Friday, June 12, 2009

Cauliflower, Mint, and Olive Quiche with Spelt and Rye Flour Crust Recipe

The flea market in Geneva is one of the only places to find a bargain. When ingredients for a simple meal for two and a little breakfast cost nearly $100 in the grocery store, it's surprising to find early 20th century furniture and antique lace at reasonable prices. After making the rounds, I came away with a small enough table to fit on our balcony, two chairs to match, a portable 1940s wooden foosball table, and the inspiration for this quiche.

At the far end of the market is a magical little camping car. It has been converted into a moving cafe, and the chefs inside serve reliable, inventive food like zucchini-mint quiche, and hazelnut-chestnut torte, offering free, barely sweetened lemon water for refreshment. Perfect for munching on while perusing the wares, that quiche begat this one, and an approximation of the torte will make a definite appearance in the near future.

For the quiche crust, I used a recipe by Estelle Broyer, a French food blogger living in California. I don't bake regularly, so every time I pull out the flour there's concern on my part that whatever pastry I make will either fall apart, or be so tough and tasteless that my culinary degree will be called into question. I experimented this time with whole wheat flour, augmented by some spelt and rye, and ended up with two hard little balls, almost the weight and density of the steel ones old pastis-drunk men hurl toward a smaller one while playing a game here called boules. I was worried.

I rolled out the hard ball, draped it into the not-quite-a-quiche pan that is part of my second home's imperfect kitchen set up, baked it, and voilà, the most flaky, flavorful quiche crust ever to pass through the hands of this reluctant pastry maker. Baking just might be my second calling. Or third calling. Or maybe it's not a calling at all, but more like a whisper accompanied by a weak hand gesture, vaguely signaling me toward the flour and the butter and the alchemy.

From our new balcony chairs and table we can see the edge of Switzerland, and the Jura mountains, in France. A few days ago, while eating this quiche, a rainbow appeared, shining up the rainy sky. Fantastic food makes fantastic scenery more vivid, don't you think?

Cauliflower, Mint, and Olive Quiche with Spelt and Rye Flour Crust

Prepare the quiche crust according to the recipe from Estelle Broyer here. I used whole wheat pastry flour with ten percent each spelt flour and rye flour, but you may use her recipe exactly, if you like. Instead of crème fraîche, I used thick and sweet double crème de la Gruyères. However, this move is risky; I may have eaten most of the amount called for from the container before it ever approached the other ingredients.

For the quiche filling:

1 medium cauliflower, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small onions, chopped (or one medium onion)
3 small cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup black olives, pitted, and roughly chopped (I used oil-cured olives from Greece)
the leaves from 5 medium mint sprigs, finely chopped
6 eggs, beaten (I added a seventh egg, because my pan was too large. If you have a normal quiche pan, six should be plenty.
3 large tablespoons crème de la Gruyères, or crème fraîche, or sour cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the chopped cauliflower, and cook it until it is tender, but not mushy. There should still be a little bite to it. Drain it, and run cold water over it to stop the cooking process.

In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil, and sauté the onions until translucent. Don't let them brown. Add the garlic, and stir a couple of times. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool.

In a separate bowl, combine the cauliflower with the olives and the mint. Add the cooled onion and garlic mixture, and mix well. Stir in the beaten eggs, and the cream, and season with a little salt and pepper.

Roll out the ball of dough for the quiche crust, and drape it over your rolling pin to transfer it easily to the quiche pan. Make gentle flutes around the edge of the pan with your thumb and forefinger.

Pour the quiche mixture into the pan. Bake the quiche for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the eggs are cooked through.


mwhybark said...

oh, you are killin' me with the gruyere round!