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!

Creamy Rice with Peas and Asparagus

pea asparagus rice

There is a beautiful quarterly cookbook/magazine called Canal House cooking.  It is founded by two friends who meet together every day to talk about what they had for dinner the night before, and then they get cooking.  They decided to start writing down their recipes and what resulted was this beautiful magazine book.  I like to try recipes out that are in season, and so I am currently going through their Spring issue.  And even though there aren’t a  lot of fresh peas in our produce bins, I know that they are currently in season somewhere out there in lands where it rains, so I felt this was still an appropriate recipe for an overcast May day.  Asparagus is also in season, so I added some chopped up that I had roasted a few nights before and it was a really excellent addition.  Canal House calls this dish Risi E Bisi  (rice and peas) and it’s just that simple.

This is an excellent dish for little ones.  The comfort of soft rice and cheese and the addition of greens and a dab of butter makes this dish all-inclusive. For smaller, toothless ones, this would be so simple to pulse a few times with an immersion blender!  Olive still doesn’t like asparagus, but I think I’ve only given it to her 5 times.  I’m going to try at least 15 more times before I determine that she does not, in fact, love asparagus.  I challenge any  mom out there to do the same!  Case in point: I had nearly determined that Olive didn’t like peas until I hadn’t given them to her for a week or so, and then tried again and she gobbled them up.  I realized that familiarity equals good for a child.  So if you make a wide variety of vegetables simply familiar to a child, the enthusiasm will soon follow.  I believe this with all my heart, even on days where Olive spits out anything green.  One day she won’t, and I’ll be glad I didn’t let her under-developed, under-exposed palate determine her food preferences!

green rice

Creamy Rice with Peas and Asparagus
serves 6

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
4 tbs butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cups fresh peas (you could also use frozen, as I did and it turned out great)
salt
6 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups arborio rice, or other short grain rice.  I didn’t have any on hand, so I used plain long grain white and it was just fine.
1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
pepper to taste
1 bunch asparagus, roasted at 400 with olive oil, salt and pepper until tender

Heat the olive oil and 2 tbs of the butter together in a heavy medium pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until soft and golden, 5-10 minutes.  Add the peas and season with salt.  Cook for a minute or two, then add 1 cup of the hot stock.

Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the peas until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the rice and 4 cups of the remaining hot stock. Cover the pot and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle boil.  Cook the rice, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and moisten the rice and peas (if needed and too thick) with the remaining cup of stock (I didn’t do this step – my rice didn’t absorb as much as arborio would have) Stir in the remaining 2 tbs of butter and half of the cheese.  Fold in the chopped, roasted asparagus if you want.  Season with salt and pepper and serve sprinkled with remaining cheese.