Monday, March 17, 2014

Recipe: Crustless Swiss Chard and Mushroom Quiche

My family just received the first batch of vegetables from this season's CSA. It seems like there's always Swiss Chard in those packages, and last year we barely used any of it! What a waste! I just don't have much experience cooking it or even seeing it in restaurants, but I know it can be used much like spinach. With that in mind, I thought I'd try to make a quiche with it. 

This recipe is a more or less "healthy" version of quiche, a traditionally heavy and calorie laden dish. First of all, it's crustless. Second of all, it uses half and half instead of heavy cream. Lastly, the volume of cream and egg mixture that often becomes the primary component of quiche is reduced, and the vegetables take center stage. If you prefer to add more cheese, go for it! Same goes for a crust (but it really doesn't need one)!


  • 1 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 Medium sized white onion, diced
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 medium bunch Swiss chard, chopped
  • 1 13 ounce container baby bella mushrooms, stems removed and slice

1. Wash, dry, and coarsely chop the swiss chard, then sauté in a large saucepan over medium heat in 1tbsp. olive oil, stirring frequently. After about 5 minutes, it will be totally wilted; remove from pan and set aside in a bowl.

 2. Melt the butter in the pan, and cook mushrooms until they release their liquid. Let the liquid cook off; about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the chard and onion. 

3. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to the pan, and sauté the onions over medium high heat until they start to soften and caramelize. (I also added some Harvey's Sherry...but that's not a necessary step) Remove the onions from pan and add to swiss chard.

4. Whisk together eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and grated cheese. 

5. Stir together the chard, onion, and mushroom mixture, then add it to the egg and cream mixture. Stir to combine.
 6. Pour the mix into a 9 inch glass pie pan and bake for 30-40 minutes.

     7. Remove from oven and let rest at least 10 minutes before serving (to let the center firm up).

Monday, March 3, 2014

Angry Shrimp and Barnacles! Newtown's Newest Restaurant, Barnwood Grill

There's a new dining option in Newtown; Barnwood Grill, located in the Caraluzzi's Market complex. Unassuming from the outside, it's a large space with high ceilings, brick walls, and reclaimed barn wood from Kent, CT. The dining room side has a long wall of windows, offering a romantic view of the Big Y across the street... The location isn't ideal but the bar, on the other side of the dining room, is flatteringly lit and a nice size. The long bar allows for plenty of room between seats, and high top tables run the length of the wall behind.

I didn't go with the intention to write a review, but the experience must be shared.

I heard about Barnwood Grill from a friend, and after hearing an excellent report on the food, decided to check it out. Of course, the bar is always my go-to spot, so we posted up at the corner and ordered some beers. There's a decent selection, and they had 2 Roads "Road to Ruin" Double IPA as well as Goose Island IPA, so I was happy.

We weren't hungry enough for a full-blown exploration of the menu, but we tried 4 appetizers: the tuna flatbread, stuffed mushroom, shrimp cocktail, and mussels.

With brutal honesty, I must say that we were not impressed.

The tuna flatbread was pretty to look at, but quite odd. It was essentially tuna carpaccio gone wrong. The tuna itself was good, but putting it on top of flatbread was not an enhancement. We pointedly removed all of the tuna from the flatbread and ate it plain (though it was topped with standard seaweed salad). Not bad once the offending element was removed, but not a dish I'd order again.

Tuna Flatbread

 The mussels were the smallest I have ever encountered. Like mussels for dolls. The broth, however, was tasty and we soaked it up with the warm crusty bread that had been delivered upon our arrival (along with a strongly garlic enhanced butter). Halfway through the broth soaking process we discovered a barnacle encrusted mussel and decided to move on (but not until we added it to our pointed pile of flatbread). It's not that barnacles are bad for you, but I don't want a second animal cooked with the animal I ordered. Flies live near cows, but I don't want flies in my beef, even though flies won't kill me.

Will they get the message?

By now, we were skeptical. The stuffed mushroom, which was described as having broccoli and shrimp, displayed perhaps a trace of broccoli, but there were no shrimp in attendance. The portobello mushroom cap was nicely cooked though, and it was served over julienned sauteed vegetables that were quite tasty. I'd be happy with just a plate of those. Personally, I prefer several small mushrooms when I order stuffed mushrooms, but that's just personal taste.

Lastly, we tried the cold shrimp cocktail. A resounding fail. They were extremely tough. Unreasonably tough. So tough that we could only ruminate on what sad, difficult, painful childhoods they must have had to end up in such a state.

Angry shrimp
Conclusion: I will still go back, because the beer selection is good, the ambiance in the bar was pleasant, and it's a change of scene. I'd even try more food, but next time I'll stick to the standards. Calamari and salad, anyone? 

Appetizers: $10-$15
Entrees: $16-$25