One of the great things about cooking is that it takes time. Of course, this is also one of its greatest challenges. For years I would use cooking to de-stress--baking in particular. My classmates or office mates could always tell if my stress level was higher than normal because brownies, tarts, and scones would start showing up in the classroom or office. I've been baking since I was eight so I do take a lot of comfort in doing something I feel is relaxing and comforting when life gets a little crazy. But I think it also has something to do with my attempt to slow things down. There are some things in cooking that just can't be rushed. If a quiche needs to bake for 45 minutes it needs 45 minutes--and I can't change that. So I relax. Cooking provides me with sabbath time.
Yesterday was Memorial Day. My husband and I finally had a day off on the same day so we took Chase, our dog, and hit the road to explore Seneca Lake. But I also baked a quiche. I started in the morning by picking the greens from the garden and making the dough for the crust (letting it chill while we were out), and I finished it up when we arrived home. I often find that dividing the labor this way makes the task of cooking (particularly something complicated) much more manageable.
This recipe is adapted from one by Soyoung Scanlan, an artisinal cheesemaker in Santa Rosa, CA that originally appeared in Saveur magazine. I know that it is going to seem incredibly rich (no getting around it) but like all quiches, this is open to some experimentation about which and how much cheese you use. Scanlon uses this recipe with the leftover cheese she doesn't sell at the farmer's market. The rest of us can use it to clean out our cheese drawer--pretty much any cheese should work. Also, you can use whatever greens you have on hand--the original recipe called for swiss chard, for example. Finally, if you are worried about it seeming too decadent, have a small slice with a large salad and forgo that glass of Sauvignon Blanc in favor of water with lemon and enjoy guilt free!
For the crust
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 8 tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces
For the filling:
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 handful of scallions--white and green parts (or one large yellow onion) chopped
- 12 oz. assorted cheeses--softer cheeses cut into chunks, harder cheeses grated (I used a combo of fontina, goat-gouda, and a bit of brie)
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- About 2lbs greens of your choice: spinach, kale, swiss chard, beet greens all work well, stems and ribs removed, leaves blanched, drained and finely chopped.
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. For the crust: combine flour, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or two table knives, work butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal flecked with pea-size pieces of butter, then rub butter pieces into flour mixture with your fingers. And up to 6 tbsp. ice water, 1 tbsp. at a time, mixing until a rough dough forms. Knead dough in bowl until it just comes together, then shape into a ball. Flatten ball into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours.
Alternatively, you can prepare the crust in a food processor. Pulse dry ingredients until combined. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add water one tbsp. at a time while pulsing until dough begins to come together. Then place on a board and knead until it just comes together. Follow the rest of the directions as above.
Ease pastry into a 2" inch deep 10" round loose-bottom tart pan and crimp edges. Prick dough all over with a fork, line with parchment paper, and add pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust is set and edge begins to color, 30-35 minutes. Remove parchment paper and weights and continue to bake crust until lightly browned, about 5 minutes more. Remove crust from oven and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
3. For the filling: melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add scallions or onions and cook until soft. Transfer to a large bowl. Put cheeses into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add eggs and milk and pulse until blended. Transfer to bowl with scallions. Add greens, thyme, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste and mix well.