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Quiche muffins

Thinking of something light I could make for a friend dropping in for lunch that would also be fine for Nicholas, I remembered coming across a recipe for making mini quiches without pastry. For some strange reason I hadn’t saved it on my Pinterest cooking board, so I had to make it up. Thankfully not that difficult.

Instead of pastry, the muffin ‘cases’ are made with ham. One of those brilliant ideas you wonder why you never thought of it yourself. Even if you buy ready-made pastry you need to cut it out and prebake it just to make sure it cooks through. Not that I’m a lazy cook (well…) but I do love a super quick recipe that requires very little thinking. Also not having pastry means it’s great if you happen to be following the Dukan diet.

I tried using prosciutto for some and slices of peppered cooked ham for others. While the ham was yummy, the prosciutto was nicer because it crisps up, especially around the edges. If you use prosciutto, be careful not to add too much salt to the egg mixture as the prosciutto is salty.

Like traditional quiches you can really add almost anything you want. Fry up some onion and pop it in the bottom before you pour in the egg mixture, do they same with mushrooms or asparagus tips, add a slice of tomato or, my favourite, add a dollop of creme fraiche.

I have yet to master lining the cups so the egg mixture doesn’t run out (you can see in my photo that it looks more like the prosciutto is through the muffin rather than encasing it), but so long as you grease the cups beforehand and then run a knife around the edge after they’re done, it doesn’t really matter.

They’d be great in lunch boxes or to take on a picnic. I can also see them smaller as party finger food. Definitely versatile! I haven’t tried freezing them yet; they’d probably need a bit of time in the oven to crisp up after thawing.

QUICHE MUFFINS

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15-18 mins
Makes 6 large muffins

6 slices prosciutto (Parma ham)
6 eggs
2 tbsp milk
20g cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
Oil for greasing muffin tray

Preheat oven to 175C.

Lightly grease a 6-cup muffin tray and line each muffin cup with prosciutto.

Lightly beat the eggs and milk together and season. Pour evenly into each cup (don’t worry if it doesn’t seem enough mixture as it will rise as it cooks). Sprinkle over the grated cheese.

Cook for 15-18 mins until egg mixture has set.

Variations:

  • Add a dollop of creme fraiche to each cup before pouring in the egg mixture.
  • Put lightly fried onion in each cup before pouring in the egg mixture.
  • Add cooked mushroom or asparagus tips, or sliced tomato
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Mini carbonara

As an Italian living abroad my husband has two recurring food grumbles. I think you can probably easily guess one of them. Yes, it’s coffee! I can’t really say too much about this as I was a bit of a coffee snob before living in Italy, so ended up being an even bigger one, and it tends to be me more than hubby turning up my nose at things like Nespresso pods. However, I do love his child-like optimism and hopefulness when trying coffee in a new place and patiently explaining to the waiter it’s not necessary to fill the little cup right up (while I’m pessimistic and opt for tea!).

His other grumble, about which our friends have endured many a lengthy conversation, is carbonara. He can talk for ages about his disgust at what passes for carbonara in many restaurants outside Italy, his disbelief at the additions people make to it, and the right way of making it. I love his passion for his culture, and for this reason I’ve never admitted making ‘carbonara’ during my university days from a recipe using evaporated milk, for fear of divorce!

Making a carbonara for Nicholas, hubby was happy to be a little bit more flexible. His less salty toddler version uses prosciutto (parma ham) instead of pancetta or guanciale and parmigiano (parmesan) rather than the saltier pecorino. He used a quail’s egg simply for its smaller size, but you could also beat up an egg and use half the mixture instead. Hubby would approve of that πŸ˜‰

The most important thing when preparing any kind of carbonara is to have the sauce ingredients ready once the pasta is cooked, so you can drain the pasta and immediately mix through the sauce.

Enjoy this authentically Italian toddler version of a famous pasta recipe!

MINI CARBONARA

Prep time: 5-10 mins
Cook time: about 15 mins depending on which type of pasta you cook
Makes 1 toddler serving

1 slice prosciutto (Parma ham), cut into small pieces
drizzle of olive oil
30g pasta
1 quail egg, lightly beaten (or 1/2 beaten egg)
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp parmigiano (parmesan)

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a small frying pan and cook the prosciutto over a med-high heat until crispy. Take off the heat and leave.

Cook pasta as directed on the packet, but without adding salt to the water.

As the pasta is cooking, put the beaten quail egg into a bowl big enough to add and mix the pasta in. Add a pinch of pepper and the parmigiano to the egg and mix well.

As soon as the pasta is cooked, quickly drain it (keeping a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water) and put it in with the egg mixture. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat the pasta. Put it into the frying pan with the crispy prosciutto and stir constantly over a medium heat until the egg is just cooked (1-2 mins), adding a little of the reserved cooking water from the pasta if it seems to be getting too dry (you want a lovely creamy consistency to the sauce).

Serve and blow on it so you can eat it as soon as possible.

Variations: none!

Cod in prosciutto with courgettes (adult recipe)

As promised in my previous post, the recipe for a great zucchini/courgette side dish. It goes fantastically with any fish and can turn a rather boring piece of poached or fried fish into something more special.

I came across this way of cooking zucchini through a Jill Dupleix recipe I’m fairly sure was in The Times when she was a food writer for them. Her idea of wrapping cod (or any white fish) in prosciutto is very yummy and a great way to avoid overcooking the fish. She has a cod in prosciutto recipe on her website but she serves it with cabbage (I’m not convinced I’d like it as much as the zucchini!).

Jill Dupleix suggests the variation of substituting the prosciutto for streaky bacon which I’m sure would work very well. When I made this a few days ago I was sure we had prosciutto in the fridge (I live with an Italian after all!), but when I came to make it I discovered it was pancetta. I used the pancetta without saying anything to hubby but after his first mouthful his critique was ‘Pancetta’s too sweet for this recipe’. And he’s probably right!

If I’m making this for other people I cut the fish into smaller pieces, as the recipe suggests, to look prettier, otherwise I just wrap the whole fillet. To wrap the fish, lay your slices of prosciutto horizontally on a cutting board overlapping a little. Place the fish vertically in the middle making sure very little if any of the fillet extends beyond the prosciutto at the top and bottom. Bring the prosciutto over on one side and then the other, folding in any excess.

The only thing I’ve changed from the original recipe is to omit seasoning the fish well before wrapping in the prosciutto. Sometimes I use some black pepper, but never any salt as the prosciutto is salty enough. The weight of the fish is also very generous in the original recipe; I usually use 150g more or less for each person.

I tend to always use caraway seeds in the zucchini rather than fennel. Caraway has a subtler flavour and hubby isn’t a great fan of fennel seeds. Why not try both and see which you prefer?

COD IN PROSCIUTTO WITH COURGETTES

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Serves 2 adults

2 cod fillets, 150-180g each
4-6 slices prosciutto
1 tbsp olive oil
2 courgettes, washed
1 tsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp fennel or caraway seeds
salt and pepper
a few sprigs of parsley to serve

Trim cod into neat squares or rectangles. Wrap them neatly in prosciutto. Warm two dinner plates in the oven.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over a medium heat in a non-stick frying pan and cook fish presentation-side down first, until prosciutto is crisp (about 3-4 mins). Turn and cook until other side is crisp and fish just cooked through (another 3-4 mins).

While the fish is cooking, coursely grate the unpeeled courgettes. Heat butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a second non-stick frying pan over a med-high heat and toss courgette very quickly in the hot pan, adding lemon juice, fennel or caraway seeds, salt and pepper.

Arrange courgettes on the two warmed plates, top with the cod and some sprigs of parsley.

Variations:

  • Use any other white fish (haddock, plaice, etc.)
  • Use streaky bacon instead of prosciutto (you’ll need about 6-8 slices)

Other uses:

  • The courgette works well as a side with any fish