Monday, March 23, 2015

Mini Quiches to Serve with a Sauvignon Blanc

The Winefest Renaissance 2015 will be held this coming Saturday, March 28th. The date is coming up quickly. While I have more than half the prep done, the rest will be crunched into the last few days as the date approaches. I have written so far about the little Mini Sausage Sliders to pair with a Barbera wine, and then how that wine is no longer available so I switched to a Merlot for that pairing. I wrote about the little Chicken in Mole Sauce on Corn Masa Cakes, to pair with a Zinfandel wine, the Chicken & Mushroom Pate to serve with a Pinot Noir, and Mini English Muffin Pizzas to serve with a Menage a Trois 'Midnight'.
 
Chicken in Mole Sauce  |  Chicken Mushroom Pate  |  English Muffin Pizzas | Pork & Chicken Sausage Sliders

As for the mini sausage sliders, I used ground lamb and used the same seasonings and made regular hamburger sized patties, served on regular sized buns, and they were truly amazing, just FYI!

I selected only one white wine for the tastings, not realizing this until later at which point I could have made a change, but didn't. So I have one Sauvignon Blanc to serve and mused for a while on what to pair with this kind of wine. A Sauvignon Blanc can be made into a fairly austere style or a light, dry but fruity style. Often the flavors of citrus, mineral, herb or grass can be present. Fruit flavor can range from things like crisp apple or pear to lush mango or melon. While sometimes these same flavors are applied to a Chardonnay, the type of wine can be radically different. The Sauvignon Blanc will always be a lighter, drier style than a Chardonnay.

I have had many kinds of Sauvignon Blanc in past, so I am well-conversed with the flavors and variations of style. Obviously, lighter foods will pair much better with this light wine than a heavy roast beef. Chicken and fish are often recommended, as well as most seafood. When I thought about what to pair with this wine, I looked through my wine and food pairing sheets to see what to combine for best presentation. At right is the column for Sauvignon Blanc. At the top are some of the adjectives applied to this kind of wine. Just below the varietal name (Sauvignon Blanc) are some of the alternate names this varietal goes by. Below that are many types of foods that can pair well with this varietal. 

I have a recipe for Artichoke "muffins" or mini quiches that would go well enough with a Sauvignon Blanc, but opted to make substitutes and tweak the recipe to use asparagus, Feta cheese and Prosciutto, to add some salty piquancy. 

Some questions I had to resolve though:

  1. While Prosciutto is not on the list at right, I could "taste" this combination in my mind and it felt right. Still....
  2. Should I just leave Prosciutto out?
  3. Should I make these little quiches crustless, or with a crust?

without a crust, delicious
I went through the recipe and made four separate variations, to determine which way would pair and taste best with the wine:
  • asparagus and Feta quiches without a crust
  • asparagus and Feta quiches with a crust
  • asparagus, Feta and Prosciutto quiches without a crust
  • asparagus, Feta and Prosciutto quiches with a crust
I made a simple pie crust recipe and lined 12 mini cupcake wells in one (24-well) pan, and 12 wells in another (24-well) pan. I scooped in the quiche mixture without Prosciutto into all the wells, both with and without crust in one of the pans. I added Prosciutto to the remaining quiche mixture and scooped that revised mixture into the other 24-well mini cupcake tin, both with and without crust. I baked all of these, opened a bottle of chilled Sauvignon Blanc and had my husband sit with me to taste and test.

We tasted the little quiches in the order I listed them above. The asparagus and Feta quiches without a crust were very good; no complaint. The asparagus and Feta quiches with a crust tasted much better, so this was progress. The asparagus, Feta and Prosciutto quiches without a crust tasted even better still. Even without a crust, the Prosciutto and its saltiness made a whopping difference in flavor and went so wonderfully with the wine, just as I had hoped. Once we got to the asparagus, Feta and Prosciutto quiches with a crust, we both groaned in acknowledgment of how wonderful the flavors melded and how wonderfully these paired with the wine.

Mini Asparagus Quiches with Feta and Prosciutto

I opted to use the recipe for these little mini quiches with the crust and with the prosciutto. That said, if you need a gluten free appetizer, these are wonderful without the crust. If you need no meat in them, eliminate the prosciutto. If you do not line the little mini cupcake wells with a pie crust, first spray all the wells with a little nonstick spray before baking. The rest of the instructions are the same.

Mini Asparagus Quiches with Feta and Prosciutto

makes 48

CRUST:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup lard or shortening
1 teaspoon salt
5 to 8 tablespoons water, or as needed

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Cut in the lard or shortening until the mixture is in nice crumbs. With a fork, stir in the water, using 5 tablespoons first and then the rest only if needed to bring together the mass into a ball. Work lightly with the dough to bring it together.

Divide the dough into 48 little balls (I measured them at 13 to 14 grams apiece, about 1-inch in diameter). Set the balls into the wells of two 24-well mini cupcake tins. Press the little balls of dough to line the mini wells completely, right up to the top. Refrigerate for an hour.

Mini Asparagus Quiches with Feta and Prosciutto

FILLING:
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
a few grinds of fresh black pepper
6 eggs
3 scallions
1 tablespoon capers in brine, drained, minced

1 teaspoon lime zest
8 ounces Feta cheese, grated
5 - 6 ounces Prosciutto, fat removed, minced finely

Rinse the asparagus and break off the hard bottom ends. Slice the asparagus thinly, across. Toss the little asparagus bits with the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Heat a nonstick skillet and toss the asparagus mixture in the hot pan for about 1 minute, just to take the rawness off. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until well blended and add in the scallions, capers, lime zest, grated Feta and Prosciutto. Add in the cooled asparagus and mix well. Spoon the mixture into all the pie-crust-lined, chilled mini cupcake wells. A small "cookie scoop" works well to keep portions all the same. Bake the little quiches for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the filling is set and the crusts are golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.

NOTE: This filling could be used to fill a larger pie pan and baked. The pie pan or quiche pan can be fitted with a pie crust or not. If not, spray the pan with nonstick spray before baking. This is a quiche type of filling, so test for doneness by inserting a knife tip between the center and the edge of the pie.

MAKE AHEAD VARIATIONS

This recipe is not as conducive to making ahead, if using the crust. With the crust, the farthest in advance I would recommend is one day. Set the little quiches onto a baking sheet to reheat for about 10 or more minutes at 350 degrees. 

However, the crusts can be made, lining the mini cupcake wells, covered tightly and frozen for up to a week prior to filling and baking as in the recipe above.

I would hesitate to mix all the filling ingredients too far in advance of making these quiches, however:
  • the eggs can be whisked and kept in a sealed bowl, ready to mix with the other ingredients when ready
  • the Feta can be grated (on a larger holed grater) and stored int he refrigerator for up to 2 days before adding to the mixture.
  • the Prosciutto can be prepped and chopped and kept in a little zip-top baggie in the refrigerator up to 3 days in advance.

Without the crusts, the little quiches can be made 2 or 3 days ahead and reheated for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Without the crust, I have also frozen these and reheated them in the oven.


My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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