Saturday, April 4, 2009

Recipe File: Mediterranean Pashtida

Pashtida is a Hebrew word derived from German (pastete) and Italian (pestette) . It has been used since the Middle Ages for any baked dish based on a batter of eggs and cheese, vegetables, meat, fish, or any combination thereof, with or without a crust. This dish by Uri Scheft of the Lechamim Bakery in Tel Aviv is adapted from "The Book of New Israeli Food: A Culinary Journey" by Janna Gur (Schocken, $35). Cheese-based pashtidas like this one are a staple of Shavuot.

The Pastry Shell (Crust)

* 350 grams (12 1/2 ounces, 2 1/2 cups) flour
* 1 level teaspoon salt
* 250 grams (9 ounces) chilled butter, cut into pieces
* 70 milliliters (2 1/2 fluid ounces) cold water

The Filling

* 1 eggplant, diced
olive oil for baking
* 1 onion, halved and sliced thinly
1 leek (white part only), sliced thinly
* 3 sweet red peppers
* 1 cup fresh parsley or coriander, chopped
* 500 grams (1 pound 2 ounces) feta cheese, diced
* 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
70 grams (2 1/2 ounces) shelled pumpkin seeds

Sauce Royale

* 750 milliliters (1 1/2 pint, or 3 cups) whipping cream
* 4 eggs
* pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed

1. Prepare the pastry shell: Mix the flour and salt in a food processor. Add chilled butter and pulse until the mixture forms crumbs. Add water and pulse only until a ball of smooth dough is formed. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

2. Roll out a thin layer of dough on a well-floured surface and line the quiche pans. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

3. Prepare the filling: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius, 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Roast the peppers over an open flame until the skin is charred. Cool in a sealed plastic bag (to make peeling easier). Peel, remove seeds and membranes, and cut into strips.

5. Pour some olive oil over the eggplant and bake for about 20 minutes, until the cubes are light brown and tender. Remove but don’t turn the oven off.

6. Saute the onions and leeks in olive oil until they turn translucent. Remove from the pan and cool.

7. Prepare the Sauce Royale: Combine all the ingredients into a smooth mixture.

8. Assemble and bake: Spread the onion-leek mixture on the pastry shell, lay on the eggplant cubes and pepper strips, sprinkle with parsley or coriander and carefully pour on the sauce. Arrange the cheese cubes and cherry tomatoes and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds.

9. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. If the quiche browns too quickly, cover with aluminum foil and remove the foil 5 minutes before taking the quiche out of the oven.

Makes two 10-inch quiche.

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