QUICHE: The Next Big Thing… Again?jan2016-quiche

Sometimes it is called an Egg Tart, or a Galette by the fancier folk, but anytime an eggy, creamy custard filling is poured into a pastry crust and baked will always be quiche to me. Quiche was big in the ‘70s. My mother served it to her girlfriends at her monthly ladies brunches, quiche was on the lunch menu at some of your more chichi restaurants, and it evidently was the dish that defined who real men were.

Though I have always loved quiche, galettes and tartlettes (or whatever they’re calling them these days) and never felt they fell out of fashion, it did take a bad rap for a while when all the “farm to table” excitement started stirring.

Well quiche is back and bigger (and better) than ever. It is once again making its way onto the menus at our local restaurants, and it has shown up on the cover of some of our top food magazines looking all updated and dapper.

And, boy, am I happy about it.

When I opened the bakery, one of our wholesale accounts requested “Little savory hand pies” for one of their lunch items and I was delighted to oblige. We have them in the case at Bake Sale where they sell well in the morning for a quick breakfast on the run and they are equally popular at lunch where we pair them with a little green salad.

I was recently asked for the recipe by David Nelson from San Diego Home & Garden magazine so he could print it for a New Year’s brunch piece he was writing. I scaled down the recipe for home use to share it with you here:

This little savory hand pie is favorite down at Bake Sale Bakery as we have many who stop in to have one for breakfast each morning on their way to work. I like to serve this in the evening alongside a salad for a nice light supper and it works beautifully on a buffet table for entertaining.

This would be a great New Year’s Eve dish as it pairs well with champagne and it would be equally delicious on the New Year’s Day breakfast table along with some fruit.

Here is the recipe for our Easy As “Pie Dough.” This is enough dough to make 5-6 small cupcake pan-sized hand pies.

Black Forest Ham, Leek and Gruyere Mini Quiche

METHOD:
*cut butter and shortening into small cubes and put in freezer
1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor
2. Sprinkle butter and shortening over the dry ingredients and toss to coat
Pulse until the fat is pea sized, but not smaller.
3. Dump the dry/fat mixture into a bowl and add water a few TBSPs at a time. Use a fork to toss the mixture and evenly distribute the liquid. Continue to add water until the dough, while still shaggy but holds together when pressed against the side of the bowl.
4. Form the dough into a disk and wrap tightly. Let disk cool in the refrigerator for at least two hours but up to two days.
5. When ready, roll the dough out to fit the size of your pie tin, making sure it is large enough to come up an inch to an inch and a half on the sides. WORK QUICKLY IN A COOL ROOM SO THE DOUGH DOES NOT BECOME WARM.
6. Line with foil. Fill the tin with dried beans or pie weights and blind bake at 375 degrees until light golden brown.* Remove the foil and weights and bake a few minutes longer to assure the bottom bakes. Be sure and blind bake the little shells long enough to get them baked through but not browned before adding the fillings and custard.

FILLING

2 TBS Butter
2 Leeks White and Green Part (only tender part) chopped.
2 Cups Heavy Cream
2/3 tsp Sea Salt
½ tsp Black Pepper
¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
½ tsp Nutmeg
1 Cup Grated Gruyere Cheese (or Swiss if preferred)
1 Cup Diced Black Forest Ham
4 Large Eggs

Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium high heat and cook leeks until they soften. Remove from the heat and let cool.

TO MAKE THE CUSTARD

Whisk the cream and milk, eggs, salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl.

Divide the leeks and ham evenly in each in mini quiche and top with cheese. Pour the custard over the top of each filling at least a quarter of an inch lower than your crust.

Place in a 400-degree oven and bake for approx. 25-30 minutes until center is set. You can test this by wiggling the quiche, or doing the toothpick test you do for cakes.

Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving. These are delicious at room temperature and even chilled.

Pumpkin Pie Throwdown

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Last week I was invited to participate in an on-air Pumpkin Pie Bobby Flay-style “throwdown” with two television personalities from San Diego 6 News, our local CW affiliate here in San Diego. The challenge came about after I had appeared a month earlier with my peanut butter cookie recipe and a friendly peanut butter cookie competition between myself and meteorologist Jacqueline Bennett broke out. (A duel in which I prevailed, by the way, but that story is for another post.)

My competition for this contest was, once again, Jacqueline Bennett, who presented her version of pumpkin pie using condensed milk as the sweetener, as well as the morning news anchor Heather Myers, who prepared a gluten free pie with candied pecans. I prepared a pie from our Bake Sale Bakery recipe, which calls for eggs, heavy cream and milk to make the custard.

I arrived at the studio at an ungodly early hour with all the ingredients to make my filling, a parbaked crust (for the on-air demo), and a completed pie I had baked the night previous for the big taste test.

While most pumpkin pie recipes are very similar, and for the most part all are delicious, the Bakery recipe has one rather special ingredient: real maple syrup, which truly is a flavor changer and is the reason I believe that my pie won the competition. (Notice how I casually mentioned that?)

At Bake Sale we like the butter/vegetable shortening combination for the crust, because all that butter makes it taste great, plus a little bit of Crisco makes it extra flaky.

Here is a variation of our recipe at the bakery:

*Note, I use canned pumpkin, I have found it is the most consistent and produces a nicely flavored pie. Roasting a pumpkin is fine if you want to go to all the work… but in my opinion, leave that for the all the Pilgrims out there!

This recipe makes enough dough and filling for one single-crusted pie.

Bake Sale Bakery Pie Dough

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter cut into cubes
3 tablespoons cold Crisco cut into cubes
5-7 tablespoons cold water

METHOD:
*cut butter and shortening into small cubes and put in freezer.
1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor.
2. Sprinkle butter and shortening over the dry ingredients and toss to coat.
Pulse until the dry mixture pea sized but not smaller.
3. Place the dry/fat mixture into a bowl and add water a few tablespoons at a time. Use a fork to toss the mixture and evenly distribute the liquid. Continue to add water until the dough, while still shaggy, holds together when pressed against the side of the bowl.
4. Form the dough into a disk and wrap tightly, let disk cool in the refrigerator for at least two hours but no more than two days.
5. When ready, roll the dough out to fit the size of your pie tin making sure it is large enough to hang over the edge.
6. Crimp edges as you like and then line with foil. Fill the tin with dried beans or pie weights and blind bake at 375 until light golden brown. Remove the foil and weights and bake a few minutes longer to assure the bottom bakes.
The key to making flaky pie crust is to have all your ingredients very cold and work as quickly as you can so that the butter doesn’t start to melt until it hits the heat of the oven and puffs up from the steam.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

2 cups canned pumpkin
¾ cup cream
½ cup milk
2 whole large eggs
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
½ teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt

Method:
1. Combine cream, vanilla, milk, eggs, yolks and sugars.
2. Add pumpkin and spices and mix well with whisk.
3. Pour into warm parbaked pie shell.
4. Bake at 325 degrees until just set (about 45 minutes).
5. Center will wiggle slightly, but top should not be wet.
6. Let cool at room temp, then refrigerate overnight.
7. Serve with fresh whipped cream spiced with grated nutmeg.

Love, Work & Mayo

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Freud famously said that all one needs for true happiness is love and work. I would wholeheartedly agree with him with one simple addition: mayonnaise.

Sounds shallow at first I’m sure, but think about it, love… love of family, love of friends and of course, the ever-elusive romantic love… for sure love is needed for true happiness. Work… meaningful work, leaves us fulfilled and gives us a sense of purpose. It is indeed an essential factor for happiness.

Love, blissful work, and a shiny dollop of creamy, white mayonnaise is all I need to be happy. I know… very white bread of me.

I was raised in a big family of added-fat lovers, butter and mayonnaise being at the top of the list. As a matter of custom, each night my grandmother would place a stack of freshly baked white bread and a crock of room temperature butter at the head of the dinner table. The bread sat to the left of my grandfather, who slathered it with butter and took alternating bites of roast with gravy and buttered bread. This is a man who would line a cookie sheet with that same white bread and place it under the broiler pan when grandma broiled steaks. He would take the fat-soaked bread to the table and have it as a side dish. And this is also a man who lived a long and active life to the age of ninety-two.

Well, the apple sure doesn’t fall far from the tree. When I roast a chicken, and don’t have plans for pan gravy, I always sit my trussed bird on a couple heels of bread in the bottom of my Dutch oven. The bird is stuffed with onions and garlic and lacquered in butter, salt and pepper. Once the bird is roasted and removed, the bread becomes a chewy, crispy salty, fatty crouton floating atop the chicken soup I am going to make the next day…if…it makes it that long, that is!