Sunday, January 13, 2008

CSA week seven - crab, scallion and tomato quiche

I have just discovered that every quiche I've had before now was overcooked. I suppose I should have figured that out considering how rubbery and dry they all were. But an counter-example does wonders where logic falters.

As I mentioned in the last post, quiche is one of the few applications for a whole bunch of scallions. I pieced together the recipe I used from a half dozen or so I found on-line plus a little actual thought on my part. The most valuable information I found on the web was this generalized recipe for a generic crustless quiche. I knew I wasn't about to make a crust; for one thing it's a pain in the butt. And for another, I'm skeptical of the whole idea of a crust on a quiche. They always turn out dried out on the edges and gummy on the bottom. If you really need some starch, have a slice of bread. Anyway, when I went shopping for the rest of the ingredients the only ready-made crust available was Pilsbury and while that, somewhat surprisingly, had the lard required for a tender crumb, it also had sugar as it was intended for pies and I didn't think that would work out so well. But crustless isn't a problem. I didn't have the deep dish 9" pie pan the recipe called for so I used my paella pan. It's eight inches at the bottom and ten at the top, so close enough.

The recipe calls for around a cup and a half of solid ingredients. I had 6 oz. of crab meat (The real stuff, but not the good stuff. There are too many other ingredients to make the really good stuff necessary. I do wish I could have used local crab instead of a can imported from Thailand, though.), three small tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (I didn't use the grape tomatoes we got in this week's share. I happened to purchase a box of tomatoes and a bunch of scallions not long before the share arrived so I've got more than plenty of both. Given the choice I passed on trying to peel grape tomatoes and used the slightly larger tomatoes I had picked up at the market.) and a bunch of scallions wilted in a fair bit of butter. That added up to a bit more than 1 1/2 cups but the crab didn't pack very tightly so I figured I was good.

I added to that 1/2 cup or so of Gruyere cheese, which is a nice match with crab, a good bit of pepper, a judicious application of salt and a couple teaspoons of Parisien Bonnes Herbes, an herb mix from Spice House that contains tarragon, chervil, basil, dill, chives and white pepper. It has a sweet flavor that goes nicely with shellfish, onions and eggs so I was pretty confident it would work here (which it, in fact, did). With the pricey Gruyere and the crab, this may be the most expensive recipe I've come up with for the cheapest subscription ingredient. But given the lovely results, I can't really argue.

The recipe calls for 1 to 1 1/2 cups of liquid mixed with four eggs. I used a half cup of heavy cream that I had leftover and about 3/4 cups of whole milk. I suspect most quiches I've had before now have skimped on the fat to the detriment of the texture. You could use skim milk and egg substitute if you really wanted to. I'm not going to recommend it, though.

It only took 30 minutes at 375 degrees to finish cooking the quiche which is substantially less time than most recipes call for. The slightly larger pan made for a slightly shallower quiche which may have contributed to the short cooking time, but I suspect most published recipes have a cooking time bumped up by ten minutes due to salmonella concerns. Since you're only using four eggs that shouldn't really be an issue, particularly if they're organic (as I presume most CSA subscribers are buying).

Serve with a salad, crusty bread and a white wine (something fairly dry to counter the sweetness of the crab and herbs. I'm having a Louis Latour 2006 Chardonnay Bourgogne. Since I'm only willing to pay $15 for a bottle I prefer to get a low end bottle from a high end vineyard than than the top of the line from a low end vineyard. It's a philosophy that has worked well for both wine and home electronics.). I am very happy with the results; this may be the most successful of the CSA recipes I've made so far. It's buttery, sweet, light and tender. And despite all the other flavors going on, the scallions make a major contribution so it's worth calling a CSA dish.

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