With Chanukah just a few days away, all the fun recipes for entertaining get pulled out. There is a simple reason for this: Chanukah parties are a fun, laid back time to chill with family and friends over the soft glow of the menorah’s candles…and eat copious amounts of fried food. Fried food and cheese, that is. Fried food because of the miracle of the oil burning for 8 days, and cheese to remember the story of Yehudit, the Jewish heroine who sated the Greek general Holofernes with salty cheese followed by wine (to quench his thirst from the cheese) only to decapitate him when he fell asleep (from too much wine). Her bold move reignited the resolve of the Jewish people to continue to fight. Now isn’t that a noble reason to eat cheese?
Photo by Melinda Strauss of www.Kitchen-Tested.com
Being the “cheese-o-phile” that I am (yes, I just made that word up), I’m all for celebrating with cheese. Creating a beautiful cheese board with an array of cheeses and fruits requires no cooking and is always appreciated (…especially by the host with less cooking to do!). But if you are cooking, there are still great hacks to be employed for simpler entertaining. I’m a big fan of quiches…and no, it is not because I’m a woman. Quiches are a great go-to dish for dairy entertaining at any meal – whether for a brunch or a light party entree. You can make them in advance since they reheat well and you can make cute minis like the one in the pic above. All people like mini things. These are no exception. You can make your own quiche crust (which can be made in advance and frozen) or easily use frozen store-bought to save time. For minis, I divide the dough into 6 parts:
Make sure your surface and pin are floured to roll out the dough. Rolling dough is a cathartic process…think of it as a free therapy session. Rolling out the dough can also be done a day in advance of filling. Just refrigerate until ready to fill (or freeze covered and wrapped).
In the meantime, saute your filling. Quiche is a great way to pretend that you are being healthy by adding nutritious greens like Swiss chard to your all-butter, cheesy, zillion-calorie quiche…sort of negates the guilt don’t ya think?
Cheese is the best barrier protection from a soggy crust – think insulation! Place your shredded cheese at the bottom of your quiche shell. A great hack is using a super-flavorful cheese like Sincerely Brigitte’s Garlic Basil cheese because it cuts down on the fresh prep needed by infusing the flavor right into the cheese – this way, no fresh garlic or basil are needed.
Add your filling and custard (usually a mix of milk or cream and eggs) and you are one step away from a quiche even the manliest carnivore will be happy to eat.
I love the color and vibrancy in this recipe. In a sea of brown potato latkes, may these little cuties brighten up your Chanukah spread and may the light of our menorahs brighten up the long, dark night.
Photo by Melinda Strauss of www.Kitchen-Tested.com
Mini-Quiches with Swiss Chard and Sincerely Brigitte Garlic & Basil Cheese
Yield: 6 mini quiches
Flaky piecrust dough (½ recipe below) or packaged frozen mini-tartlet shells
½ bunch Swiss chard
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium or ½ large onion)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs
¾ cup half & half
12 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup grated Sincerely Brigitte Garlic & Basil cheese
Recommended equipment: 6 4½ -inch mini tart pans with removable bottoms
If using flaky pie dough, divide into 6 balls. Using a lightly floured rolling pin and surface, roll each round out to approximately 6” diameter, about 1/8-1/4” thick. Transfer each round to a mini-tart pan and press the dough into the bottom and sides. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
To prepare Swiss chard: Clean and check leaves thoroughly. Cut off long stems from Swiss chard leaves. Chop stems; set aside. Chop leaves into 1-2 inch strips; set aside.
Heat butter in a large frying pan over medium high heat until butter is melted. Add reserved stems, onion, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Sauté for about 5-7 minutes, until onions are translucent and soft. Add reserved chopped chard leaves and sauté until leaves are wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, combine eggs and half & half; whisk until well blended.
To assemble quiches, divide grated Sincerely Brigitte Garlic & Basil cheese amongst prepared tart shells, spreading an even covering over the bottoms. Then spoon a few tablespoons of the Swiss chard mixture evenly over the cheese. Add egg mixture to cover in each tart. Arrange 3-4 tomato halves cut-side up in each tart decoratively. Place mini-quiches on prepared baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes or until the center is completely set. Remove from oven, cool slightly, unmold, and serve.
FLAKY PASTRY DOUGH
Yield: Makes enough for a double-crusted 9” pie or two 9” pie shells.
2 cups flour
2 sticks butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tsp. vinegar
If making the dough by hand: place flour and sugar in a large bowl. Mix to blend. Add the butter and cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Drizzle in the vinegar and iced water 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork and stirring just until large crumbs form and the dough mounds thickly on the fork. Knead for a 1-2 minutes or until dough comes together into a smooth ball.
If using a food processor with a dough blade: place butter, flour and sugar in processor and pulse a few times until the butter is cut into smaller pieces (like pea size). Pulsing rapidly, gradually pour the vinegar and 1 tbsp. of iced water through the feeding tube in a thin stream. Watch closely, adding more iced water 1 tbsp. at a time until the dough forms several large clumps and almost gathers into a ball.
Divide the dough in half. Wrap each half of the dough in plastic wrap. Gently press into a 1-inch-thick disk. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (can be made up to 3 days ahead). Roll out dough as needed for pies, tarts, or quiches on a lightly floured surface.