Oven Fries with Lemony Green Dressing + Gruyere (& a Gift)

[Update! Congratulations to Rachel Q, winner of the giveaway!]

Oven Fries with Lemon Green Dressing + Gryere | FoodLovesWriting.com

A long time ago, I heard a superstition that says the activities in which you partake on New Year’s Day set the tone for the way your coming year will go: Spend money, and it will be a year of loss. Receive money, and it will be a year of gain. Work, and you’ll be industrious. Play, and you’ll be full of fun. Eat something green, so the tradition goes, and you can expect the luck of more green (of the financial kind) to find its way to you in the months ahead. So it’s with that old superstition in mind that we bring you today’s cheesy oven fries, kicked up a notch with lemony green dressing, salty and addicting and very green—even though, between us, it’s not exactly money that we’re hoping to find more of in 2013.

(Warning: extremely long post to follow.)

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Gruyère Quiche with Caramelized Red Pepper, Red Onion and Greens

I bought a new purse last week, for the first time since 2006, all because I asked a stranger in a bathroom where she got hers, and she said Target. I enjoy mushrooms now, after 27 years of hating them, because reading this blog post made me want to. I like reading Bon Appetit because I like reading how this girl writes. I’ve taken a photo almost every day this year because I’ve watched other people do it and been motivated.

In cooking as in life, inspiration to try new things can come from almost anywhere. It can be a conversation with a stranger, an article you notice, something quick you look at, maybe sometimes something you read on a blog like this one. For me, with this quiche, it was even simpler: a solid white pan.

ingredients for quiche

The white dish I’m referencing is not mine, but it’s my brother’s, one he set on the counter the other day, and every time I’ve walked into the kitchen and seen it, I’ve thought, Quiche! That pan needs a quiche! So although making homemade pie crusts is not high on my life’s to-do list, I saw no way around it: a store-bought crust could make a quiche, but a store-bought crust could not use that pan. I knew what I had to do.

quiche crust

Turns out the process couldn’t have been simpler. Tuesday night, I mixed flour and salt, cut in butter, added water, and formed the dough into a ball, wrapping it in plastic and sticking it in the fridge. I think it took 15 minutes. Wednesday, I pulled out the dough, rolled it out on parchment (with the confidence that only making perfect homemade apple strudel could have given me) and pressed it into the quiche pan, cutting the edges off the sides.

finished quiche

Choosing the type of quiche was even easier. I looked at what I already had in the kitchen—a red pepper, a red onion, gruyere, some random greens—and found a recipe that made the most of those things. Inspiration by necessity! It begins with caramelizing the vegetables, a step that fills your kitchen with the most incredible aroma of browning peppers and onions mixed with coconut oil. Then you saute the greens, mix all those things with eggs, milk, and cheese, and bam: a golden, flaky quiche with the colors of Christmastime.

sliced quiche

The only change I’d make next time is extra salt—the original recipe said to add to taste, but you add the salt to the cooking peppers and onions, so it’s hard to judge at that point, so now I’d just say to be generous—because when I pulled this out of the oven, it was not only delicious but utterly beautiful, the kind of beautiful that makes you want to take a picture when you don’t have a food blog or have someone over for brunch although it’s not Saturday morning or, you know, make a quiche even without this pretty white pan to put it in.

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that contradiction (fig and gruyere grilled cheese)

grilled cheese with roast chicken and apples

I spent the last weekend (for the most part) off the Internet, and in that time, I went shopping, walked through a cute little downtown, spent time with friends, watched a movie, almost finished a book, cleaned the entire kitchen and the bathroom, took two naps, reorganized all my drawers, braised lentils, roasted skinny asparagus, bought one of those Trader Joe’s pears for like fifty cents because I can’t turn them down.

While I didn’t get offline to prove anything or because the Internet is inherently bad in any way but rather just to simplify my life a little, spend time focusing on the holiday we’d be celebrating, I have to say: Who knew it’d be so darn nice. When Monday morning came (and with it, the end of my self-imposed fast), nobody was more surprised than me to learn I had less of an appetite for social media and more of a desire for life without it. Now I’m wrestling with that strong contradiction of wanting to share while also wanting not to, of struggling with determining what is worth sharing versus what is worthless, of wanting to be more intentional about the things I do, and not just online.

grilled cheese and spring mix

But I guess contradictions are nothing new. I could just as easily tell you how weird it is that while I love today for its green grass and warm weather, I wish for tomorrow. Or while I want to get physical activity into each day, I let things prevent it. Or that sometimes I have a lot to say but don’t. Or want to try new recipes but fall into what’s familiar.

grilled cheese with butter

Like, grilled cheese. Grilled cheese, like apple pie or sandwich platters, is familiar, I know. There’s nothing super exciting or brilliant about having it for dinner. However, hear me out: there are so many (new to me! so look, I’m being creative!) ways to have it! And at least I’m trying them.

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what’s on the mind

puff pastry with spinach

This is going to be the one of the fastest post I’ve written here: I’m giving myself 20 minutes, start to finish. GO!

OK, so that picture above—the one of the beautiful puff pastry?—is from Ina Garten, one of those people I wouldn’t mind being more like. She’s so classy, isn’t she? I love watching her and her little husband, Jeffrey. They’re like the wealthy aunt and uncle I wish I had. If Ina were writing this post, she’d probably have something more interesting to say, unlike me, who, I’m embarrassed to tell you, still (STILL!) has very little else on my mind than the weather. (THE GORGEOUS WEATHER!)

If you’ll permit me: This morning, I drove to work with my windows cracked open, fresh, crisp air whipping inside my little Jetta, and I wore my bright-green spring jacket, not the parka or even my dressy wool coat. Everything was so perfect temperature-wise that I actually left the house early so I could stop at Dunkin Donuts and pick up coffee, as a celebration. I’ve decided it’s good to celebrate things like these, which might seem small to other people, just an increase in temperatures and some melting snow, so what? But to me, while I cruised through puddles, Ella Fitzgerald crooning, this was possibly the best day ever.

In the office, where we still haven’t turned on A/C (hello? it’s February?), we had to plug in the upright fan and point it on us while we worked, donning short sleeves and sipping ice water. At lunch, I swear, I was sweating when I got back into my car. The weatherman said it reached 61 degrees today, two short of the record. But let me tell you, walking down my street, you’d never have believed it.

Anyway, while I was driving home tonight (and there was hardly any traffic!), I realized that days like this are the good stuff worth savoring. After all, I’m too eager to tell you when my commute doubles or the snow makes me late. Shouldn’t I rejoice a little when everything’s completely wonderful?

And that brings me to now, when here I am, sitting at the computer, trying to think of what to tell you about the puff pastry, which is really lovely, but all that comes out is weather. What can I say?

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