Cookery Maven Blog

Sassy Quiche

I'm back after a hiatus due to a pinched nerve in my neck and a numb right arm— I have a whole new appreciation for the phrase 'a pain in the neck', heating pads and Ben-Gay. I have to admit, I really missed taking pictures and writing about my dinners, dogs, waterfalls, photo safaris and all the other pieces that make up the mosaic of a Mary Dougherty day. The good news is it forced me to (kind of) clean up my hedonistic eating habits and I'm proud to say I throw back a quart of green smoothie every morning. And there's even more good news— before my nerves staged their insurrection in my neck, I made these beautiful little quiches with Sassy Nanny chevre and Northern Smokehaus pancetta. There's something about my red tartlet pans that makes my heart go pitter-pat (and it doesn't hurt there was pancetta and chevre involved).

I feel like I've catapulted myself over into 'I have a rolling-pin and I know how to use it' land every time I make my own shortcrust pastry, it's not as hard as I thought and nine times out of ten, it actually works out. When I find myself in 'what the hell am I supposed to do with this rolling pin' land, there is a package of Pillsbury pie crusts in the freezer that's perfectly acceptable and flaky. I used a recipe from Rachel Allen (recipe here) but use whatever recipe (or refrigerated pie crust) you feel comfortable with— it's really all about the filling, in my opinion.

Sassy Quiche

6 tartlet pans
3 tbsp butter, melted for the tartlet pans
1 batch of shortcrust pastry or a package of refrigerated pie crusts
3/4 cup red onion, chopped
3/4 pound of pancetta or bacon
1/2 cup of Parmesan, shredded
3/4 pound Sassy Nanny chevre
4 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium sauté pan, cook the pancetta or bacon until crisp, remove from the pan and set aside. In the same pan you cooked the pancetta, add the red onion and cook until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside with the pancetta. Brush the interiors of the tartlet pans with butter and place rounds of shortcrust pastry in each pan. Press the dough firmly into the sides and bottom of each pan, sprinkle the parmesan over the bottom and set aside. Divide the chevre into 6 equal portions and add it, along with pancetta and onions, to each pan. Combine the eggs and cream, pour into each tartlet pan (until it's about a 1/4 inch from the top of the crust) and sprinkle the rosemary over each pan. Bake in the preheated 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until filling sets and top of quiche is lightly browned. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.

Pancetta Pasta Carbonara

Pancetta, peas and a cream sauce— what's not to like? If that's all I ate for a week, my thighs and arteries might have a list of things not to like but a once a month visit to creamy, salty pasta land won't completely derail my healthy plans for 2013. We have Sunday Funday around here (it helps to have one day a week with a little dietary reckless abandon) and pancetta is the life of the party, as far as I'm concerned. Since I've always had a fondness for peas, I settled on pasta carbonara as our Sunday Funday dinner. It lived up to the hype and was worth the wait— it was a Funday, indeed.

Pasta Carbonara With Pancetta (From The Pioneer Woman website)

12 ounces pasta, any variety
8 ounces pancetta, diced small
1/2 whole red onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 whole eggs
3/4 cups Parmesan, finely grated
3/4 cups heavy cream
Sea salt & plenty of black pepper
1/2 cup peas

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, fry the pancetta until just barely crisp. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Pour off all of the bacon grease, but don't clean the pan. Return the pan to the stove over medium-low heat and throw in the onions and garlic. Cook until golden brown. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix together eggs, Parmesan, cream, and salt and pepper until smooth.

When the pasta is done, reserve a cup or two of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and place it in a bowl. While the pasta is still really hot, slowly drizzle in the egg mixture, stirring the pasta the whole time. The sauce will become thick and should coat the pasta. Splash in a little hot pasta water if needed for consistency.

Halfway through, add the peas, bacon, and sautéed onions and garlic. Finish adding the sauce, stirring until it's all combined.

Add lots of extra Parmesan and serve immediately.

Cherrystone Clams & Chorizo

It was a fruitful trip to Duluth—fresh Cherrystone clams from the grocery store and chorizo from Northern Waters Smokehaus. About once a month I head to Duluth to stock up on things I can't get around here: anything and everything from the Smokehaus, good butter from Mount Royal, shampoo and cocktail napkins from T J Maxx and my favorite soap from Waters of Superior. On this particular excursion to the big city, I was on a mission to find crab legs and stumbled upon these beautiful and sturdy looking clams in the seafood department. They went right into my cart and by the time I hit the checkout, I realized— short of chowder, what on earth was I going to do with 6 pounds of clams?

As luck would have it (since this was an excursion), I had 1 1/2 hours to think about it on my way back to Bayfield. At about the Brule River, I thought stuffing the clams seemed like the right direction to take— it most likely would benefit from butter and wine, it was easy and I have a family who will eat most anything (even clams) if there is some sort of sausage involved. I have to admit, I wasn't sure how it was all going to play out but I suspected it was going to be worth eating. Turns out, not only was it worth eating, those stuffed clams were seriously pretty— some of the shells had the most beautiful, deep purple edge.

Cherrystone Clams Stuffed With Chorizo (Adapted From Monahan's Seafood Market)

8 Cherrystone clams
2 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 tbsp onion, chopped
4 tbsp parsley, minced
2 tbsp basil, minced
1 tbsp oregano, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 of a red pepper, chopped
5 tbsp Parmesan, grated
1 1/2 c (or so) bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 ounces chorizo, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Steam clams in 1/4–1/2 inch of water until they just begin to open. Remove meats and save the shells. Finely chop the clam meats and set aside.

Place the butter in a large sauté pan and heat until the butter is foaming over medium high heat. Sauté chorizo, celery, garlic, onion, herbs and red pepper until chorizo is cooked and the vegetables are softened. Add the wine and continue to cook for another couple of minutes. Combine in mixing bowl with chopped clams, parmesan, lemon, egg and mix in the bread crumbs until the mix holds together in a ball in your hand. Taste for seasoning and stuff the 8 shells. Bake at 375° for about 10–12 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve immediately.

Chicken Liver Pate With Quince, Pancetta & Calvados


I have a distinct memory of being a six year old at the dinner table with a plate full of liverwurst. I wasn't a fan of liverwurst in my younger years and if memory serves me correctly, I don't think I touched it. Fast forward 36 years, liverwurst has been reimagined as pâté and not only do I eat it with verve, I make it on a regular basis. I have to admit, my pâté bears very little resemblance to the Oscar Meyer liverwurst of my youth— it's not wrapped in yellow plastic, pancetta from Northern Waters Smokehaus plays a strong supporting role, the quince adds a hint of floral sweetness and chestnuts give it a satisfying crunch. Perhaps if I was presented with a fancy liverwurst/pâté at the tender age of six, I would've jumped on the organ meat bandwagon a lot sooner. Regardless, I'm on the bandwagon now and it's proving to be a pretty sweet ride.

Chicken Liver Pate With Pancetta, Quince And Calvados (Adapted From Fine Cooking Party Food)

3 containers (15 ounces each) fresh, all natural chicken livers
6 tbsp olive oil
1 pound pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch dice
3 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 quince, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tsp rosemary, finely chopped
1 cup Calvados
2 sticks of butter (16 tbsp), at room temperature
3/4 cup chestnuts, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Rinse the livers and trim off the tough tissue that connects the lobes; pat dry.

In a sauté pan over medium high heat, sauté the chestnuts until they are fragrant and start to turn golden brown. Set aside.

In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat and add the chicken livers, seasoning with a small amount of salt. Cook the livers, turning once or twice, to medium rare, lightly browning on both sides, about 4 minutes. Set the livers aside and add the pancetta, shallots, garlic, quince, rosemary and thyme to the pan. Gently sauté over medium heat until the pancetta is slightly colored and the shallots and quince are softened. Add the Calvados and deglaze the pan, scraping with a wooden spoon and cooking until the Calvados is reduced to about 1/3 cup. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a food processor, combine the cooled livers, pancetta mixture and butter; process until well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Line small bowls or ramekins with plastic wrap. equally divide the chestnuts among the bowls and then add the pâté, lightly it covering with the plastic wrap and refrigerate until set. Grind additional pepper over the top before serving with crackers or slices of baguette. Keeps for a week in the refrigerator and up to 3 months (well-wrapped) in the freezer.

The Day After The WinterDash

I did something extremely out of character yesterday- I participated in Ashwabay's first ever 5K WinterDash. Basically, it was an obstacle course on the ski hill, in the woods and in the snow. While athletic prowess is not one of the top ten things about Mary, it was a grand adventure. My friends Ellen, Meghan and Tammy tackled the course with me and we finished the race with great style and panache. My friend Julie captured the 'Final Four' finish. Last but not least, right??

All that exercise got me thinking about grocery shopping. Ted suggested a trip to Duluth today and that means a stop at one of my favorite places- Northern Waters Smokehaus. The first time I stepped in that store a few years ago, I thought I had died and gone to heaven- country pâté, bacon, pancetta, chorizo, andouille and the best coriander and black pepper smoked salmon I have ever eaten. They use local meats and fish- Berkshire pork from Iowa, bison from North Dakota, free range turkey from Minnesota and fish from Lake Superior. I am a sucker for smoked and cured meats wrapped in white butcher paper. Seeing all those packages in my refrigerator gives me a thrill.

The next stop on our provisioning trip was a stop at Tetzner's Dairy to pick up milk. Tetzner's is a dairy farm about 10 miles from my house, outside Washburn. They sell the milk and ice cream in an outbuilding on the honor system. You write your purchases (in pencil) on an envelope, put the money in the envelope and deposit it in a black box attached to the counter. The cows have a stunning view of Lake Superior and Chequamegon Bay- I think that is why the milk tastes so good. Of course, my favorite part of the stop is the friendly black lab who meanders up to say hello.

Last stop in the provisioning tour was picking up the eggs my friend, Jennifer, gathers from her hens. I can say with absolute certainty, once you taste fresh, local eggs you will never be satisfied with grocery store eggs. We go through at least a dozen a week. My son Charlie loves scrambled eggs but will only make them if they are 'local eggs'. The eggs are dropped off in a cooler in the basement of a house a couple blocks over. You bring your empty cartons back (I am horrible at remembering to do this), cross your name of the list and head home with Jennifer's hens hard work nestled in a carton.

In the interest of full disclosure, Ted and I ate at Culver's (I like the onion rings) on the way into Duluth and stopped at Sam's Club (the kids eat hundreds of granola bars and thousands of bowls of cereal a week). Life is a series of small steps forward and few steps backward....I think we are making progess.