Asparagus, Red Pepper and Sweet Corn Quiche

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

Well, fall is just flyin’ by, isn’t it?

The National Mall is dotted with shades of yellow and orange, and I couldn’t ask for a more beautiful season to end a particularly stressful week. One upside is that the pumpkin I carved after work with the @Energy digital team made it onto Politico, Science Mag, and the Huffington Post — how cool is that? Huffpo called it “the best Jack-O-Lantern they’ve ever seen.”

*Swoon*

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

fall in dc // sweetsonian

fall in dc // sweetsonian

fall in dc // sweetsonian

Anyway, aside from finally achieving Jack-O-Lantern fame, the week’s been filled with infographics, meetings, and my newly reinstated fitness routine, which I’ve been working 2-3 days of yoga into.

Yesterday was Halloween, and I got the chance to walk around the National Mall for a bit with a camera (I was photographing a coworker, dressed as Amelia Earheart, at the Earheart exhibit in the National Air and Space Museum. It was amazing).

The colors in the leaves just happened to match the warm colors in the tart perfectly, so I thought I’d share that with you. Yesterday was a gloomy day, but the leaves — and Jack-O-Lantern fame — easily brightened up my afternoon.

Emily describes me as being on a perpetual diet. Let’s just talk about how I started Monday off with three delicious cookies for breakfast. My neighbor made them. They were amazing, and I do not regret it.

fall in dc // sweetsonian

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

fall in dc // sweetsonian

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

asparagus, red pepper and sweet corn quiche // sweetsonian

 Asparagus, Red Pepper and Sweet Corn Quiche (recipe after the jump) Continue reading “Asparagus, Red Pepper and Sweet Corn Quiche”

Salmon with Roasted Asparagus and Harissa

salmon2

I’ve been trying to get my email inbox in order. It’s a long process.

I’m nowhere near finished, but it’s really brought to light the importance of a periodic cleanse.

First, I sifted through the junk emails. I started by just deleting them, but quickly realized that, if I was going to cleanse, I needed to wholeheartedly cleanse. I didn’t want to half-ass it. I don’t half-ass my work, so why should I half-ass personal communication?

So I started going through and unsubscribing for all of the email lists I probably signed up for, the lists that I simply regretted signing up for in the first place. Then, I filtered any work or freelance-related emails, and was mostly left with emails from friends. The good, the bad, the funny, and just the FYIs.

And then, there are the emails that you mean to purge after a life-defining moment: a bad break up, a period of frustration or sadness, or just toxic relationships that cloud the most important relationship of all: the one you have with yourself.

jalapeno

With my professional life as hectic as it is, I find myself swamped in freelance. That’s nothing new, though. But in the next two weeks, I (for some terrible reason) committed to designing 5 infographics and 6 entirely separate logos for Google.

I’ve always been someone who works well under pressure. Actually, without some sort of looming deadline, it’s unlikely that I’d actually get anything done.

So, I find myself either working or traveling. Or in some sort of Netflix black hole. There really isn’t anything in between. And in procrastination, I found myself cleaning up six years of trash from my personal email account. Those were the easy ones. And the difficulty lies within the possibility of remembering both the good and the bad. Letting the bad overpower the good.

But why do we even consider putting ourselves through that kind of torture?

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asparagus

The closest thing I ever had to love was actually a pretty toxic relationship. It wasn’t based on mutual interests or mutual friendships, and to this day, I’m not even confident that our relationship stemmed from a mutual attraction. And it will probably, forever be one of those “what-ifs” in my life. What if things had worked out? What if he and I actually treated each other with respect? What if it never happened to begin with?

When I first realized it was toxic, I was overcome with sadness, and sometimes denial. And we tried to talk about it, but suspicions of insincerity made it ironically impossible to open up and be completely honest with him — a case of the painful lose-lose, and one reason why I value honesty and open communications so much in my life today. It somehow evolved into a friendship based on one-upping each other, on frustration, and on simply wishing that the years were in all actuality, based on something real. But when I finally got to the point of being utterly fed up with our lack of proper communication, I severed ties. Clean. Break. I had prepared myself with misery for so long that ending whatever dregs of the relationship left was easier than I ever thought it would be. And if anything, severing ties was my own liberation, the signal to cue myself: take back the emotions that only brought about insecurities. It took years, and even a 3,000 mile move. I thought I would never see him again, and I was okay with that. I came to terms with the likeliness that the one and only thing we may have had in common was the inability to communicate effectively to each other.

harissa

Several relationships later, some romantic and most platonic, I found myself faced with old emails and gchat records that left me reminiscing. I’ve always been good about deleting texts and phone numbers when the time is right, but email is something that lingers; other messages build up, and each day covers up the last so thoroughly that email cleanses aren’t a big deal. And the messages originating from that initial toxicity, for the most part, preceded smartphones and gchat, so even though I lacked that specific evidence, other instances lingered. Toxicity is inescapable — it seeps into our thoughts, and sometimes we push it out, but sometimes, it finds its way into your head. It sneaks up when you’re nervous about a presentation, meeting someone new, or when you’re supposed to be zoning out on your morning run. And much of the time, it has little to do with whomever you associate that toxicity with. Often, the toxicity is yours and yours alone.

asparagus2

A lesson I’ve kept very close to my heart since living in Los Angeles comes from the Tuesday night yoga class I became utterly addicted to. After my move, I tried seeking out a yoga class in DC that would give me the same refuge that Ally gave me — and I have yet to find that. Luckily, she blogs, and streams her classes online.

The thing that I remember every single day is that emotions, like physical pain, are all temporary. The happiness, the sadness, the frustration: they pass. They end, you find release, and solace. And, if you can find comfort in that, you will grow and learn from every emotion that traverses your heart. I promise you, it will pass.

Writing about personal relationships, or pain, is something that I spent much of my life avoiding. Even in elementary and high school, I refused to write about anything sad, solely for the reason that I never wanted to relive the pains of sadness. But sometimes, it’s not so bad. At some point, the anger passes, the denial passes, and the sadness passes. And I can look back and remember the good things, and carry the sad ones, and aim to never make the same mistakes twice.

But we do so anyway.

So, last night, I deleted everything I didn’t need from my Gmail. It’s a new day, and a clean slate. It’s not a zero inbox, but I was ready, and taking out the trash felt just right.

salmon1

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 Salmon with Roasted Asparagus and Harissa (serves two)

Ingredients
1/2 lb. fresh salmon
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Drizzle of olive oil

1 bunch of asparagus (I like the skinny variety more than the chunky)
1 red bell pepper – substitute orange or yellow if you don’t like the red ones
2 jalapeños
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
Breadcrumbs and parmesan for garnish

 

In a cast iron pan, broil the pepper and jalapenos until charred. Turn as needed to char all surfaces of the peppers. When complete, place all three in a tupperware (or a bowl covered with saran wrap) and let them steam for about 15 minutes.

Then, using kitchen gloves, slice the peppers open. Peel the charred skin off and remove all the seeds. Slice the peppers into 1-inch strips, and place in a food processor. Add the garlic and lemon juice, and pulse-grind until you have a nice pepper paste. Let cool, and then transfer to a bowl. Stir in the Greek yogurt.

Note: when slicing jalapenos, you should ALWAYS use gloves. Trust me — you will NOT remember until you rub your eyes and find yourself Googling remedies with one eye shut and then have to wash your eye out with a shot glass of whole milk. Just… trust me.

Chop the ends off of your asparagus, and place them on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle and brush with olive oil, and broil for about 10 to 15 minutes. Toss with a few spoonfuls of the harissa, and garnish with breadcrumbs and parmesan.

In a skillet, heat a drizzle of oil. Just before it smokes, go ahead and cook the salmon, skin side up first. I like my salmon a little on the rare side, so I recommend cooking it for 4 minutes per side. You can always throw it back on the skillet if you want it cooked further.

Roasted Asparagus, Leek, and Feta Frittata

Apparently, I apologize a lot.

It’s funny, because I really don’t apologize that much in real life.  Mostly because… I’m perfect.

Just kidding.  I’m definitely not perfect.

But just for that, I will say this: I am not sorry for having not posted in a couple of weeks.

Why?  Because I’m busy as hell.

Anyway, I’m celebrating my birthday tonight.  The weather is perfect.  I spent the morning making this frittata.  I’m on an asparagus kick right now.  Did you notice?

Recipe after the jump.  I have to go put on an oversized UCLA shirt and jorts for a barbecue.

Roasted Asparagus, Leek, and Feta Frittata

WHAT YOU NEED:

1 bundle of fresh asparagus – I prefer the thinner stalks
Garlic salt, pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons olive oil
10 large eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 leeks, sliced
1 cup feta cheese
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Fresh Parmesan cheese, as garnish

WHAT TO DO:

First, you must roast the asparagus.  You could saute it, but roasting asparagus is to die for.  Trim the tough edges off of the ends of the asparagus.  Then, toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Line a baking sheet with foil, and spread the stalks evenly.  Bake at 450 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until the asparagus is sizzling and cooked through.

Then, whisk your eggs in a large mixing bowl with the heavy cream and feta.

In a skillet, melt your butter, and saute your leeks until they start to brown on the edges – about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  When cooked, lower your oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the skillet from the heat, and pour the egg mixture into the pan.  By hand, place the roasted asparagus in the pan, evenly spread out.  Then, bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  Serve with plain Greek yogurt.

An Asparagus and Parmesan Tart

Clementines are known for many things, the most famous of which include cuteness, seedlessness, and easiness to peel (importance descending in that order).  I can vouch for the first one, and the first one only.  I ate three clementines today, all within about five minutes, and encountered seeds and could not avoid clementine rinds creeping into my fingernails.
What?!  Why?!  Clementines, whyyyyy have you forsaken me?

Now, how did I get myself into this mess?  Where did this all begin?
See this tart?  I made it last night.  I was going to eat part of it for lunch, and I was going to give some of it to some food-appreciating friends at work.  Instead, I left it on my kitchen counter, where Rachel came to the rescue and secured it in the refrigerator (and then texted me, saying that she ate the whole thing).  Don’t worry, Rachel is a big, fat liar.
So here I was, lunchless.  Swamped with work.  Itching to play piano.  Naturally, I didn’t resolve any of these issues with fierce logic.  I didn’t buy lunch — too expensive.  I procrastinated at work — too tempting.  I didn’t play piano — too busy playing catch-up from my procrastination.  And the entire time, I was wishing (daydreaming?) I could eat my tart.  I even considered going home for it.  but instead, I rummaged through my purse to find three clementines, for the win.
So I ate them.  And pondered methods of overcoming writers’ block.  I really have been writing a lot, lately.  I was up until 2 AM writing a recap-newsletter for my adult kickball league.
It’s hilarious.
I also need to write a follow-up to this, since Cote d’Ivoire’s election disputes are finally settling.
Not hilarious.  But very interesting.
I also wrote this post.  You’re reading it right now.  You should do what I say, and make this tart — right now.  But don’t leave it at home — because your roommate will try to eat it, and you’ll be left lunchless with clementine pectin wedged into your fingernails.
It’s raining.  It’s pouring.  You know what that means?  It means that this California girl needs to be back in bed with a cup of tea and a few episodes of Archer.


WHAT YOU NEED:

One prepared, amazing tart crust.
Four eggs
1 cup parmesan cheese
3/4 cup milk
1 handful of asparagus
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
WHAT TO DO:
Have your tart crust prepared in advance.  Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
Either saute or roast the asparagus with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.  I prefer roasting it, but sauteing it is delicious, too.  Sauteing is faster — that’s for sure.
In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork or a whisk.  Stir in the milk, then the parmesan cheese.  Pour into the tart crust.
Very meticulously arrange your asparagus pieces in your tart.  I chose the rectangular tart pan, because it almost looks like a picture frame.  But you can decorate your tart however you like.
Sprinkle some salt and pepper, and then bake for 35 to 40 minutes — until the filling is puffy and firm.