A Simple and Elegant Luncheon

Every once in a while, I want more than a simple sandwich or a soup for my luncheon, even at work. On those occasions, I hearken back to a recipe from my vegetarian days that my mother made for me: broccoli and cheese quiche.

It either sounds overly twee for a weekday lunch (“quiche”) or it sounds like nothing special (“broccoli and cheese”), and yet somehow ends up a little of both. Fresh broccoli is lightly steamed and combined with onions sauteed in a little bacon grease. The smells coming from the kitchen are intoxicating, mostly bacon and onions as the broccoli is not cooked long enough to render its often-unpleasant smell.

A single pie crust’s worth of dough is resting in the fridge, waiting to emerge and be rolled into submission. The oven heats. The kitchen is waiting expectantly to burst into activity. I crack six eggs into a bowl and add a splash of cream, a dash of salt, pepper, paprika, and a grating of nutmeg. Whisking is vigorous but controlled, until the whole mixture forms a kind of creamy, light-golden fluid.

The onions have taken on just a hint of brown from the bottom of the pan, so I turn the burner off and tip them into the bowl with the vibrantly-green florets. I attack the dough. A buttery-rich mass, so simple in its composition of butter, flour, salt, and water, yields under the roller into a pliable, smooth circle. Into the pie plate it goes. I make short and rustic work of crimping the edge, and then tip the veggies into the crust. The eggs pour over, just filling the crust, along with a cup of shredded Emmentaler cheese, a Swiss cheese whose light sweetness balances the heartiness of broccoli and onions. Into the oven it goes.

It bakes for almost three quarters of an hour, puffing up and falling down and browning deliciously. The smell is amazing. And then out it comes, to wait on a hot pad until it cools almost to room temperature. At which time it is sliced into large wedges and boxed up for the week to come, tucked away in the fridge and freezer, ready to re-emerge as a delicious lunch.

[Recipe from Martha Stewart.]

A Very Busy Weekend Indeed

Well, I’m heading into Tech Week for the play in which I am currently involved, so the coming week promises to be hectic. We actually started yesterday, when I spent almost twelve hours out, moving and building set pieces, checking costumes, doing a cue-to-cue rehearsal, and then topped it all off with another audition in the evening!

But it all started Saturday. I realized that Sunday’s busy schedule meant I would not be free to prep food for my week. It was doubly critical to have healthy homemade food this week because tech means eating dinners out and having a lot of stress and not nearly enough sleep. So homemade breakfasts and lunches were essential. But they also had to be really quick, so I could throw them together even when I chose to sleep an extra half hour instead of getting up to get ready on time. I also wanted to make sure I had a healthy choice for building day Sunday because it looked like it was going to be all donuts and pizza and soda.

So I spent Saturday cooking. I made a winter vegetable lasagna that turned out pretty well. There are still one or two more tweaks to make before I deem it perfect and put it on the blog. Perhaps next weekend I’ll make another. But it was made with a base of pureed winter squash thinned with a little broth instead of tomato sauce, and then layered with sauteed portobella mushrooms, baby spinach, grana padano cheese, and whole wheat no-bake lasagna noodles. It was just cheesy enough without being too rich, and packed full of veggies. I also made egg muffins, which are kind of like mini crustless quiches. Just eggs whisked up with some chopped steamed kale, roasted grape tomatoes, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, all poured into muffin cups and baked. Then, just because I could, I finally made Conor’s Dreaded Sausage Rolls, although I went more traditional with sage and garlic sausage, mainly because I didn’t have fennel. They were still amazing. Almost too good to dip in HP sauce. Almost. There were even a few left over!

Thoroughly exhausted, I fell into bed on Saturday. I awoke bright and early on Sunday, and showered. I put on grubby clothes for building, and packed up my audition things in one bag, and my stage prep kits in another. Audition things were nice clothes, my everyday makeup kit, my portfolio with my audition materials, and jewelry. Stage prep included my stage makeup bag, Spanx, spare stockings, heavy-duty hairspray, and styling tools. Then, I made a cup of tea in my travel mug and pureed some mango that I had defrosted the day before. This I strained and added turmeric and ginger for a base for kefir-mango lassis for breakfasts this week. I was out the door more-or-less on time to help load the truck and move all our props, costumes, and sets to the theater.

There, we assembled the set in place, which meant I got to use the drill a lot. I like using the drill; it gives one a sense of purpose. I also got to share my egg muffins with the cast, who were dubious of the idea of kale for breakfast, but tried them just the same. Still, I’ve got a few leftover for this week’s breakfasts. I was glad to have them. I lasted much longer on two of those and a single donut than I would have if I had had only donuts to keep me running. With my travel mug of good Assam tea, I was ready for the morning. The afternoon was mostly checking costumes and props, and then we did our cue-to-cue rehearsal. I got out with just enough time to change into nicer clothes and do my makeup in the car for my audition. I did my standard minimal makeup routine, with a neutral lip, so I looked like myself, only better.

After the audition, which was blessedly shorter than I thought it would be, I made my way home, where Boyfriend had saved my the leftover sausage rolls. I scarfed them down and had a glass of homemade hard cider while dozing off to an episode of Poirot. Monday has found me ready for my week, with provisions to be well fed, and the determination to face this week head-on!