in a 9-inch pie pan (or use thawed, store-bought pie crust already in pan). Place pastry pan on foil-covered baking sheet.

Beat the eggs with a whisk until smooth and creamy. Add heavy cream and continue beating until well blended. Add garlic and all seasonings, and beat to incorporate. 

Layer the cheese, crab, bacon, and onions in the pastry crust, beginning and ending with  cheese. Carefully pour the egg and cream mixture over the pastry shell. 

Bake for 45 minutes or until center is still a little bit jiggly but not runny. Knife inserted in center should come out almost clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing. *Enjoy!

*This quiche is delicious served with roasted asparagus. I like Ina Garten’s recipe which can be found here:

*If you aren’t familiar with from-scratch crusts but would like to make one, I will again link you to the recipe I use most often. Ina Garten is my go-to chef for pie crusts, but I often leave out the sugar when I make the crust for savory dishes. Check out her easy recipe here:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sausage Bites

Day 27

Entertaining can go either way, I tend to think—relaxed and enjoyable or stressful and miserable. Naturally, the goal is to maximize the enjoyment, and I find that having friends over for breakfast is often the perfect way to do just that.

Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography,  2013
For some reason, breakfast guests are more relaxed and ready to savor the subtle sweetness of scones or the creaminess of omelets as they sip leisurely on morning coffee. Personally, I love something sweet for breakfast, especially something homemade. In fact, I frequently make breakfast breads on Friday afternoons just to enjoy them on weekend mornings, as I sit in a fluffy armchair with my dog, Emmy, and read a good book.

That being said, I absolutely understand that many people prefer savory to sweet in the mornings. Serving a combination of dishes will suit every palate. I prefer make-ahead breakfast dishes for company, and I frequently make recipes that are just as good served at room temperature as they are hot. One such addition to a breakfast or hors d’oeuvre menu is a bite-sized treat made from biscuit dough, sausage, and smoky cheddar cheese. These Sausage Bites are the perfect accompaniment to your next breakfast or brunch with friends, and even for your next appetizer party.

Sausage Bites
1 lb. Jimmy Dean hot ground sausage (UNCOOKED)
2 cups self-rising flour
8 oz. smoked cheddar cheese, grated
5 shakes Tabasco

Using clean hands, mix all ingredients until thoroughly incorporated. Form into bite-sized balls and place on baking sheet, two inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool on wire rack. Store in airtight container. 

Chipotle Dipping Sauce for Sausage Bites:

Mix equal parts good quality mayonnaise (I prefer Hellmann’s) and chipotle smoked mustard. Add crushed garlic. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Chicken Caesar Ciabatta Sandwiches

Day 26

I mentioned, in my last blog entry, that I sometimes make Chicken Caesar Sandwiches when the weather is warm. They are delicious anytime, but our family especially enjoys them in the spring and summer. Here’s a simple recipe for delicious sandwiches every time! I hope you like it. 
Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2013

Chicken Caesar Ciabatta Sandwiches


2 long ciabatta rolls
1 cup Creamy Caesar Dressing** (recipe below)
6 large leaves of Romaine lettuce
6 prepared chicken breasts* (recipe below)
1 ½ cups shaved Parmesan cheese

Cut ciabatta rolls to make two large sandwiches. Brush bread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and basil flakes if desired. Place on baking sheet and heat under broiler on lowest oven rack until nicely browned. Remove from oven and place on large cutting board.

Spread all halves of ciabatta generously with Caesar dressing. Place lettuce on the bottom roll for each sandwich. Sprinkle with shaved Parmesan. Slice chicken breasts and place on top of lettuce and cheese. Close sandwiches with ciabatta tops. Serve immediately.

* Quick and Easy Breaded Chicken Breasts
Crack 2 eggs in a bowl and add one teaspoon of milk. Mix well with fork. Onto a plate, pour 2 cups of bread crumbs that have been tossed with sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.

Drench each chicken breast in egg, then place in bread crumb mixture to coat thoroughly. Transfer to greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until cooked through. 

** Creamy Caesar Dressing
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
¾ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp. black pepper
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese 

Mix all ingredients until smooth. Use for salads or sandwiches. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Green Goddess Dressing

Day 25

The time for summer salads is fast approaching, so I think that this is the perfect day to share one of my favorite salad dressing recipes. Maybe you’ve heard of Green Goddess Dressing—that creamy, tangy, and basil-infused deliciousness that is perfect with almost any salad. Well, I’ve taken my favorite version of the recipe and changed it by adding cilantro and by replacing the anchovy paste with prepared horseradish. The result is very pleasing, to be sure.
Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2013

This dressing tends to thicken a bit as it rests, so it is also perfect as a dip for vegetables after its initial addition to your next salad. Sometimes, I even spread it on chicken Caesar sandwiches or baguettes, using it in place of Caesar dressing; it’s the perfect substitute!

I’ve always been a fan of cream-based dressings. More often than not, though, I make a traditional French vinaigrette to toss with our mixed greens each night for dinner.  I suppose I opt for the vinaigrette because it is fast, easy, and very healthy compared to creamy dressings. That being said, we certainly splurge on weekends and with company by making and serving my version of Green Goddess Dressing because it’s consistently pleasing to our dinner guests. 

When I was a little girl, my mother managed a diner in our town, and she bought ranch dressing from a local restaurant supplier. I remember loving the flavor of that dressing, as it was very different from Hidden Valley or other bottled ranch varieties. In fact, it was different than most ranch dressings I’ve tried since, whether from the supermarket or in restaurants. Today, I cannot even remember why I liked it so well, and I wonder if my tastes have changed so much over the years that I’d find it less than appealing now. I can only speculate that my taste for creamy dressing began as a result of the ranch dressing she served at the diner. 

Generally, when I make a heavy dressing, I serve it with a salad-centered meal. That is to say, this dressing might be best enjoyed with a chopped chicken salad or with a large dinner salad filled with your favorite fresh vegetables and salad toppings. Often, I pair the dressing and salad with a cup of homemade French onion soup and garlic bread. And, it’s always a hit to try making your own croutons for the salad. Since they can really jazz up your next dinner salad, I’ve included a quick recipe for them in today’s post too.

A dinner of soup, salad, and wine can definitely leave us feeling comfortably satisfied and ready for a decadent dessert. Mmmm…I hope you’ll give this dressing a try!

Green Goddess Dressing 

½ cup chopped green onion, including green parts
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 tsp. chopped garlic
2 tsp. prepared horseradish
2 ½ tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 ½  cup mayonnaise
1 ½ cups sour cream

In a food processor, blend green onion, basil, cilantro, lemon juice, garlic, horseradish, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add mayonnaise and blend again until smooth. Add sour cream and mix just until blended. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Homemade Croutons

½ crusty baguette (day-old bread is best)
Olive oil
Italian seasoning
Sea salt
Black pepper

Using bread knife, cut baguette into bite-sized cubes. Place bread cubes on sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and toss bread to thoroughly coat. Sprinkle generously with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper and toss again to coat.

Place in preheated 425 degree oven. Roast for 10 minutes. Turn oven to broil and continue cooking until croutons are golden brown. 

Allow to cool and use on salads. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Smoked Salmon and Dilled Cream Cheese Bagel

Day 24

Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2013
We’ve all heard so much about salmon and the health benefits of consuming fish that is high in Omega-3 fatty acids that we can’t ignore the attention it receives. Thankfully, I have always been a huge fan of salmon in any form—salmon cakes, grilled or broiled salmon filets, and even simple salmon salad made from canned salmon—so it’s easy for me to add it to my diet. 

Recently, I’ve been shopping around in search of really nice smoked salmon. I happened upon some reasonably priced wild-caught, smoked, sockeye salmon this week, so I decided to make salmon and cream cheese bagels. These bagels are really more like sandwiches, and they are excellent to serve with fresh sliced cucumber, melon, and strawberries. 

The cream cheese spread is very easy to make, and the salmon is ready to serve since it’s smoked. This makes for a perfectly simple and simply delicious breakfast, brunch, or lunch to serve to friends and family. Because this week is spring break for our kids, my daughter invited a friend to breakfast and I served whole wheat bagels, my favorite cream cheese spread, and smoked salmon with fresh melon and berries. 

Here’s how to make and assemble it for your family and friends!

Smoked Salmon and Dilled Cream Cheese Bagels

6 whole wheat bagels, sliced and brushed lightly with olive oil and sea salt
12 slices of wild-caught, smoked, sockeye salmon
1 lemon, sliced thinly and cut into half or quarter slices

2- 8 oz. blocks cream cheese, softened to room temperature
½ cup chopped fresh dill
¼ cup chopped fresh chives
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste
dash of Tabasco sauce
dash of Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. mayonnaise

With a fork, blend cream cheese, dill, chives, garlic, salt and pepper, Tabasco, Worcestershire, and mayonnaise until everything is nicely incorporated. Set aside. 

Toast bagels (spread with olive oil and sea salt) under broiler until slightly crisp on oil-brushed side.

To assemble, spread each bagel half with cream cheese mixture, place one slice of salmon on top of cream cheese, then place two lemon slices on salmon. Serve immediately. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Desert Black Bean Soup

Day 23

 I can’t believe that significant areas of Maryland and Virginia are still getting snow well into April. Even though spring is technically here, it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Since the weather is predicted to turn warmer very soon, I thought this might be a good time to add a soup recipe that is sure to please before the heat arrives and stays. 
Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2013

I created this black bean soup recipe after Doug’s and my summer adventure near Moab, Utah. We drove there to camp and to visit Arches National Park. After an afternoon hike to Delicate Arch, we retreated to a restaurant near our campsite that was recommended by some locals we met. We were told that we simply had to try their famous black bean soup.

Despite our being in the throes of the oppressive desert heat of summer time, we sat down in the rustic, nicely air-conditioned Moab Brewery—the only micro-brewery in Moab. Ordering specialty beer and black bean soup, we began to feel re-energized, ready for what was reported to us as “the best black bean soup in the world”. Now, let it suffice to say that I haven’t consumed enough bean soup to truly critique it to that degree, but there is no arguing that Moab Brewery’s black bean soup was extraordinary. And, most particularly, I appreciated the textures, flavor, and even the fact that it was a hot soup, in spite of the summer temperatures. 

Carefully tasting and savoring to determine the subtle ingredients and flavor nuances, I took notes. As you might have guessed, I tried to recreate it as soon as we arrived home. Although I definitely have not perfectly duplicated the original, I’ve tweaked and tried several times. I’ll keep trying, but until the final result, I’m happy to pass along this tasty version.

Because it is lighter than most soups, I recommend serving it with pita bread or light flat bread rather than heavier loaves or cornbread. Also, this soup has no meat in it, although I did use chicken stock. You could absolutely substitute that for vegetable broth if you desire a vegetarian version of the soup. 

If you’re ever in Moab, Utah, hike through Arches National Park, then stop by the Moab Brewery and order the black bean soup and a specialty beer. You’ll be ever so glad you did!

Until that adventure, I hope you will enjoy my version of their specialty!

Desert Black Bean Soup

4 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large red onion, chopped 
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and chopped finely
3 cups chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large, vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeds removed, and chopped OR 1 (28-oz) can of whole plum tomatoes, pureed in food processor with juice
2 cups yellow corn
3 cups chicken stock
3 tbs. good quality chili powder
2 tbs. cumin
2 tbs. paprika
1 tbs. coarsely ground black pepper
1 tbs. salt

Dash of lime juice
Grated smoked Gouda cheese
Chopped green onion
Sour cream


In a large dutch oven or stock pot, sauté onion and green pepper in olive oil. Once translucent, add garlic and jalapeno and sauté for one minute more. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, black beans, corn, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and black pepper. Stir. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, allowing flavors to blend. Add cilantro and gently stir.

Serve immediately with a dash of lime juice, chopped green onions, grated cheese, and a dollop sour cream.