The dogs ate my homework. I swear!
I left it sitting on the arm of the chair in the living room while I went to fix lunch, and when I came back it was in a thousand tooth-marked and slobber covered pieces all over the floor. Okay, a thousand is probably a bit of an exaggeration, but it was a lot.
As I was picking it up, I noticed I only have two weeks left until my final project is due. Yikes!
For those of you who may be new around here, I started culinary school this fall, and for one of my classes this semester my final project is to create and cost out a special meal.
I chose a Mother’s Day Champagne Brunch since it happens to fall very close to Mother’s Day. I started with Meyer Lemon Fruit Salad as the Salad, and Brown Sugar and Pecan Candied Bacon as one of the sides.
Now for the pièce de résistance – Havarti and Asparagus quiche!
What’s great about quiche, and egg dishes in general, is that they are a great and affordable way to entertain. By starting with eggs as my base, it allows me to spend a little more on the star ingredient of the dish, the Havarti with Dill cheese.
Havarti is a Danish cow’s milk cheese that is silky smooth and buttery. It melts beautifully which makes it the perfect cheese for quiche – plus it happens to be my favorite cheese of all time. And since it’s my quiche, I can use whatever the heck I want!
You can usually find it in the specialty cheese section at your grocer’s. If you can’t find Havarti with Dill, just use regular Havarti and add 2-3 teaspoons of chopped, fresh dill.
For this recipe, you really want to use heavy cream and at least 2% milk – don’t try to get away with half and half or skim milk. It just won’t work; a quiche really needs that heaviness from the milk and cream to give the custard body. Otherwise, you end up with a soggy mess that almost kind of sweats on you – really unappetizing. I do use 2% for the milk part though, and that works fine.
Havarti and Asparagus Quiche
Yields: 8 servings
2 ¼ c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tbs. sugar
¾ c. cold, unsalted butter cut into small cubes
5-6 tbs. water
8 stalks asparagus
½ lb. Havarti with Dill Cheese (approximately ½ lb.)
1 c. cream
¾ c. whole or 2% milk
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles the size of small peas. Add the first 5 tablespoons of water, one at a time. Check consistency. If the mixture holds together when pinched, the crust is perfect – don’t add any more water. If, however, the crust still crumbles apart and won’t stay together when pinched, that means it won’t stay together while rolling either; go ahead and add the last tablespoon of water one teaspoon at a time, rechecking the consistency between each teaspoon. The exact amount of water you need will depend on the amount of humidity in the air and therefore in the flour.
Once finished, turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Form the dough into a disk, and refrigerate 30 minutes before rolling it out. You want that flour to relax and the butter to be nice and cold – that will ensure you have a nice flaky crust.
Meanwhile, boil a pot of water large enough to fit the stalks of asparagus. Trim the ends of your asparagus making sure they will fit nicely into your quiche pan, arranged like the spokes in a bicycle wheel with the ends touching in the middle. Place in boiling water, and blanch for 2-3 minutes. Remove from boiling water and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking and keep the color nice and vibrant green. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a circle a few inches larger than your quiche or pie pan. Fold the dough back up over the rolling pin if needed, to gently lift the crust into the dish. Once the dough is neatly into the pan, make sure it is smoothly tucked into the corners. Trim excess crust from the edges leaving about a 1” border. Fold the excess dough under itself, making sure not to fold it over the edge of the pan, to ensure a nice even border. Crimp the dough between your fingers to make little pinches. Poke a few fork holes in it to allow the steam to escape, this will prevent a soggy bottom crust.
Blind bake the crust for 5 minutes. This will prevent all of the custard from getting absorbed into the crust making it soggy.
Remove crust from oven and sprinkle with Havarti with Dill cheese. Set aside.
Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine eggs, heavy cream, and milk and whisk thoroughly. Pour egg mixture gently over the cheese mixture.
Place asparagus stalks, tips pointing outwards into a spoke pattern like on a bicycle wheel, making sure the ends come together in the middle.
Bake 40 minutes. Check to make sure the crust isn’t getting too brown. If it is, loosely drape a piece of foil over the top, making sure you don’t lay it on the actual custard mixture in the middle. Bake 10-12 minutes longer. To test doneness, slide a butter knife under the edge of one of the asparagus stalks. The knife should come out clean. It should be moist – after all the quiche is moist, but it should be free of egg mixture. If not, put it back in the oven with your tent foil on top for 3-4 more minutes.