I am continuing with my Culinary Arts classes at George Brown College. Since the beginning of the program we have mastered sauces, stocks, roasting, poaching, and even a little baking. What at first appeared overwhelming during the first few weeks, has now become routine.
The Chef takes the time each week to demonstrate the correct way to prepare the evening’s menu. He shows us everything from the correct way to chop, julienne, sauté, roast and poach to how to bake. After we watch him demonstrate he lets us taste the results so we have a baseline on the texture and the flavours. Once we have tasted the meal we return to our workstations to try to replicate the dish ourselves. This comes with success most of the time.
So far my dishes have turned out to be a reasonable imitation of what the chef created with the exception of a crabmeat quiche. The recipe provided for the crust was not at all like the pastry crusts any of us had made at home. In fact it was so different none of my group had success in getting a tender crust for our quiche. My pastry crust was as hard as a rock and as flavourless as paper. I took one taste and quickly sent it to the garbage bin.
When I think if quiche I think of times that I have spent in France. Some of my favourite memories are of meals where French cooks and chefs have taken simple flavours and fresh ingredients and combined them to create memorable dishes. Somehow my attempt at quiche was memorable, but for the wrong reason.
In order to master this part of the course and learn to make quiche like a French cook I decided to try a different recipe. I found these from one of my favourite authors, Dorie Greenspan who writes recipes that are complete and consistent. I knew if I followed the pastry crust recipe carefully it would turn out as it should.
Gerard’s Mustard Tart is a carrot and leek quiche with Dijon mustard added for a punch of French flavour. I found the recipe for the pastry crust by Dorie on Epicurious.com and the tart recipe in her cookbook called Around My French Table which is a must have book for anyone who enjoys cooking French cuisine.
This quiche would be a nice entre for a spring brunch or lunch.
Gerard’s Mustard Tart
3 carrots, trimmed and peeled
3 thin leeks, white and light green parts only, cut lengthwise in half and washed
2 rosemary sprigs
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons crème fraîche or 6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. grainy Dijon mustard
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 9- to 9 1/2-inch tart shell-(Recipe for pastry crust below)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
Cut the carrots and leeks into slender batons or sticks: First cut the carrots lengthwise in half, then place the halves cut side down on the cutting board and cut crosswise in half or cut into chunks about 3 inches long. Cut the pieces into 1/8- to ¼-inch-thick matchsticks. If your carrots were fat and you think your matchsticks don’t look svelte enough, cut them lengthwise in half. Cut the leeks in the same way.
Fit a steamer basket into a saucepan. Pour in enough water to come almost up to the steamer, cover, and bring to a boil. Drop the carrots, leeks, and 1 rosemary sprig into the basket, cover, and steam until the vegetables are tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain the vegetables and pat them dry; discard the rosemary sprig.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs together with the crème fraîche or heavy cream. Add the mustard, season with salt and white pepper — mustard has a tendency to be salty, so proceed accordingly, and whisk to blend. Taste and see if you want to add a little more of one or the other mustards.
Put the tart pan on the lined baking sheet and pour the filling into the crust. Arrange the vegetables over the filling — they can go in any which way, but they’re attractive arranged in spokes coming out from the center of the tart. Top with the remaining rosemary sprig and give the vegetables a sprinkling of salt and a couple of turns of the peppermill.
Bake the tart for about 30 minutes, or until it is uniformly puffed and lightly browned here and there and a knife inserted into the center of the custard comes out clean. Transfer the tart to a cooling rack and let it rest for 5 minutes before removing the sides of the pan.
Recipe from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg
1 tsp. cold water
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
Blend flour, salt, and sugar in processor. Add butter; using on/off turns, process until coarse meal forms. Whisk 1 egg and 1 teaspoon cold water in small bowl; add to flour mixture. Using on/off turns, process just until moist clumps form. Transfer to work surface and knead gently until dough comes together, about 4 turns. Form into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill 1 hour.
Do ahead: Dough can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
Butter 9 1/2-inch round fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer dough to pan, pressing onto bottom and up sides of pan; trim any excess dough. Chill 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter large square of foil and press, butter side down, onto crust. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and weights. Using fork, pierce bottom of crust all over (about 10 times). Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Brush lightly with egg white. Cool.
Do ahead: Crust can be baked 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
Quiche Crust Recipe by Dorie Greenspan from Epicurious.com