Spinach Quiche, and Hoya!

Stop Making so much Noise in the Bedroom

Siegfried the dog up there is as tired of Hoya! as I am. Don’t inject yourself with Lysol, eat Tide Pods, drink bleach, or try to pour Clorox into your butt. Clorox won’t run uphill anyway. There is this thing called gravity, that Sir Isaac explained to us all.

Hoya! is the term popularized by the great congress person Mo Udall from Arizona, who allegedly had it yelled at him every time he made a promise to his Native American constituents. Then he learned that Hoya! was the stuff you didn’t want to step in inside the horse pen. At least they didn’t call him Walking Eagle, which is a bird so full of stuff that it can’t fly. Only it’s not stuff. It’s more like Hoya!

So I will bore you with another quiche recipe, after that rant, just because I read someone on the interwebs who described herself as a “classically trained chef,” making a Spinach Quiche with a frozen supermarket crust, and a package of frozen spinach. My classical training came from my grandmother Lily, and she would have beaten the Hoya! out of me if I had suggested such a thing. Her specialties were wild rabbit and dumplings, fried rabbit with gravy, fried chicken, any greens (collards, turnip, mustard), and cinnamon rolls. She also made pancakes without a pan.

The last one was the money shot. She would crank up her potbellied coal stove, and wipe off the top with one of her flour sack towels (which she made with her foot powered Singer sewing machine). Then the butter went on, directly on the top, and then the batter she kept in her 1940’s era GE fridge, which she had painted multiple times. The pancakes were always superb, served with Alaga syrup, on Blue Ridge plates. She never bought anything she couldn’t make herself. Old school reigns supreme.

At any rate, here is my completely homemade Spinach Quiche. It’s a springtime thing around here.

Crust that isn’t full of Hoya!

Ingredients

Creole Pie Crust

8 ounces Swiss Cheese, cubed, plus some Pecorino Romano

1 cup cooked local FRESH Spinach

4 Eggs, grown by yours truly (actually, my chickens)

Heavy Cream (Enough to fill the crust)

Salt and Pepper

Nutmeg

The spinach is cooked in butter. I could only find King Arthur bread flour, and Gazunga, it made the best crust I have ever eaten. Lily would have been quite proud. And one of my uncles once ate an entire pan of her cinnamon rolls, in one sitting. They were that good. He had to take a nap afterward.

By the way, I bought all of her Blue Ridge plates, made in Tennessee, after she died. I have added to the collection. Here’s my latest addition.

That divided bowl is a beauty. It’s Stanhome Ivy pattern. I made the candlesticks, and the students at Berea College in Kentucky hand wove the placemats. Now it’s time to crack some nuts. Literally.

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.