Category Archives: quiche

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!
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
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.  

My Twist on Salmon Broccoli Cheddar Quiche

Although a classic quicheis a German-French invention, for many Montrealers it became almost a ”taste of home”. From food courts to high-end restos to street food that has just begun circulating streets of our city, you can find a piece of quiche at every corner. Quiche is so popular here, that Jamie Oliver and Derek Dammann serve it as a staple at their Maison Publique British pub! What is it about this dish that made us so much in love with it? Perhaps it is its ”versatile and forgiving” nature: so many things can go into this great mix, each bringing its own touch of flavor, texture and look! There are numerous iterations of quiche components (ham, fish, mushrooms, veggies), but certain ingredients remain constant: eggs, cheese and crust.
I love salmon broccoli cheddar quiche and make it quite often. This time I decided to challenge the crust and replace it with pain perdu (old bread) just to experiment and save time and effort. The result – simply amazing! What an excellent way to skip time taking and messy crust-making or rolling, not to mention the whole list of ingredients you have to have on hand when you do a gluten free crust! Gluten free bread (made of mostly rice flour) adds some sweetness to the dish. Combined with cheesy, spongy and custardy egg-broccoli-salmon-cheddar mix, it brings a subtle hint of a soufflé into the dish.
This quiche’s versatility does not stop with the gluten-free crust! Use freshly cooked salmon or replace it with ham; swap broccoli for leek, spinach or Swiss char; change Cheddar cheese for Swiss or Guyere; use your favorite herbs and spice: experiment until you find YOUR favorite! And for those who like their crust classic, here are some interesting variations of Ham & Cheddar Quiche or Salmon & Spinach Quiche from Montreal Gazette.
My tips for making this quiche a success:

– bake the old bread cubes for about 10 minutes at 350f  until slightly golden
– mash the canned salmon with its liquid (for extra flavor) and bones (high in calcium)
– boil chopped broccoli for 2 minutes, drain and let cool
– add a few spoons of flour (spelt in my case) into the eggs mix for that spongy-airy soufflé-like result; do not add too much salt to the mix because the cheese will add enough saltiness to the dish
– layer the buttered dish in the following order: bread cubes first; then mix of salmon, broccoli and sauteed onions; then egg-milk-flour mix; then shredded cheese
– make sure you butter your dish well, so the crust will not glue to it
– bake uncovered at 350F for the first 15 minutes, then at 325F for another 35-45 minutes.

Hot or cold, you can have it for breakfast, work/school lunch or picnic. It also freezes very well, so you can keep some extra until next time and then just pop it up and warm up in the oven. Enjoy your cooking! 

Makes 9-inch pie of about 6-8 servings.

2 cups cubed old gluten-free white bread (or old dense white bread of your choice)
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 small head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1/2 cup cooked salmon, or 1 can (106 g), broken in pieces
3/4 cup milk
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons spelt flour (or wheat flour if you are gluten tolerant)
freshly ground nutmeg, pinch
1 to 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 teaspoons butter
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the old bread in cubes, spread onto the buttered pan and bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove and let it cool.
In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and saute onions until translucent. Put aside to cool. Boil or steam broccoli florets for 1-2 minutes, drain and set aside. Mash the salmon with fork and mix with onions and broccoli. Spread the mix over the bread cubes.
In a bowl, mix well the eggs, flour, milk and a pinch of nutmeg. Pour the egg mix over the salmon mix evenly.
Top the layers with shredded cheese and bake at 350F for the first 15 minutes, then at 325F for another 35-45 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving for the flavors to set.