Crustless Asparagus Quiche and the End of All Dieting

asparagus custard

I was first introduced to a savory custard by the wonderful food blogger, Helene Garcia of French Foodie Baby.  The first savory custard I made was her leek and chive flan and I was a bit afraid at first because we just have ingrained in our minds that custards and flans are supposed to be sweet, but this was a very happy and luxurious surprise.  Basically, in American terms, this is a crustless quiche.  Only waaaaay better of a texture than the quiche of your childhood.  Please do refer back to my quiche post on how its texture should be.  I was happy that it was such a silky texture and that Olive could eat it just fine with her limited spoon wielding skills.

I stumbled upon this asparagus and bacon custard in a book called French Women Don’t Get Fat, which I’m reading and working my way through the steps to reshape my life and my patterns of eating.  The book presents a bit of a strict start (a cleanse, which I don’t think is totally necessary for success, just optional) followed by three months of self evaluation of the patterns you’ve made over the years and ways in which you could cut back without feeling deprived.  After three months, by the book, you should only be HALF WAY to your goal weight.  If you are, then she advises to add back a few more pleasures and get on with your life!  If not, then keep going with the plan, making additional adjustments if necessary.

I’m happy to have finally found a book that doesn’t restrict you, doesn’t say that a particular food or food group is bad, and doesn’t push supplements.  I’m DONE with that vicious cycle of crash dieting and then giving up, gaining back and doing it all over again because every new diet makes a new promise.  Why do we keep doing this to ourselves?  I found myself having an epiphany the other day that a diet that promises you’ll lose all the weight you need to lose in a few weeks will only work if it only took you a few weeks to gain that weight.  And like me, I’m sure most of us with serious weight issues have struggled a BIT longer than weeks or even years with our weight.  So why does it not register in our minds that in order to keep a good, healthy weight, we should logically change the way we do things for 10-15 years at least?  Personally speaking, I’ve struggled with my weight for about twenty two years and most of that time was wasted, going through diet after diet that restricted too much, left me wanting and frustrated and ultimately, feeling like I am a loser and can never succeed.

After 11 days of following this book and eating what I personally feel was a bit too indulgent of a menu, I’m down seven pounds.  I know what you’re thinking: all water weight, and besides, wasn’t she just preaching that weight loss shouldn’t be sudden?!  You’re right, it shouldn’t.  But for one, I have a lot to lose and the more you have to lose, generally, the quicker you will drop pounds (at first).  Second, I’ve completely cut out all snacking and all second helpings.  Man, that adds up to a lot with just those two bad habits!  Especially if you snack several times a  day!  The only other thing I’ve given up has been cream in my coffee and that, for me, was the biggest challenge because I love my coffee.  But, for these first three months of “readjusting” how I do things, I don’t consider it that much of a burden to give up roughly 200 calories a day that used to be dedicated to cream in my coffee!  I have even started to prefer it black with just a little sweetner (stevia, for those concerned).  I haven’t been stressed about working out – I just have been taking more walks and enjoying the new, cooler fall weather and I’ve been pulling a few weeds here and there.  This is my new life.  I was done with diets a few years ago, but I was still engaging in bad habits.  It’s hard to undo years of emotional eating, but I’ve found that the distraction of Olive is a grand one.  Or, if I just HAVE to ingest something in the afternoon, I make a cup of cinnamon tea (it’s naturally sweet) and get productive!

This custard recipe was breakfast for a few days last week.  Again, I know what you will say.  This has cream, eggs, bacon AND it’s in a “diet” book?  Yep.  Moderation + Fulfilling Meals = Success.  Moderation + Drab, Restrictive Meals = Failure. I really recommend you picking up this book IF and only if you are done yo-yo dieting,  if you like to cook and you are ready to stop restricting yourself and feeling guilty for eating things like butter.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress and I hope that I can encourage some of you to stop the fad madness and just start “eating real food, not too much, mostly plants.” (from the omnivore’s dilemma) 🙂

Asparagus custards

Asparagus Custard (crustless quiche, if it makes you feel better to call it that)
makes 6 – 1 cup ramekin servings

16 asparagus spears, tough ends cut off and peeled
4 ounces bacon, coarsely chopped
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
8 sprigs chives, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350F. Boil the asparagus in salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and let cool. Chop each stalk into a small dice and set aside.  Saute the bacon in a nonstick frying pan till crisp. Drain on paper towel and set aside.  Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl (reserving some chives for garnish). Pour the egg mixture into individual ramekins. Sprinkle in the asparagus and bacon. Bake for 15-20 minutes till the custard is set but not dried out.  Serve with pieces of toast, crackers, or with some fresh fruit and enjoy your day!

Asparagus Tart – Roasting is still the best way to eat vegetables

asparagus tart 3

I know I said I’d write about what got the most requests on my question last week, but I haven’t had time to do a good job with the requests I got, so that will come at a later post.  The top requests were for kale.  Honestly, I’m a bit stumped.  What, exactly, is the mystery?  Put it in stuff?  Ha!  That would be my suggestion.  Stir it into soups, toss it in salads and wilt it a bit with warm roasted chicken or hot bacon.  However, I don’t want to be flippant, so I will look up some good uses for kale, the sad-replacement-for-chips, and get back to you.  The other suggestion that intrigued me was for proper hash browns.  My friend, Maria, said that she had tried them several times and hadn’t gotten that good, diner-esque texture to them.  Honestly, I haven’t, either.  So I am interested to look up ways to cook hash browns well and that will most definitely be a post, as it will be a learning process for me, as well.

Today I wanted to simply give you an awesome recipe that we had last night for dinner, as our “starter” dish.  A beautiful use of asparagus (hey, Tracey, you asked for asparagus recipes, too!) and a lovely and exciting way to serve them that feels indulgent (bet you’ve never used that word in association with asparagus) and fun for children, and even doable for one-year-olds learning to eat bigger chunks of food.  Olive ate about 6 bits of this tart and then she was done. I consider that a success.

Having a box of frozen puff pastry in your freezer at all times is a good move.  This stuff can make you look like a fabulous cook in about 20 minutes.  You can top it with anything and bake and have great appetizers, desserts, or a crust for a savory tart, like this one.

Also, I wanted to mention my deep love and perhaps borderline obsession with using up leftovers.  My goal at the end of most weeks is for my fridge to be empty, save condiments and milk.  It’s good to think of ways to use up your leftovers and I know no better way than to use eggs to achieve almost-better-than-the original-meal leftovers.  This morning, I took leftover pieces of the asparagus tart and fried an egg and put it on top.  Lots of fresh ground pepper and a few drops of hot sauce.  So good.

breakfast2

Asparagus Tart

serves 4

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 bundle of fresh asparagus, ends snipped and cut in half, length-wise (I found that this helped them cook faster than the original recipe)
Olive oil to coat the asparagus – 2 tbs
Freshly ground pepper and kosher salt
2 oz shredded Manchego cheese – Parmesan or Swiss would also work

Preheat the oven to 400F.  On a greased, rimmed baking sheet, roll out your puff pastry to about 9×13″ rectangle.  Poke all over the bottom with a fork and bake for 15 minutes, until golden.  Toss your asparagus in olive oil. When the pastry comes out, it will have shrunk.  It’s okay, I swear.  Cover the tart in the shredded cheese and lay your asparagus spears side by side, touching, and alternating head to toe (this just makes more asparagus fit and it looks prettier.)

asparagus tart 1

 

Sprinkle the top of the tart with salt and pepper.  If you have leftover asparagus spears, just place them, cut side down, on the baking sheet around the tart.  They turned out to be gloriously crispy when they came out.  Bake for 25 minutes until the asparagus is nicely wilted and slightly browned.  Let cool slightly, cut with a sharp knife into squares and serve!

In the morning, heat leftovers in a 350F oven and fry an egg to place on top.  Enjoy with a cup of coffee and try not to think about the fact that it’s only Wednesday.

asparagus tart 2

breakfast

*original recipe from Martha Stewart Living