Winter is finally upon us. It’s cold out there. I just want to hibernate until spring; can someone please wake me up when winter is over.
Seems like it’s not just me who’s gone into hibernation. Only the hardiest of plants can withstand the winter cold. Accordingly, pickings at the farmers’ markets have been kinda slim as of late. But no sense complaining. Rather, you just need to summon your creative self. There are ways to make the best of (or rather, embrace) what winter has to offer.
These leeks found their way home with me (along with some mushrooms). Also picked up a half-dozen duck eggs. Duck eggs, leeks, and mushrooms — sounds like the makings of a beautiful quiche. So quiche it is.
Duck eggs have larger, richer, creamier yolks than chicken eggs, which make for richer, creamier dishes (that being said, if you can’t find duck eggs, you could easily use chicken eggs in this recipe). Of course, a little bit of cheese (in this case, Gruyere) never hurts. I like that this quiche is heavy on the vegetables and not too egg-y.
While I was perusing the web on the differences between cooking with chicken eggs versus duck eggs, someone mentioned that duck eggs yield really good, creamy ice cream. Now all I want is ice cream made with duck eggs. I don’t care that it’s freezing cold outside. Duck egg ice cream is next on my to-do list. Hmm, now just need to figure out what flavor??
In the meantime, make sure to clean your leeks well. Leeks love dirt.
For the pastry, I used a combination of rye flour and all-purpose flour, and lots of butter (the key to a flaky pastry). Would be curious to try a 100% rye crust next time; was concerned that it might be too dense and taste akin to cardboard. Suppose there is only one way to find out.
You can pre-bake the tart shell a few days in advance.
Leek and Mushroom Quiche with a Rye Crust
Adapted from The New York Times
makes 1 (9-inch) quiche
3 large leeks (about 1 1 /4 to 1 1/2 pounds), white and light green part only
Extra virgin olive oil (or combination olive oil and butter)
3 small garlic clove, minced
1 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 egg yolks (duck or chicken)
1 whole egg (duck or chicken)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
3/4 cup whole milk
3 ounces Gruyère, grated (3/4 cup tightly packed)
1 rye pastry crust (see below)
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Cut away the roots and dark green parts of the leeks. Slice the leeks in half lengthwise. Run under cold water to remove any dirt. If the leeks are very dirty, soak them in cold water for 15 minutes or so, then run under water again. Drain on paper towels. Slice the leeks into thin slices.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or a combination of olive oil and butter) over medium heat in a skillet or saucepan. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover and cook gently until the leeks are very soft but not browned, 10-15 minutes, stirring often. If the leeks begin to stick or brown, add a spoonful of water. Stir in the garlic and cook for another 30-60 seconds until fragrant.
In a separate skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms (in batches), season with salt and pepper, and sauté until browned, 5-7 minutes. Add to the skillet with the leeks. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms, adding more oil as needed.
Beat together the egg yolks and egg in a medium bowl. Set the tart pan on a baking sheet to allow for easy handling. Season with salt (about 1/2 teaspoon), pepper, and red pepper flakes. Add the milk to the eggs and whisk together.
Spread the leeks and mushrooms in an even layer on the crust. Sprinkle the cheese in an even layer on top. Pour in the egg custard filling. Place the baking sheet and tart in the oven (middle rack) and bake for 30 minutes, or until set and just beginning to color on the top.
Remove from the oven and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Rye Pastry Crust
makes 1 (9-inch) pastry
3 ounces (~3/4 cup) rye flour
3 ounces (~3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 ounces (1/2 cup) cold butter, cut into cubes
3-4 tablespoons iced-cold water
Equipment: 1 (9-inch) tart pan with a removable bottom
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Combine the flours and salt in a bowl or food processor. Add the butter. Using your fingers or pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor), combine until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-sized butter lumps.
Add the lemon juice and slowly add the water, stir gently with a fork (or pulse in a food processor) until the dough comes together. If the dough doesn’t stick together, add a little more water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until the dough sticks together. Form into a ball and press into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least an hour or overnight (dough can be chilled for a few days).
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough until it is slightly larger than your tart pan. Transfer the dough into the tart pan and trim the edges. Place the tart pan in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
Remove the tart from the refrigerator. Use a fork to make rows of holes in the dough, about 1-inch apart. Blind bake the crust (lined with a piece of parchment and filled with beans). Bake on the middle rack for 15 minutes.
Remove the beans and parchment and continue baking another 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.