Hello! It’s been an embarrassingly long time since I’ve posted anything here, and if you’re one of the handful of people who’ve asked if I’m still doing this thing, thanks for caring and I apologize for such a long wait. Life’s been crazy (when isn’t it?) and while I’ve been stockpiling a bunch of half-baked ideas for ETB, I’ve had a hard time sitting still long enough to fully conceptualize them. That’s not to say I haven’t been cooking — a couple weeks ago, I settled in to my fourth (!) Brooklyn apartment, this time down in Bay Ridge, a lovely neighborhood in the southwest corner of the borough, with this guy. For the first time in a long time (ever?), I’ve got a kitchen that’s set up exactly how I want it to be, with no competition for the stove or fridge space, and I’ve got all my pantry items in one place. Going back and forth between apartments for 15 months was challenging and often stressful, and it especially took a toll on planning food projects. So, now that I’m finally settled in with the best roommate ever for as long as we’re allowed to live in this apartment, I’m hoping I can finally get my act together. Or not. We’ll see! Regardless, I’ve got a lot more peace of mind and I’ve been cooking up a storm — just mostly everyday dishes without ingredient lists or measurements. (And I’m thinking about ways to share that kind of stuff here, too.)
Anyway, on to Kurt Vile and my first legit crusted quiche (recipe here)!
I got into Kurt Vile at the end of 2011 when Smoke Ring For My Halo was on everyone’s best-of lists (I was late to the party) and he’s been in regular rotation since. His new record Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze is one of my favorites of the year and it’s been in my ears nonstop the last couple months. A good amount of Vile’s music is chilled-out, conventional-ish indie rock — great guitar hooks, moments of jangly pop, a few catchy melodies — but just as often he wanders off to the point where it’s easy to get lost and forget that I’m listening to the same song that started six minutes ago. He has a reputation for dark lyrics, but in reality he’s got an amazing, wry sense of humor; in the album’s first song, the almost-title track “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day,” he sings, “Phone ringing off the shelf/ I guess it wanted to kill himself,” and he jokes that he has to think about what kind of wisecracks he’s going to drop that day. Vile, who’s based in Philadelphia, told Pitchfork that he’s mostly a homebody and a “family man” — he’s married with two young kids — and there are a couple times here that he assures his loyalty to his family, like in “Never Run Away” and “Too Hard,” the latter of which is one of the sweetest songs I’ve heard in a while.
It’s finally starting to feel like spring in New York and that’s what this whole record feels like. “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day” calls for a light, springy breakfast, so I made a quiche with greens and sweet caramelized onions. Vile’s homebody-ness is a great parallel because it’s a perfect dish for a leisurely brunch, but you’ve got to stick around for a little while to make it. It’s not incredibly difficult, but there’s a bit of prep work — though some of it, like caramelizing the onions and chopping vegetables, can easily be done ahead of time. It’s also versatile and can be used with pretty much any vegetables or cheeses you have on hand. That’s to say you don’t need to pay super close attention to your measurements, at least when it comes to the veggies: Vile’s songs can space out, and you can kinda do the same — just do your thing and it’ll turn out OK.
One of my favorite verses on the album is in the sprawling last track, “Goldtone,” which starts with, “Sometimes when I get in my zone, you’d think I was stoned/ But I never, as they say, ‘touch the stuff’/ I might be adrift, but I’m still alert/ concentrate my hurt into a gold tone.” Which is to say, things aren’t always as they appear (like the frequent categorization of Vile’s music as stoner-rock). It’s similar to how you might look at this creamy dish and think it’s full of fat — most quiche recipes use a stick of butter in the crust and two cups of heavy cream in the filling, which is kinda nuts, though I’m sure delicious. So while I didn’t skimp on the cheese here, it’s actually not quite as rich as it appears: The crust is made with olive oil instead of butter (and only a few tablespoons of it), as well as skim milk and a couple extra egg whites — but it doesn’t lose any of the flavor.
Adapted, slightly, from Chocolate and Zucchini
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup cold water
Grease your tart pan and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine flours, salt and herbs in a medium bowl. Add the oil and mix with a fork until combined (it will be crumbly). Then add the water, mix with the fork until it’s absorbed and knead with your hands until it comes together in a ball. If the dough is still sticky, add a bit more flour as needed until the dough doesn’t stick to your fingers as easily.
Place the dough on a well-floured surface and roll it out into a circle. (Emphasis on well-floured; this was my first time making a pie or tart crust not made of graham cracker crumbs, and I had to re-roll the dough because it stuck to my counter and I couldn’t lift it — whoops.)
Transfer it to the tart pan and press the dough down along the edges. If there’s any that hangs over the sides, use it to patch up any spots that are too thin (again, can you tell I’m new at this?).
Pour the filling — see below — into the crust and bake for about 30 minutes, until the filling is firm (it’s OK if the center jiggles a little bit).
Inspired by Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
4 small- to medium-sized onions, slice in thin half moons and caramelized (cook on medium-low heat over 2 teaspoons olive oil for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, translucent and sweet)
3 eggs + 2 egg whites
3/4 cup milk, heated
1 cup shredded cheese (I used a cheddar and another similarly textured cheese from the farmer’s market)
1/4 cup ricotta or cottage cheese or add another couple tablespoons of milk
1 1/2 cups vegetables (I used 1/2 cup peas and 1 cup chopped kale)
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper
Mix together eggs, milk, cheese, mustard, oregano, salt and pepper. Then add in onions and other vegetables.