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Ham and Gruyere Quiche

quiche

Ham and Gruyere Quiche

I don’t make quiche often but when I do I wonder why because it’s easy and satisfying, and it’s always a crowd pleaser. This variation is my favorite because of its simplicity but you can doctor it up with sautéed leeks, spinach or anything else that strikes your fancy. Pair with a simple salad and a glass of your favorite wine and you’ve got yourself a perfect meal.

For the crust:
2 cups flour, plus extra for rolling
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, very cold, cut into ½ inch cubes
3 or 4 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:
1 cup ham, diced
1 cup gruyere, grated
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

For the custard:
1 cup milk
4 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
pinch nutmeg

Make the crust. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together (you may not need all of it). Remove the dough from the food processor and place onto a floured surface and knead into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Spray a 10-inch pie pan with nonstick cooking spray, set aside.

Preheat oven to 375º F.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes in order to soften just enough to make rolling out a bit easier. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a circle about 1/8-inch thick. Roll up the dough using a rolling pin, and gently lift and place it over the pan. Gently press the dough into all the crevices and trim the overhang to ½-inch. Crimp the edges for a decorative finish and use the trimmed dough to patch any holes.

Distribute the ham and cheese evenly over the custard. Sprinkle with thyme.

Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, paprika and pinch nutmeg until light and fluffy.

Pour the custard over the filling and bake until custard is set and the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool on a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 1 10-inch quiche

Flourless Almond Cake

almond cakes

Flourless Almond Cake

The almond is native to modern-day Syria, Israel, and Turkey, though it was spread to parts of Europe and North Africa in antiquity. Romans referred to almonds as “Greek nuts” and showered newlyweds with them as a fertility charm.

This is the perfect Passover cake.

¾ cup sugar
2 cups slivered almonds
pinch ground cardamom
4 eggs
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 stick butter, at room temperature
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
¼ cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted (or get these from Trader Joe’s – they’re amazing)

Butter a round 9 to 10 inch spring-form pan, and cover the bottom with parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Place the almonds, sugar and generous pinch cardamom into a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the eggs to the mixture followed by the almond extract. Drop in the butter and process until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Pour the batter into the mold. Place on a rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. The cake is done when the top if golden brown, feels springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Unmold the cake, invert onto a platter and remove the parchment paper. Invert the cake again onto another platter to have the top of the cake right side up.

In a small saucepan, mix the honey with the lemon juice. Set over medium heat and simmer for a couple minutes, until it has the consistency of a glaze.

Spread the honey on the outer circumference of the cake – about 1 to 2 inches – using a pastry brush. Sprinkle the glazed area with the toasted sliced almonds and serve.

Serves 12 to 15

This cake is adapted from Patti Jinich’s Flourless Almond and Porto Cake

Cheddar and Herb Scones

cheddar herb scones

Cheddar and Herb Scones

We made these little nuggets of deliciousness in my English Tea Time class at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens over the weekend. They were delicious.

Cheddar is the most popular type of cheese in the United Kingdom and has been produced in the village of Cheddar in Somerset, England since the 12th century.

To learn some fun facts about tea time in England (and for a recipe for Lemon Blueberry Cardamom Scone) click on The Victoria Appetite

3 cups flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
½ cup minced chives
½ cup minced parsley

Preheat the oven to 425º F.

In a medium bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together with a fork. Add the cold butter pieces and, using your fingertips, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse sand. It’s ok if some large pieces of butter remain – they’ll add to the scones’ flakiness.

Pour in 1 cup of buttermilk, add the herbs and cheese and mix until the ingredients are just moistened – you’ll have soft dough with a rough look. (If the dough looks dry, add another tablespoon of buttermilk).

Gather the dough into a ball, pressing it gently so that it holds together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it very briefly.

Roll the dough into small rounds, place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tops and the bottoms are golden brown. Cool slightly and serve warm.

Makes 12

Chipotle Pork Tenderloin

chipotle pork tenderloinJPG

Chipotle Pork Tenderloin

We made this spicy pork tenderloin in my last class of 2016 and it could very well be my favorite dish of last year. 

There are three species of cultivated chiles in ancient America, one of which was found in Mexico, wild, in cultural deposits in the Tehuacan valley dating from 7200 to 5200 BC. The use of chiles in the New World was not confined to food. Chile smoke was used as a fumigant, as a means of chemical warfare, and the Aztecs disciplined their children with it!

Christopher Columbus introduced chiles to Europe after his first trip to the Caribbean and called them peppers because he likened them to the peppercorns he was familiar with, though they are from a different family. Shortly thereafter they were cultivated around the globe and were quickly assimilated into the foods of other cultures, including those of Asia and the Middle East.

For the pork:
1 ½ pounds pork tenderloin
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed

For the chipotle sauce:
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup apple juice
6 black peppercorns
3 tablespoons chipotle puree, or more to taste (I prefer La Morena brand, available at Ralph’s)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons creme fraiche

Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in middle of the oven.

Make the sauce by whisking all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.

Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a 12-inch ovenproof heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Brown pork on all sides, about 6 minutes total, then transfer to a plate.

Sauté garlic in skillet until it starts to caramelize. Add the chipotle sauce, stirring and scraping up brown bits. Return the pork to the skillet and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 145 to 150° F, about 20 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Thinly slice the pork and pour the sauce over it.

Serves 6