Tattletales: Rustic Farm Egg Quiche with Coho Salmon & Chive

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On Troller Point's boat, the F/V Ocean Oasis, there are 4 coil shaped levers set over the rigging lines.  The captain and deckhands watch the levers for the slightest bit of movement, indicating a fish may have latched onto the lewer deep in the ocean below.  They're called tattletales; fitting for the simple instruments that spill the beans on the fish waiting below.  But it's not as simple as it seems.  The movements are small, subtle, nuanced.  It takes a trained eye to distinguish between one indicating a caught salmon, and one moved by the wind or rippling or sloshing waves.  This quiche on the other hand, takes far less training.  

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Things aren't always as they seem.  Quiche is one of those homey recipes I love having in my back pocket.  It's my go-to in a pinch - if I find out guests are coming over for lunch the morning of, or if I want something I can make ahead of time - I call on quiche.  If I'm even more pinched for time, enter the frittata - which for me, is the quiche below sans the crust.  Ideally I'd serve it with some crusty bread and a salad mixed from whatever was fresh in the garden (a handful of bright herbs dressed in salt & olive oil do wonders).  But if you have time - make your own crust (always make extra to freeze), and call it quiche.  If it weren't for all the rich omega-3's in the filling I'd probably eat it alone.  Or roll it out thin, spread on a bit of quince marmalade, sprinkle with sliced almonds and bake.  Topped with thick greek yogurt I might even call it breakfast.  

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This is one of those recipes that is a canvas - for whatever bits and bobs you have in your garden, on the windowsill, or produce drawer.  Salmon pairs nicely with numerous alliums.  Chives could easily be substituted with leeks, shallots, or if you're lucky enough, the thinnest strands of green garlic.  The goat cheese could be cream cheese, or left out and served with a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream.  Nothing nuanced, subtle, or complicated about it.  Just good, simple, fresh food.  I'll leave the nuances to the tattletales. 

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Rustic Farm Egg Quiche with Coho Salmon & Chives

Quiche is quintessential brunch fare in my book.  It's my favorite thing to prepare when family is in town as it's easily made in advance and great after it sits for a bit.  You can make it even easier (and gluten free) by nixing the pastry shell and preparing it in a skillet as a frittata.  Be sure to heavily butter or oil the pan before pouring in the egg mixture if you go this route.  Otherwise bake as indicated below.  

Serves 5-6

1/2 pate brisee recipe below (par-baked), or prepared tart/pie shell

4 oz salmon trimmings

5 farm fresh eggs

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup loosely packed finely chopped chives

4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Freshly ground black pepper

If you're baking your own pastry shell, follow the recipe below, using a 9-inch round pie pan.  While you are par-baking the shell, place the salmon trimmings on a piece of foil with a little olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 6 minutes, or until just cooked.  Remove from the oven and flake into pieces.  

Leave the oven on or preheat to 350 degrees if you're using a prepared shell.  Beat together the eggs in a bowl with the cream and salt.  Add the chives and salmon.  Pour into pie shell and dot evenly with goat cheese.  Finish with a few cracks of black pepper.  Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 45-50 minutes, or until set in the center, and puffed and brown.  Serve immediately or at room temperature.         

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Pate Brisee Dough

Makes 1 double sided crust or two 9-10 inch tart shells (freeze extra dough by wrapping tightly in plastic wrap)

1 cup unsalted butter (cold - this is key)

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tspn salt

1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Cut up cold butter into small cubes (I aim for 16 from one stick).  Mix salt into flour.  Toss in salted flour and work with your fingertips as little as possible to blend in the flour.  Don't fuss about getting even crumbles- it's fine to have some sandy bits and some chunky bits- that's what makes the crust flaky.

Mix in cold water, just enough to pull the butter and flour mixture together, and quickly mound together until it just holds.  Don't overwork the dough.  If it doesn't look perfect that's totally fine, you can patch it up with a little water once in the shell.  If you have time, chill the dough in the refrigerator before rolling (wrap tightly in plastic wrap).  Overnight is fine if you want to prepare in advance, but even 30 minutes helps.

Now it's time to roll out the dough.  If you've made the recipe as above, reserve half the dough and freeze.  You'll only need half for the tart shell.  Dust flour on the rolling surface (a silpat mat is genius), and quickly (this is all about working the dough as little as possible), roll out the dough into a shape that will accommodate your pan.  Once rolled out, fold the dough over your hand for easy transporting into the shell.  Press into the shell and trim off any excess.  Scrunch the edge in a nice pattern or press with the tines of a fork.  Pop in the freezer for 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  

To par-bake: Line the shell with foil or parchment paper and cover with pastry weights, rice, or dried beans.  Bake the shell for 15 minutes on the middle rack.  Remove from oven and remove foil & weights.  Return to oven and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes, covering the edges with foil if they start to brown too much.   

Relax. The hard part is over.  If you're all about ease, buy a premade shell, but it's not going to be quite the same.  Something about a homemade crust that makes it for me. Try it once.