Spring Green Quiche
Spring is absolutely my favorite season in New England, so much so that I figured I should dust off my camera and get back to blogging. Until now, I was busy with the holidays, renovating our house, moving in, and getting the baby settled into a new routine. But I think I should be honest as to the lingering reason why I kept putting off posting a new entry - it feels like homework.
Don't get me wrong, I love baking and sharing my process. I love the creative challenges of coming up with new recipes, trying to style each shot in an interesting way, and photographing the results. And I don't even mind writing up the recipes which, every time, takes longer than I expect. But this part - the introduction - is excruciating. It sucks all the joy out of blogging. I don't know why I put so much pressure on writing the opening remarks, but I end up putting it off for days because it never comes out naturally. And when I finally do get something down, it never sounds original. Honestly, I feel like I sound pretentious, and I don't want to turn away readers because I don't sound like a real person.
So instead of an empty paragraph about how beautiful spring is (because duh), or how excited I am for the start of Farmer's Market season, I'll ask you,
What do you want me to write about?
Please leave a comment to let me know.
While you're thinking about it, I will at least tell you about this quiche. You're welcome to purchase fresh ingredients with quiche in mind, but whipping one up with everything but the kitchen sink is one of my favorite ways to use up leftovers. Salmon? Bacon? Chicken? Roasted vegetables? Aging greens? Anything will work. As long as your ingredients are already cooked (or raw in the case of tender greens), you just need to put a simple crust together, and mix everything up with some eggs, milk, cheese, and herbs. It's perfect for any meal, even dinner.
This time, I used fiddlehead ferns since they're only in season for a couple of months. They're gorgeous, and if you've never tried them, they taste like a cross between asparagus and green beans. But you'll need to blanch them for at least 5-7 minutes before mixing them into the quiche. It has been suggested that raw fiddleheads can cause food poisoning, and that they should be boiled anywhere from 5-15 minutes before being used in recipes (read more about it here). Boiling them also subdues any bitterness and softens their texture to al dente. But given how long this quiche would be in the oven, I only blanched them for 7 minutes.
I also chose to make a 3-inch, deep-dish quiche because I love hearty pieces with a high filling to crust ratio. But baking a crust with tall, steep sides does come with a couple of challenges. If you don't have a springform pan, you'll need to carefully line a deep cake pan with overhanging strips of parchment in order to pull the quiche out. And you'll need to use a stronger crust recipe, otherwise the sides will crumble. So I added some eggs to better bind the dough. I also used half whole wheat flour, so I chose to add a touch of sugar to humble the flour's earthiness. But you can omit the sugar or replace the whole wheat flour with all-purpose, if you'd like. Then, when putting the crust in the pan, you'll need to do it in pieces. First, roll out the bottom to fit and lay in the pan, then roll out a couple of long strips cut to fit the height of the pan, and press them against the sides. Finally, seal the bottom and sides together using excess scraps.
In addition to the fiddleheads, I also used charred ramps (similar to scallions), peas, hericots verts, arugula, tarragon, and pancetta. But no matter which ingredients you use, they'll easily work beautifully held together by a subtle, creamy, cheesy batter inside a crisp, buttery crust. So the next time you have several days worth of random leftovers, or if you just want to justify eating pie for dinner, consider making quiche. Thanks for reading, and happy spring!
Spring Green Quiche
Yields one 8-inch, deep-dish quiche (4-6 servings)
195 g (1 1/4 C) whole wheat flour
160 g (1 C) all-purpose flour
8 g (1 T) granulated sugar
4 g (3/4 tsp) salt
190 g (13.5 T) cold unsalted butter
1 large egg plus 1 yolk (65 g total), cold and lightly beaten
22 g (1.5 T) ice water
Filling - about 10 cups (2 1/4 liters) total
114 g (4 oz) raw pancetta or bacon, chopped
230 g (8 oz) fresh fiddlehead ferns, trimmed
115 g (4 oz) shelled peas, fresh or frozen
115 g (4 oz) fresh hericots verts (or plain green beans), trimmed
6-8 ramps, roots trimmed
140 g (5 oz) fresh arugula
65 g (approx. 1 1/2 C) freshly grated parmesan
2 T fresh tarragon, minced
salt + pepper
475 g (16 oz) whole milk
4 large eggs (about 225 g)
Freshly grated nutmeg
Combine the flours, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Working quickly, cut the cold butter into tablespoons, then quarter them to make small cubes. Toss the butter pieces into the flour mixture to coat, then pulse in the processor about 5 times, for a few seconds each time, until they're pea-sized. Next, drizzle in the egg mixture and process again for a few seconds. Finally, add the ice water (without the ice) and process until it has the consistency of wet sand. If you press it together, it should hold together like clay.
Next, dump the mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and pull a loose end of plastic over the dough, compacting it. Do this around every side of the dough so that it comes together into one large block. Then use your hands to attach any loose pieces of dough, and shape the block into a flat disk about 2 inches thick. Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
For those of you without a springform pan: Meanwhile, rub a little butter inside a 3-inch deep, 8-inch wide cake pan (this will help the parchment paper adhere). Then cut a piece of parchment paper at least 22 inches long into 4 vertical strips, and drape the strips, one-by-one, inside the pan, pressing them against the sides and into the corners. The parchment should basically look like spokes on a wheel (see photo). This will allow you to pull the quiche out of the pan once completely cooled.
Once the dough has chilled, cut two more pieces of parchment paper at least 10 inches long. If you want to be exact, weigh the dough, then cut it into two portions, one 40% and one 60% of the total weight. Then shape the smaller piece into a disk and roll it between the parchment sheets until it is 1/4-inch thick circle, at least 8 inches across. Using the pan as a guide, trim the dough into a circle and place it inside the prepared pan. Add a little dough to the edges if it doesn't cover the entire pan. Next, roll the remaining dough into long strips, at least 3-inches wide and 1/4-inch thick. To create a clean edge, trim the strips to be 3-inches wide (the height of the pan), then press them against the inside of the pan to create the vertical sides of the crust. Seal any gaps or edges between pieces of the crust by pressing them together with any remaining scraps. Next, chill the raw crust in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. Once chilled again, dock the inside of the crust with a fork on all sides, and line it with tin foil up and over the rim. Fill the lined crust with pie weights, dry beans or rice. Par bake for 20 minutes, then remove the weights and foil. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to bake the crust for another 15 minutes, until dry but not darkened. Allow it to cool fully while still in the pan.
While the crust is cooling, prepare the filling. You can use any meats and vegetables that you'd like, but they need to be fully cooked and drained. For this recipe, cook the diced pancetta (or bacon) until crisp, then set aside to cool and drain on a paper towel. Next, blanch the fiddlehead ferns in boiling water for 5-7 minutes, until just tender enough to be pierced by a fork. Drain, rinse in cool water, and allow them to cool completely. Do the same with the peas, except they should only take 2-3 minutes to blanch. Sauté the ramps and green beans on medium-high heat for just a few minutes until tender. Leave the arugula raw since it is already tender.
Mix the cooked, cooled pancetta and vegetables, including the arugula (keep stirring - it will wilt). Stir in the parmesan and tarragon, then season with salt and pepper. Actually take a few bites of the mixture to make sure that it's well seasoned and adjust, if necessary, because once you add the eggs, you won't be able to taste it again. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk until smooth, the pour the mixture into the vegetables. Grate some fresh nutmeg on top (up to 1/4 teaspoon), and stir to combine. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (or 325°F with convection). Pour the quiche mixture into the crust. Protect the crust from getting burnt by wrapping a long strip of aluminum foil around the top edge of the crust. Bake the quiche on the middle rack for about 90 minutes, though you'll need to start checking it after 75. If you have a digital instant read thermometer, the center should read between 160-170°F. Otherwise, just wait until the center is puffed and doesn't jiggle when tapped. Because the quiche is so deep, it will take longer to cook than most, but check on it every 5 to 10 minutes after it has been baking for 75 just to be sure that it doesn't overcook.
Once baked, allow the quiche to cool for at least 30 minutes before removing it from the pan. If you cut into it before it has cooled and finished "setting," it may fall apart or excess moisture may bleed out. Once cool, remove it from the pan by lifting each end of parchment paper all at once. Set on a plate, then gently pull each strip of parchment out from under it. Slice and serve!
Quiche is great for leftovers, too! Store it in the fridge overnight, then reheat it in the oven to keep the crust crisp.