Monday, August 2, 2010

Quiche with summer greens

I buy a lot of vegetables that have greens attached, like turnips, beets, radishes...these greens are all edible and have interesting flavors, and I try hard not to waste them. But I'm really not that good at cooking greens and often struggle with finding ways to use them. Well, I have officially found one really, really good (albeit time-consuming) way - I ended up using last week's turnip and radish greens in a variation of Julia Child's spinach quiche recipe, and it was so good. This preparation took the bitter edge off the greens, embedding them in a creamy custard baked in buttery pastry - it's hard to go wrong when cheese, cream, and butter are involved.

I'm pretty new to Julia Child's recipes, and to French cooking in general. I received Mastering the Art of French Cooking as a wedding gift a few months ago and so far have only made the quiche recipe. That recipe alone is enough to convince me that this book will be a great addition to my cookbook collection - not so much for everyday cooking, but definitely for guests and weekend cooking projects. I made the blue cheese quiche a couple months ago, and had made some extra pastry dough which I stored in the freezer. I thawed it in the fridge for this quiche, and it tasted every bit as good as the freshly made version. I also used 50% whole wheat pastry flour for this dough, which worked really well. This pastry dough requires blind baking (pre-baking, weighted down with dried beans, so that it doesn't get too soggy when you add the filling), which is a bit of a pain - make sure you budget enough time for everything.


Quiche with summer greens
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1

Pastry dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1 1/2 sticks chilled butter cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 tbs chilled shortening
A scant 1/2 cup of iced water, plus droplets more as needed
Special equipment: an 8- to 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom

Note: work quickly when you are rolling out the dough and preparing for blind baking. The butter in the dough melts quickly and the pastry will be difficult to work with if it gets too soft.

Place dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Add chilled cubes of butter and chilled shortening and pulse 4-5 times. With processor running, pour in ice water. Immediately pulse several times until dough begins to form a mass on the blade. If dough does not form a mass, dribble in more water and repeat. As soon as dough forms a mass, transfer it to a lightly floured counter or other work surface.

Divide dough into 5-6 pieces. For each piece, use the heel of your hand to rapidly press the pastry down and away from you with a firm, quick motion. With a pastry scraper, gather together all the dough and then form it into a relatively smooth round ball. Sprinkle lightly with flour and wrap in wax paper. Freeze dough for 1 hour until or refrigerate anywhere from 2 hours to overnight. Note: at this point, dough can be frozen (wrapped in wax paper and kept in a plastic bag) for up to a couple months.
Place dough on a lightly floured work surface. If dough is hard, beat it with a rolling pin to soften it. Knead it into a flat circle. Sprinkle flour over the top of the dough, and begin to roll out: start at the center of the dough and roll away from you to an inch from the far edge. Turn dough slightly and repeat. Roll out dough , flouring dough and board as necessary, until it is 1/8 inch thick and about 2 inches larger all around than your tart pan. You can patch holes with excess bits of dough by wetting the seam with water and rolling the pieces together.

Blind baking:
Put a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 deg F. Butter the inside of your tart pan. Either roll the dough onto your rolling pin and unroll it over the pan, or fold it into quarters and unfold over the pan. Lightly press the dough onto the bottom of the pan and then lift the edges of the dough and work it gently down the inside edges of the pan, taking in some extra dough (about 3/8 inch) all around. Trim the edges by rolling your pin over the rim of the pan. Use your thumbs to push the dough 1/8 inch above the rim of the pan. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork at 1/2-inch intervals.

Line the pastry with buttered foil, press foil well against the sides of the pastry, and fill with dried beans. At this point you can refrigerate until later. Otherwise, bake on the middle rack of the oven and bake 8-9 minutes (I did 9) until dough is set. Remove foil and beans, prick bottom of pastry again to keep from rising, and bake for 2-3 minutes (I did 2) more until shell is beginning to color and sides are just starting to shrink from the sides of the pan. Remove pan from oven. After cooling, the pastry can be kept for several hours before filling.

2 bunches of summer greens, rinsed and stems removed (I used turnip and radish greens. You need enough to yield about 1 cup after blanching and chopping)
2 tbs finely minced shallots or onions
2 tbs butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Nutmeg (I used whole nutmeg, freshly grated with a microplane zester)
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I used 1 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup whole milk)
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese (I used reduced fat, because oddly, that was all I could find)

Preheat oven to 375 deg F. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch greens for 2 minutes, drain, and run under cold water. When cool, squeeze out excess water and chop finely. You should have about 1 cup of chopped greens (although the exact amount isn't that important).

Melt butter (you can use the same pot you used for blanching the greens), add shallots or onions, and cook for a minute. Add the greens and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until water has evaporated. Add salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Blend eggs, cream, 1/8 tsp pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg with a whisk in a large bowl. Slowly stir in greens mixture and pour into pastry shell. Sprinkle cheese over the top and bake for 25-30 minutes (mine took 35), or until quiche is puffed and top is browned. A knife inserted into the center should come out clean. The filling should be set, but might be a little loose.

Remove quiche from oven. Place pan on a jar (or anything else with the right width and height) to remove the sides of the pan. Quiche can be served warm or cold.

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