Today's update is going to be short and sweet. It is one of those rare San Francisco evenings where it is too warm not to be outside.
Let me jump right into this post by saying, the world outside all-purpose, unbleached white flour is ripe for exploration. It is a realm that is exciting, flavorful, and not as intimidating as some of you might think - garbanzo flour, buckwheat flour, rye flour, almond flour, spelt flour, corn flour, graham flour, oat flour, and potato flour are all out there waiting to be turned into something delicious and innovative. And this is the short list. Most beans and grains can be found in flour form if you look hard enough. Many are unrefined, are available in organic and non-GMO varieties - often coming to market much more nutritionally intact than say, unbleached APF. This is an incredibly rich palette from which to cook from - the trick is figuring out which flours are best suited for which purposes. Some flours are high in gluten, some have none. Some have strong, distinctive flavors, others are much more neutral. Some are powdery and soft, some are raggy and rough.
I've been playing around with different types of flours all summer, and thought I would turn you onto this perfect, seasonal, crusted-quiche recipe by Rebecca Wood - it features a beautiful chocolate brown tef flour crust with fresh corn and tomatoes. Do you know Rebecca Wood? You should. If you don't have her book, The Splendid Grain, you should pick it up. It is one of the definitive books on cooking with grains, and earned Rebecca both the IACP Julia Child and James Beard Cookbook awards. Bonus: it is available in paperback. Need more convincing? Here are a few other recipes featured in The Splendid Grain; Pinon Crackers, Quinoa Butterscotch Brownies, Homemade Buckwheat Noodles, Sarrasin Crepes, and Crybabies (which I'm going to try next).
Today's quiche/tart is summertime captured in a smooth, precision crust. The creamy corn flavor hits your tongue first, the summer tomatoes burst next, and then you are hit with accents of slivered basil and scallions (I skipped the green peppers). The tart shell offers up a slight hint of nuttiness but isn't overly rich or buttery -she calls for less than half the butter typical in many tart recipes. The crust functions as a beautifully dark, structured backbone and works effectively at counterbalancing the soft, fluffiness inherent to a quiche filling. When sliced the quiche maintains its structure and is easy to serve -beautiful and delicious.
At some point I'll write more extensively about exploring flours, just not today. If you have a favorite creative way of using lets say, non-white flour, feel free to post in the comments. I'm sure many people are curious, and it will help round out this post.
Corn Quiche Recipe in a Tef Crust
1 cup tef flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry or unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
Tabasco Sauce, to taste
2 cups fresh corn kernels
1 cup milk or soy milk
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup minced green bell pepper
2 cherry tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 350�F.
Put the tef and whole wheat pastry flours and salt in a food processor and pulse once or twice to mix. Cut the butter into chunks. Add to the flour mixture and pulse to form a crumbly meal. Season water with Tabasco and pulse into flour mixture to make a pliable dough. With your hands, form dough into a flat disk. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes, no longer. Rollout between 2 sheets of wax paper to an 11-inch circle. Line a 9-inch pie plate.
Combine the corn-and milk in a blender (or use a hand-blender) and blend until smooth. Add the eggs, more Tabasco, and more salt and blend just to mix Sprinkle all but 2 tablespoons of cheese on the pie crust. Pour in the corn mixture. Sprinkle scallions, green bell pepper, and remaining cheese over surface. Cut tomatoes into thin slices and arrange around the edge of the filling. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
VARIATIONS Substitute 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or tarragon for the scallions or bell pepper. Substitute Gouda, Lappi, Monterey Jack, or your favorite cheese for the Swiss. Heidi note: I used gruyere and divided the dough into four to make four 4 1/2-inch tartlets.
The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood (William Morrow & Company, January, 1997) - reprinted with permission