Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ender's Game Brunch

The most recent selection that my book club read was the sci-fi classic, Ender's Game. And we planned it so that we could finish reading it just in time for the major motion picture release. Before attending the movie matinee, we met at our host's house (my friend, Janice), for a wonderful book and space-themed brunch. Here are a few pics for your enjoyment...

This is the tablescape, complete with a space mobile dangling from the chandelier! (I was assigned to bring a quiche, pictured on the lower right, closest to the camera.)

There was a birthday cake for Ender (tee hee). And can you just see the packet of freeze-dried astronaut ice cream next to it? (It was gawd-awful, but amusing as table decor.)

And brunch was served on cafeteria-style trays, just like in battle school. Ha!

Pictured clockwise from the top left: Breakfast potatoes, strata with potatoes and red peppers, cornbread casserole with sausage, apples and maple syrup, the quiche I made with Cajun turkey, Swiss chard, onion, and three cheeses, and a ham and cheese croissant from some fancy bakery in Syracuse, I believe. There was also a lovely fruit salad for "dessert" (not pictured).

As for my contribution to the affair, I didn't make anything space-themed or even related to the book. It was brunch, and Janice wanted to serve quiche, but she was going to be out of town until the day of the party. So I volunteered to make one. I chose the following recipe from my favorite pie guru, Ken Haedrich, but I substituted some Cajun turkey from the deli, because that's what I had on hand. I will definitely try it with the sausage next time. Obviously, this is a dish that can--and should--be adapted in many ways.

Swiss Chard and Smoked Turkey Sausage Quiche
(Source: adapted from The Pie Academy)

Basic pie dough, refrigerated (I cheated and used a refrigerator roll-out crust)

1/2 to 3/4 pound Swiss chard, stems removed
8 ounces smoked turkey sausage (or diced Cajun-spiced turkey from the deli)
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups half-and-half or light cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
1/2 cup each of 2 or 3 cheeses, including Swiss, Fontina, or Feta plus Parmesan

On a sheet of lightly floured wax paper, roll the pastry into a 13" circle. Invert the pastry over a 9 1/2" - 10" quiche pan or tart pan, center, and peel off the paper. Gently tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, then pinch the edge into an upstanding rim. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400°. Tear off a 16" long sheet of aluminum foil and press it into the firmed shell so it fits like a glove. To prevent the pie shell from puffing as it bakes, fill the foil about 3/4 full with dried beans, banking them up the sides. Bake on the center oven rack for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°. Remove the shell from the oven, then carefully lift out the foil and beans. Using a fork, poke the bottom pastry 6 or 7 times; the holes will keep the pastry from puffing. Put the shell back in the oven and bake another 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a rack. (Plug the holes with dabs of cream cheese, or put shavings of cheese over the holes and let it melt there, so the filling doesn't run out.)

Reset the oven to 375°. Rinse the chard, remove the ribs (and discard), then coarsely chop the leaves (you don't have to dry them) and set aside. Dice about a quarter of the sausage; set aside. Melt the butter in a large skillet or saute pan and stir in the onion. Saute over medium heat for five minutes, then stir in only the diced sausage and garlic. Saute another two minutes, stirring, then add the chard. Cover and saute/steam for five to eight minutes, stirring often, until the chard is soft and cooked down. Remove from the heat and leave uncovered. While that cools, slice the remaining turkey sauce into 1/4"-thick rounds. Set aside. Whisk the eggs in a medium-size bowl until evenly blended. Whisk in the half-and-half, mustard, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Set aside.

To assemble the quiche, sprinkle one of the cheeses over the bottom of the tart shell (but save the Parmesan for the top.) Using a large fork - which will give you good control - place half of the chard here and there in the shell. Add half of the sausage. If you're using three cheeses, sprinkle on another one now; otherwise wait. Slowly ladle about half of the custard over the filling. Repeat with the remaining chard, sausage, and custard. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake the quiche on the center oven rack for about 40 minutes, until the top is light golden brown and the filling is somewhat puffy. Transfer to a rack and cool at least 30 minutes before serving. Makes ten or more servings.

No comments: