Speaking of Savory 'Cakes'...
Surprising flavors abound this week
I am a big fan of anything Kerri writes — have you read her ode to her mom, Anna Rae? — and often take inspiration from her leftovers posts. Last week’s piece on turning leftovers into pancakes was no exception, but since I didn’t have leftovers (shocking!!!), I turned to Mark’s Baked White Bean Cakes, which make good use of things lying around in the pantry. Then I got on a bean kick, and made a chickpea soup that basically is also a salad, what with all the greens I used (note that it calls for spinach; I used kale); plus a fish with unexpected (to me, anyway!) ingredients, and Mark’s vegan quiche, which is a showstopper … it just works, somehow.
Mostly Vegetable Vegan Quiche
Makes: 4 to 8 servings
Time: 1 ½ hours
Tofu is the obvious vegan stand-in for many recipes, but here a tart made mostly of vegetables is held together with just a little chickpea batter, which itself is delicious.
1 recipe Savory Vegan Piecrust (below), fitted into a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan, chilled
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the top
1 onion, sliced
Salt and pepper
1 ½ pounds chopped cooked vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, mushrooms, corn, potatoes, or a combination)
1 cup chickpea flour (besan)
2 ½ cups vegetable stock, or water
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1. Prebake the crust (see below). Start the filling while the crust is in the oven. When the crust starts to turn golden, set the oven temperature to 400°F. Cool the crust slightly on a rack.
2. Put the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion and some salt and pepper. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes; adjust the heat so it doesn’t brown too much or crisp up. Add the vegetables, stir, turn off the heat, and let cool slightly.
3. Whisk together the chickpea flour and 1 cup of the stock in a medium bowl. In a medium saucepan, bring the remaining 1 ½ cups stock to a boil with the turmeric. Slowly stir in the chickpea flour mixture. Once all the flour mixture has been incorporated, set the heat to low and continue to stir continuously until the mixture becomes thick and glossy, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vegetables.
4. Put the pie pan on a baking sheet. Spoon the filling (it will be very thick) into the crust. Bake until almost set, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, brush with oil, and return to the oven until the top is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack; serve warm or at room temperature.
Savory Vegan Piecrust
Makes: 1 double crust for a 9-inch pie
Time: About 20 minutes, plus time to chill
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup olive oil
8 tablespoons ice water, plus more if necessary
1. Put the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the oil and pulse until it is just barely blended and crumbly. If you prefer to make the dough by hand, combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Use your fingers to work the oil into the flour mixture until it’s just barely blended.
2. Add 8 tablespoons ice water. Process for about 5 seconds, or mix by hand, just until the dough begins to clump together, adding 1 or 2 tablespoons more ice water if necessary (or a little more flour if you add too much water).
3. Divide the dough in half and put each half into a quart-size plastic zipper bag. Press the dough into a disk, taking care not to overheat, overwork, or knead the dough; use just enough pressure to hold it together. Freeze the dough for 10 minutes or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling. If you’re making a single-crust pie, freeze one disk for another time; wrapped tightly, the dough will keep for several months. Defrost it overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding.
4. Sprinkle a clean work surface with a large pinch of flour. Sprinkle a bit more flour on top of the dough. Use a rolling pin to firmly and evenly roll the dough, starting in the center and working outward, rotating a quarter-turn each time to make an even circle. If the dough is too stiff, let it rest for a few minutes. Sprinkle a bit of flour on the dough and rolling pin as needed to prevent sticking.
5. When the dough circle is about 2 inches larger than the pie plate and less than 1/8 inch thick, it’s ready. Roll the dough up halfway onto the pin so it’s easy to move, then center it over the pie plate and unroll it into place. Press the dough into the contours of the dish without squishing or stretching it. Trim the excess dough to about 1/2 inch all around.
6. If you’re making a single-crust pie, tuck the edges under themselves so the dough is thicker on the rim than it is inside; if you’re making a double-crust pie, leave the edges untucked for now. Put the pie plate in the fridge until the crust feels cool to the touch before filling or prebaking, at least 15 minutes. For a top crust, roll the second disk into a circle on a flat baking sheet (dusted with flour) and put that in the fridge too; then, when you’re ready to assemble, place the crust over the filling, trim the edge, and crimp the top and bottom crust edges to seal. Cut a few slits in the crust to let steam escape.
Pre-baking a crust: There are several reasons to prebake — “blind bake” — a pie or tart crust. Prebaking minimizes shrinking and helps produce a nicely shaped crust. It also ensures that the crust cooks through (without overcooking the filling), giving it ideal flavor and color; browned crusts look and taste better than pale ones. And a prebaked crust is less likely to become soggy when the filling is particularly moist. Finally, when the filling is precooked or served raw, you have no other choice than to prebake.
To prebake, you need butter or oil, foil, and a cup or 2 of raw rice, dried beans, or pie weights. (All of these can be reused for this purpose.) The weight helps prevent the crust from shrinking and bubbling with air pockets while it’s baking. They aren’t absolutely essential — you can prick the bubbles with a fork as they appear throughout the baking — but they make things easier, and your crust will look better.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Be sure the crust is pressed firmly into the pan, adequately pricked with a fork, and well chilled before baking.
Butter or oil one side of a piece of foil large enough to cover the crust; press the foil onto the crust, greased side down. Weight the foil with a pile of rice, dried beans, or pie weights. Bake for 12 minutes; remove from the oven and remove the weights and foil. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking the crust until it starts to turn golden brown, another 10 minutes or so. Continue baking until the crust is completely golden brown if the pie’s filling requires no additional baking; cool on a rack before filling. Or cool, fill, and finish baking according to the individual recipe.