One of my favorite dishes at a little place in North Carolina called Neo Monde is called Mejadra. Mejadra, aka: lentils, rice and fried shallots.This, became my love for what I called foreign food, but for millions was a staple. Blending spices and flavors to arrive at just the right scent, not to powerful,not to blah. Then there was lamb. Eat lamb? Why would I do that? They were cute balls of fluff in fields across lands of green according to the television. That is until I ate my first shawarma and learned I was eating lamb. Those little white poof balls were good, no, incredible! Lamb had flavor, fat and if not overcooked melted in your mouth better than any m&m. Thus, my love affair with middle eastern food began, and continued. My little world of pizza, spaghetti, mac n' cheese, fried rice and cheese pancakes had been shaken. I began to seek out how to books on creating my own middle eastern food. I met a friend from Lebanon who introduced me to every Arabic market in town. I discovered the Jerusalem Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi which pushed me beyond my limits. I searched out spice shops near and far the way a kid looks for candy shops and asks to go to just one more. Cooking with spices is like playing with legos you never know what your gonna build until your finished. Thus I arrived at this Lamb quiche which will bring your taste buds to their peak. Happy Brunch Lunch or Dinner!
This Quiche is inspired from the Jerusalem Cookbook Recipe Stuffed Eggplant with Lamb and Pinenuts
45 ml olive oil/3 TBSP
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 TBSP sweet paprika
1 TBSP ground cinnamon
1 tsp Aleppo pepper
2 medium onions/ 340 g in total/ finely chopped
1 lb/ 500 grams ground lamb
7 TBSP/50 grams pine nuts
2/3 oz/20 grams flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tsp tomato paste
8 oz feta cheese
1 tsp sugar
Eggs: 3-4 large
Sour cream or Creme Fraîche: 3-4 large heaping Tablespoons
Salt:(kosher) 1 tsp
Pepper: (fresh ground) 1/4 tsp
10 oz (2& 1/2 cups)f All purpose non-bleached flour- scooped and leveled
6 oz (1 & 1/2 sticks) softened butter
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
2 oz ( 3 to 4 tablespoons) water
Instructions for Crust:
Sift or whisk instead the flour and the salt in a bowl.
Cut the butter in small dices.
Mix quickly the flour and the butter with the Tips of your fingers
Add water one tablespoon at a time, until dough resembles crumbs.
Do not mix the dough for more than 7 min, otherwise the dough will break and it will be impossible to form a ball.
When the dough is smooth and homogeneous, put this ball in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before rolling.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit or 230 Celsius.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it rest until you can easily cut the dough in half.
Butter inside of the quiche pan using softened butter - Make sure to completely cover the inside
Dust flour inside of quiche pan, tapping out excess flour.
Rolling out the dough:
Dust flour upon a flat surface and using a rolling pin dusted with flour begin to roll out the dough. You can make the crust as thick or thin as you like depending on what other ingredients you will be putting inside of the quiche. While rolling out your crust it is a good idea to turn the crust over onto the other side. The rolling pin works well for turning the crust over. This will allow you to make sure that your crust is not sticking to the flat surface. Continue to dust with flour as needed.
After crust is rolled out to desired thickness (I prefer thin), roll the dough onto the rolling pin and unroll into prepared crust pan. This can be tricky but just think of it as rolling up a blanket then unrolling with excess dough laying over the sides of the pan. Flatten crust into pan until all sides and bottom of the pan are covered. Then using a knife, cut off excess dough. Next take a fork and poke holes using fork prongs into bottom of crust until bottom of crust is covered with holes.
Fill quiche with dried beans to weigh down crust. I use a cheese cloth filled with black beans. After oven has preheated place crust inside of oven on middle rack for 10 minutes. Remove crust from the oven. Remove beans and let crust cool while continuing preparation of quiche.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan. Mix together the cumin, paprika, Aleppo pepper and ground cinnamon and half of this spice mix to the pan, along with the onions. Cook over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, stirring often before adding the lamb, pine nuts, parsley, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and some black pepper. Continue to cook and stir for another 8 minutes, until the meat is cooked.
Making the Quiche:
Combine the eggs, cream, salt and pepper. I use a hand held blender, but you can also whisk by hand. After blending together it should be a light yellow in consistency, like the color of eggnog. You should not see any dark yolk or white cream on the sides. If it is too light in color, you may need to add the 4th egg. If it is too yellow in color, you may need to add a little more cream.
Whisk in one Tablespoon of feta cheese to blended eggs and cream. Set aside the rest of the cheese.
Add lamb mixture to the empty crust.
Next pour the blended mixture of eggs/cream into quiche pan. This should fill the crust shell about halfway or a little more.
Sprinkle remaining feta over the blended egg mixture.
In a 400 degrees Fahrenheit oven place quiche pan on a baking sheet to prevent spillage and leave in oven for 25 minutes. You will see the quiche "pop" or puff up, this is a good thing!
Before removing quiche check using a knife if the quiche is cooked all the way through. If the knife after inserted in the middle comes out clean your quiche is done. If not give it 2-3 minutes more and check again. Continue until your knife comes out clean. Remove quiche and let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.
You can make your crust the day before and still add your filling the next day.
Serve quiche warm or cold for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
No rolling pin? No problem use a bottle of wine, then drink it later with your quiche.
Place dried beans inside of cheese cloth and tie with cooking twine then place inside of crust. This helps decrease the mess of trying to remove the beans! The cheesecloth should not burn, since it is only 10 minutes at a time, but keep an eye on it the first time.
Use an aluminum pie pan from the dollar store when you are bringing your crust to a party. No need to worry about your favorite dish getting lost.
If using a quiche pan, place it on a baking sheet to prevent crust pieces falling onto bottom of oven. Less oven cleaning!
Make sure oven is at proper temperature. Do not rely on preheat button. Invest in an oven thermometer.
10' Quiche pan
Light mixed green salad with vinaigrette
Red Pinot noir or Syrah