Callaloo and Cheddar Quiche
The London Olympics are over, and, though it was rocky, I officially miss them. Frustrated as everyone else with the time delay, I’d stay away from any social media that might ruin my enjoyment of suspense filled, high-performance pixie gymnastics. Waiting it out until evening, I was inevitably disappointed by the interminable beach volleyball coverage taking up all the prime-time real estate. I was ready to give up on it altogether when track and field began and Jamaica started running.
Every once in a while, I came across a picture of Usain Bolt celebrating on a news site, but the races were so exhilerating that I still wanted to see it for myself. Plus, Usain Bolt always looks like he’s celebrating. Visiting Jamaica last year, our friend Bruce took us to the gym where the national team trains and we were able to see some of the athletes up close and chat with the trainers (though sadly we missed Bolt). They could not have been warmer or more open, but we couldn’t help but be a little in awe. Trained to operate with an efficiency of movement that wasn’t entirely mortal, just seeing them cross the room was like watching a live action version of the matrix.
My thoughts turned to Jamaica, I decided to use the fresh callaloo I’d bought the week before. Something like spinach but with even more nutritional punch and not the least trace of bitterness, I tried it for the first time during my trip where the dark greens turned up in almost everything. Now back home, I was thrilled to find it at my favorite Sunday market this spring. My friend gave me directions on how to cook it down with peppers and onions so I planned on having it with poached eggs. Bruce (who’d been warned not to talk about how Jamaica did that day though he was dying to tell me) nixed the eggs as too fussy and suggested quiche as the more typical Jamaican breakfast. I’m not sure what part callaloo played in Jamaica’s Olympic dominance, but it’s hard to argue with those kind of results.
Callaloo and Cheddar Quiche
Adapted from this recipe by Jacqui Sinclair, food columnist for the Jamaica Observer, for Saveur Magazine (November 2011). The original recipe called for pre-cooked or frozen callaloo so I made some adjustments. It was also for individual quiches, but I decided to use my forgotten ceramic tart pan instead for a larger quiche, and the proportions adapted themselves well.
For the crust:
2 cups flour
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
For the filling:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow onion, minced
½ red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced
½ Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 large bunch callaloo, well-rinsed, ends trimmed, chopped
1/4 cup chicken broth
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup whole milk
6 eggs Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
9″-10″ inch fluted glass or ceramic tart pan
Make the crust:
Combine flour, butter, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until pea-size crumbles form. Add cream and egg, and pulse until dough forms. Shape dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap; chill for 1 hour.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. For the final blending, smear the dough a few spoonfuls at a time across the board with the heel of your hand. Gather the dough with a scrapper and form into a mound. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Roll out the dough to about 1/4″ thick and place in tart pan. Trim the edges and dock the dough to allow the steam to escape. Chill until ready to use.
Make the filling:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion, pepper, and chile, and cook, stirring until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the callaloo and chicken broth, and cook until the callaloo is wilted and the liquid has largely evaporated, about 2-3 minutes.
Transfer to a bowl then stir in 6 oz. cheddar, milk, and eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into prepared crust and top with remaining cheddar. Bake until golden brown and set, about 30 minutes.