Friday, September 28, 2012

Quiche of Fontal, Florence Fennel and Chinese Garlic Chives

A quiche with nice Italian flavors!

     The theme of an entree is always is always good to keep in mind when creating an entree.  For this quiche, three nice Italian flavors are married together to create a well balanced classic Italian flavor.  
     Even though Chinese garlic chives are not really part of Italian cuisine, they do fit nicely in this quiche recipe.  Chinese garlic chives are garlic top shoots and they are not true chives.  The garlic flavor is very mellow and gentle.  Chinese garlic chives do not overpower the other delicate flavors of this quiche.  The garlic chives actually accent the flavors of the florence fennel and fontal cheese.
     Florence fennel is often sold as anise bulb.  Both the bulb and shoots can be used for this recipe.  Florence fennel is a traditional Italian vegetable that has a very nice delicate anise flavor.  Florence fennel is often used in Italian tortas.  Some types of Italian tortas are similar to quiche.  Italian tortas with spinach and fennel are traditionally served during Easter and Christmas holidays.
     Fontal cheese is one of the great classic cheeses of the world.  Fontal is usually called fontina in most countries.  In Italy, the finer quality fontina cheese is usually referred to by its traditional name, fontal.  A very nice quality imported Italian fontal cheese was used to make this quiche.  Fontal melts easily and the flavor is perfect for a quiche.
     Free Standing Quiche Technique:
     Free standing quiche is not difficult to make.  A small pop-ring pan is all that is needed.  One important thing to keep in mind when shaping the pie crust in a pop-ring mold, is that when the ring is popped, it expands an becomes wider, so the ring can be removed.  The crust of the quiche cannot lay over the edge of the pop-ring, or it will be damaged when the ring is popped!  The crust has to be above the ring or contained within the ring, so it is not damaged by the expanding pop-ring when the ring it removed.  
     If the crust is over the ring, then the pop-ring must be removed by sliding the ring down past the base of the pop-ring pan, instead of raising the ring.  The quiche will have to be allowed to cool for a couple minutes and oven mitts must be worn when handling the pop ring and quiche.  A fancy roped crust like the one in the photographs is easily damaged, so care must be taken when handling the hot quiche.
     An easy method for dropping the ring down is to set the pop-ring molded quiche on top of a can that is smaller than the base of the pop-ring mold.  Gently pop the ring and drop it down, then the base of the pan and quiche can be moved together to the plate.  Use a spatula to slide the quiche off of the pop-ring mold base onto the plate.

     Pate Brisee Recipe:
     Place about 1 cup of flour into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 3/4 tablespoon of sugar.
     Rice the flour by adding a few drops of ice water at a time while stirring with a whisk.  (The flour should look like grains of rice.)
     Cut 1 1/2 ounces of unsalted butter into pea size pieces and drop them in a bowl of ice water.
     Gently add a few pieces of the chilled hard butter at a time to the riced flour.
     Work the dough lightly with your fingers and for a minimal period of time leaving exposed small pieces of butter.
     Chill the dough, till it becomes very firm.
     Roll the pate brisee into a thin sheet on a floured counter top.  (The sheet of pate brisee should show streaks of butter!  This is what will give the pate brisee a flakey crusty texture.)
     Refrigerate the sheet of pate brisee, till it becomes firm again.

     Quiche Pie Shell:
     Lightly brush a 5" pop-ring cake mold with melted unsalted butter.
     Cut 1 round shaped sheet of the pate brisee that is 10" wide.
     Drape the round sheet of pate brisee over the pop-ring pan and press it into place.
     Roll a rolling pin over the rim of the pop-ring pan to trim off the excess dough.
     Refrigerate dough lined pop-ring mold, till the roped crust is shaped.
     Optional Roped Crust:  
     Roll a 3"x14" strip of pate brisee.  Roll the dough, so it is a little bit thinner than the dough for the pie shell.
     Cut 3 thin strips that are 3/16"x14".
     Pinch the 3 strips together on one end.
     Twist the strips, so the look like a rope.
     Brush the top edge of the pate brisee in the pop-ring mold with egg wash.
     Set the roped pate brisee in place and trim it to length.
     Fill the pie shell with dried beans.
     Place the molded pie shell on a baking pan.
     Bake in a 350 degree oven, till the crust just starts to turn a very light golden color.
     Set the pie shell aside to cool.
     Carefully remove the beans from the pie shell.

     Quiche of Fontal, Florence Fennel and Chinese Garlic Chives:
     Heat a saute pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 pats of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/3 cup of thin sliced florence fennel that is coarsely chopped.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Saute till the florence fennel starts to become tender.
     Set the florence fennel aside to cool.
     Place 2 eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 3 ounces of milk.
     Add 3 ounces of cream.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Whisk the ingredients till they are blended.
     Place the sauteed florence in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of Chinese garlic chives that are cut into 3/8" lengths.
     Add 1/3 cup of grated fontal cheese.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Place the quiche filling in the par baked pie shell.  (Do not pack the filling in the shell!  Just leave it loose and fluffy.)
     Place the pop-ring mold and quiche on a baking pan.
     Pour the quiche batter into the pie shell, so is becomes full.
     Bake in a 375 degree oven, till the quiche rises and becomes fully cooked.  The top of the quiche should be lightly browned when it is finished baking.  A toothpick stuck in the quiche should pull out clean, when the quiche is fully cooked.
     Set the quiche aside to cool for 2 minutes.
     Note:  Follow the instructions at the top of this page for removing the pop-ring cake mold and placing the quiche on a plate.
     Garnish the quiche with 2 or 3 trimmed long Chinese garlic chive shoots.

     This quiche has a nice flavor combination that is quite appealing!  The roped crust adds a pretty touch.  Yum!  ...  Shawna

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