EATS | REAL MOMS EAT QUICHE – AND YOU SHOULD TOO
Quiche is a delicious French tart with a creamy egg custard and other fabulous ingredients (like bacon and cheese) and encased a buttery, flaky crust.
The quiche rose rapidly in popularity in the 1970s and 80s, and although it’s not as trendy now, it is a classic that is still a wonderful dish. Miniature quiche can be enjoyed as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvres, or slices of whole tarts devoured at breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.
The heart of a quiche is a rich, savory custard. This is easily whipped up with whole eggs, heavy cream, whole milk, and spices and seasonings. Salt and pepper are always used, but a dash of nutmeg is a wonderful touch that works well in the decadent pie.
Before the custard mixture is poured into a tart shell, cheese, meats, seafood, and/or vegetables can be added. A classic Quiche Lorraine (named after the French region where the dish is credited as being created) contains cream, eggs, milk, and pork, either bacon or ham. Although not traditional, many folks add cheese to their Quiche Lorraine.
Other classic quiche include Quiche aux Champignons (custard mixture and mushrooms), Quiche aux Epinards (custard mixture and spinach) and Quiche aux Fruits de Mer (custard mixture and seafood such as crab, lobster, or shrimp).
A flaky crust is essential, but as long as you take time with the custard, you can take a shortcut and use a premium pre-baked frozen pie shell rather than making your own. Here’s how I make it:
In the bottom of a cooled, blind-baked pie crust, evenly distribute 1 to 1-1/2 cups total diced ingredients such as meat, seafood, and vegetables across the crust bottom. You may also add 1 cup crumbled or shredded cheese evenly across the crust bottom. Preheat oven to 375F.
In a medium bowl, combine 3 eggs and 2 cups heavy cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Optionally, dd a dash of ground nutmeg. You may also, optionally, add a dash or two of other seasonings or spices complimentary to your ingredients, such as garlic, rosemary, or thyme. Whisk throughly to combine filling, and evenly pour into crust.
Place the quiche on a lipped baking sheet and into the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes; the crust should be browned, and the quiche firm, perhaps with just a bit of wiggle in the middle. Allow to sit and cool 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving. The quiche can also be cooled and refrigerated to be served chilled.
Although wonderful any time of year, quiche, especially when it uses lighter ingredients, is beautiful in the spring, and should be on any Mother’s Day table.
For more, VirginiaEatsAndDrinks.com
DRINKS | THE SPRING TOWN POINT VIRGINIA WINE FESTIVAL
The 15th Annual Spring Town Point Virginia Wine Festival returns to the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront on Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7.
Spend a spring weekend at Town Point Park sampling a variety of more than 200 wines from Virginia’s premier wineries.
Named one of the top food and drink festivals in the country by Business Insider, the event, hosted by Norfolk Festevents, is one of the region’s most anticipated wine festivals.
Here more than 25 of Virginia’s top wineries pour their best vintages against the beautiful Elizabeth River.
Enjoy gourmet foods, specialty merchants, live music, and more.
How to: wine cooler style
All wines presented during the festival are available for purchase by the bottle or case throughout each day. Use one to make our Strawberry Wine Cooler; here’s how:
Cap two strawberries and place in the bottom of a wine glass. Pour a splash of orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier, and using the back of a spoon, mash. Fill the glass with a well-chilled, crisp, white Virginia wine and garnish with a mint sprig.
Wine Festival Tips:
1. Have a designated driver.
2. Realize there are a lot of wines out there and they can’t all be tasted in a day. Hit ones you want to try and a favorite or two, then consider buying some bottles to take home for quaffing later.
3. You can’t do a full day of tasting on an empty stomach. Plan on enjoying the food offerings at the event. Also, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day.
4. Dress comfortably and in layers so as the day changes you can remain comfortable.
5. Don’t wear cologne; drinking wine is a sensory experience and if you load up on the perfume it could affect yours or others tasting.
6. Try the wines you know you like, but try some that you may not have had before – you could find a new favorite.
7. Really taste the wines; look at them, smell them, taste them, and take notes so you will remember your impressions of them.
8. Make use of the dump bucket if you are starting to feel the effects of drinking too much, or if there is a wine you don’t care for.
Wines in today’s segment come from Zoes Steak & Seafood’s super sommelier Marc Sauter. In addition to enjoying wines during a meal at the upscale eatery, Zoes offers an extensive wine shop for bringing bottles home, including many Virginia vintages.
For more on the 15th Annual Spring Town Point Virginia Wine Festival , visit www.Festevents.org
For more on Zoes Steak & Seafood, visit www.ZoesVB.com
FOOD NEWS YOU CAN USE
It’s a most magical time of year, early spring, when Mother Nature begins waking up all around us. We can see it in early crops like asparagus and strawberries, and in seafood markets with plump oysters, and showy soft shell crabs.
In late April and early May, soft shells begin to appear in markets, and on restaruant menus.
Folklore says that in these parts that just after the first full moon in the month of May, the Chesapeake Bay blue crab sheds its hard shell to grow a bigger one for summer time.
Because they are very vulnerable when their exoskeleton is so thin and malleable, they hide in sea grasses until it hardens up. That typically doesn’t take too long; the brackish water of the Bay and its tributaries help toughen it up pretty quick.
But for that brief period of time, the crab is completely edible – and completely delicious.
Like many things, you can get soft shell crabs out of season, usually frozen. And, like many things, even if the quality is good, there is still something about eating these delicacies only for a brief period, like right about now.
One of our favorite seafood markets for soft shells is Wicker’s Crab Pot in Chesapeake. Grab a dozen and make them at home for family and friends. Here’s how I do it:
SOFT SHELLS 101
The best soft shell crabs are the ones that are still alive and still moving a bit when you pick them up at the market.
The crab takes a beating in transit, so some may have perished; like so much seafood, your nose is the first – and maybe best – indicator of freshness. Look for an aroma that is clean and salty, like the ocean.
Any crabs that have an off-odor or ammonia on the nose should be avoided. The crab should be firm, and, the coloring even and free of mottling or spots.
A fishmonger may clean the crab for you, but if you pick yours up at a smaller market or roadside stand, you may have to do it yourself.
First, lay the crab down on a cutting board and with a chef knife cut off it’s face, just behind the eyes and mouth part, about a 1/4-inch strip. You can also use kitchen scissors for this task.
Next, lift up the top shell at it’s corners on each side and remove the gills, colloquially called “dead man’s fingers.” You can put your finger in and run around to these clear away.
Lastly, turn the crab on it’s back and remove the apron by pulling down on the flap. On male crabs, the apron looks like the Washington Monument; on females it looks like the Liberty Bell. Either way, it’s not edible, so discard it.
SOFT SHELLS 101
RECIPE: BASIC SOFT SHELL
From Patrick Evans-Hylton
8 soft-shell crabs, dressed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
Prick the legs and claws of each crab with the tines of a fork. Season the crabs with salt and pepper, dredge in the flour, and shake off any excess.
Warm the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium- high heat. Once the butter melts, place the crabs back-side down, working with a few at a time so as not to crowd the skillet.
Cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes, turn, and cook the other side until golden, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Put finished crabs on a serving platter while you cook the rest or keep in a very low oven.
Yields 4 servings
If you’d like my recipes for Southern Twist Tartar Sauce and Fiery Cocktail Sauce email me at PatrickEvansHylton@gmail.
Look for my soft shell crab article in the Virginian-Pilot from Sunday, April 16 for more.
MORE EATS + DRINKS
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