Broccoli and Voltaire

A couple of months ago, one of my posts on The Suburban Apron Company was devoted to starting a tiny, little garden (which my husband diligently waters for me each day). Despite some initial procrastination in planting this garden, it is happy and prosperous. And despite my personal reluctance in tending to my own spiritual garden, exercises in personal cultivation have also become more prosperous. While my faith has never faltered, my spirit was severely wounded from my father’s death last year. Work became a place of refuge, and then a place of agony. Once I left work, I became even less steady, but still productive, assuming the role of a modern-retro housewife. Since then, my productivity has become exponential, simultaneously taking me in several different directions. The Suburban Apron Company successfully chronicles much of my culinary adventure, while writing for Paper Palate and the Well Fed Network has allowed me to rekindle my former romance with writing professionally. Still, the activity hadn’t afforded me the means to achieve any consistent inner peace. However, I’ve continued to tend my spiritual garden. And recently, I’ve discovered new opportunities to volunteer my talents for service within my local community. Helping myself by helping others.

To sow and to reap the fruits of our labors…

In honor of so much cultivation, I baked these delightfully simple Crustless Broccoli-Cheddar Quiches from Martha Stewart, with broccoli gathered fresh from our miniature plot of suburban farmland. The subtle flavor of the nutmeg (of which I added a little extra, of course…) was the perfect compliment to this creamy, cheesy quiche with broccoli that tasted much sweeter than any store-bought variety. My spirit has been strengthened to continue tending my garden, cultivating good fruits.

Crustless Broccoli-Cheddar Quiches
(recipe courtesy Martha Stewart Living)

Butter, for ramekins
Coarse salt
1 package (10 ounces) frozen broccoli florets
(or use fresh broccoli from your garden, as I did)
6 large eggs
1/2 cup half-and-half (or use a little heavy cream, as I did)
Ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (3 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350�°. Butter four 8-ounce ramekins (or a 9-inch pie dish); set aside. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli; cook 1 minute. Drain well; transfer to a cutting board, and blot dry with paper towels. Chop coarsely.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in broccoli and cheese.

Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Ladle broccoli mixture into ramekins, dividing evenly. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve with crusty bread and a mixed-green salad, if desired. (I served with toasted homemade thyme-flavored bread.) Serves 4.

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