This past Sunday my family gathered at my parents' house for an Easter supper that included a small ham disaster, frustrating desserts, and wet and rainy weather that was definitely not the sunny spring day that we were hoping for. Even though the day had a few hiccups, none of it really mattered because there were still massive amounts of good food, family, and we didn't let the weather get the best of us.
I brought several dishes for the meal, including these deviled eggs:
Always a family favorite; probably because they've got little bits of bacon in them. I take that back, it's definitely because they've got bacon in them. I also brought won ton cups filled with shrimp salad and guacamole, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite go-to appetizers:
They're light, fresh and crispy; three of my favorite things. I like to dot them with sriracha sauce which adds a little kick to the party.
And then, there were the desserts. Sigh. Everything tasted good, but something was up with my decorating mojo this past weekend. There was this Strawberry Bavarian:
Which looked like a hot mess, but was delicious. I have three words for you: Bavarian cream filling. Oh mah goodness, that was some tasty filling. I could have eaten a whole bowl of it. Never heard of a Strawberry Bavarian? Me neither, until I saw it in the Tartine cookbook and decided to give it a try. It's a layer of chiffon cake covered in a fresh fruit puree, topped with that amazing cream filling, fresh fruit, and then another layer of cake. It tasted like the most elaborate and decadent strawberry shortcake I've ever had. I definitely want to try this recipe again, but with a few tweaks here and there.
And then there was the lemon cream tart with meringue topping. A buttery sweet pastry crust, filled with a sumptuously tart lemon cream, and topped with a meringue that I burned in two places. That's right, because once just wasn't enough. I tried taking a torch to the meringue when it wasn't browning quick enough in the oven, and I now know that meringue can catch on fire. Luckily I had some candied meyer lemons hanging out in the fridge that were brought in as emergency cover-up.
Something was definitely up with my cooking skills for this meal. Besides the burned meringue and the sloppy-looking Bavarian, there was the cake layer that I didn't realize was raw in the middle, the meringue that I had to make twice (only to to end up burning it), and this Meyer Lemon Crepe Cake that I started to make but had to give up on because of serious size issues. Out of all these minor frustrations however, rose a quiche that was so simple, yet so stunningly elegant, that it made all my food worries melt away.
It just goes to show that a recipe doesn't have to be complex to be a showstopper. Once the tart dough was chilled, these quiches came together in no time flat. Not only did they look good, but they tasted amazing too. Thin pieces of delicate asparagus, sharp and flavorful gruyère cheese, and earthy morel mushrooms all combined together beautifully with a smooth and creamy filling. I know I will be coming back to this recipe again, for these quiches were like a shining beacon of hope within a day full of kitchen missteps.
Oh, and that small ham disaster I mentioned? Let's just say that story ends with a 22-lb uncooked ham coming home with me in the backseat of my car that I'm now in charge of cooking. So if anyone out there has got any recipe suggestions that involve ham, I'm all ears!
Asparagus and Morel Quiche
Adapted from Sunset
Makes two quiches
Flaky Tart Dough (recipe follows)
3 large eggs
1/2 ounce dried morel mushrooms
1 cup slender asparagus, cut in 2-in. pieces
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded gruyère cheese
1 green onion, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out each dough disk on a floured surface into an 1/8 inch thick round. Carefully transfer it to your tart pan, easing it into the bottom and sides of the pan. Trim the edges so that they are flush with the top of the pan.
Soak mushrooms in a small bowl with 1 cup hot water until softened, 15 to 20 minutes, swishing them around every so often. Gently squeeze out liquid. Cut in half lengthwise if large. Save liquid for another use.
Blanch asparagus in a saucepan of boiling water until barely tender-crisp, about 45 seconds. Drain, transfer to a bowl of ice water, and cool. Drain and pat dry.
In a bowl, whisk remaining 2 eggs to blend. Whisk in half-and-half, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle gruyère and onion equally in prepared crusts, then arrange asparagus and morels on top. Pour egg mixture over vegetables.
Bake quiches on bottom rack until filling no longer jiggles when gently shaken, 35-40 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack at least 30 minutes. Loosen quiche from pan rim with a knife, remove rim, and slice. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Flaky Tart Dough
Adapted from Tartine
1 tsp Salt
2/3 cup very cold water
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 cup plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut in to 1-inch pieces
In a small bowl, add the salt to the water and stir to dissolve. Keep very cold until ready to use.
To make the dough in a food processor, put the flour in the work bowl. Scatter the butter over the flour. Pulse briefly until the mixture forms large crumbs and some of the butter is still in pieces the size of peas. Add the water and salt mixture and pulse for several seconds until the dough begins to come together in a ball but is not completely smooth. You should still be able to see some butter chunks.
To make the dough by hand, put the flour in a mixing bowl. Scatter the butter over the flour. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture forms large crumbs and some of the butter is still in pieces the size of peas. Drizzle in the water and salt mixture and stir and toss with a fork until the dough begins to come together in a shaggy mass. Gently mix until the dough comes together into a ball but is not completely smooth. You should still be able to see some butter chunks.
Divide the dough into 2 equal balls and shape into a disk 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.