June 7, 2016

Leek & Gruyère Quiche

Recently I hosted Sunday brunch for work colleagues at my house.  The food, drink and company were excellent, if I do say so myself, and everyone seemed to have a great time.  As with all gatherings, when it came to prepping for the party I erred on the side of over-buying for fear that I wouldn't have enough food, which then led to a surplus of ingredients.  

When I opened my fridge to survey the leftovers what immediately caught my eye were eggs, heavy cream, milk, leeks and Gruyère.  Perfect!  I had everything I needed to make quiche.   I love these savory French tarts and as a student in Dijon would eat them almost daily.  To this day I still think  about the scrumptious tarte au fromage from Boulangerie Garcia.  

Leek and Gruyère is such a delicious flavor combination too.  Nothing better than ooey, gooey melted cheese married with the delicate, sweetness of the leeks.  The attached recipe makes one 9-inch round quiche but I opted to do mini ones using the tartlet tins I bought at E. Dehillerin last summer.  They make the perfect hand held portion that's ideal for a picnic or snack on the go.   

Leek & Gruyere Quiche (adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
½ teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into ¼-inch pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
4 - 5 tablespoons ice water

Custard Filling
2 medium leeks, washed thoroughly and cut into ½-inch dice (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated

1 9- inch partially baked pie shell (warm), baked until light golden brown

CRUST: Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in food processor work bowl fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat with flour. Cut butter into flour with five 1-second pulses. Add shortening and continue cutting in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about four more 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle 4 tablespoons ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, using folding motion to mix. Press down on mixture with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more ice water if it will not come together. Shape dough into ball, squeezing two or three times with hands until cohesive, then flatten into 4-inch-wide disk. Dust lightly with flour, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days, before rolling.  

Remove dough from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature to soften slightly, about 10 minutes if dough has chilled for 30 minutes or 20 minutes if it has chilled overnight. (The dough should be pliable. Use your hands to squeeze the dough; if you can squeeze it without applying too much pressure, it is ready to roll.) Roll dough on lightly floured work surface or between two sheets plastic wrap to a 12-inch disk about 1/8-inch thick. Fold dough in quarters, then place dough point in center of pie pan. Unfold dough. Alternatively, roll dough in 2-gallon zipper-lock bag to a 12-inch disk about 1/8-inch thick. Cut away top of bag. Grasping bottom, flip dough into pie pan and peel off bag bottom.

Working around circumference of pan, press dough carefully into pan corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand. Trim edge to 1/2-inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is about 1/4-inch beyond pan lip; flute dough in your own fashion. For quiche or tart pans, lift the edge of the dough, allowing the extra dough to flop over the sides. Then run the rolling pin over the top of the pan to remove excess dough. Next use your forefinger and thumb, press the dough evenly up the sides from the bottom to increase the height of the rim. Refrigerate pie shell for 40 minutes and then freeze for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Press doubled 12-inch square of aluminum foil inside dough shell; evenly distribute 1 cup or 12 ounces ceramic or metal pie weights over foil. Bake, leaving foil and weights in place, until dough dries out, about 17 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights by gathering sides of foil and pulling up and out. For partially baked crust, continue baking until lightly golden brown, about 9 minutes more.

QUICHE: Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Sauté white parts of leeks in butter over medium heat until soft, 5–7 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk all remaining ingredients except Gruyère cheese in medium bowl.

Spread Gruyère cheese and leeks evenly over bottom of warm pie shell and set shell on oven rack. Pour in custard mixture to 1/2-inch below crust rim. Bake until lightly golden brown and a knife blade inserted about one inch from the edge comes out clean, and center feels set but soft like gelatin, 32 to 35 minutes. Transfer quiche to rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.


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