Category Archives: fall

My Take on Pissaladière for Sweet November

This is my recent take on the great French classic, Pissaladière.Piss – what?’ Correction: ‘pissala’ (deriving from either Ligurian piscialandreaor Occitan pissaladiera) was a paste made of the salted baby anchovies used in the recipe at the time of its inception when a big part of Southern France was in Italian possession. This explains why it is pizza rather than bread. Despite the fact that you will have a fisherman breath while eating it, pissaladière is an incredibly tasty and addictive meal or snack. Originating from the Nice (yep, from no less than The Côte d’Azur) and relatively unknown few decades ago, pissaladière is slowly but steadily becoming more and more popular all over the world as a unique and comforting kind of pizza, which by its savory characteristics can only come close to the classic French onion soup (although the anchovies and black olives addition in this pizza make a strong salty-savoury punch to otherwise gently sweet caramelized onion in this dish).

Pissaladière is an easy crowd pleaser (specifically for those who like caramelized onions, cheese and olives). Not to mention it’s a very low budget fare, so if your fridge is empty, or you feel destitute for this or that reason, this easy to pull off pizza can comfort you within less than 30 minutes. It is also a great idea for a vegetarian cocktail or potluck party.

I used the fresh goat feta cheese we procured at La Chevriere de Monnoir goat farm because it was so good (gently sweet and moderately salty), it really had to be showcased. I also made two kinds of this pizza: one with anchovies on a side (making it a pure caramelized onion and goat cheese tart) and the one with anchovies in (making it a true pissaladière style). 

It’s November already, the gloomiest month of the year, with its heavy leaden sky, moonless nights, violent gusts of wind and down-pouring torrents of cold rain – all pushing the cheerful October leaves into desolation and death, leaving the trees and hedges sad and homeless.  However, it’s exactly the November sky that makes this month so present, with its infinite vastness and its temper. It becomes a giant canvas that imprints the weather’s mood swings striking the eyes so vividly:

From dull and gray…

To layer cake like colors, changing its ‘high austerity to delight’…

Back to heavy leaden and bright with occasional windows of the light, spanning their beams across the naked fields as if trying to vacuum the last drop of life from the nature…

To peaceful and pastoral again, like in this image taken at the goat farm…

November sky has always been an inspiration to many of great artists depicting it in their masterpieces (although a friend of mine has a theory it was simply because there were no more bugs and mosquitoes to disturb them from their work). Well, I incline to believe it’s inspirational…

Flock of Sheep at Pasture by Aelbert Cuyp, 1655
November in general is inspirational in many ways, including to our appetite, which grows almost proportional to the dropping temperatures, leaving us craving for this or that comfort food. Pissaladière(or French pizza if you want) is one of those fall comfort foods for me.  I always make it in November and it makes my November sweet and cozy. Not surprisingly, after I bought all types of cheese at La Chevriere de Monnoir, I decided to apply one of them to the featured twist. What a wonderful marriage of tastes you have in the result! Salty-sour- tangy-aromatic-crunchy and soooo gently savory sweeet: a real dance the taste buds weary of pumpkin and squash.
Tips for the first time onion caramelizing:  
Slice the onions as thin as possible (sharpening the knife is always a good idea).
Use the scratch-less, non-stick skillet, OR be ready to use much more oil to prevent burning the onions.
Begin with medium-high heat and the minimum amount of oil, lowering the heat progressively as the onions begin to brown.
Do not leave the onions unattended for longer than 2-3 minutes, or they will burn.
Don’t forget to include garlic and thyme (fresh or dried) in the process – these two ingredients are crucial for the final taste result.
A splash of dry wine, brandy or apple cider vinegar in the final minutes would add an extra layer of taste and a nice touch of sourness to the onions.
The layer of onions spread on the pizza should be half as thick as the crust.

As for the pizza dough, which I’ve tried many, and can tell you that this recipe is really foolproof and the best one for me. As long as you have a working yeast, it always, always works, so please take a 
note of it.

Well, thank you all for reading this post. I hope you will have fun making your own pissaladière and my recipe will be of help. For now I’m just going to eat another piece. Oooops, it’s gone in less than a minute. Well tried and tested and highly recommended for your own sweet November. The Enya’s gem song might as well put you in the mood.
Sweet November Everyone!

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PISSALADIERE: CARAMELIZED ONION PIZZA WITH GOAT CHEESE, BLACK OLIVES AND ANCHOVIES
Yields 6 portions
Ingredients:
1 pizza dough (see this recipe for the foolproof homemade pizza dough, OR use store-bought) 
1 tbsp cornmeal for dusting
4 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzle
2 lbs onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp thyme, fresh or dried
1 big splash of wine, brandy or apple cider vinegar (optional)
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 handful of pitted black olives, halved
3 oz (2/3 cup) goat cheese feta, crumbled
8 salted anchovies fillets (rinsed and patted dry if baked in) (optional)
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 450F. Place the pizza stone in the middle of the oven (if using). Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a flat round or rectangular shape. Transfer the dough to baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Cover the dough with plastic or a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, heat the 3 tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick skillet to medium-high. Add onions, mix vigorously and lower the heat to medium-low. Sprinkle with thyme. Keep mixing every other minute. Add garlic and mix. Continue cooking for another 20 minutes, stirring every 5-7 minutes until the moisture has evaporated and the onions caramelized to almost a marmalade consistency. Add a splash of wine, brandy or apple cider vinegar. Stir and evaporate for the next 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
Remove plastic or cloth from dough, brush with 1 tablespoon of oil and spread the onion mixture, leaving ¾ inch border all around. Arrange cheese, olives and anchovy fillets (if using) over the onions, then slide onto the hot pizza stone (if using) or onto the middle rack of the oven. Bake pizza for 18-20 minutes, or until the crust has browned. Remove from the oven, cut into wedges and serve warm or at the room temperature.

One Spooky Night and Deviled ‘Shroom Bites

It is a Halloween night and we’re going to have some hello-w/in time taking a break from home cooking and going out. Part of the plan is to drive by some areas where people have turned their front yards into some creepy insane asylums and have our share of spine chilling and laughs. I’ve already got a few good Halloween recipes listed in this blog including the yummy Dead Fly Pies, or Fly Cemeteries, or Fly Graveyards, which in fact are also more humanly called Eccles Cakes; and Pumpkin No Brainers . If I would be selecting a recipe that sounds crazy-scary-engaging for most of North American ears tonight, I would probably go for a traditional British fare with ominous name Spotted Dick But that would be some other time. For now I have something else and a great story to tell: about one of our recent nightmarish evening and a later flop-cooking experience.

Couple week-ends ago we were driving back home with the double brown bag of dozen live blue crabs in it. We were excited to make a fresh crab risotto later that night. We took a rural side road going through the forest to go back home to avoid traffic. We’ve never taken that road before and first were surprised about how empty and quiet it was.

The night was rainy and foggy although the full moon still casted the eerie glow through the clouds and trees. The crabs managed to wet the bags through and were going out of whack, so we had to make an emergency pit stop to catch them and collect them into the plastic bag. While we were stepping out of the car a peaceful booty-song on the radio has awkwardly switched to vintage Billy Idol’s Eyes Without A Face. It was then that I started feeling uncomfortable. I became fear-stricken by darkness, emptiness, silence and sinister shadows appearing through the forest trees here and there. ‘Eyes without the face have got no human grace…’ the radio went on when suddenly the end of the road was lit by a light which, obviously, seemed like another car was approaching. Except the light stood there without moving for a minute or so and then disappeared…

The Good Shepherd by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1903 Zimmerli Art Museum

No big deal, right? But for some reason for me it was a heart pounding moment. I couldn’t wait to get out of that road. Imagine when I told this story to one of our neighbours the other day, he revealed to me that the empty road used to be the place where Hell’s Angels gangs were making their executions and/or police would sometimes find a burning car with the body in it (how’s that for hair raising?). And that came as real creepy news to me. Was it a sixth’s sense? You tell me. But if you are a mystic or clairvoyance, perhaps you can see some ghosts in these images.

Otherwise you can just apply your imagination and try to read these moon shadows – it’s actually quite interesting…

Once back home we were greeted by the local two-headed Boo dog. Making a crab boil was already not so easy task (crabs appeared to be much livelier than lobsters).

After we hankered down in our kitchen with cracking tools and bunch of newspapers to process them. Already upon the first five minutes (and to our greatest regret) of tackling the impossible and having the crab scraps flying all over the kitchen, we realized that the fresh crab risotto would be ready by next morning or would have to be put on hold. Hubby quit first, declaring he was an equal opportunist believing in fair trade and no exploitation. OCD driven, I went on crab-cracking to prove that home crab flesh extracting (like pierogi-making that D. believes should only be made by prisoners) is a doable chore. The problem was, I was hungry, so most of the result secretly went straight into my belly. After the crab juice went into my eyes though I abandoned. Well, may be somewhere in Japan people from Okinawa island consider crab-cracking a meditative and fun activity which they practice often while whistling Japanese version of La Marseillaise. But there are many other things I’d like to do around my week-end. Not to mention that exactly during times like that you realize more than ever that time IS the most precious commodity… Change of plan (which is not unusual for the flop cooking): I went to the pantry, got a can of the crab meat, and deviled a box of button mushrooms with savoured crab meat into these little guys within 20 minutes.

Sounds like a cell phone from 90ies? Hell yeah, but still as exquisite as ever. By the way, they didn’t use much of smoked paprika in those days Slice some black or green olives for the top to give that Halloweenish twist and, voila, you got your ‘Eyes Without A Face’ party snack. We managed to eat them before The Midnight Hour.

Happy Halloween and enjoy your cooking!

One Year Ago: Pumpkin Mini-Tarts

DEVILED CRAB ‘N SHROOM BITES 

Ingredients:

1 box button mushrooms (around 18-20)
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup chives or scallions, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp white wine or brandy
¼ crumbs (gluten free if necessary)
1 (7 oz) can crab meat, drained
½ cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
1 tbsp mayonnaise or sour cream
½ tsp Dijon mustard
Pinch of smoked paprika
Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:

Remove the stems from mushrooms with grapefruit knife. Chop the stems finely. Set aside. Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped mushroom stems and cook for 1 minute. Add chives (or scallions) and garlic. Cook for another minute. Add a splash of brandy or wine. Evaporate for a minute. Add crumbs, mix well. Add crab meat and mix well. Remove from the heat. Stir in Parmesan, mayonnaise (or sour cream), mustard and smoked paprika. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture cool down. Stuff the mushroom caps with the mixture. Preheat the oven to 375F. Place mushrooms on baking sheet. Sprinkle with extra Parmesan, Top with sliced olives if desired. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Hearty Cabbage ‘n Lentil Soup With or Without Smoked Sausage

It’s about time a post a great soup recipe and I’m sure this one would please both, vegetarians and carnivores. This October is definitely taking a Swiss food direction for us: the recently discovered Vaudois sausages are actually the culprits of turning this wonderful vegetarian soup into a real carnivorian treat. First thing first though, this soup is incredibly nourishing and soul-soothing already in its vegetarian version. The ingredients and spices in it already make a perfect flavor combination and are bursting with healthy nutriments. The smoked sausage however does bring its taste and depth to the level the non-vegetarian would never forget.  Naturally, with the modern scientific approach to cooking, a teaspoon of liquid smoke can deliver relatively similar aroma in vegetarian version (although you probably won’t even need it). But the succulent smoked sausage itself, especially the one we discovered recently at Saucisson Vaudois deli, well, that’s a different story…

Last week-end we headed to Mont Saint-Grégoire (about 40-minutes driving from Montreal) to have our last year’s walk through the golden leaves of the fall and collect some apples. This area is known to have a number of Swiss farmers settled there over the years (true, the mountain scenery looks remotely Switzerlandish). Not surprisingly, on our way to the mountain forest we stopped by at Saucisson Vaudois in a tiny town Sainte-Brigide. Just by the number of cars with Montreal’s licenses and European-looking people stepping out of them (some were wearing Tyrolean hats indeed) we knew something was going on in there. The selection of all things Swiss was impressive including of course the smoked sausages and their names, like Waadtlaenderwurst or Nuremberg Bratwurst.

Lower right image credit Saucisson Vaudois

The October special sausages like saucisse aux chou grabbed our attention and we got some to try along with bunch of other things that make you drool. For the record, many Montreal celeb restaurants, like Au Pied De Cochon, for example, are buying Vaudois specialties directly from them (which explains why you don’t necessarily see those products in major groceries).

One of their best selling items is a blood pudding and most of the time if you come by in the afternoon, chances are you won’t find any. We were lucky to get some and believe me, after it’s been slow-cooked with onions, apples and cider for about 30 minutes, it WILL make our taste buds singing Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo! (provided you like boudin in general and tried some of the world’s best).
If you’re currently visiting Montreal to enjoy the fall scenery, look no further and go to MontSaintGrégoire. It’s not only quintessentially quaint place for cabane a sucre (maple syrup attraction). Each fall the majestic matured sugar maple grove of Charbonneau turns into a breathtaking Pan’s Labyrinth of adventures hidden among the enchanted trees.

Just meandering along the red & yellow leaf-covered trails in a splendor of the dazzling colors is already serene and relaxing. But you have so much more options: from apple-picking (yes, it’s still on) and food & beer sampling; to biking or horse-riding, to hair-raising tree-top trekking…

And as you look out into the majestic fall scenery (and/or perform some thrilling Tarzan flips in Arbraska on a zip line), your appetite is growing and soon you find yourself making pit stops at farms and local deli to hurry back home after and sample what you bought…

And then 30-minutes later this uber comforting soup is born. The Vaudois smoked sausage with cabbage (a cuire) with cooking instructions: ‘boil for 20 minutes’ suggested that it dived directly into a hearty mix of boiling veggies. Cabbage in, cabbage out and so it was a cabbage soup; with the touch of the traditional Swiss Papet Vaudois (leek, potatoes, wine) ingredients; bunch of spice and dark greens to lift up the taste and benefits; and lentils for an extra fiber and protein (specifically in vegetarian case).

Boy oh boy it was good, Oktoberfest-like too, with a cold glass of beer on a side. Cheers!

Great Tip: cooking a whole smoked sausage, be it Swiss Vaudois or Spanish Chorizo and slicing it right before serving delivers much tastier results than cutting the sausage in pieces before cooking (then the sausage loses half of its taste and color).

Useful swaps: use these (almost interchangeable) ingredients to match your taste or fridge selection:

-1 leek to 1 onion, thinly sliced (add all at the time to add onion);
-2 potatoes to 2 sweet potatoes or 2 big carrots (add all at the time to add potatoes);
-3 mentioned spices (paprika, cumin, coriander) to a heaping tablespoon of ground or paste curry;  
-¼ cabbage to 4 cups of kale (add all at the time to add kale);
-1 big tomato to 1 cup of diced canned tomatoes or 1 cup of tomato juice;
-1 pound smoked uncooked sausage to 1 pound smoked cooked sausage (add 5 minutes into the end of cooking);
-½ dry red lentils to 1 cup any canned/rinsed lentils or navy beans
Enjoy your fall cooking!
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SMOKED SAUSAGE CABBAGE & LENTIL SOUP
Yields: 6 generous portions.
Ingredients:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp chili flakes
1 onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground coriander
 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 leek (white part only), thinly sliced
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 big tomato, diced
½ cup white wine or apple cider vinegar (optional)
6-7 cups vegetable broth, or chicken stock, or water
¼ small green cabbage, shredded
1-2 bay leaves
1 lbs smoked uncooked sausage
½ cup dry red lentils
2 cups kale (or Swiss chard, or spinach), coarsely chopped
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Fresh parsley or basil for garnish, minced
Instructions:
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or a large pot to medium high and add chili flakes. Add onion, garlic and sauté for one minute. Add paprika, coriander, cumin and mix. Add leek and potatoes and sauté for 5 minutes more. Add tomatoes and sauté for two more minutes. Optionally, add a big splash of white wine or apple cider vinegar.
Add broth, cabbage and bay leaves, stir and bring to boil. Add the sausage. Reduce heat to simmering. Half-cover the pot with the lid and cook simmering for 10 minutes, until potatoes are almost done.
Add red lentils, mix well, bring back to boil and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Remove the lid, add kale, mix and simmer for 2 more minutes uncovered.
Check the seasoning, discard the bay leaves, remove the sausage and set aside to cool down a bit (3 minutes). Slice the sausage to the bite-size pieces. Ladle the soup in the bowls and add the desired amount of sausage to each. Garnish with chopped parsley or fresh basil and serve immediately.

Match Point Carrot Cake for Thanksgiving


Don’t leave this cake unattended at your party because it will disappear in seconds and you won’t even notice that. Yep, that’s how good it is! Rather, keep it in the fridge until last minute to actually hear those OHHH and AHHH from your guests (it will still disappear, but at least you get to collect some kudos). Though the title for this recipe makes it sound as if we were going to re-watch Hitchcock’s ‘Strangers on a Train’, or Allen’s ‘Match Point’, or have some sort of tennis tournament in between, it’s really just to show how we came to the idea of this dessert and how it became such a winning recipe for our Thanksgiving table. With the Riesling wine jelly glaze and decadent salted maple caramel sauce, the take on a traditional Swiss cake has never been tastier.
This year we didn’t have to really cast for a Thanksgiving dessert. The idea landed on our kitchen counter along with the mountain of fresh carrot juice pulp leftovers during our Saturday breakfast. What to do with all this goodness? We didn’t want to send it to the compost and were determined to make some use of the fresh majestically orange fiber. 
Carrot cake came as a natural answer (you can use mince grated carrot in place of the pulp if you want). We recycled carrot juice pulp before just by mixing it with nuts, maple syrup, raisins and spice and pressing the mix into the bundt pan to have a no-bake healthy (gluten, dairy and eggs-free) dessert or snack upon refrigerating it overnight. But this time we wanted something special, after all, it’s Thanksgiving. Classic Swiss carrot cake romantically named Rublitortesounded like something approaching that healthy vegan cake (as much as any traditional dessert can be healthy): almonds, carrots, almost no flour or butter… and it gets better with time, so making it few days before Thanksgiving was a smart idea.

Applying the white wine jelly glaze over instead of the classic apricot jelly was a grown up step up in the finishing touch (microwave jelly in increments for 30 seconds and stir each time until almost pourable consistency). When it came to the traditional lemon-sugar glaze however, I wasn’t satisfied: it tasted too 70ies and lacked ‘personality’ in terms of a great cake’s buttery touch.  We expertly played with cream cheese (first), Mascarpone (second) and whipped cream (third) on a side – they were all good, yet they still didn’t taste like perfect match. And then, BOOM-BAM, the idea of the salty caramel sauce dressing has arrived and made a real hinge point of the recipe. 

I used the fellow-blogger recipe of Ree Drummond, which I made before and loved, except I added some maple syrup to it (feel free to use brown sugar only (1 full cup) as her recipe stipulates) for an extra flavor. And that was where the magic happened: the finger-licking salted caramel sauce has turned the traditional carrot cake into a gourmand-endorsed upscale modern confection we were exactly looking for. 
Our Thanksgiving Monday was workaholic-industrious, having approximately this kind of beat.
The long week-end is always extremely vital for the seasonal backyard works. Seven of us were crazy-busy cleaning-up the garden before frost.  Removing dead leaves, needles and rotten apples; cutting perennials, branches and bushes; mulching; planting spring bulbs and new perennials; transplanting; patching the grass; working out compost, making barn repairs… (I’m already tired just listing this). 
Finally, we also had to fell another tree with almost bare hands and it was tough and dangerous (the tree was close to power lines). Guess what, this morning they gave a killer app on the radio, that cutting or pruning trees that grow close to the voltage lines can be done for free by Hydro Quebec http://www.hydroquebec.com/trees/entretien.html– WHOA! You live, you learn (and you are welcome) – that gives a hope next time we will be less exhausted. Everyone was dog-tired, even the doggie…
Kicking back at Thanksgiving dinner was more than well-deserved. Naturally, the dinner would not be complete without the roast turkey, succulent braised beef with gnocchi and mixed greens salad. But the carrot cake was a show stopper.  

It was euphoria inducing delicious and everyone raved about salted caramel applied to it (match point it was). Later that night we crashed on the sofas determined to re-watch one of the above-mentioned movies, but fell asleep as soon as our heads touched the pillows…

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One year ago: No Fuss Coq au Vin 
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SWISS CARROT CAKE RUBLITORTE with SALTED MAPLE CARAMEL SAUCE
Yields: 10 portions
Carrot Cake:
2 cups (275 g) raw carrot pulp, or freshly grated and firmly packed
3 cups (300 g) almond (and/or hazelnut) meal
½ lemon zest
½ cup (60 g) flour (opt for gluten free flour if wish be)
1 heaping tsp dry yeast
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 ½ tsp sea salt
5 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 ½ cup powdered sugar (187 g)
1 tbsp butter to grease the pan
2 tbsp apricot or Riesling jelly, liquefied for the glaze
1/2 cup slivered almonds for garnish, toasted
Lemon Sugar Icing: (optional)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp water
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Combine carrots, nuts and zest in a bowl. Add cinnamon, flour, yeast and salt and mix.
Beat egg yolks with sugar until thick. Stir into the carrot mixture. Beat egg whites until the stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whites into carrot mixture. Do not over-mix.
Grease the 9 inch diameter spring form pan and sprinkle with flour. Shake to coat evenly. Pour batter into the pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until the knife tester comes out clean. Let cool.
Remove sides from the pan and place the cake over the wire rack that has been set over wax paper to catch the drips. Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake letting it to drip to the sides. Even out the glaze with spatula. Garnish with toasted almonds.
Refrigerate from overnight for up to 3 days in a tightly covered cake box from overnight to 3-5 days. Serve with salted maple caramel sauce.
Salted Maple Caramel Sauce:
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup half & half cream
4 tbsp butter
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Instructions:
Mix the maple syrup, brown sugar, cream, butter and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook while whisking gently for 5-7 minutes, until it thickens. Add vanilla and cook for another minute to thicken further. Set aside. Use at the room temperature.
Adapted from: Easy Caramel Sauce by Ree Drummond, Food Network, Ranching in the Mist, 2011.

Bye-Bye Summer: Squash Blossom Tart with Leeks and Cheddar

When does the summer end? For those of us living in a cold climate it is definitely not August 31st or September 1st, not even the Labor Day (first Monday of September). The fall in Eastern Canada begins around autumnal equinox time (22nd of September) with sudden gusty winds and rains bending and rocking the trees, blow-drying leaves into their new colors and flocking the birds to swarm into the their long journey down South. Although it’s still possible to make some BBQ, the goose-bumping temperatures usually lock us in to experiment with pies and breads. This tart was a pure impromptu caused by our unexpected garden find – squash flowers. 

I went to collect leftover fine herbs and discovered the bunch of newly spread squash twines carpeting most of the garden with dozens of yellow blossoms that topped the tiny swelling orbs of squash here and there. We already had a first frost the night before, so I rushed to salvage these little heartthrobs into this beautiful savory tart. Leeks and fine cheddar cheese were already in my fridge waiting to blow some lacto-ovo-vegetarian minds and the squash flowers have sparked the tart idea.
Really, what a delight it turned out to be! We couldn’t have enough of it! It has everything in it to say good-bye to the summer and to welcome the colder times in the most appreciative fashion, like: ’Hey, there’s still summer freshness, but you can now also enjoy the fall bounty, both wrapped in winter crust of cheese and flaky dough.’
I understand squash flowers might be kind of exotic at this time of the year, but thinly sliced zucchini, peeled squash, pumpkin or sweet-potato would make some good alternatives.  Naturally, the blossoms give this tart that special freshness raw tang zucchini flowers lovers know so well.
This pie is also featuring Perron Cheddar cheese (generic aged Cheddar or Gruyere are also fine for this tart). 
Earlier this month, I visited Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area, famous for its Boreal-rich agriculture and products, and brought some local specialties with me including Chocolate Coated Blueberries made by monks and few slabs of Perron cheddar cheese, known for its taste and reputation. FYI, Perron is the oldest cheese factory in Quebec, and is the only private company exporting its cheese to England for more than a century. 
They also produce the best fresh curd squeaky cheese I’ve ever tried in my life, so if you are in that area and wish to try a fool-proof best poutine  in the world (I’m not lying), don’t miss the opportunity and stop by a little bistro Chez Perron in the Saint-Prime town. Poutine buffet is its specialty with mountains of their own squeaky cheese on top of fries and variety of exotic gravies. I suggest you pass, however, on the other specialty, fondue, as it has so much pepper it kills the taste of their famous cheese…
And so, equipped with new travel memories, experiences and the stash of nice cheese and leeks, I was back home discovering the squash blossoms… When it came to the crust, I couldn’t decide: flaky pie or puff pastry? So I tried with both and both worked out very well. Flaky pie crust turns it into a quiche category, while the puff pastry sets the tart into appetizer and side dish. Steps took less than then 15 minutes in prep. First, par-baking the crust, sauteing leeks and scallions:
Then making egg-cheese mix.
Pouring the mix over the crust layered with leeks and topped with squash flowers:
In the end, I liked the pie-crusted tart still warm with handful of roasted hazelnuts scattered over and a little arugula salad on a side. As for the puff pastry crust, it was excellent next day at the room temperature to accompany a plate of hot boiled dinner.  
I used the Tenderflake store-bought dough for, both, to save time (I’m supremely confident in their dough: it has been tasted by me for years), but feel free to use this pie dough recipe  for the flaky shell and replace flour by gluten-free if wish be. Enjoy!
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SQUASH BLOSSOM TART WITH LEEKS & CHEDDAR
Ingredients:
1 pie or puff pastry crust enough to fit into 9-inch tart round, or 5×10-inch rectangular pan
1 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, thinly sliced (white part only)
2-3 scallion, minced
6-8 squash or zucchini flowers, cut in half if with baby squash part attached, OR 2 thinly sliced zucchini
½ tsp fresh or dried thyme
3 eggs
½ cup 10% cream
1 cup grated savory cheese (Old Cheddar, Gruyere, etc.)
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp freshly pepper
¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 375F. Form the crust into the pan. Bake it for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Heat the frying pan to medium-high, add olive oil and saute the leeks with scallions for about 5 minutes until wilted. Spread leek and scallions into the bottom of the pie shell.
Place squash or zucchini flowers over the leeks. Sprinkle with thyme.
Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Add cream, cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix well. Carefully pour the egg mixture into the tart.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the egg is set and the cheese is golden brown and bubbling. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.  Serve for breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner as a main or side course.