Our good friend Tom was coming over for dinner and I wanted to make something healthy but filling. My history with Tom and food was mostly one of restaurants and microwave dinners.
Tom and I were roommates for a while, and during that time, he would sometimes cook and I would sometimes order out or nuke a hot dog.
I think I tried cooking for him once and made a lemon chicken thing that was pretty gross and that made the kitchen eligible for low interest loans from FEMA. I needed to make amends.
The farmer's market this last weekend brought us some excellent produce including red Russian kale and some outrageously sized shallots. I also had some summer squash I'd sliced up for last week's Suzette pie. These were the ingredients I'd use for this meal.
I ended up using two big bundles of the red Russian kale (about a pound or so), which wilted down in the pan. Although there is certainly some oil and butter in this recipe (especially the crust) the addition of red wine and white vinegar helped cut the grease, as Tom noticed and mentioned.
The quiche all but completely disappeared so I think it was a hit. I only wish the crust I put together was as flaky as the one Tom put together for the blueberry pie he brought. He attributes the greatness of the crust to the use of a food processor, but I'm going to hit him up for the recipe. With the cheap fresh blueberries in the store, you may soon read of my attempts at a pie among pies.
For now, concentrate on the main course and this Kale and Summer Squash Quiche
Kale and Summer Squash Quiche
Crust (after a recipe by James Beard):
1 3/4 cups sifter AP flour
1 stick butter (8 tbsp), cut to small pieces and chilled
1/4 cup ice water
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
sprinkling of herbs de Provence
two tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 more tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 medium summer squash sliced very thinly on the bias
1 pound red Russian kale, washed, chopped very roughly, bottom stems removed
1 big shallot (slightly smaller than a fist) or 2 medium shallots
2 teaspoons dried herbs de Provence
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
salt, pepper to taste
First - the crust:
Mix the flour, salt and herbs together in a big bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mix and add the very cold bits of butter a few at a time. Work the butter into the flour using your fingertips only. The goal is to keep the butter cold.
Once all the butter is worked in and the flour mix looks like little white peas, mix the egg yolk with 1/4 cup ice water. Pour this mix into the flour bowl and mix the dough together, gathering up the dough that forms into a ball.
Wrap the ball in wax paper or plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 25 minutes so the flour can absorb all the moisture.
Preheat the oven to 425 F, 400 F if using a glass CorningWare or Pyrex pie plate since glass conduct heat into the crust more efficiently.
Flour your work area lightly and flour your rolling pin. Roll out the dough in a circle so it's a bit bigger than a 9" pie plate and about 1/4" thick. You may need to flip the dough a few times to keep it from sticking.
Carefully lift the crust into the pie plate and trim any excess from the edges. Dock the crust to let steam out (make lots of little holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork). If you wish, cover the crust with parchment and weigh it down with dried beans, rice, or pie weights. I usually don't do this and rarely get bubbles.
Pre-bake the crust for 15 minutes. Once it's done, brush two tablespoons of mustard on the bottom of the crust and put the crust back in the oven for 2-3 minutes. This will help prevent the crust from absorbing the custard later and keep it crispy.
While the crust bakes, prepare the filling:
Chop the shallot(s) into a 1/2" dice.
Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet. Add the shallots and sautee over medium heat until fairly soft (about four minutes).
Add the wine and kale and squash slices and two tablespoons of the mustard. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, and the herbs de Provence. Mix well and cook until the kale and squash are tender.
Beat the eggs and mix with the milk.
Sprinkle 2/3 of the cheese over the bottom of the quiche. The cheese forms a second line of defense against a soggy crust (or first line, depending what direction you're counting from). Arrange the skillet contents evenly on top of the cheese in the crust.
Carefully pour as much of the custard (the eggs and milk) as you can into the crust. You should be able to pour just about all of it over the filling and into the crust. Spread the remaining cheese on top.
Reduce the temperature in the oven to 350 F and bake for 25-30 minutes until the quiche sets.
To test the quiche, while wearing oven mitts, turn the quiche like a steering wheel about 1/4 turn then back swiftly but not too violently. If the middle seems set and doesn't jiggle too much (or slosh at all), it's done. You could also use a toothpick to see if the quiche has set by putting the toothpick in and seeing if it comes out clean or covered with goop, but it's not nearly as fun as the "jiggle-a-quiche" method.
Let the quiche cool at least ten minutes before cutting. Serve hot, warm, room temperature or chilled, on top of a bed of spring greens in a rosemary balsamic dressing with slices of tomato.