Classic Quiche & A Cauliflower Side

 

Fall is an exciting time in New England. It’s not only the bridge between summer and winter—it’s  a gift as the natural world brings us the bounty of local farms and opens our eyes to a vast spectrum of colors. Once green maple leaves morph into jewels on the hillsides. Red rubies, golden amber, and even pink pearls dangle from the trees to fill us with wonder and excitement. We eagerly anticipate when this will all begin, how long it will last, and how many travelers will fill our towns to share the joy.

An additional joy of the season is getting together with friends. With summers so short here, people scramble to fit in every summer activity and bit of traveling possible during July and August. We might wave to each other as we pass during a hike or bike ride, but it’s hard to find the time to simply be together until fall. Recent weekends have been filled with dinners with friends, sharing stories of our travels, and savoring meals based on vegetables from our gardens.

I prepared these two classic quiches‒one filled with bacon and the other with fragrant herbs and vegetables—for friends last week. Based on Julia Child’s classic recipe for Quiche Lorraine, a rich butter crust is baked then filled with the bacon or vegetables or both, and surrounded by a delicate custard. Don’t be daunted by the number of steps in the recipe. You can do them in stages—prepare the pastry dough one day, shape and bake it the next, add the filling and bake the following day. The resulting dish is at once savory and sweet. At the first bite, you’ll be reminded of why this French dish will always be a classic.

Serve your quiche with a simple green salad or with this light Marinated Cauliflower with Pepper Purée. The cauliflower is steamed to tenderize it, then marinated to add flavor, and topped with a spicy red pepper sauce. Add a loaf of bread and bottle of wine to complete a very satisfying meal.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.

Dena


Quiche Lorraine

Yield: One 10-inch Quiche, About 8 Servings

Ingredients:

For the pastry dough—

  • 2 cups all purpose flour, plus a bit more to roll out the dough
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • 6 ounces chilled butter, cut into ½-inch bits
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
  • ½ cup ice water, with a bit more if needed

For the filling―

  • 4 ounces lean bacon, diced
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • ½ cup cream
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg

Special equipment—

  • a 10-inch springform pan wrapped with aluminum foil on the bottom and sides
  • aluminum foil
  • pie weights or dried beans

Instructions:

To prepare the pastry shell—

  1. Measure the dry ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Cover and pulse once to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Cover and pulse gently until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. With the food processor running on low speed, add the chilled water and mix just until the dough forms into a ball.
  2. Remove the dough from the food processor and shape into a disk. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours or up to twenty four hours.
  3. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator. Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour. Using a wooden rolling pin, roll the dough out into a circle that is an ⅛ of an inch thick and about 2 inches larger around than your baking pan. Fold the dough into quarters. Place the folded corner in the center of your baking pan, then open the dough and line the pan loosely. Lift the edges of the dough and work it gently down the sides of the pan, folding it over to form a thick pastry shell. (The shell should be thick so it will hold up when removed from the pan after baking.) Prick the bottom of the pastry crust with a fork several times.
  4. Lightly cover the pastry shell with saran wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours or up to twenty four hours.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  6. Line the pastry shell with aluminum foil and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Place in the oven and bake for eight or nine minutes until the edges of the down begin to brown. Remove the shell from the oven and roll the foil down a bit to expose the pastry. Return to the oven and bake until the sides are golden, about two to three more minutes. Remove from oven again and remove the foil and pie weights. Return to oven until the bottom crust is a light gold, another two to three minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

To prepare the filling and finish the quiche—

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Heat a small skillet on stovetop. Add the bacon and diced onion. Sauté until the bacon is browned and the onion translucent, about five minutes.  Remove from the pan and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. In large mixing bowl or measuring cup, beat together the eggs, milk, and seasonings.
  4. Spoon the cooked bacon and onions into the bottom of the prepared pastry shell. Pour the egg mixture into the shell.
  5. Set in the oven and bake for thirty to forty minutes, or until the quiche has puffed and browned.
  6. Allow to cool for about ten minutes or fully to room temperature, then remove carefully from the springform pan and slide onto a serving platter.
  7. Serve accompanied by Steamed Cauliflower with Red Pepper Purée. (Recipe follows.)
  8. Enjoy.

Notes:

  1. This recipe is closely adapted from Mastering The Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.
  2. For a vegetarian dish, leave out the bacon and sauté the onion in a bit of butter. Add ¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes and ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs to the filling.

Steamed Cauliflower with Red Pepper Purée

Yield: 8 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, rinsed and trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus a bit more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 red bell peppers, rinsed, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Handful fresh herbs, for garnish

Instructions:

To prepare the cauliflower―

Place the cauliflower in a large soup pot. Add enough water, about to cups,  to cover the cauliflower about half way. Place on the stovetop on high. Heat the water to a boil, then lower the temperature to a simmer, and cover the pot. Steam the cauliflower in the pot until tender, or when a large knife can go through the center easily, about 15 minutes. Drain the cauliflower into a colander and rinse it with cool water. Allow the cauliflower to cool completely, then break into florets. Place the florets in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar. Toss to coat. Allow the cauliflower to marinate while you make the red pepper purée.

To make the purée—

  1. Heat the olive oil in a small pan. Add the onion and red peppers and sauté until the onions are translucent and the red bell pepper is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and toss with the vegetables. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Place the vegetables in the bowl of a food processor. Add the tomato paste, Greek yogurt, and balsamic vinegar. Purée until smooth.
  3. When ready to serve, arrange the cauliflower florets on a large serving platter. Drizzle with olive oil and the red pepper purée. Season with liberally sea salt and garnish with fresh herbs.
  4. Enjoy.

Notes:

  • Broccoli can be substituted for cauliflower
  • The purée can be used as a sauce for grilled meats or vegetables, spread on a sandwich, or as a dipping sauce for chips.