Dinner @ 226 - Spinach Quiche & Curried Carrot Soup

In the beginning, I had to ease Jason into the idea of vegetarian meals. "I can grill some sausage on the side, if you like." I would offer in my most domestic voice. He never complained or even wanted the sausage, but I knew how he felt about a meatless meal. If it were an option and I was willing to arrange it, he would eat meat with a side of meat and perhaps a big spoonful of this for a not-so-sweet finish. I, however, am from a different camp and am becoming even more so as the years pass. I am not a vegetarian, but only because I dislike labels and like restrictions on my diet even less. I crave vegetarian meals frequently. I like the lightness of them. I like the way they make my body feel. I sleep better after eating them.

Like I've mentioned before, you have to be a good eater to live in this house. No kidding, I'll crumple up some newspapers and make you sleep in the garage if you're picky. Well, I do believe I picked the perfect husband. I think I would even say that he is the most adventurous eater that I have been with. Actually, I take that back, he definitely is. When we met, he had never tried sushi. Fast forward three years and he suggests we try the Crunchy Eel Skin Rolls, "ya know... just to say we've had them." I've been with guys that don't like tomatoes. Jason's favorite summer snack, is a soft warm-from-the-sun tomato from our garden sliced and placed on crusty bread with some butter and a dusting of salt and pepper. And, he's right, it really is magical. There has been a boyfriend that didn't (and incidentally, still doesn't) eat onions. Needless to say, it is fortuitous that we didn't end up together because so many meals I prepare start with an onion. I love you, onion, and thankfully, so does Jason. One of our friends doesn't eat vegetables (except his newest and bravest trial of Mushroom Risotto, which he liked and his wife beamed with pride). Can you even imagine? No vegetables. These people are wild, I tell you. I've also *been with people that don't like spicy foods (Jason eats wasabi for a snack), lettuce, mint, coffee, chicken, almonds, balsamic vinegar, mushrooms, kidney beans, and all types of ground meat.

The only thing that Jason doesn't care for? Carrots. Yep, carrots. I will never understand why they offend him so. And, when I say he doesn't like them, I simply mean they are not his ideal vegetable. He will eat them in the Cumin & Lime Slaw that I make and he also enjoys my carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. He would never send something back at a restaurant because it had a hidden carrot agenda. He would eat it, without comment. He is so very sexy that way, always the last to make a fuss over his own discontent. So, to say that he doesn't like them is a bit of an overstatement. He just doesn't love them.

Though adventurous, this man of mine does love meat. He doesn't really feel like the meal is complete until he sees the protein. And, admittedly, this is how most of America views mealtime. Dinner is not complete less there be a protein, a vegetable, and a starch. For a long time, I also followed the "rules" but truthfully, it got boring and again, with the rules! rules! rules! I believe in balance, but every night needn't have the same components. It is antiquated.

I have a theory about his meat-loving ways. He didn't grow up on fresh vegetables and really, neither did I. He has never had cauliflower seasoned simply and roasted to a caramelized perfection. Or, peak-season ribbons of zucchini, drizzled with olive oil. He's never tasted a sauteed green bean that made him forget about the steak it arrived with. Canned green beans, steamed broccoli and frozen corn can really turn a person into a hard core carnivore after almost thirty years. With my whole family's health in mind, I have slowly cajoled him over to the vegetarian side... at least twice a week. I won this **battle by preparing some kick ass vegetable based meals. Here is one of them.

Spinach Quiche and Curried Carrot Soup
I know they don't sound like the perfect pairing, and they're not. I keep soups frozen for winter nights when I want a quick satisfying fix. The carrot soup was in the freezer and when I gave Reed the choice of soups in there, she picked this one. So, blame her for the strange pairing and feel free to mix and match with your favorite soup.

Spinach Quiche
adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Pate Brisee recipe from over here.
Please make this Spinach Quiche, its outstanding. I am willing to bet that you have almost all the ingredients in your kitchen at this very moment. And, if you make the pastry dough ahead of time, it will take mere moments to throw together. This is my first quiche ever and it turned out perfectly. That happens rarely and when it does...well, you blog about it, duh. My whole family loved it, and you can eat it for breakfast. They did, this morning, and loved it all over again.

1/2 a recipe of Pate Brisee

Roll out your chilled pastry dough and transfer to a tart pan. If you need some instructions, I got my method over here and I believe it to be flawless. But, if you need further instruction, leave a comment and I'll walk you through it.

3 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup whole milk
3 eggs
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup grated cheddar
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 leek, white and light green part only, rinsed and sliced into 1/4 inch rounds*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F. Beat cream cheese in medium bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in milk and eggs. Stir in the other ingredients. The mixture will be disconcertingly water-y, but don't worry. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is set, about 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

*I only used leeks because I had them, already cleaned and sliced. They were delicious in the quiche but the original recipe calls for 4-6 green onions, which would be equally tasty, for sure.

Curried Carrot Soup
I make all my soups with homemade chicken or vegetable stock. You should too. It makes all the difference, takes only a few moments of active cooking time and saves you many, many dollars in boxed chicken stock that could never come close to duplicating the flavor of homemade stock. If you want my method, let me know and I'll write up a post about it. As a side note, we served ours with a dollop of sour cream and some fresh cilantro leaves, torn. I will say that even Jason, my luke-warm carrot customer, loved his soup and may have even gone back for seconds.

*Please note that multiple foods could have been disliked by one man. And also, the phrase "been with" is simply a shorter way of saying...came into contact with. I could actually hear you judging.

**This and this movie helped me win the battle. See them if you are interested in how our food is handled before it lands all pretty-like on the grocery store shelves. And, the second one is important if you have children embarking on the neglected public school system lunch program.

** I hope to post "Dinner @ 226" with regularity. I want to test recipes on my poor, unfortunate family and let you know the results, good or bad. That way, you look like a genius to your friends and families. I'll try to demystify the complex steps or rare ingredient and simplify the instructions so you will feel at ease in your kitchen. I hope you don't mind that I am a little long-winded. Feel free to scroll past the personal tidbits to get to the recipes. We'll see how it goes. Enjoy.

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