Over the past year I’ve made a concerted effort to eat more seasonally than I did while growing up. I think winter is prime time for two awesome food groups: stored root vegetables and preserves put up earlier in the year. Last weekend, inspired by a trip to the farmers’ market at Grand Army Plaza and an unexpected visit from an out-of-town friend, I decided to host a little brunch. I’d planned to feature both of those all-important winter food groups, and I made it to the market just in the nick of time. The normally hardy vendors, discouraged by Saturday’s dreary four-degree weather, were packing it in to leave as I pulled up. Fortunately I was able to score a great sourdough loaf from Buon Pane and a lovely bit of rosemary-garlic chèvre from Lynnhaven Farm before everyone disappeared.
My vegetables had to be snatched back from the brink—this gentleman from Phillips Farms actually dove back into that truck to find me three perfect Winesap apples and a bunch of arugula! (As an aside, I’ll admit that arugula doesn’t belong to either of the food groups I mentioned above, and as it’s late in the season my bunch was a bit sad-looking, but I think I’d look about the same if I’d come all the way down from upstate and had bits of ice clinging to my leaves.)
I returned home with my bounty to consider the menu and tried to make things easy for myself—for me, brunch always means eggs, but it doesn’t have to mean poached or fried or scrambled eggs, which really need to be made to order and eaten immediately when hot. Quiche seemed like just the thing—easy to throw together, equally delicious hot or cold, and a perfect showcase for the jar of SBN’s winter-inspired Roasted Beet with Horseradish Sauce I had on hand from a test batch earlier that week. With visions of a lovely striated quiche in my mind’s eye, I began to roll out a pie crust.
While waiting for the main course to emerge from the oven, I set my friends to sipping wine and snacking on cheese, jam, and those crunchy apples.
The crisp apples set off the creamy brie perfectly; when we had the bright idea to top the cheese with a dab of SBN’s Cranberry Pear, a great thing got better as the cranberries added a tart counterpoint to the sweet, salty cheese.
I brought the quiche out of the oven in a swirl of steam, redolent with the scent of the rosemary-garlic chèvre. Conversation stalled as we waited for the pie to cool, shooting anticipatory glances at the counter-top. When at last we cut it open and plunged in, we found the earthy sweetness of beets complemented by the velvety richness of goat cheese and the subtle tang of arugula and shallots. We sat in silence and savored for a long while before we were once again able to find our voices.
Planning to host your own seasonal Sunday brunch? Nothing is better than good food with good friends, so grab a jar and get creative! Check out the recipe for my Roasted Beet, Arugula and Goat Cheese Quiche below or invent your own delicious dish and enter our Recipe Contest!
Roasted Beet, Arugula & Goat Cheese Quiche
9-inch pre-baked single pie crust (see note below)
1 jar SBN Beet Horseradish Sauce
2 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 small shallot, roughly chopped
1 bunch arugula leaves (a good handful), roughly chopped
6oz goat cheese (mine was seasoned with rosemary and garlic)
½ cup heavy cream, milk or a combination
1 tsp salt
Large pinch of black pepper pepper
Preheat oven to 325º.
Heat oil or melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Sauté shallot for about a minute, then add chopped arugula and continue to cook until wilted (perhaps another two minutes).
Spread the beet sauce evenly on the bottom of the crust to form the first layer. Add the sautéed shallot and greens and arrange evenly to form a second layer. Slice the cheese (about ¼” thick) and arrange on top of the greens.
Beat together the eggs, cream or milk, salt and pepper, then pour over the ingredients already in the crust. Shake the pie slightly from side to side to help the egg mixture settle into all the nooks and crannies, then bake for approximately 30 minutes, until the quiche is almost firm and lightly browned on top.
Re: Pie Crust:
You certainly don’t have to make your own pie crust (and until I started making my own a mere few months ago, I was always very content with the Pillsbury ones), but it really isn’t hard and I’ve included my adaptation of Mark Bittman’s recipe (from How to Cook Everything) below. It may also be worthwhile to note that an amazing home-made pie crust contains only four ingredients, while the one you buy at the supermarket is likely to have at least ten, including all kinds of stuff you’d never use at home.
Regardless of who made the dough, however, it is very important when making this quiche to pre-bake the crust prior to adding the other ingredients. If you don’t pre-bake, the beet sauce at the bottom will turn the crust soggy, and I’m confident that will be extremely disappointing. You also need to allow about 30 minutes for pre-baking—I failed to factor this in and the delay contributed to my serving brunch about six hours late, so learn from my mistakes and plan ahead!
Delicious Flaky Piecrust
1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, as cold as possible
1 cup ice water (you shouldn’t need all of it)
1-2 cups of dry beans or rice (as weights for pre-baking)
Combine flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Using a coarse cheese grater, grate the butter into the flour mixture (it’s helpful to hold the butter with a paper towel to prevent the warmth of your hands from melting it). Using the tips of your fingers, toss the butter and flour mixture together until the butter bits are well-coated. You can actually do all of this in a food processor, but as I haven’t found that to be any easier and I hate cleaning the food processor, I prefer to use my hands.
Add the ice water a tablespoon at a time, working it in with your hands until you can form the dough into a ball. If you add too much water and the dough becomes wet and sticky, add a bit more flour.
Form the dough into a ball, flatten slightly, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or freeze for 10 minutes).
Sprinkle a counter top with flour and roll out the dough with a rolling pin, rotating and turning as needed, until the diameter is about 2” greater than your pie plate.
Press the dough firmly into the plate, trim and crimp the edges. It’s best to let the crust rest for a bit at this point, too (ideally, another 30 minutes in the refrigerator or 10 minutes in the freezer).
Heat the oven to 425º. Ensure the crust is firmly pressed into the pan and prick it all over with a fork. Butter one side of a piece of tin foil and press it, butter side down, onto the crust. Weight the foil with the beans or rice (which, I am told, can be cooked and eaten later with no ill effects—stay tuned for my experiments with the chickpeas I used for this purpose last weekend).
Bake for 12 minutes; remove from the oven and remove the foil with the beans or rice. Reduce oven temperature to 350º and continue baking until the crust is a nice golden brown color, about 10 minutes. Allow the crust to cool before filling.