Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Custard and Vegetable Pie

My boyfriend doesn't like quiche, and despite my best efforts, still wasn't a huge fan of this one. I thought it was amazing. I'll describe what I did, and how I will improve it next time.

Begin by making the pie dough for the crust. My pie recipe makes enough dough for a bottom and a top, but this is an open-faced pie, so I made twice as much dough as you should for one pie, planning on saving the second half for a later dish. Here's the doubled recipe:

Preheat the oven 425°F. In the standing mixer or food processor, combine:
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp vital wheat gluten
  • 1 tsp salt
Slice into pieces and add to the flour
  • 1 stick cold butter
and set mixer on medium-high until butter has been fully cut into the flour (no chunks remain). Then add, one Tbsp at a time:
  • 10 Tbsp cold water (use 5-6 Tbsp for white-flour pie dough)
and mix until dough forms into a couple large balls.

Roll out half of dough on a lightly-floured surface into a large circle, and transfer to pie plate. Fill empty pie with half an inch of dried beans, and bake for 10-15 minutes at 425°F. Remove from oven, dump beans out into trash can, and in the process accidentally lose the pie crust. Curse quietly to yourself, and roll out the second half, thanking the heavens you made a double batch. This time, fold down the crust over the edges of the pie plate to fasten, and use more beans — last time, there weren't enough to keep the middle of the pie from bumping up. After removing beans more carefully this time, brush the bottom and sides of the still warm empty pie crust with
  • 1 egg yolk
to preserve crispness.

Turn oven down to 325°F. In the now clean mixing bowl, whisk together:
  • 1 egg white and 2 more eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a few grinds of fresh black pepper
  • 1-2 oz morel mushrooms, finely diced
  • (1-2 oz abbaye de belloc or other cheese)
Actually, don't use any cream, or not much. The cream melts in the oven, preventing the custard from coming together, and makes the pie heavier. Instead, use two or three more eggs. I'm not a huge fan of cheese in my quiche, but my boyfriend insisted that ever quiche have cheese in it, and we had just bought some really good cheese for later recipes.

Beat the mixture to aerate. Quiches tend to be very dense; instead, aim for your custard pie to be more like a savory soufflé. Beat even until soft peaks.

Pour one third of mixture into empty pie crust. Layer pie with:
  • 1 10-inch green summer squash (zucchini), sliced
  • 3 oz brown button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 bunch basil, stems discarded (or saved for soup stock)
Pour the rest of the filling over the vegetables.

Bake 20-30 minutes at 325°F, until pie just starts to firm up. Place on top of pie
  • 4 squash blossoms, arranged radially
and bake another ten minutes. Allow pie to cool ten minutes before slicing. Then cut into quarters, so that each piece has a flower on top.

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