Barefoot In The Kitchen: Making Simple, Elegant

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Inviting friends over for dinner or brunch doesn’t have to be daunting nor expensive yet can still be elegant AND with a little prep work in the days before, it can be very quickly prepared.

The Menu

Sausage, Mushroom, Spinach Quiche
( You can use any combination of meats, veggies and cheese as you prefer)
Light Spring/Summer Salad
(Serve meal with Wine of choice)
Creme Brulee
Serve with French Pressed Coffee
(offer with raw sugar cubes and the leftover real cream. Divine!)

Prep Ahead! I bake creme brulee a day or two in advance. I also cook the quiche filling and grate cheese the day before.  The day of the event is reduced to whipping egg mixture for the quiche, salad assembly and caramelizing the sugar on the Creme Brulee!

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INGREDIENTS

Servings: 6
½ pound  sausage
½ cup onion, chopped
½ cup mushroom, chopped
4 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
6 eggs
1 cup cream
1 premade pie crust, thawed
2 c. gruyere cheese shredded

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 350˚F/180˚C.
Cook sausage over medium-high until lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes, being sure to break up the meat into a fine mince.
Remove cooked sausage from pan and wipe away excess fat with a paper towel.
Add onion and sauté until softened and translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, salt, and pepper and continue to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add chopped spinach and cook until wilted and no extra liquid has accumulated in the bottom of the pan.
Once cooked, remove the spinach and mushroom mixture from the pan and combine it with the reserved cooked sausage. Stir to mix evenly.
Combine eggs and cream. Lightly whisk until just combined.
place pie crust into pie plate or tart pan. prick the entire bottom with a fork for crispiness and to keep it from bubbling up.
Add sausage and spinach mixture to the bottom of a prepared 9-inch pie crust, making sure to spread it evenly. Top with cheese.  Pour in beaten eggs to fill the rest of the pie crust.
Bake at 350˚F/180˚C for 25 minutes or until the eggs are set and the top is lightly browned. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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For The Salad, I used a bag of spring greens, thinly sliced red onion, sliced grape tomatoes and used my potato peeler to slice wide strips of parmesan.

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Creme Brulee 

INGREDIENTS:

1 pint whipping or heavy cream (2 cups)
4 egg yolks from large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch salt, optional and to taste
about 3 to 4 cups water, for water bath
1 to 2 teaspoons superfine sugar per each ramekin, for caramelizing (granulated may be substituted but superfine melts more smoothly and evenly)

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 300F. Place 6 ramekins in a 9×13 pan or large baking pan that will be used for a water bath. Spray ramekins with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

Add the cream to a 2-cup glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high power until cream begins to bubble just a bit, but don’t let it come to a full boil; it took 3 1/2 minutes in my micro (or heat cream over medium heat on the stove, about 10 minutes). Remove cream from micro; set aside to cool.

Separate eggs, placing yolks in a large bowl. I find picking out the yolks (Use the whites for another recipe or discard.) To the large bowl with the yolks, add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and whisk vigorously for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is lighter and paler in color, and has fluffed in volume. set aside.

With a spoon, remove any skin that’s formed on the cream. It will be quite warm, but not scalding. (it should read 165F max on a thermometer.)

Very slowly pour about 1/4 cup of cream into the eggs, whisking the whole time. This is tempering the eggs (getting them used to the warm cream) so you don’t scramble them.
Continue pouring the cream into the eggs very slowly, whisking the whole time. Add the vanilla, optional salt, and whisk to combine.

Evenly pour mixture into prepared ramekins; set aside.

Add 2 cups water to 2-cup glass measuring cup and microwave on high power until boiling, about 4 minutes.

Slowly and carefully pour the hot water into the 9×13 pan. The water creates a water bath so the crème brûlée bakes more evenly. Make sure the water isn’t being poured onto or splashing into the ramekins. Top off with more very hot tap water until the water level in the pan is about as high as the level of crème brûlée inside the cups.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until set with some jiggle. The crème brûlée will set up more as it cools. If you open the oven and gently move the baking pan and the crème brûlée makes a wave-like motion, more than just slight jiggling, they’re not done. They should not be browned and won’t rise.

Remove pan from the oven and very carefully with an oven mitt, remove ramekins from water bath and place them on a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.

Cover them with lids or plastic wrap, and transfer to fridge to chill for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days in advance.

Prior to serving, evenly sprinkle each ramekin with 1 to 2 teaspoons superfine sugar. I prefer 2 teaspoons each to achieve an appropriately thick caramelized top layer.

Using a torch held about 6 inches away from the surface, heat the sugar, making sure to keep the torch moving evenly to prevent burning. When sugar is sufficiently caramelized to your liking, serve immediately.

ENJOY!

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