These are golden words. At times it is difficult. It does require patience. To me, it symbolizes this month of May, which includes many holidays and days of remembrance: Mother’s Day, Jerusalem Day, and Shavuot.
I will be combining these days into one brunch to be served to my family on Mother’s Day. Since the foods of Shavuot feature dairy products, I will prepare a classic vegetarian quiche. Israeli brunches always offer eggs. This too is satisfied through my quiche and my morning muffins, berry-studded and extra moist with the inclusion of milk and sour cream. There will be a challah and spring berries, beautifully served in my Buba’s crystal bowl. I will set the table with my finest of wedding china and crystal and decorate further with spring greenery and flowers. I will also put out a bowl of honey and a pitcher of cold milk.
The following menu is a visual and taste-worthy splendor of dairy, fruits, vegetables, and home-baked goods. No dessert is necessary, unless you wish to purchase top-quality chocolate candies. Since much of this brunch can be prepared in advance or in steps, it will free the cook of too much burden on Mother’s Day especially if you, like me, are a loving mother and a devoted daughter.
CLASSIC FRENCH SPINACH QUICHE
I decided to prepare this quiche from scratch, using all the freshest of ingredients, as a culinary challenge to myself. (I first learned to make this during my weeks of studying in Napa Valley with a young man who was the protégé to Simone Beck and with Julia Child, at the Great Chefs of France classes.) You will need a ten-inch quiche pan, the best of which has a removable circle bottom, so that you can push the completed, fully baked quiche carefully out of the pan (leaving the base in place for support) and be able to visually enjoy the stunning crust.
A Classic French Quiche Crust:
One and three fourths cups all-purpose flour
Ten tablespoons (one stick, plus two tablespoons) butter, chilled, and cut
up into small pieces
One egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten
One half teaspoon salt
Five tablespoons (approximately) cold water to moisten
In a large mixing bowl, place the flour and butter. Using your fingers, mix together, until the combination resembles a coarse cereal. Add the beaten egg, then the salt. Place on a flour-dusted board and briefly knead into a round ball. Dust the outside lightly with flour. Wrap well in plastic, or waxed paper. Place in refrigerator for two plus hours. This dough can even be made the day before.
When it is time to roll out the dough, place again on a floured board. Using a heavy floured rolling pin, roll out larger than your quiche pan. Remember to use a ten-inch pan, preferably one with a removable bottom.
Butter the quiche pan well. When dough is rolled out, carefully fold into fourths. Place the center point, in the center of your pan. Carefully unfold your dough over pan, carefully pressing into the pan from the bottom, up the sides, and a little over the top. Using your rolling pin side-wise, trim off the top circle of the dough. Reserve leftover dough. *I will give you a quick, delicious recipe for these scraps.
Place quiche pan in your freezer for about eight minutes to set the dough. Then remove, lightly prick in the center with the tongs of a fork. Place in a preheated four hundred and twenty-five-degree oven to pre-bake this shell. Bake eight to ten minutes. Remove to a rack.
At this point, allow the pre-baked shell to cool, then gently wrap with waxed paper and foil, and put aside for the next day to fill and bake off. I usually wrap, then refrigerate the empty shell overnight.
Prior to baking time I remove shell from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before filling.
*Regarding the scraps: Gather into a ball, roll out on a floured board, then cut into two inch squares, place a small cube of a favorite cheese in the center, draw up the sides pinch and secure closed, brush with a mixture of beaten egg and milk, place on a buttered cookie sheet, bake in a four hundred and twenty-five degree oven for about eight to ten minutes. Remove and enjoy hot as a tasty snack!
Classic Spinach Filling for Classic Quiche:
Two pounds cleaned spinach leaves (I use the pre-cleaned, bagged baby spinach)
Two tablespoons butter
Kosher salt, black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg, all to taste
One cup heavy (whipping) cream
One fourth cup milk (whole milk, not low fat)
Two to three ounces top quality Gruyere or other favorite Swiss-like cheese, grated
The spinach part can also be made a day in advance and refrigerated: Chop spinach. Saute in a pan with the butter and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook until softened. Then place in a small bowl and
refrigerate until next day. Bring to room temperature before final assembly of quiche. To complete the quiche: In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then add the whipping cream and milk. Spread spinach out on the bottom of your pre-baked quiche shell. Carefully pour egg/cream mixture over top. Sprinkle cheese over top of liquid.
Place quiche in a preheated four hundred degree oven.
Note for protection of my oven, I carefully place a layer of foil under the quiche pan and up a little in case liquid overflows.
Bake for approximately twenty minutes, or until top is beautifully browned. Quiche will puff up. Serve immediately, hot from the oven.
Note: Quiche can also be served at room temperature. Leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated. Some people even enjoy their quiche chilled.
Yield: Approximately six to twelve servings, depending upon how generous your slices.
CLASSIC MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE DRESSING
This is a favorite, simple last-minute salad dressing to make with ingredients you should always have on hand. I have used Dijon mustard for the main flavoring. I always have a selection of unusual mustards. Do not fret over the balance of the oils with the vinegar; this is correct, for this classic dressing. The recipe yields enough dressing for two salads. Increase as desired. I prefer to use bagged spring salad mix. You can also use butter lettuce, especially the center leaves. In this case, you may want to add a snipping of fresh chives.
Two tablespoons Dijon mustard
One tablespoon vinegar (I like a white balsamic)
Three tablespoons olive oil
Three tablespoons salad oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Pour to taste over your salad. Toss.
Yield: Approximately enough dressing for two salads.
VERY BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
I have already promised my mother and my husband that I will bake these muffins again soon. They are from my treasured recipe files, and are excellent and healthy. There is no butter or oil. The tops are a light color. I often serve them with honey. They can be made one to two days ahead: wrap in plastic, place in a large plastic container, and store at room temperature.
One and one fourth cups unbleached white flour
One half cup sugar
Two teaspoons baking powder
One fourth teaspoon salt
Grated zest of one lemon
One generous cup blueberries
One egg, lightly beaten
One tablespoon sour cream
One fourth cup milk
With a fork, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest and blueberries. Add the egg, then sour cream and milk. Gently stir to moisten all ingredients.
Using an eight muffin tin, line with paper muffin cups. (Note: If your tin is larger, simply place extra paper cups in the tin, but do not fill them.)
Fill eight of the paper-lined cups. Place in a preheated three hundred and fifty-degree oven for approximately twenty-five minutes.
Yield: Eight muffins.