Saturday, June 25, 2005

"Create Your Own Quiche" Guide

There are as many Quiche recipes as there are cooks out there... But they all follow the same guidelines. So here's a kit to create your own quiche. Unleash your imagination!

You will need 4 groups of ingredients:
  1. "Pâte Brisée" pie shell (see June 19th post).
  2. Cooked veggies or meat (see examples below).
  3. Custard mix made of 3 eggs, 2-3 table spoons of crème fraîche (or sour cream), freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. Beat all these ingredients together and that's it.
  4. Shredded cheese like Gruyère, Emmentaler or Comté.
Then follow these steps:
  1. Roll out the crust and line a 10" tart pan (butter the pan or use baking paper). Use a fork to make a few holes in the shell to prevent it from "ballooning" while baking.
  2. Place the veggies or meat at the bottom of the pie shell and spread evenly.
  3. Pour the custard mix over the veggies or meat.
  4. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.
  5. Bake 30 to 45 minutes in a preheated oven at 375°F (190°C).
Here are a few examples of veggies or meat:
  • 3 yellow onions, finely sliced, sautéed in butter for about 20-30 minutes (until transparent and golden). This is the famous "tarte à l'oignon".
  • or, 5 to 6 small zucchinis, sliced or cubed (with or without the skin), sautéed in olive oil with a fresh garlic clove.
  • or, a bunch of fresh spinach, sautéed in butter only 2-3 minutes (replace the crème fraîche by ricotta cheese in the custard mix).
  • or, cubed fresh ham (I mean plain flavor -no honey, not smoked, uncured, simply cooked; e.g. the French Madrange ham). This is the "Quiche Lorraine" recipe.
  • or, 1 or 2 cans of tuna and freshly chopped chives.
  • or anything you'd like to try out!
The custard can be made with milk rather than cream, for a lighter option. Bring 2 cups 1 cup of milk to a boil then slowly pour over the beaten eggs, stirring constantly. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper (great with the Quiche Lorraine recipe).

To spice it up, you could add 1 table spoon of whole grain mustard to the custard mix or spread it on the crust before adding the veggies (great with the onion tart recipe). It tastes good and it looks good too!

No need to buy a 300-page book on quiches: you have it all!

    Sunday, June 19, 2005

    Easy Quiche Crust from Scratch

    This dough is called "pâte brisée" in French (pronounce "pat breezay"). It is the base for all quiche and pie recipes. If you take the time to make your own crust, your quiche will taste a million times better (at least!) than if you buy it ready-to-use.

    The ingredients below are enough to make 2 thin crusts. Use one half of the dough right away and freeze the other half for your next recipe!

    • 250 grams of flour (1 and 3/4 cups or a little over 1/2 pound, unbleached, all-purpose)
    • 125 grams of unsalted butter (1 stick)
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tea spoon of crème fraîche (or sour cream if you can't find it)
    • 1/2 tea spoon of salt.

    The base ingredients are the flour, salt and butter. The egg and crème fraîche are here to help them stick together (plus the egg will give the crust a nice golden color). I got the tip from a marvelous little book called Quiches, cakes & compagnie. You can replace them by water.

    1. First sift the flour over a large bowl and add the salt.
    2. Cut the butter in tiny cubes. Incorporate the butter to the flour with your finger tips (you can't really use a spoon here... You could use a pastry blender but you'd loose all the fun of making your own "pâte brisée"). The dough will feel like coarse sand grains between your fingers.
    3. Push the flour and butter mix on the sides of the bowl, digging a hole in the center.
    4. Break the egg and pour it in the hole in middle of the bowl. Beat it a little with a fork then use a wooden spoon to incorporate the flour little by little. Add the crème fraîche or sour cream and mix again until the dough is homogeneous. (Alternatively, or if the dough is still dry, pour a few drops of water and knead.) Use your hands to knead the dough and form two balls of the same weight.
    5. Place the balls of dough in plastic wraps and let them rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour before using or freezing.
    6. Let the dough warm up a little before rolling it out.

    I'll publish quiche and pie recipes separately... So keep posted! :-)

    Friday, June 03, 2005

    Delicious Pear Cake

    This is one of my Dad's favorite recipes (he's a great pastry chef!). The French name of this cake is "Délicieux aux Poires" and this is true: it is delicious! The pears cook in the dough, delivering their subtle flavor while baking.

    You need:
    • 3 or 4 ripe and juicy pears. I personally like Bosc, Bartlett and Starkrimson pears a lot.
    • 4 eggs
    • 125 grams (1 stick) of unsalted butter (European style...)
    • 250 grams of sugar (9 fl. oz. or a little more than 1 cup)
    • 250 grams of flour (14 fl. oz. or 1 cup 3/4)
    • 1 tea spoon of baking soda
    • 1 tea spoon of pure vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tea spoon of ground cinnamon
    • a round cake pan (about 10" x 2").
    1. Beat the whole eggs (white and yolk) and the sugar in a large bowl, until smooth and foamy.
    2. Add the melted butter. You can melt the butter (cut in pieces) in the round cake pan while pre-heating the oven at 365F. The butter should remain white on the surface (don't melt it until it's oily and bright yellow!). Stir well to incorporate the melted butter into the egg and sugar mix.
    3. Sift the flour and baking soda over the bowl while stirring. Incorporate the flour to the mix little by little.
    4. Add the vanilla extract and cinnamon and stir well until smooth.
    5. Pour the dough into the buttered cake pan.
    6. Cut the pear in halves, peel them and remove the center (seeds). Place the half pears in a circle on top of the dough, bumpy side up, pointy side towards the middle of the pan. Gently push the pears into the dough (they'll sink in while the cake is baking).
    7. Bake 1 hour at 365F. The cake is ready if you can insert a knife blade in the center of the cake and take it out dry (i.e. no dough sticking to it).

    Perfect at tea time, as a desert of even for breakfast!