Ham Quiche with Fresh Greens and Herbs

Almost Green Eggs and Ham

Having scored a pillow sized bag of greens and some fresh pasture-raised eggs from our local farmer’s market, at the Festhalle, we decided it was quiche time again. We had our own fresh herbs to add to the mix. This is my old recipe, with a fresh local twist.

Ingredients

1 Creole Pie Crust

8 ounces Swiss Cheese, cubed

1/2 cup Ham, cubed

One handful of Greens, shredded (We bought Collards)

4 organic Eggs

Heavy Cream (Enough to fill the Crust)

Fresh Herbs, chopped (We had Chervil and Parsley)

Salt and Pepper

Nutmeg

Again, crank your oven up to 400 degrees F, as this pie crust goes in uncooked. Add the chopped pieces of the cheese into the uncooked pie shell, and then the ham. Saute the greens in butter until soft (my wife prefers collards to be boiled, but I was cooking). Mix the cream and egg mixture together, with the sauteed greens and chopped herbs, and season. Pour that over the filling in the pie shell, season with nutmeg, and bake. Ours cooked for 65 minutes. The result is as close to edible green eggs and ham as you will ever get, and will even make you feel good about eating all that cheese and cream.

Asparagus Quiche

Spargelzeit!

Pi Day is gone, but Pie Days are here. One of the best meals I have ever eaten was at the French House at the University of Alabama, where we students of French were offered four different kinds of quiche–not surprisingly, I ate some of each one. My favorite was Asparagus Quiche. Here’s one with an all butter Creole Pie Crust.

Ingredients

1 Creole Pie Crust

8 ounces Swiss Cheese, cubed

6 large Asparagus Stalks

4 organic Eggs

Heavy Cream (Enough to fill the crust)

Salt and Pepper

Nutmeg

Crank your oven up to 400 degrees F, as this pie crust goes in uncooked. Break the asparagus at the point where it becomes tough (just try this once, and you’ll get the hang of it). Peel the lower half and cut into half inch pieces. Add the chopped pieces with the cheese into the uncooked pie shell. Mix the cream and egg mixture together, and season. Pour that over the filling in the pie shell, season with nutmeg, and arrange the asparagus spears into whatever Leonardo-esque shape you prefer.

Strange but Edible

Ok. so there’s some chopped up cooked bacon in there as well. What’s a meal without bacon? Bake at 400 degrees F for at least forty five minutes, until the quiche filling browns. Let the cooked pie rest, and then it’s time to chow down on some springtime.

Apple-Pecan Galette

Simple, rustic, and delicious

Galletes, or simple French country pies, have become something of a phenomenon in the South. In fact, there are no fewer than fifteen different galette recipes on the website of Southern Living magazine alone. This pie plateless recipe is more southern than most.

Apple-Pecan Galette

Ingredients:

1 Creole style all butter Pie Crust

For the Filling:

3 or 4 Granny Smith or other pie Apples

2 tablespoon Brown Sugar

2 tablespoons Honey

1 tablespoon organic Butter

1/4 cup Pecan Halves (or more)

Cinnamon

For the Glaze:

1/2 cup Apricot Preserves

2 tablespoons Brandy

Roll out the pie dough into either a circle or a rectangle–both are fine. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet via the rolling pin method. (I really like the Lodge Rectangular Griddle that is in the picture above.) Place the peeled and sliced apples into the center of the crust, leaving at least an inch of overlapping crust available around the edges. Add the sugar and honey, break the butter into small pieces over the filling, and top with pecan halves. Finally, dust the filling with cinnamon. Fold the edges of the crust over the filling, making sure there are no gaps in the crust. Otherwise, all the good juicy stuff in the filling will run out onto the baking sheet. Bake for an hour at 400 degrees F.

While the pie is baking and the smell is driving you crazy, calm your senses by making a glaze from fruit preserves. I was going to make one from my homemade fig preserves and bourbon, but I was low on figs and someone had drunk most of my bourbon. Simmer the preserves/alcohol mixture for at least five minutes–add more booze or water if it becomes too thick. When the galette is cooked but still hot, brush on the glaze with a pastry brush. Try a slice with some vanilla ice cream, and you may never make another regular apple pie again.

Pie Crusts

A Mostly Creole Pâte Brisée, Stage 1

A homemade pie crust is so superior to bought ones that I am almost ashamed to even make the comparison. With a couple of small exceptions and adaptations, this is the same crust that has been made in the South for decades, if not centuries. This recipe makes one crust.

Basic Pie Crust

Ingredients:

One cup All Purpose Flour

One stick Organic Butter (4 oz.)

1/4 cup Ice Water

Optional: Salt, Sugar

The all butter pie crust is a tradition that makes perfect sense. The Picayune Creole Cookbook even trash talks about other fats in a pie crust.

Some persons use lard for pie crust. This is to be deprecated. The crust will never have the same flavor or be as flaky as when made with butter. Others, again, mix the butter and the lard. This, too, is to be condemned, if you wish for the best results.

There you have it. Unless you want to have your pie crust condemned to Creole pastry hell, use all butter.

Now, back to the crust. Step one is to separate the butter into small, pea to rice size chunks. I use a bench scraper/pastry scraper for this step.

Add ice water, a few drops at a time.

Make a well in the center of the dough and add the ice water in small amounts. Work the dough with one hand (preferably fingertips only) until it sticks together without crumbling. Use the heel of your hand (now we go to the “fraisage” step) to make certain that the butter is well incorporated into the flour. You can accomplish this by folding the dough over a few times.

Dough ready to refrigerate

Scrap the work surface clean and roll the dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour or so. Then you can take out your frustrations on the dough.

Dough ready to be whacked

Spread an ample amount of flour on the work surface and give the dough a couple of good whacks. Oh, go ahead and make it as many as you like. My homemade super bad rolling pin is made of dogwood, and it’s brutalitarian. Roll out the dough as thin as you like. A thick pie crust is no good.

Crust ready to be transferred to a pie plate or form

Roll up the crust onto the rolling pin and transfer to your pie plate. Trim around the edges, and you’re done. It’s pie time.

A crust with added sugar is technically know as a pâte brisée sucrée, which strangely enough translates to pie crust with sugar. The Picayune Creole Cookbook recommends taking leftover dough scraps, cooking them as small squares, and serving with jams or preserves. A good pie crust is a terrible thing to waste.