Saturday, July 16, 2011

ROASTED TOMATO, FETA AND ROCKET QUICHE

STARTING OVER – STEP 3 (the marriage)


How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being.
- Oscar Wilde


July. Approaching yet another wedding anniversary and my mind wanders back over 24 years of bliss and, well, truth be told, not so bliss. I am often astonished at the comments some friends make to me about my relationship with my husband, confounded that they somehow hold up my marriage as an object of desire, a model of the ever-elusive "perfect marriage". Nothing in this world is perfect and I am bound to concede my profound belief that everything is as one makes it. I try and hover around the truth in these pages, in the stories that I weave for my readers. Maybe my truth is kissed by the fairytale and filtered through a diaphanous veil of romance, but it is undoubtedly the world in which we live. 24 years is a long time to work on anything, whether sculpture, architectural creation or novel, a long time in which to hammer and chip away, write, erase and rewrite, mold and tweak and reshape. Throw into the formula two uncontrollable sons, several odd dogs, a Bohemian lifestyle, a passion for adventure and the unusual, 3 languages, 2 religions and an innumerable number of nationalities and cultures and you have quite a job cut out for you.



Life is a bumpy road full of potholes, unexpected detours, miles of unattractive strip malls and the occasional, disagreeable risk of being pulled over by the cops. Yet there are also long, luxurious stretches flavored with a spectacular landscape enjoyed to the dulcet strains of jazz floating from the radio or, better yet, the invigorating beat of our favorite rock-n-roll station. Hands firmly on the wheel, eyeglasses perched on the end of one's nose and window rolled down just low enough to allow for the warm breeze to sweep across one's cheek, we move briskly forward, no U-turns allowed, punctuated by the intermittent, impromptu stop for a lunch or coffee break or a refreshing nap. We follow the road and we follow the rules; we glance at the road signs and at the map spread out on the passenger seat. Not always quite sure where we are going or what we will find when we get there, we simply try and achieve our goal of reaching our destination in safety and happiness. Life is a wild ride, yes indeed, and JP and I have mapped out a route, a crisscross of highway and tiny side roads, traveling through cities and country towns both, often ad libbing when the mood strikes, certainly hoping for great adventure and a picturesque, soothing atmosphere and stress-free ride.

So as I sit and ponder this thing called marriage, and ours in particular, I wonder what makes this a success. From the very beginning, we spent more than the average amount of time discussing our children: education, language, religion, our place in society. We broke it all down into tiny pieces, analyzed and argued, pontificated, scrutinized and dissected each and every idea and thought. This didn't particularly make raising our kids easier, it gave us neither perfect children, nor did it make us perfect parents, but we can say with confidence that it made us more aware and opened up the door to creativity and innovation, alleviating the worries just a tad and kept us grounded as a family, unafraid to make unconventional choices.


You don't marry someone you can live with,
you marry the person who you cannot live without.
- Anonymous

After the first few bumps on the marriage trail, we began applying this process to our relationship and, truth be told, the harder the ride, the tougher the road, the closer we became and the more we realized that talking together and opening up to the other helped pad us from the brick walls and the tears. Then came the periods of closeness, long passages in which we found ourselves alone together full time, face to face, shopping, cooking, eating, working side by side on our individual projects and taking breaks hand in hand. As many friends have confided, staying home together, spending every waking and sleeping moment together within the same walls is one dangerous situation. There is the risk of stepping on each others' toes, pushing for space and messing up the others' daily routine leading to anger, frustration and fights. Or discovering that there is little to talk about and boredom sets in. Or restlessness. So how is it possible that we have avoided the discord and discontent, the indifference and strife? Or if not avoided it completely, at least accorded it its rightful place and no more.

Is it a secret that you are looking for? Look closely and you will see that it is no secret at all. He and I began this voyage in an odd and unusual way, unconventional from the get-go. And now we are once again on the threshold of starting over and finding ourselves here, reworking the itinerary of this grand voyage, ripping up the map and drawing our own. Home together full time. And it is the simplest of things that makes it work: enjoying each others' company; finding the funny side of everything and laughing as much as possible; sharing the same dream and dreaming big! "You are so lucky," friends tell me. No, luck has little to do with it. Destiny, fate, I am indeed a believer. But like a great recipe for a favorite dish, one must work awfully hard; select each ingredient thoughtfully; chop, blend, stir and simmer with love, care and attention; add lots of spice and pizzazz and serve it up with pride and pleasure. And, above all, enjoy every tiny bit. And don't be afraid to splatter a bit on the floor or down the front of your shirt (or his) every now and then.

"A Straw for the Thirsty" by Richard Lillis, from Private Detective Stories, 1945.

One thing that I absolutely love about having him at home full time now is that he has taken over the kitchen, cooking almost all the meals. Unless, of course, there is a particular dish I am in the mood to make. This week I prepared these delightful, luscious and utterly delicious individual quiches just for the two of us. I so wanted to use up the last of my puff pastry for something savory and fell back on our favorite flavor combination: sweet roasted cherry tomatoes, tangy feta and the sharp bite of rocket (arugula, rucola, roquette). I blended it all into a creamy quiche batter and baked them in my delicate, buttery puff pastry. Tiny, individual quiches are the perfect portion served with a cool, crisp salad followed by fresh fruit. Side by side in front of a good movie, of course.

Have you reserved your tickets for the International Food Blogger Conference in New Orleans, August 25 – 28 yet? If not, don't miss what promises to be a fabulous weekend and experience. I am proud to be speaking about a subject very close to my heart: Food & Culture.


INDIVIDUAL ROASTED CHERRY TOMATOES, FETA, ROCKET AND PINE NUT QUICHE

Follow the basic indications and my links to previously offered recipes and create your own.


One savory (unsweetened) pie crust recipe (recipe and directions here)

-OR-

¼ (for 6) to ½ (for 12) recipe puff pastry (recipe and directions here)

Basic Quiche Filling: for 12 x 4 ½-inch quiches
(make 6 then refrigerate the rest of the batter for a day or two for a new batch with different flavors)

3 large eggs *
1 cup heavy cream, light cream or part cream/part milk *
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Dash nutmeg

* for 6 quiche use 2 large eggs + ½ cup cream

Cherry tomatoes (2 or 3 per quiche)
3 ½ oz (100 g) feta cheese, coarsely crumbled or chopped (for 6 quiches)
Handful of rocket
(arugula, rucola, roquette), coarsely chopped
Handful pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Place the individual quiche tins on a baking sheet.

Start by roasting the cherry tomatoes:


Stir together 2 tablespoons olive oil with 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar in a glass baking dish or pie plate. Season with a little salt and pepper and add 2 peeled and crushed garlic cloves. Toss the cherry tomatoes into the flavored oil and roast for about 20 minutes or until the skins are split and shriveled and the tomatoes start to show signs of roasting (a bit golden). Remove from the oven and allow to cool while preparing the rest.

Prepare the quiches:


Roll out the dough on a floured work surface and line the tins, gently lifting in and pressing down the dough. Trim the edges. Refrigerate the dough-lined tins until ready to fill and bake. This can also be done ahead of time.

Measure out the cream or cream/milk in a large measuring cup then whisk in the eggs until well blended. Season with salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg. Doing this in a measuring cup or glass with a spout or pouring lip is ideal for pouring into individual or mini quiche/tartlet tins avoiding a mess.

Sprinkle a layer of chopped rocket
(arugula, rucola, roquette) then chopped or crumbled feta into each of the tartlet shells. Not too much as each is an overpowering flavor. Snuggle 2 or 3 roasted cherry tomatoes into the rocket and feta in each shell. Now whisk the quiche batter so it is blended and pour carefully into the shells on top of the rocket and feta, pouring around the cherry tomatoes to keep the tops of the tomatoes batter free. Fill up each shell only about 2/3 or ¾ full as it puffs up and rises as it bakes. Sprinkle each quiche with pine nuts.

Slide the whole baking tray with the filled quiche tins into the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until the filling is puffed up and set. The top – or at least the edges – should be a deep golden color.


Quiche are fabulous hot from the oven, warm or room temperature. Or even chilled. Perfect for dinner, lunch, picnic or brunch. I recently made 2-inch mini quiches for a cocktail party filling three ways: gorgonzola + apple, cherry tomatoes + goat cheese, bacon + gruyère.


50 comments:

Kalyn said...

That looks so delicious! I don't think I ever thought of using arugula (rocket) in a quiche, but I'm sure I'd love it.

Rubo said...

I soooo needed to read this and I love you for writing it! Perfect! Oh, and the quiche looks good, too! Bisous.

WiseMóna said...

Jamie,
How lovely to read your love story. I know people envy your long lasting marriage. Unless you are married for a long time people seem to forget that it is hard hard work and compromise that leads to longevity, and splattering of tomato sauce on his shirt too!
Lovely piece and I am sure the recipe rocks. xxx

Marnely Rodriguez said...

I seriously love the look of roasted cherry tomatoes, how they look ready to burst! Your quiche looks awesome, as always dear!

Nisrine said...

I haven't had a good quiche in a while. I wouldn't know how to describe a good one but I know it when I see it. And this is IT.

girlichef said...

I love that Oscar Wilde quote. And these quiche are simply beautiful...I can almost taste them. I would love to be able to attend that conference if just to hear/see you!

Karinvd said...

That looks delicious. And your relationship sounds wonderful, with all it's imperfections maybe. Just people who love each other and make the best of it, enjoying the wonderful road. What's not to love about that?

DebbieK said...

A coworker brought in fresh cherry tomatoes and now I know exactly what to do with them! We all enjoy a beautiful love story and while nothing is perfect, you and JP love, respect and appreciate each other and I send you warmest wishes for a happy anniversary and many many more loving adventures. One of my fav sayings suits your post- Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward in the same direction.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

bunkycooks said...

We are almost to 10 years of marriage and the struggles were different, but we are together full-time, which is a challenge of its on. There are many similarities, so I know how hard it is to make it through all the years of marriage with everything it brings. I hope that you have many more years to write about! Do you think your hubby can convince mine to cook more? ;)

Katy ~ said...

Exquisite!

Cake Duchess said...

How sweet to read about you and your vero amore. I can relate to much of what you wrote. Your quiche look fantastic! I love rucola! How I wish I could see you at NOLA. How about Florida?:)

Maureen said...

Your down to earth openness about your marriage warms my heart.

and these quiches look magnificent!! I don't use enough peppery rocket in my cooking. Great idea.

Linda Harding said...

I love your opening quote from Oscar Wilde - it rings very true!

Love reading your story! Those quiches look so incredibly moreish... wow. Beautiful!

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Jamie, you could be a relationship councilor if you ever decide to retire from the food world. What a great story. The bumps in the road either bring people closer together or tear them apart. We are joined at the hip and do absolutely everything together, but that lifestyle isn't for everyone. Anyone who says marriage isn't hard work doesn't know what a good marriage it.

Love your tomato feta quiche and I'm sure the arugula brings just the right about of bite to it. Wish I could attend that conference. Maybe our paths will cross someday.
Sam

Jamie said...

@Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen: Ha ha ha you described our relationship as well: "joined at the hip and doing absolutely everything together." And I so agree that it is constant, hard work. I do so hope we can meet someday!!

@girlichef: Oh I wish you could come! It's about time we met!

@Linda & Maureen: Always love your visits here!

@Cake Duchess: Um, yes, Florida! We must!

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

These look gorgeous and I wish I was coming to New Orleans! I must show my husband that quote, I think he could learn a lot from it...

Lick My Spoon said...

Yes you are right, 24 years is a very long time to work on something. But hey, something as beautiful as teh Taj Mahal wasn't built in a day right! Cingratulations. My husband worked form home for over 3 years. If I'm honest, I'm overjoyed he will be getting his own office again next month. But then again, he never helped me in the kitchen!

Lisa said...

I think this is one of my favorite posts of yours ever. I cruised with it, I nodded my head, I smiled, I teared up. You so eloquently conveyed exactly what a life long commitment should be. You found your soulmate, Jamie, and so many pass them by, completely miss them, or irrevoccably blow it, meant to be or not.

These quiches look divine, and the flavor combo is right up my alley of flavor combos. Your hubby definitely has mad skills in the kitchen!

Heavenly Housewife said...

I love that Oscar Wilde quote, that's a gem :D, and so is that beautiful quiche. Great summer flavours.
*kisses* HH

Lost In Cheeseland said...

So beautifully articulated. August 2nd marks my 3 year wedding anniversary, 5 years together, and we've had just as many highs and lows in that period as a couple married 24 years. It's work for sure but your post gives me hope that we can overcome even the toughest of moments. And you're certainly right about spending every waking moment with your spouse as becoming very very dangerous - vacations together can get like that too!

As for your recipe - yum! I love making quiches so this is going into my library.

Lora said...

What a beautiful essay on marriage. Great post and the quiche is mouthwatering

Working london mummy said...

What a lovely recipe, great for summer. And a lovely post as well!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Congrats on the 24 years! You are lucky to have such a harmonious relationship, even if it is not all that perfect at times...

What wonderful quiches! So summery and yummy looking.

Cheers,

Rosa

Baker Street said...

24 years is a very long time! Loved reading your post. The quiche looks exquisite ! Cheers Jamie! xoxo

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Such a sweet post Jamie and these flavours are really speaking to me. I think a (mini) quiche might be in my near future :) Happy anniversary to you and JP and wishing you many many more!

A Spoonful of Yumm said...

happy anniversary to you both ! every emotion has been written so beautifully

orangemonk3y said...

Hi there!

I'm new to your blog, and I must admit that you write very well.
How about the pictures? Did you take them yourself?

Jamie said...

@orangemonk3y : Thank you so very much! And the food photos? Yes I do take them myself but it is still a learning process. I am still much more comfortable with words. Thanks for the visit and welcome!

lisaiscooking said...

I agree that laughing together is key. And, how wonderful that your husband like to cook! These quiches are a terrific use of puff pastry. The filling sounds great, and I especially like the pine nuts on top.

Aimée W. said...

"But like a great recipe for a favorite dish, one must work awfully hard..."

What a gorgeous analogy!

There are just so many things to admire about you, Jamie: your heartfelt honesty and wisdom about marriage being one of them.

May try and adapt this recipe to feed a crowd :) Brunch-themed dinner party coming up!

Kelley said...

Looks gooooood! Pictures are wonderful as well.

Lazaro Cooks said...

Perfectly executed quiche. Classic flavor combo.

Bravo.

moveme said...

I want to eat the picture-really it seems so delicious.And your stories are so beautiful indeed!


Moving Company

Anonymous said...

We made some for last night. The roasted tomatoes add exquisite taste. Turned out fantastic! Thanks for the recipe!

Recipe lover

Nuts about food said...

I had left a long comment yesterday but must have done something wrong when I was publishing it...in a few words, I agree, marriage is not "lucky". Being healthy is lucky, being blessed with wonderful children is lucky. Marriage is sharing, love, adjusting, concessions. It is hard work, work you do every day, over the course of many years. So you are lucky to have met JP but it is thanks to both of you that you are together and happy after all these years.

Sanjeeta kk said...

This Quiche looks wonderful, Jamie. Love the idea of roasting the cherry tomatoes. And what a lovely thought it is "You don't marry someone you can live with, you marry the person who you cannot live without"!

Jamie said...

@Sanjeeta kk: funny that everyone else noticed the Oscar Wilde quote except you who picked up on the second quote which I was just pondering this morning. I think it is perfect!

Katrina {In Katrina's Kitchen} said...

First of all I want to dive into this quiche! And I love what you said about marriage. In our 10 years we have certainly seen sickness and health and have been richer and poorer. It is hard work but worth it. Congrats to you both. ♥- Katrina

Rambling Tart said...

I love your beautiful little quiches, Jamie. I will be moving to be with my man at long last in 3 months. I know there will be adjusting to be done, but I'm so excited to start our lives together. :-) He is my best and dearest friend in addition to all the other good things, and there's no one I'd rather figure things out with than him. :-)

Barbara Bakes said...

Such a beautiful, simple meal. So glad you're enjoying this time together!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Isn't it funny how people see your relationship! And the fact that you're still together enjoying your time together says an awful lot :D Beautiful looking tarts too Jamie!

laura said...

goodness me this looks delightful i might have to have a go myself!

Deeba PAB said...

I need one now...you make me quiche and I shall take you shopping...and we will shop till we drop. I love the steps and the stories, and of course the Oscar Wilde quote ... is that JP? Sweetness... missing you!

Jehanne@thecookingdoctor.co.uk said...

Delicious recipe yet again, I am hooked on your blog. And also, well done on MacTweets, I have contributed for this month's challenge, the link is on MAcTweet's blog:-)

Jeanne said...

Looks fabulous - and you are so right - a good marriage (or relationship) has almost nothing to do with luck!!

Maria @ Scandi Foodie said...

I really enjoyed reading this post especially when I am about to enter a somewhat unconventional marriage myself (with my partner we share 4 cultures and as many languages). Thank you for sharing your thoughts and a recipe for this delicious looking quiche! I can never say no to feta cheese ;-)

Annapet said...

This one, as soon as my tomatoes are ready, I will have to try.

asiangrrl said...

My best friend has been with her hubby on-and-off since she was fifteen (she's forty-one now), married for 15 years. Her words on relationships/marriages: A good marriage is one that works for the people involved, no matter what society may say.

By her definition, you and JP have it going on in spades!

And, quiche. Yum.

Hazel @ Tasty Pursuits said...

I just made these and they are delicious! I especially love the roasted tomatoes, which I'm sure will their way into a few other dishes I'll make in the future. Thanks for a great recipe.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Happy Anniversary to you both. Marriage is as you say full of potholes, but fortunately lots of successes too. I think one of the keys to a good marriage is to have a lot in common with your spouse, which it seems you both do. Respect for each other is also important for any union to work.

Your quiches are lovely and would make a great lunch with a salad and a glass of vino.
Sam

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