Kale and Mushroom Quiche

img_2811When I was a little girl, we actually invited our teachers home. It was always very exciting to have a teacher join us for lunch and my mother would make Quiche Lorraine, which at the time was considered rather exotic. It was also delicious. Over the years quiche went out of fashion, especially after it had become these awful, super-sized things that didn’t resemble a real quiche in any way except by name.

I was at the grocery store yesterday and they happened to have these beautiful bunches of organic kale on sale and I simply couldn’t resist. I bought one bunch to saute with garlic as a side vegetable, one bunch was earmarked for my Sunshine Kale Salad and I still had one bunch with nothing particular in mind what I should do with it. After giving it some thought, I decided to make a kale and mushroom quiche. This dish could easily be a lovely vegetarian lunch or supper or you could add some crispy bacon as I have. This version is not my mother’s Quiche Lorraine, but I think she would have been proud to serve it. I will serve it with focaccia and a salad loaded with tomatoes and sweet peppers. You can, of course, purchase pastry, but I like to make my own.

Kale and Mushroom Quiche with Bacon

Yield: One 10-inch savory tart

Ingredients

Pastry for 10-inch tart

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 cup cold solid white shortening (Lard, if you like, or Crisco)

3 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter

3 to 4 Tablespoons ice water

Filling

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter and 1 Tablespoon EVOO (or bacon drippings)

1 medium onion or large shallot, thinly sliced (you should have a good cup)

1 large clove of garlic, minced – about 1 teaspoon

1/2 teaspoon packed brown sugar

1 large bunch of curly kale (green or purple), with the leaves torn off of the stems into smallish pieces

8 ounces of mushrooms, thinly sliced and chopped in half if the pieces are large

7 slices of bacon, cooked until crispy but with some chew

4 large eggs

3/4 cup milk (I am using non-fat)

1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/3 cup grated Parmesan, Gruyere, Asiago or Pecorino (I used Pecorino with truffles, because I had some on hand)

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

NOTE: I think when I make this again, I may increase the amount of custard. I would do this by adding 1 additional egg, for a total of 5 eggs, as well as increasing the milk/cream mixture to a total of 2 cups total. Of course, you could also reduce your filling to 2 cups, but honestly, why would you?! While the photo doesn’t show it, the custard actually coats every piece of kale. The amount you use is purely personal.

Directions

For the pastry

  1. Put the flour and salt into the container of a food processor or a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the white shortening and butter and pulse while gradually adding the ice water.
  3. Add only enough water so that the dough comes clean from the sides of the container and can be handled. Shape into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper and chill for at least one hour. This can be made a day ahead and kept refrigerated.

For the Quiche

  1. When you are ready to bake the quiche, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Roll out the pastry and line a 10-inch quiche pan or pie plate. (The pastry needs to be sufficiently malleable when you roll it out or like me, you will spend a lot of time patching. It’s fine to patch since it won’t show in the end product, but if it makes you anxious, allow the dough to warm up a little before attempting to roll it out.) Line the pastry with foil. Add dried beans, rice or pie weights to keep the bottom from puffing up. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and the weights. You can allow the beans or rice to cool and they can be stored for future use. You just can’t eat them!
  3. Meanwhile, cook the bacon, drain and coarsely chop it. Then heat the butter and EVOO in a large skillet (or use the bacon drippings) and add the onion and mushrooms. Sprinkle with brown sugar, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring until wilted. Add the garlic and stir through. Add the kale, with barely any of the water that sticks to the leaves after washing and cook, tossing gently until the kale begins to wilt. You can cover the pan for a few minutes to speed the process up. You want to uncover towards the end to reduce any liquid from the mushrooms. Since my kale was pretty dry when it went in, the liquid given off from the mushrooms was just enough to cook things so that the end product was moist but not liquidy. img_2799img_2801
  4. Break the eggs into a mixing bowl or large measuring cup and add some salt and pepper to taste. Beat well with a whisk, adding the milk and cream in a stream. (If there was a lot of liquid in the kale mixture, try to only add the solids, discarding the liquid.)
  5. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
  6. Distribute the kale mixture over the bottom of the pastry. You want to use about 3 cups of filling. (If you have any extra it can be cooked with scrambled eggs or in a tofu scramble.) Pour the custard mixture evenly over the kale and sprinkle with the cheese. Place the quiche pan on a baking pan and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 15 minutes. There should be just the slightest of jiggle in the center. Do not over bake. The custard will continue cooking after it comes out of the oven. Allow the quiche to cool to room temperature before serving. img_2807

Butternut Squash Pizza

So if you read my post about the my attempts to work with puff pastry, you’ll know that there was some leftover that just did not end up getting used for the soleil.  The good news is that it was repurposed into a kind of butternut squash pizza!  Adding the cayenne pepper adds just the right amount of kick, and this is pretty easy to throw together for a weeknight dinner (assuming you and the puff pastry have come to terms).

_MG_6346

All we had to do was roast some butternut squash, caramelize some onions, and throw it in the oven to bake.  There have been instances in which I’ve made this and been too heavy handed with the cayenne – a note of caution: there is a distinct possibility to put too much cayenne, so if gauge accordingly when you sprinkle your ‘pizzas.’

~ 2 lb Puff pastry (for the pastry) rolled out into rough rounds or squares

For the filling:
1 small butternut squash (about one pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons butter (if you have only non-stick, the smaller amount will do)
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
3/4 cup gruyere cheese

1. Prepare pastry: Roll out the two puff pastry sheets into rough rectangles or lopsided circles.

2. Prepare squash: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel squash, then halve and scoop out seeds. Cut into a 1/2-inch dice. Toss pieces with olive oil and a half-teaspoon of the salt and roast on foil lined (for neatness sake) sheet for 30 minutes or until pieces are tender, turning it midway if your oven bakes unevenly. Set aside to cool slightly.

3. Caramelize onions: While squash is roasting, melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook onion over low heat with the remaining half-teaspoon of salt and pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in cayenne.

4. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Mix squash, caramelized onions, and cheese together in a bowl.

5. Assemble pizza: Spread squash, onions, cheese mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border.

6. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the pizza onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Serves ~4-5.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen Butternut Squash Galette.

Savory Galette with Eggplant, Zucchini and Feta

Savory Galette platedOnce you learn certain basic techniques, then you can feel free to experiment. I had so much fun making the tomato and plum galette that I thought I would see what other great combinations I could make. The farmers’ market today had beautiful zucchini and eggplants eggplant and zucchiniand my lemon thyme and oregano plants are quite lush and could do with a bit of judicious trimming. I debated about the cheese, but when I remembered that I still had half of a nice chunk of feta in my fridge, leftover from the green fattoush salad, my decision was made. And here is the delicious result:

Savory Galette with Eggplant, Zucchini and Feta

Ingredients:

For the crust

1.25 cups, unbleached all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts

1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (if you have it, use lemon thyme)

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold

2 Tablespoons Greek Yogurt (I used Fage 2% Plain)

5 Tablespoons ice water

For the filling

3 cups thinly sliced zucchini and eggplant (See Note)

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

cracked black pepper

1 large garlic clove, minced or crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

EVOO

2-3 Tablespoons of goat or sheep’s milk feta in a chunk

egg, lightly beaten

1 Tablespoon toasted pine nuts

1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, basil or oregano leaves

NOTE: (Since I went to the farmers’ market, I was able to get a variety of different colored zucchini and eggplants. If you are using the large, traditional purple eggplant and it has a lot of seeds, you will need to generously salt the slices and lay them out in a colander for about 20 minutes. This removes the bitterness from the seeds. Then rinse them well before using and pat dry. Since I bought eggplants with very few seeds, this step was not necessary. Do not buy the gigantic zucchini. More isn’t always better- it’s just more. Look for slim, straight zucchini with unblemished skins.)

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, black pepper, thyme and sea salt. Pulse a few times to mix well. Add cold butter (divide the stick into 16 pieces). Pulse until the mixture is the size of frozen peas.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and ice water until well combined. Pour it over the flour mixture and run the machine just until the dough starts to form a ball. Add the pine nuts and pulse once or twice to distribute. It will seem relatively wet compared to other pastry. Don’t worry! Turn it out onto waxed paper or plastic wrap and form a disk. (Make a ball and then flatten it.) Wrap the dough and refrigerate it for at least one hour. This can be made a couple of days ahead if you like.
  3. When ready to bake the galette, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Have a rimmed baking pan ready to use. Remove the dough from the fridge.
  4. Thinly slice the eggplant and zucchini. A mandolin is great for this task, but PUHLEEZE be careful! It is so easy to cut yourself badly. Don’t worry if the slices aren’t all gorgeous rounds – it won’t make any difference to the end product.
  5. Roll out your dough on lightly floured parchment paper to an approximately 14-inch round. Perfect roundness is not essential. However, do try to have even thickness of the dough. Turn the dough disk periodically while rolling out to keep it from sticking and to maintain the thickness.
  6. About 2 inches in from the edge, lightly spread the garlic. Then start layering your vegetables, building towards the center. This is not a Chicago deep-dish pizza. You do not load up the dough with as much stuff as you possibly can. Sprinkle with salt, a few cracks of pepper, the dried thyme and a drizzle of EVOO.               Savory Galette Stage 1
  7. Fold up the edges of the dough and just barely tuck them under to give a rounded look. If you prefer something even more rustic, then just fold the edges up over the vegetables. If the you have to create small folds in the dough, that’s just fine.
  8. Brush the edges of the dough with a lightly beaten egg.           Savory Galette Stage 2
  9. Bake at 425 degrees F. for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 375 degrees F, add the feta cheese and bake for 25 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the top and bake for 5-8 more minutes or until everything is golden. Remove to a cooling rack and after it has cooled for a bit then take your fresh herbs and scatter them across the top. If you do it immediately, the herbs will blacken from the heat. Serve with a fresh salad and a nice crisp white or rose wine.

TIP: You will almost certainly have left-over vegetables and you don’t want to waste them, especially if you have lugged them home from the farmers market. These are the perfect left-overs to make a ratatouille – assuming you didn’t thinly slice more than you needed and simply left the remaining vegetables whole. Watch for my wonderful ratatouille recipe!

Finished Savory Galette

So Many Tomatoes – Heirloom Tomato and Plum Galette

Tomato and Plum GaletteMy life goes back and forth between extremely stressful and fairly boring. As a way to relax, I read mysteries and look up recipes. I came across this one from a link on Food 52 and thought that I would give it a try. The farmers’ market had beautiful heirloom grape and cherry tomatoes and the plums are at their peak right now. I made the crust Saturday night and refrigerated it until I was ready to finally bake the galette tonight.

Here is my version of Tomato and Plum Galette adapted from a recipe by Elizabeth Stark

Yields: 8 servings

Ingredients:

For the crust

1.25 cups, unbleached all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons grated Asiago or Parmesan Cheese

1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold

2 Tablespoons Greek Yogurt (I used Fage 2% Plain)

5 Tablespoons ice water

For the filling

3 cups heirloom tomatoes (I used a mix of grape and cherry)

sea salt

2 medium firm, but ripe, black plums

1/4 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese, divided into 2 Tablespoon portions

1 egg, lightly beaten

cracked black pepper

1 Tablespoon torn fresh tarragon leaves

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, cheese, black pepper and sea salt. Pulse a few times to mix well. Add cold butter (divide the stick into 16 pieces). Pulse until the mixture is the size of frozen peas.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and ice water until well combined. Pour it over the flour mixture and run the machine just until the dough starts to form a ball. It will seem relatively wet compared to other pastry. Don’t worry! Turn it out onto waxed paper or plastic wrap and form a disk. (Make a ball and then flatten it.) Wrap the dough and refrigerate it for at least one hour. This can be made a couple of days ahead if you like.
  3. When ready to bake the galette, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Have a rimmed baking pan ready to use. Remove the dough from the fridge.
  4. Slice your tomatoes lengthwise into 4 pieces. Using your fingers, scoop out the seeds and slice away any core. Line a plate with paper towel and turn the tomato pieces onto the plate. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  5. Cut your plums in half along the axis, remove the pit and thinly slice.
  6. On a piece of floured sheet of parchment, roll the dough into a rough 14-inch circle. Brush away any excess flour.
  7. Scatter 2 Tablespoons of the cheese in a 12-inch circle inside the larger dough circle.next, arrange a band of tomatoes around this 12-inch circle. Working inwards, alternate circles of plum and tomatoes, tucking each layer up against the other.
  8. Fold up the sides of the dough (you will have some folds – this is fine). Lightly brush the folded over dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with sea slat and cracked pepper. Galette stage one

9.  Carefully lift the parchment and     galette onto the rimmed baking pan.  Trim parchment as needed. Bake at 425 degrees F. for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the galette from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and bake until the galette is a rich golden brown, anywhere from 20-30 minutes depending on your oven.

Galette stage two

10. Cool for 15 minutes and scatter the tarragon leaves over the top. Serve warm.

Galette slice2