Onion Scapes & Mushroom Quiche

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I literally trawled the internet today and asked myself, why am I maintaining this blog. It's a question which pops up every other time I check this account. Is it helpful to anyone? Does anyone actually read this blog with any intent to make anything? Has anyone actually made any of these things I ramble on about? Do you have feedback to share with me? Has any of these things actually tasted good? Or are all these just figments of my imagination?

Perhaps it's my writing, it doesn't prompt reading. Perhaps it's the theme, it is too dreary. Perhaps it's my food, it looks too unappealing. Perhaps it's the ingredients, I use out of the way things too much. Perhaps it's the recipes, really, are they really that complicated?

I've had these doubts since the time I started the blog. Perhaps, its those doubts which translate into reality. Perhaps perhaps and perhaps, oh these doubts... why do they taunt me so much?


I read recently, you can never really remember the beginning of a dream. So I rolled back the years in my head and tried remembering really, what made me start this blog. Of course, there were folks asking for recipes. There always are. But I'd never really felt compelled to document anything. What really made me start? I can only think that I looked upon it as a way to start writing again, a place to jot down stuff, all those random stream of thoughts that run through my head. Well food thoughts actually. And I remembered these onion scapes. 

I will always remember onion scapes with fondness. It was in 2012, I took a year off. Think of it as a gap year for someone who'd always been either studying or working. I did go for a course in 2012 too, but more of a fun course at Le Cordon Bleu. When you're single and really are always wondering what next in life, sometimes it feels good to take some time off and sort yourself out. Not that I've finished sorting myself in anyway. But it did help that year. I went back to my folks in Kerala, spent more time there in the house I grew up in than I had in years. I enjoyed spending time with my mum, hanging around the kitchen, watching movies together, trips to SM Street, a pit stop at Kalandans for Sharjah, umpteen trips to the tailor who never ever had my mum's stuff ready. She enjoyed having me around, driving her around, taking her places where my dad would definitely have said no to. She'd try and wake me up in the mornings to go to church. Occasionally she'd succeed and we'd walk to our local parish church. The tiny stores down the street would just be opening up on our way back. We'd almost always stop for bananas, eggs, milk, a few veggies. Daily shopping for a running household. Something I'd never experienced after leaving home.


On one of those days, I spotted these pretty stalks with tiny white flowers. Armed with my food experiences in a country not my own, I was ready to pounce on any new ingredient I saw. I insisted, oh how I insisted, I wanted Mum to make something with this. She resisted for a while, said I wouldn't like it, but gave in to my continued cries of 'let's try, let's atleast try it'. It came out as a thoran, sprinkled with copious amounts of freshly grated coconut. The sting of the onion tamed by the mellow flavours of the coconut, gently melding into something so tantalising, it was something I looked forward to having for lunch almost every other day. So much so my parents now look at an onion scape and say 'Vava likes it'. They can't think of either of their other children who haven't even tried or have so fallen in love with these babies.

Onion scapes are not always available. They are quite seasonal and appear around November, December. Luckily for me when I went home for Christmas, I spotted them again at the store and pounced on them. Mum introduced her other children also to this new greens, though I don't think either of them took to it as much as I have. I brought another whole bunch and brought it back with me to Bombay despite Mum's warning of them being a bit too much to be carried back.


I had plans, major plans for my tiny bunch of scapes. The dream of a quiche with the zing of the scapes mingling with an eggy custard and earthy mushrooms took root. But, as always I revert to my roots when it comes to something that so quintessentially reminds me of home. I made thoran. Again. and Again. Till all I was left with were two scapes and nothing else.

Quiches are easy to make. They are also quite heavy what with all the butter, cream, eggs and cheese. I don't make it often cos it seems like too much of an indulgence for one person. But the simplicity and ease with which the dish comes together makes it worthwhile. They keep well in the fridge, but my 'generous' self almost always finds consumers to finish them off.

To my mind, the only thing that would make anyone think twice about a quiche is the pie crust. Fairly easy, for people in countries where you get pastry crust off the shelf, in India, we are still quite far away from such things. A good thing too. We have enough processed and unhealthy stuff around. To me, a pie crust should be flaky, buttery, with just the right bite that doesn't immediately crumble apart and make a mess around. And it's easy enough to achieve as long as you use chilled butter, chilled flour, chilled water, chill the base, basically chill chill chill everything. Dice the cold butter into small cubes and rub/cut it in gently to flour. Add a bit of water to bring it all together and chill in fridge for 15 minutes before using. The chilled butter in the oven, melts, creating air pockets which makes the crust so tender. So yes, chill chill chill.



Ingredients

Pie Crust

150g all purpose flour
100g cold butter diced
2 tbsp chilled water

Filling

200g mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3 garlic cloves crushed
2 onion scapes, cut in rings
1/2 yellow pepper diced (optional)
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
salt & pepper

Method

Pie Crust

Rub butter and flour together gently till it resembles coarse flour (looks like puttu podi for malayalees)
Bring it together to a ball. Add water a teaspoon at a time till it just holds together.
Flatten into a disc, cover in cling wrap and chill in fridge for atleast 15 mins. 

Pre heat oven to 200C and keep an 8" pie tin ready

After 15 mins, roll out the dough and lay it over the pie tin. Press it gently into the edges of the tin. Scrimp/Cut the overhang.
Cover the base with parchment paper and weigh it down with pie weights/beans/rice and bake in oven for 20 mins.
Remove beans & parchment paper and continue baking for another 10 mins.

Filling

Meanwhile, in a skillet, sweat the mushrooms with garlic and a pinch of salt, till the liquid has completely dried up.
Sprinkle the cooked mushrooms, chopped onion scapes & yellow peppers on the baked pie crust base.
Whisk egg, cream & milk together in a bowl. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Pour this over the base.
Bake at 200C for half hour or till the custard is just set


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