Friday, April 8, 2011

Roasted Tomato, Fennel and Goat Cheese Quiche.

I am not big on following recipes when I cook. When I bake, I follow the instructions (except the vanilla which I seem to always forget) because the right amounts are crucial for a proper outcome.
In general, though, I feel confident enough - most of the times - to tweak and play around with recipes I find. Sometimes because I don't have all the ingredients or don't feel partial about some. Sometimes I just take the general idea of a recipe and make it my own.
Weeks and Weeks ago, Suzy wrote about the food at her daughter's 2nd birthday party and I loved the main dish for the attending adults: A roasted tomato, fennel and goat cheese quiche. I waited patiently until I could try the combination myself (my mother is not a big fan of fennel) and serve it to friends.

This isn't the season for tomatoes yet, we all know that. This is why the recipes is great: Slowly (around 90minutes at 110°C) roasting the tomatoes gives them much more flavor while the fennel gets soft and tender without turning to mush.


Every time I make a crust, I use the same recipe. I am comfortable with it, I love the way it tastes, it makes enough dough for two pies/quiches which is great as the dough freezes well.
So, here is where I changed things the first time. 

I also served individual quiches. The dough and filling would have been enough for four servings (or one 9-inch crust), but I only made three, really filled with shells and ate the remainder vegetables with the crumbled goat cheese for lunch by myself.

The whole thing takes quite a while. First the vegetables have to roast for over an hour, then the crust gets par-baked (a step I might ignore next time because I am not really concerned with "soggy bottoms") and then the whole thing has to be assembled and baked for another 30minutes.
But it's worth it. Oh so worth it.


For the crust (makes enough for two 9-inch tarts or a double-crusted pie):
(adapted from Martha Stewart).

2 1/2 cups flour (320grams/11.25oz)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 sticks butter (1 cup/226 grams), cold and cut into pieces
About 1/4 cup ice cold water (more if necessary)

Before you start, make sure all your ingredients are cold that way it will be easier to work with the dough.
In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix. Add the butter and, using your hands, crumble the butter into equally sized pieces. It should resemble bread crumbs but the butter should still be visible.
Add some water to the dough, work it into the butter-flour mixture and add more until the dough comes together. Knead quickly, making sure all the flour is incorporated, without overworking the dough or it will be tough once baked.
Form a ball, wrap it in cling film and chill for at least an hour in the fridge.

When the hour is up, take the dough out of the fridge and roll out between two layers of cling film or parchment paper and line your preferred baking pan with it (my pans were 4.5inches/12cm). Chill the dough again for 30minutes and then blind bake it for 10 minutes (covered with aluminum foil and filled with peas or baking weights) and another 5 minutes uncovered and weights removed until it's golden in color. 

Let the shell cool in the pan. It's now ready to be filled.

250grams cherry tomatoes (I used San Marzano), halved
1 medium sized fennel bulb, sliced thin
1 medium sized onion, thinly sliced
100gram soft young goat cheese, crumbled
2 eggs
100 ml (1/3 cup) cream or milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 100°C.
For the filling prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and arrange the tomatoes and fennel on it in one even layer. If you have thyme now is the time to add it to the vegetables. Drizzle everything with olive oil and season with salt.
Roast the vegetables for about 90minutes until the tomatoes are shriveled. 

Saute the onion in a pad of butter or oil on medium heat until translucent and soft (about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally). Spread the onion on the pastry.

When the tomatoes and fennel are ready, arrange them on the crust and crumble the goat cheese on top. Raise the temperature of the oven to 175°C.

Mix the eggs, milk or cream, chives and salt and pepper and pour the mix over your quiche. Don't overfill the shell just because you still have liquid left.

Bake the quiche for 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size of your quiche and if your oven runs hot or cold. When you hit 25 minutes check on the quiche regularly.


Have a great weekend! Eat some quiche if you have the time.

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