Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Winter Supper: Two Savory Tarts

In the winter months, I keep the freezer stocked with a couple of pie shells because the craving for savory quiches and tarts seems to hit us regularly. 

Recipe #19 is Caramelized Onion Quiche, inspired by this recipe on Simply Recipes. I actually don't have a picture for this one. I made the quiche last weekend, intending to take it along with me to a trivia game to share with the team. I pulled it out of the oven, cut into it and realized that it was just a little bit too messy to be the portable snack I was hoping for. Ah, well, I said to myself, every recipe can't work well in my hands, and decided not to post it. Well, it turns out that I judged too quickly and harshly, because after we ate the last bite of the quiche the next morning, I knew it was a keeper and a recipe I would make again and again.

I use onions in 3 out of 4 savory dishes, but the humble vegetable really shines and takes center-stage in Elise's recipe. My modifications:
a) I tried to cut the onions in the French-cut technique as described, but for the most part, what I ended up were separated strips of onion, which work just fine.
b) I used a mixture of cheddar cheese, parmesan and Pepper Jack cheese in place of the  gruyere, to use up bits of cheese I had lying around.
c) The custard mixture started to overflow my pie crust; next time I will use only 2 eggs and less milk and cream than the original recipe calls for.

The quiche tasted absolutely fantastic! The taste of caramelized onions, enhanced by balsamic vinegar and enveloped in a creamy custard is quite remarkable. I'll be making this for holiday brunches in the next couple of weeks and will update this post with a pic at that time.

Recipe #18 is Ricotta Vegetable Tart, inspired by this post on Proud Italian Cook. That blog post reminded me that a savory quiche/tart does not really require a strict recipe. This tart that I made for dinner last night was a perfect example of a come-as-you-are tart, using up ingredients that I had on hand and most importantly, dispatching some ricotta cheese that I urgently needed to use up.

The basic ingredients are
1. A pie crust, usually blind baked so that the bottom crust does not get too soggy. I have a small jar of kidney beans that I keep reusing as pie weights. The crust I used last night was a whole wheat pie crust from Whole Foods. I always avoid store-bought crusts that contain lard or trans-fats.
2. Vegetables, sauteed ahead of time because raw vegetables would make the pie quite soggy. Last night, I used onions, green onions, green pepper, carrots and fresh basil.
3. Cheese. Last night I used ricotta and parmesan. I like lining the pie crust with a thin layer of shredded hard cheese to prevent sogginess and I like topping the pie with some cheese because it browns beautifully.
4. Custard, made with milk/cream and eggs. 2 eggs and a half cup of milk/cream is plenty when you like a vegetable-heavy tart, seasoned generously with salt, pepper and spices.

The final touch I added for this tart was a topping of pine nuts, because the combination of ricotta and pine nuts is a classic one.



To assemble the tart-
1. Take the blind-baked pie crust.
2. Line with cheese.
3. Spread with sauteed vegetables.
4. Pour the custard over.
5. Top with a layer of cheese, or nuts and a sprinkling of paprika for a pretty color.
6. Bake at 350F until the filling is set and the crust is golden.

***   Menu for Hope 6   ***

The annual food blogger fund-raising campaign is on! Read all the details here.

I have not put up a gift for bidding, but I certainly want to do my small part and spread the word about this campaign, and buy a few raffle tickets myself.

There is a truly tantalizing list of prizes this year with something for everyone.

I know I want to buy a ticket for one of the chocolate prizes for V. The prize that is making me weak in the knees is this bounty of vanilla. The practical cook in me knows that a new knife set would be very welcome in my kitchen. How I wish I lived in/near San Fransisco, because there's one of the prizes is a artisan baking workshop. I already own a food processor, but if you would like one for your own kitchen, there's a cool one you can bid on. There are dozens of other prizes, but I'll let you have the joy of browsing through them and picking out your favorites.

If you enjoy reading food blogs, if you think you benefit from reading the voices of home cooks everywhere and trying their recipes, please consider buying one or more tickets to Menu for Hope and supporting food bloggers all around the world in their annual mission to raise funds for a worthy cause.

The campaign ends next Friday, so please hurry! Again, details are here.

11 comments:

  1. the onion quiche sounds delicious. is there a particular brand of pie shells you prefer to stock up your freezer?

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  2. Also, what do you think about adding a few spring onions to the onion quiche?

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  3. loved the onion quiche recipe!!

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  4. I love quiches. This looks delicious.

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  5. I came here to look for your onion tart and I get 2 more tart recipes as bonus. How long did you bake the Ricotta tart?? I made a crustless quiche and had to bake it for almost an hour @ 350F. Does it usually take that long??

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  6. I LOVE quiches, but never end up having a crust on hand so have always only made crustless versions (ala frittata). I will check out the whole wheat crust at Whole Foods (maybe this weekend). The onion one sounds sooo good and exactly the kind of quiche I love.

    I just made a list of stuff that I may want to bid on..The knives and food processor are very tempting (Especially since I've been planning on buying new ones anyway). Tempting stuff and for a good cause- what's not to love!

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  7. Don't get ready pie crusts here so make it from scratch one day before....these recipes look fab.

    I very nearly had carmelized onions myself last night - was roasting onions and garlic for the soup you had posted long time back- they got burnt for some reason and I had to dump the whole thing!:(

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  8. I love tarts. After you posted your tomato quiche, I made this a few days later: http://chefatwork.blogspot.com/2009/08/mixed-vegetable-ricotta-quiche.html

    :)

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  9. Nikita- I generally buy the Whole Foods store brand. Personally, I like the taste of caramelized onions by themselves and would not add spring onions to the recipe. But one can modify it in any way.

    Superchef- Glad to know that!

    Divya Vikram- Thank you!

    Nikita- You're right, it does take a bit of time. Usually 45-55 minutes for me, so an hour sounds about right! The ricotta had to "dry out" and the eggs have to cook and that all takes time.

    Lavanya- The onion quiche is completely worth a try! Yes, I do hope you bid on the knives and food processor; part of the joy is in thinking about what you will do with the cool prize, and whether you win or not, there's something to be happy about (money going to a good cause).

    Miri- So sorry the onions and garlic got burnt :(

    Raaga- Looks good!

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  10. Hey Nupur,

    I am planning to buy a food processor. But can't decide on whether to buy Kitchen Aid oor Cuisine Art and what size. Which one do you have? Can you suggest me sonething.

    Thanks.

    P.S. : Love all the new recipies on you r blog I can't wait to try them.

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  11. Every time I read your blog I finish feeling super duper hungry! I can't wait to try both of these recipes. YUM!

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