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Mushroom and Leek Quiche

January 20, 2011

While I was making this Julia Child quiche, I had some unlikely company in the kitchen. I watched two episodes of Star Trek, The Next Generation: “Redemption, Part I and II.” This isn’t atypical – I usually have some TV on in the background while I cook – but it gave me some things to think about.

Part 1 is a pretty straightforward Klingon episode: a power-struggle, some brawls and a Worf-identity crisis – kind of an odd juxtaposition to a fussy dish like a quiche.

Part 2, on the other hand, layers on the overcomplicated political and ethical dilemmas, aptly demonstrating why Star Trek is boring to some people and fascinating to others. You’ve got Sela, Tasha Yar’s daughter as a result of some Season 3 time travel, Romulans corrupting the Klingon empire, Data coping with anti-android prejudice and Picard dancing on a prime-directive-shaped pin, trying to fix the situation without violating the non-interference law. I actually tried to find a clip to show you, but I really didn’t want a pedantic conference-room scene to scare you away. You’ll probably appreciate this more:

Ok, so even a creepy seduction scene gets mired down by interplanetary politics.

What does this have to do with quiche? Well, in some ways, this quiche epitomizes Federation policies: it’s all about delicate balance and the execution of time-consuming processes. Like a lot of the recipes in Julia Child’s MTAFC, it seems to have a lot of extra steps, and doesn’t necessarily take a lot of chances. On the other hand, it has some good-old-Klingon brute force, in the form of a whole lot of butter and cream. Like Picard and Worf, it’s a winning combination.

The episode that follows these two is “Darmok,” a test of Picard’s patience as he tries to communicate with a species that speaks only in metaphor. Maybe I can compare this to apple butter? We’ll see.

For the crust, I made an all-butter version of my usual pie crust. Flour and salt, plus plenty of butter.

Crumble this together until you have a mixture like this.

Add ice water until it comes together and make a ball. Wrap and chill it for about an hour.

After this has chilled, it needs to be rolled and pre-baked. Refrigerating the dough might make it kind of tough: I followed Julia’s advice of hitting it a few times with the rolling pin to soften it up. Maybe she was part-Klingon.

Roll it into a circle and transfer to a pie dish.  Line with foil and use a layer of dry beans to weigh down the crust and bake at 400°F for 8 minutes.

Remove the beans and foil and prick the crust all over with a fork.

Return to the oven for another 3 minutes until the crust is dry, but before it begins to brown.

Now, finally, the actual quiche filling. Toss sliced leeks in butter with some water and salt. Cook until the liquid evaporates, and then let it simmer on low until the leeks are tender.

Meanwhile, sauté some shallots in yet more butter.

Stir in mushrooms, lemon juice and salt. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 minutes. Then uncover and crank up the heat until the liquid evaporates.

In a large bowl, beat three eggs. Start to forget you ever heard of cholesterol.

Then add a cup of cream. You heard me, a cup.

I almost used milk or half-and-half, but then I thought of all of the time I put into baking the crust and cooking the vegetables according to Julia’s exacting instructions, and I just couldn’t start changing stuff at the last minute.

Ultimately, it did make the quiche richer, but I probably wouldn’t miss it if I had just used milk.

Stir in pepper and nutmeg, then mushrooms and leeks. At this stage, the recipe says to “check the seasoning,” but I’m not sure what properly-seasoned raw eggs and cream should taste like.

Pour into the pie shell and sprinkle Swiss cheese on top. Dot with, you guessed it, butter.

Bake at 375°F for 25-35 minutes until the quiche puffs-up and the top is lightly browned.

Delicious with a cup of Tea, Earl Grey, Hot and plenty of salad.

Mushroom and Leek Quiche

Adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol I
Makes a 9-inch quiche, enough to serve 4-6

1 pre-baked 9-inch pie shell (Recipe follows)
3½ Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tsp salt, divided in half
½ lb leeks, thinly sliced, mostly white parts
¼ cup water
1 shallot, finely diced
½ lb mushrooms, sliced
½ teaspoon lemon juice
3 eggs
1 cup cream
teaspoon black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
⅓ cup (heaping) shredded swiss cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Melt 1½ T butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leeks, water and ½ tsp of salt and let boil until the water has mostly evaporated. Turn heat to low and let stew until leeks are tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Melt 1½ T butter in another saucepan over medium-low heat. Add shallots and stir for a minute. Then add mushrooms, lemon juice and ½ tsp salt. Cover and let simmer for 8 minutes. Uncover and cook over high heat until liquid is completely evaporated and mushrooms start to brown a bit.
4. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, cream, nutmeg and pepper. Gradually stir in leeks and mushrooms.
5. Pour mixture into prepared pie crust and sprinkle cheese and dot with remaining ½ Tablespoon of butter.
6. Bake for 25-35 minutes until filling has puffed-up and top is lightly brown. When it cools, the filling will sink down a bit.

Pâte Brisée, or Shortcrust Pastry, or All-Butter Pie Crust
(depending on who you ask)

Makes one crust for a 9-inch pie

1 cup and 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2-4 Tablespoons ice water

1. Mix together flour and salt in a medium bowl.
2. Add butter and crumble the mixture with your fingertips until chunks are ths size of small peas.
3. Add water a little at a time until the dough comes together into a ball. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for an hour or more before rolling.
4. To roll out dough, place on a floured surface. If the dough is too hard to work with, pound it a few times with a rolling pin.
5. Roll the dough out into a large circle and transfer to a pie or quiche dish.
6. To pre-bake the crust, preheat the oven to 400°F. Line the bottom with foil and place a layer of dry beans on top to weigh down the dough. Bake for 8 minutes and remove the foil/beans. Prick the bottom with a fork and return to the oven for 2-3 more minutes.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 21, 2011 6:58 am

    This looks super yummy!!

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