Sunday, July 10, 2011

Red and Green Being Seen

Summer is in full swing here in Nevada. It's hot, it's bright, and nothing is supposed to be able to survive here. Really. Every tree that you see here in Las Vegas was transplanted. It is a very manufactured city and for those of us that are local, we realize that this place is designed for people to come and go. But, lucky for me there are two very important things that, with much care and attention, are continuing to plod along, despite their likely unwillingness to do so naturally. My CSA farm share continues to tend to their tomatoes in the 110 degree heat, and the Basil plant in my dining room is hanging in there.

The tomatoes from the Meadow Valley farm in Moapa are the most beautiful shade of red. They are jewel toned and bright, and they taste like summer sunshine, full of juicy tangy sweetness.

I can't think of a better herb to go with they than basil. Full of greenery, it is the other side of the summer. Deep and rich. If you don't have a basil plant in your dining room you are truly missing out. It's a fiscally responsible thing to do, really. And it's lovely to be able to just pull of a leaf or two here and there, depending on the mood.

So when my other half requested eggs with veggies in the morning and I found the fridge devoid of greenery, I turned to the counter and decided that it was a good day for a quiche. I was counting on the goat cheese to distract him from the fact that tomatoes aren't technically a vegetable.

I remember quiche being something that came out of a box in the freezer when I was young. It would have a slight cardboard taste to the pastry and the filling always tasted suspiciously the same and mildly rubbery. I think it took my a good five years of being out on my own before I decided that I wouldn't mind a slice or two. Quiche is actually quite simple and it's very low on the fancy ingredient scale. The base of it is so versatile. You can go so many different ways with it. From mushrooms, to tomatoes, to sausage or just plain cheese. But for me, it's probably always going to be shot through with delicious red jeweled tomatoes, shreds of basil, and the bite of creamy goat cheese at the bottom. It's wonderful as an evening meal with a light salad or maybe some boiled potatoes, and it's also great when morning is sleepily trickling it's way towards afternoon and you are unwilling to let breakfast out of the door, but lunch isn't ready to come on in yet.

This Quiche makes me poo poo the idea that red and green don't go together. I beg to differ. They are perfect.

The Pastry

I use this pastry recipe for absolutely everything. My favorite pie pan is just a 9" Pyrex dish and I tend to use it primarily over my metal ones.

1 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons (1/3rd Cup) Butter
2-4 Tablespoons Cold water

Make sure the butter is really cold. Dice it up and mix it with the salt and flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add a little water at a time and mix or knead until the dough comes together. You don't want it sticky at all. Roll it out until it's the size of the pie dish.

You can choose to part bake your pastry at about 375F for twenty minutes before you fill it if you like a crispier shell. I personally like it softer in the middle so I tend not to.

Tomato, Basil and Goat Cheese Quiche

It's really up to you what your chosen dairy component is, here. It can certainly affect your cooking time a little depending on the fat content of your liquid. I tend to use what I have on hand, often mixing some heavy cream with some skimmed milk. I would trend towards the cream for richness unless you are watching your waistline or would have to go to the store.

5 Eggs
1/4 Cup Half and Half or Milk or Cream, your choice.
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
A few good grinds of pepper
A pinch of Nutmeg
3 Medium Tomatoes, Sliced
1/2 Cup Goat Cheese, crumbled
1/4 Cup Shredded Basil Leaves

In a bowl or mixing jug, combined the eggs, basil, salt, pepper, nutmeg and Milk/Cream/Half and Half. Mix well. Spread the goat cheese as evenly as possible around the base of your pastry shell. Make sure you spread it into the corners, otherwise when you get to the outer edge of your quiche you'll be sad. Layer the tomatoes over the cheese. Pour the egg mixture gently over the tomatoes and cheese.

Bake on the center rack of an oven at 425F for 45 mins or until the middle is set. Make sure the eggs are not runny in the center. Let stand for five or ten minutes before serving. This is also delicious cold.

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