Quiche Maraîchère #FrenchFridayswithDorie

Friday, April 11, 2014

Quiche and I go way back. It was the first "gourmet" recipe I ever cooked for a boy. A rich, eggy Quiche Lorraine with a green salad on the side and a bottle of white wine was the romantic dinner I had planed for us. The quiche turned out great; its smell divine; but the boyfriend never turned up to eat it! He stood me and my quiche up and I blamed the quiche for that. Don't ask me why. There is no way to even begin to decipher the machinations of my 18 year old mind. I just know that I tossed it in the garbage bin, took the wine and left town. OK I am being somewhat dramatic here but I did leave town to go to our beach house and nurse my broken heart well and I did throw the quiche away without even tasting it!  

Fortunately this catastrophic first encounter was not enough to make me hate quiche. That would have been a blasphemy for a foodie like me because it is an incredibly flavourful savoury pastry. Incredibly flavourful and incredibly rich with a savoury custard made from eggs and cheese poured over ham, seafood or vegetables enclosed in a crispy shell of shortcrust pastry. In an ideal world I could eat quiche everyday. 

Now after so many years, quiche has became synonymous with pick-nicks at the park and dinner parties with good friends. And it is not so difficult to make, as my 18-year-old self wanted me to believe. The only part that needs some attention is the preparation of the shortcrust pastry or Pâte Brisée. And that is only for the first couple of times, because once you get the hang of mixing flour and butter with your fingers and kneading it gently to become a soft dough there is nothing really to stop you from making quiche everyday, except maybe your cholesterol. Yes, the sad, sad truth is that a true quiche carries MANY calories between its crispy bottom and its creamy filling. There are at least 3 eggs and loads of heavy cream and even more cheese (Gruyère or Comté) so, um.. yeah.. it is not an everyday indulgence. Unless of course you are French and come with a built-in mechanism that stops you eating when you have reached the minimum daily allowance of calories - in this case after the second forkful. 


So yes, this week's recipe for our French Fridays with Dorie cooking group is a quiche. But the Quiche Maraîchère (p.158), is not a typical quiche. It is a vegetable quiche or to be more precise a quiche overflowing with vegetables. It has leeks, celery and red peppers but it doesn't have so much custard. I could say that it is a "lighter" version of the original. 

I made my version of Dorie's quiche even lighter, using almond milk instead of heavy cream and skipping the cheese completely (I just grated a small piece of  Kasseri on the baked quiches to make them look nicer for the photo). 

Instead of making Pâte Brisée for the tart shell, I used some left-over flan pastry or pâte à foncer I had in the freezer. It was enough to make one 20cm tart and 3 baby tarts. Pâte à foncer is less delicate than pâte brisée but has a crisper texture. 

I filled the baby quiches with a few teaspoons of the quiche filling, after I had it fried in a pan like a mini omelette.

I have to admit that I was a little sceptical about the presence of the celery in the vegetable filling. Leeks and peppers are both very acceptable quiche ingredients but I have categorised celery as a soup vegetable. I know it is completely arbitrary and makes no sense because celery goes pretty much with everything but well there you have it. 

I was wrong, off course,  because celery worked amazing with the other two to give an extra savouriness to the quiches. 

The recipe was a huge success. Even in its "lighter" version it was full of flavour and lovely textures. You can find Dorie's original recipe for Quiche Maraîchère at Bookpage and to check how my fellow Doristas liked this recipe click here.
Quiche Maraîchère 
Adapted from "Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan
Serves 6 

Ingredients for the flan pastry - pâte à foncer -  (makes about 2, 20cm tart shells)
250 gr flour
125 gr butter, at room temperature, slightly softened and cut into small pieces
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
40 ml cold water
Ingredients for the quiche filling
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 celery stalks, cut into small pieces
1 leek, thinly sliced, only the white and light green parts
1/2 red pepper, or 1 if it is small, cored, seeded and finely diced
2/3 cup almond milk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
50 gr cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 190C/370F.

Lightly grease a 20 cm tart pan (fluted or straight).

Put the flour on the work surface. Make it look like a mountain and then make a well in the centre. Put the  butter, egg, sugar and salt in the well and start creaming them with your fingertips.

Little by little pull the flour into the well and work the dough until it becomes grainy in texture. Add the cold water, little by little, until the dough starts to hold together.

Knead the dough gently until it becomes smooth. Roll the pastry into a ball and wrap it with cling film. Put it in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes or until you are ready to use it.

When you are ready to use it, roll it with a lightly floured rolling pin (I used the plastic rolling pin I use to roll out fondant from Wilton), on a lightly floured surface, to a 3 mm thickness. Make sure that you turn it over frequently. You might have to re-flour the surface.

Transfer the dough to the tart pan and ease it in. Trim off any excess pastry with a knife or by rolling the pin over the tin. Prick the pastry with a fork in several places. Chill the dough in the fridge before baking it for at least 1 hour.

Line the tart pan with baking paper and fill it with ceramic baking beans to weight the pasty down so that it doesn't rise.

Bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and the paper and return the tart to the oven to bake for another 5 minutes. Allow the tart shell to cool before you fill it.

Heat the oil in a medium pan. Add the vegetables and cook stirring for about 10 minutes until they are tender. Season and put them into a bowl to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F and put the half baked tart shell on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Spread the cooked vegetables into the tart shell.

Whisk the egg and egg yolk with the milk, season them and pour them carefully over the vegetables. Be careful not to put too much custard. Let it stand for a few minutes and then see if you can add a little more.

Slide the filled tart onto the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until it is baked and set.

Transfer the quiche to a rack and let it cool before you serve it.

Cook's Notes:

  • The pâte à foncer pasttry can be kept, wrapped with cling film, in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • If you want to make the baby quiches use small tart moulds (around 4 - 6 cm). Butter them very well and line them with dough. Prick them with a fork. Chill them for at least 1 hour. Carefully line them with parchment paper and fill them with rice before you bake them. Bake them for 15 minutes, remove the paper and rice and bake them again for 5 - 10 minutes until they are golden and fully baked. 
  • To fill the baby quiches: Cook the quiche filling in a frying pan. Let it cool and then fill the baby tart shells with one or two teaspoons of the filling and grate some cheese over them.
  • If you don't have ceramic baking beans you can use different types of pulses (dried white beans, rise).
  • If you use beans or rice you will not be able to cook them after but you can use them for baking for a long time.