Spring is officially here — thank goodness! It’s been a long, wet winter and we are so thrilled to be on the cusp of warm sunny days here in the Napa Valley.
Spring is one of our favorite seasons here at the Model Bakery. In St. Helena, the Upper Valley hills and vineyards are awash in green and in Napa, the buzz and bustle around the streets of the city start to increase, giving this once sleepy town a vibrant feel.
For us, spring also welcomes the beginning of a new crop of fresh vegetables and herbs as we work our way into the warm garden months. In addition to baking all of our wonderful breads and pastries, we also use our ovens to bake our daily breakfast and lunch items. We like to kick off the season by featuring our daily special spring quiches that are so popular this time of year.
Quiches may look and sound fancy, but they can be quite easy to make at home, too. In French cuisine, a quiche is an oven-baked dish made with eggs and milk or cream baked in a pastry shell or crust. Usually, the pastry shell is par-baked (the process of baking the crust without the filling) before the other ingredients are added. The other ingredients are then added to an egg mixture before the quiche is baked.
Quiche is generally an open pie without a pastry covering, but often includes an arrangement of tomato slices or pastry off-cuts for a decorative finish. Quiche may be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and we have ours available for breakfast and lunch at both of our locations. Most people associate quiche with French cuisine, but the name originated from the German word “Kuchen” for cake.
Below are two recipes, one for the pastry crust and the other for our traditional spring quiche filling. We hope these recipes help you catch some of our spring fever.
Happy spring and happy baking!
The dough will make two crusts – it depends on the size of your mold. We suggest a 9-inch-deep quiche pan with removable bottom.
3 cups pastry flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup cold sweet butter (cut in cubes)
Put dry ingredients in bowl of food processor. Pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until crumbly 10 seconds.
Add 1/2 cup of ice water and pulse to bring dough together. Turn out onto floured board and bring dough together.
Divide into 2 pieces and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill until firm. Roll out dough to fit quiche mold (1/4 inch thick). Press into mold and trim edges. Chill (or freeze) shell until firm.
Line shell with parchment paper and fill with dried beans. This keeps the shell from slipping during the par-bake. Bake shell in 350- degree oven until edges are golden (15 minutes). Remove pie weights and return shell to oven. Bake until crust is light gold. Remove from oven and cool shell. Fill with prepared vegetables and cheeses. Add custard mixture to fill shell. Bake quiche until golden brown 30 minutes more. Cool on rack.
Spring Vegetable Quiche
Use any combination of spring vegetables that appeal to you. These are our suggestions.
1 cup sliced leeks or spring onions
1 cup sliced asparagus tips
1⁄2 cup sliced mushrooms
2-3 Tbsp. butter
Melt butter in sauté pan and cook onions until soft and just turning brown. Remove from heat and move to bowl. Add more butter to pan and cook asparagus and mushrooms until soft.
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese (or combination of gruyere and Parmesan)
3 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 cup light cream (you may need extra cream to fill shell)
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh herbs, chopped (parsley, tarragon, thyme)
Fill bottom of par-baked shell with cooked vegetables. Mix eggs and cream together with seasonings. Cover vegetables with chopped herbs and grated cheeses. Mixture should fill three quarters of the shell. Pour egg mixture into shell to come almost to the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes (until golden brown). Cool before unmolding.
Note: Pastry shell can be lightly spread with Dijon mustard (brush on crust) to seal the bottom. This keeps quiche from becoming too moist or soggy during the baking. If there are cracks or splits in the shell, press grated cheese against the crack. This will seal the tear and keep filling from leaking.
The mother-daughter team of Sarah Mitchell and Karen Mitchell are the owners of Model Bakery, which has two locations, in St. Helena and in Napa at the Oxbow Public Market.