recipe: fava bean and tarragon quiche

Of all the foodstuffs I learned to love in Paris, few have infiltrated my own cooking repertoire quite like the quiche. Or I should say, the "tart," as despite the more technical definition (quiche = savory, tart = sweet), French people often use the term tarte for any dish with a crust.

One particular tarte that sparked my passion for these one dish wonders was a super-seasonal fava bean and tarragon version at Tartes Kluger in Paris. I'm not sure if it was the first time I tried favas, but it certainly is the first that I can remember. I can vividly conjure the distinct aroma of butter and tarragon, and the almost impossible creaminess of the favas juxtaposed with the flakiness of the tart shell. So when I found myself with a bounty of favas this past week, I knew just what to do.

My favorite recent experiments with quiche have all used "alternative grain" crusts, so this time I opted for an all-butter crust featuring the mildly nutty flavor of millet. After a quick blind bake, the rest of the process is a total breeze—that is, if you have already pre-shelled the favas, which I gladly did while enjoying the Dan Barber episode of Chef's Table on Netflix. (I digress, but the whole series should be on your must-watch list.) Anyway, onto the recipe!

Fava Bean and Tarragon Quiche

Gluten-Free Millet Crust**

  • 1.5-2 cups millet flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • 2-3 oz butter
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • pinch salt

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 F. Place butter in glass tart dish and slide into the oven. Once the butter is melted, carefully remove tart dish from oven and place on a towel on your kitchen counter. Add water and salt to butter. Shake out 1-1.5 cups of millet flour into tart dish and mix everything together with a fork. The texture should come together slightly wet and moldable. Add more millet gradually and mix with your fingers until still moldable, but just on the edge of crumbly. At that point, press the crust into the shell (it doesn't really matter if it goes all the way up the sides - just make sure you get the bottom fully covered). Dock the crust with a fork and slide into the oven to blind bake. Remove after about 10 minutes, when crust seems a touch drier/more golden in color. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before adding filling.

Fava and Tarragon Filling

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk (I used hemp milk, but any milk will work)
  • 1.5 cups favas, shelled and thick white skin removed
  • 2 sprigs tarragon, stemmed
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp white pepper and coarse sea salt

Instructions: Crack eggs. Beat with hemp milk, white pepper and salt. Arrange shelled favas and tarragon sprigs in cooled tart shell. Pour egg mixture into tart shell, and agitate favas around a bit with fork to evenly distribute. Place into the oven and cook for 30-35 minutes on 350 F, or until egg has fully set. Serve warm to just above room temperature.

**My freestyle crust technique is entirely inspired by my Parisian home cooking mentor, Paule Caillat. If you want her official (i.e. measured out) recipe, David Lebovitz breaks it down step by step.

technique: green your grains

If you know me, then you know I don't really cook with "recipes." Rather, I like to collect general principles of cooking, adapting them to different flavors and ingredients as necessary. Of course, one can learn such techniques from a recipe, which brings me to Rick Bayless.

"Greened Grains" in a rice bowl—freekeh cooked in a sorrel/ramp broth

"Greened Grains" in a rice bowl—freekeh cooked in a sorrel/ramp broth

I had the happy opportunity to meet RIck Bayless through my work at the Institute of Culinary Education, and let me tell you—he knows his stuff. Being something of a novice in the field of Mexican cuisine, I felt inspired to host a dinner party inspired by my meeting with Bayless, which is how I discovered the magic of poblano rice

It's a simple process. Cook your peppers in broth, blend that mixture until smooth, and then cook rice in the poblano broth. Though basic, it's a totally *genius* idea, because it infuses a side dish with such bold flavor that it transcends the bland status of "starch." 

I've since applied this process of "greening my grains" to a whole slew of ingredients. I find this technique especially useful in spring, when I tend to overbuy seasonal ingredients like garlic scapes, ramps or sorrel—not to mention those times when I've got quite a bit of leftover herbs. For the ultimate no-fuss version of this technique, I blend up leftover greens (that might otherwise go to waste!) with a touch of water and freeze. Then, when I'm ready to make a big pot of grains for the week (see: freekeh, rice, quinoa, etc.), I'll toss in my pre-frozen portion of greens during the standard cooking process for said grain.

Whether you're topping your grains with a runny egg, mixing them into a rice bowl, or sticking to a side dish strategy, this sustainable technique is a smart way to make the most of fresh produce that might otherwise go to waste. Most importantly, it's a simple way to make everyday meals just a little more exciting. 

recipe: italian stuffed artichokes

In every family, there are a handful of simple, soulful dishes that evoke the essence of home. For me, there is no single meal that reminds me more of childhood than my mother's stuffed artichokes. 

My fondness for this technique has only grown the farther I've lived from home. (For example, when I lived in Paris, I tried this recipe with the gorgeous spherical artichokes in the greenmarkets. Sadly, it didn't taste like a thing.) What you want is the classic green, slightly elongated artichokes found in most American grocery stores, which offer a much stronger flavor. I promise, it's well worth the effort.

Ingredients:

  • 2 artichokes
  • 1/2 cup croutons (or toasted, roughly chopped breadcrumbs)
  • 2-3 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic clove
  • olive oil and salt, to taste
  • fresh parsley, optional

Instructions:

  1. Heat a medium pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Remove artichoke stems from bulb and peel.
  3. Trim the top quarter to third of the leaves on the artichoke bulb.
  4. Rinse the artichoke bulbs and stems and place in boiling water for 10-15 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, crush croutons, mince garlic, and chop parsley (optional).
  6. Remove stem and bulb from boiling water (reserve water). Chop stem into small pieces and mix together with croutons, parmesan, garlic, parsley and a pinch of salt.
  7. Stuff artichoke bulbs with stem, crouton, garlic, parmesan and parsley mixture.
  8. Place stuffed artichokes upright in pot (water should come nearly to the top of artichokes, but no higher than the tops—remove water from pot as necessary). 
  9. Cover artichokes and cook on a simmer for 75 to 90 minutes. (Check water periodically and add more if the level in the pot gets below the halfway mark on the artichokes).
  10. Check artichoke leaves for tenderness. Plate in bowl, spoon over 1-2 cups of artichoke broth. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.