It was Jazz Festival in Vancouver last week, a weekend where every venue puts on shows ranging from Mexican folk music to old proper quartets and everyone in between shows up, and while admittedly most of the more senior people in this play at expensive sold out shows, slews of people play at the outdoor stages. Every year a couple friends of ours who live near one of these outdoor venues throw a big party and we eat too much breakfast and then spend the day in the beer garden and listen to great music. It is one of my favourite days of the year.
And this year was no exception, the only difference was that after several drinks I decided that everyone should come over to brunch the next day which was, shall we say, a questionable decision.
I love having people over for brunch, as one friend put it “it’s breakfast you don’t have to wake up early for” and I would like to add it’s breakfast you can drink champagne with and not feel guilty. So I hauled my butt out of bed and made quiche.
I think people get scared of quiche, the pastry the baking, but really, you eat it at room temperature, so while you have to get up a little earlier to put it together, it means you don’t have to cook at all when people arrive, which is a trade off I’m more than happy to give. This is also a very special quiche recipe, one that is smoother than smooth and not overwhelmingly eggy.
I served this with heaps of roasted potatoes and a big salad, and I think everyone was very happy, even me, once I had a glass of bubbly in my hands!
Leek and Pancetta Quiche.
This recipe is adapted from the Tartine Bakery cookbook, and is special for 2 reasons- it has a tiny amount of flour in it which helps it from cracking, and it uses creme fraiche, which gives it a bit of a tang. Because I made several of these this weekend and my grocery store only had one small container of it, I substituted half yoghurt in, and this worked beautifully)
This pastry works very simply. You keep big pieces of butter in the dough and chill it. When the cold butter goes into the hot oven it produces steam, and thats what gives you the flakey layers. So, it’s very important not to cut the butter too small or to overwork the dough.
2 cups AP Flour
1 cup Butter, very cold, cubed
1 tsp Salt
A small cup of ice water
3 tbsp Flour
1 cup Creme Fraiche
1 cup Whole Milk
1 tbsp finely chopped thyme
1 tsp Salt
3 Large Leeks, sliced
Put the butter into a bowl with the flour and the salt, and with your hands break apart the butter into lima bean sized pieces.
Add the a couple tablespoons of butter and stir, then add a couple more until it just follows a fork around the bowl as you stir.
Now push it flat and fold it in half, and repeat until the dough starts to come together but it is still soft. If it starts to feel firm stop right away. Wrap it up and put in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375F
Roll out the dough and fit it into a 12 inch tart pan, a 10 inch pie pan, or even a 10 inch cake pan.
Take a piece of parchment paper and cut it into a circle an inch wider than your tart. Press it into the top of your pastry and pour some beans or rice into it. This will prevent your beautiful pastry from rising too much.
Bake it for about 20 minutes, and then take out the beans and parchment paper and bake it for another 10, until the whole thing is a nice light brown color.
Turn the oven down to 325F
While all this is going on slice up your leeks and pancetta and start cooking them over medium low heat. They will get soft, loose their liquid and then start to caramelize. This will take about 20 minutes.
In a large bowl mix together one of the eggs with the flour. Stir until there are no bumps, a couple of minutes. Add in the other eggs one by one, scraping the sides to make sure no flour is sticking.
Mix the milk and the creme fraiche together with a whisk until smooth and add that to the egg mix. Season with the salt, pepper and thyme.
Once the tart shell is out, fill it with the leeks and pancetta mixture. Pour the egg mix on top until the tart is very full.
Bake until the center has just firmed up, about 30 minutes.
Allow to cool before eating.