Monday, April 18, 2011

Deep-Dish Ham Quiche with Herb and Asparagus

Easter is this weekend which means Cadbury eggs, jellybeans and brunch. Yes!

A great dish to serve for Easter brunch is an elegant quiche. With a quiche, you really don't need to stress. You can serve it cold, reheat it, serve it right away or make ahead of time. For any host or hostess, having these options is huge. You don't end up being a slave to the dish while you are hosting guests and people love eggs, ham and cheese. They just do.

If you really want to go fuss-free, buy pre-made crust. I won't tell.

Deep-Dish Ham Quiche with Herb and Asparagus

Pastry: 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon sugar 3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small chunks 1 large egg yolk 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed Filling: 3 tablespoons extra-virgin-olive oil 2 large Vidalia onions, sliced 3/4 pound smoked ham, cubed 8 large eggs 1 quart heavy cream Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper Salad: 2 bunches asparagus (about 1 pound each), stems trimmed 4 ounces Parmesan, shaved with a peeler 2 handfuls fresh flat-leaf parsley, hand-torn 1 handful fresh mint, hand-torn 1 handful fresh dill, hand-torn Extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 lemon, juiced Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions To make the pastry: combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat the egg yolk and ice water in a small bowl to blend, add it to the pastry. Work it in to bind the dough until it holds together without being too wet or sticky. Squeeze a small amount together, if it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Sprinkle the counter and a rolling pin lightly with flour. Roll the dough out into a 14-inch circle about 1/4-inch thick. Carefully roll the dough up onto the pin (this may take a little practice) and lay it inside a 9-inch springform pan. Press the dough firmly into the bottom and sides so it fits tightly; trim the excess dough around the rim. Place the pan on a sturdy cookie sheet so it will be easier to move in and out of the oven, this quiche is pretty heavy.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

To make the filling: Heat a skillet over medium-low heat, coat the pan with oil, and add the onions. Slowly cook the onions, stirring, until they caramelize and release their natural sugars. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to help the onions break down, if needed. Toss in the ham, cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes to get some color on it. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy, pour in the cream; season with salt and pepper. Arrange the caramelized onions and ham over the bottom of the crust and carefully pour in the cream and egg mixture; the filling should be about 1-inch from the top of the pan. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for 15 minutes or until the quiche is set, puffy, and jiggles slightly. Remove to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes. In the meantime make the asparagus salad.

To make the asparagus salad: In a large pot of boiling salted water, blanch the asparagus for 4 minutes, or until they are just crisp-tender. Drain the asparagus, transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, and drain well. Slice the asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces and put them in a mixing bowl. Add the Parmesan and herbs, drizzle the herb and asparagus salad with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, season with salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine.

Loosen the quiche from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Carefully unmold the ring, and transfer the quiche (with the bottom base) to a serving plate. Cut it into wedges, drizzle with a little olive oil, and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with the asparagus salad on top.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mustard & Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb

Drew and I are rebounding from a series of events that has left us very tired and bit saddened. I haven't been in the mood to cook for a week but that all changed when Drew came home from Costco yesterday. We used to keep lamb on-hand at all times but lately we have been eating a ton of steak. He brought a rack home and tonight I am dusting off my apron and cooking a nice meal at home. Here's what's on the menu...

Mustard & Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb
Active time: 25 min Start to finish: 1 1/2 hr

  • 1 1/2 cups fine fresh bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 frenched racks of lamb (8 ribs and 1 1/2 lb each rack), trimmed of all but a thin layer of fat, then brought to room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard


Stir together bread crumbs, parsley, mint, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a bowl, then drizzle with 2 1/2 tablespoons oil and toss until combined well.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat to 400°F.

Season lamb with salt and pepper. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown lamb 1 rack at a time, turning once, about 4 minutes per rack. Transfer to a 13- by 9- by 2-inch roasting pan, arranging fatty sides up.

Spread fatty sides of each rack with 2 teaspoons mustard. Divide bread crumb mixture into 3 portions and pat each portion over mustard coating on each rack, gently pressing to adhere.

Roast lamb until thermometer inserted diagonally 2 inches into center (do not touch bone) registers 130°F (for medium-rare), 20 to 25 minutes, and transfer to a cutting board. Let stand 10 minutes, then cut into chops.