I’ve held associations of quiche with sweet chilled tea and triangle-cut cucumber cream cheese sandwiches. A vibe of lacquered perfection. I have no idea where this came from. But I was wrong.
Instead picture eight friends sitting around two uneven tables covered by mismatched tablecloths, surrounded by an unusual collection of dishes.
Vegetables with edamame dip. An oozy Canadian chèvre called Grey Owl, with a fuzzy slate-colored rind. Lasagna. Foie gras with morels. Quiche. And a layered chocolate cake.
Or picture eating quiche for a solid week for breakfast. Both happened.
Tartine’s quiche recipe, of the famed San Francisco bakery, feels like home. The crust—its gently slumping sides shown here resemble a craggy coastal line—is buttery, flaky, and rich. Ribbons of beet greens appear when it’s sliced into wedges, revealing an eggy filling so light and smooth, it’s almost custardy. Adding in a tub of crème fraîche might have helped with that.
Anyway, this quiche connected a memory of my mother’s soft-boiled eggs. A few weeks ago I saw her lightly boil an egg, set it in an egg cup, tap-tap-tap the top of its shell, and gently peel off just enough to create jagged eggshell edges.
I’ve eaten many boiled eggs from this woman. I remember them being soft and delicate. I remember dunking narrow strips of buttered toast deep into the yolk. I remember feeling cared for. I do not remember ever noticing the uneven lines that came from unhinging the tiptop of the eggshell. Those rough edges were always there though.
This intensely fragile custard and its rich, buttery shell cause a similar hypnotization. When simple things are very good, craggy edges and slightly sloping crusts don’t matter much.
Beet Greens Quiche
Adapted from Tartine, by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson
for the crust
(this makes 2 crusts, save one for another use)
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup ice water (measured after the ice is removed)
3 cups plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 5 tbsp unsalted butter, very cold and cut into 1 inch pieces
for the custard
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup (8 ounces) crème fraîche
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp salt
8-10 grinds of black pepper
1 tbsp thyme, finely chopped (or other soft herb)
1 cup raw beet greens, cut into thin strips (chiffonade)
In a small bowl, combine the salt and water and stir. Place the flour in a food processor and scatter the butter on top; pulse until crumbs the size of walnuts and peas form. Add in the water and pulse for a few seconds more (the dough should come together, but it will be shaggy).
On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in two. Shape each ball into a 1-inch thick disk; wrap in plastic wrap and chill 2-24 hours.
To roll out the dough, place it on a lightly floured surface and roll it into a circle 1/8 inch thick (do not roll back and forth, instead roll from the center out, turning the dough as you go). Dust with extra flour, as needed, to prevent sticking. Gently roll the dough up on your rolling pin and over a 9 or 10-inch pie or tart pan (it should hang over 1-2 inches). Gently ease the dough into the pan. Trim it to a ½ inch overhang and crimp it, or trim the dough even with a tart pan. (Repeat with the remaining dough and reserve for another use.)
Chill the dough 30-60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line the shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the shell looks light brown (lift up the parchment paper). Remove the parchment paper and bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl make the custard by whisking 1 egg and the flour together until smooth. Whisk in the remaining eggs. In a large bowl, beat the crème fraîche until smooth; add in the milk and whisk until well combined.
Through a strainer or mesh sieve, pour the egg mixture into the milk mixture. Whisk in the salt, pepper, and thyme. Refrigerate until ready to bake.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Add the beet greens into the custard and pour it into the prepared pastry shell. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven to 325 degrees and bake for 30-40 minutes longer, until the center of the quiche is set up (it should not jiggle if jostled); it should feel fairly firm to the touch.
Let cool on a wire rack and serve slightly warm, or at room temperature, or slightly chilled. To rewarm the quiche, cover with foil and reheat at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Makes 8 reasonable slices
-Any kind of dark greens would be lovely here, kale, swiss chard, etc. I had approximately 1 million pounds of beet greens from canning a few weeks ago that needed a home.
-My crusts tend to slump a bit. I’m pretty sure it’s my oven (let’s blame it anyway). It’s not the recipe. Either way, it didn't matter.
-You can refrigerate the shell overnight, before it is baked, if tightly wrapped.
-The unfilled baked pie shell will keep at room temperature tightly wrapped for a day or two or in the freezer for up to two weeks.