Monday, May 21, 2012

Summer Squash, Bacon, and Mozzarella Quiche with Foolproof Pie Dough

You read that right!  It does indeed say FOOLPROOF pie dough.  A delicious summer squash, bacon (that makes everything yummy), and mozzarella quiche with FOOLPROOF pie dough.  Are you ready for this??

There is a SECRET INGREDIENT to this pie dough.  Just wait.  You won't believe it.  And it is essential!

You use a food processor for this dough.  If you don't have a food processor, you could try using the whisk attachment on your mixer, but I can't vouch for the results.  It is worth a try!

 Process flour, salt and sugar in the food processor until combined, about 2 1-second pulses.

 Add cold unsalted butter and cold vegetable shorting, both cut into bits.  Process until dough starts to collect in uneven clumps.  Scrape the bowl and then add more flour.  Empty the mixture into a bowl.

Do you see that?  Yep, it is vodka.  This is your secret ingredient.  You now drizzle vodka and water over the dough and gently mix it together.  The dough will be tacky.  The recipe calls for 1/4 cup each of water and vodka and I tend to use a little less, though equal amounts of each, if that makes sense.  Since I live in Houston, it tends to be humid here (ridiculously so sometimes) so I tend to need LESS moisture in my pie crusts since the fantastic climate here adds some moisture in for me.

You may be wondering WHY the secret ingredient is vodka.  Well, vodka is 60% water and 40% alcohol.  Unlike water, alcohol does not add to the formation of gluten, which is what can make a pie crust tough.  The alcohol burns off quickly in the oven, which dries out the dough and contributes to a flaky crust.  If you don't happen to have vodka around, you can use any other 80 proof alcohol.  If you don't tend to have any alcohol in your house, I am not sure what to substitute.  Sorry.  Even though there is alcohol in the dough, it burns off so you aren't actually ingesting any alcohol when you eat the crust.
Anyway, divide the dough into 2 balls and flatten into 4-inch disks.  Wrap them in plastic and stick them in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes and up to 2 days.

When you are ready to make your quiche/pie take out a disk and roll it out on a super-well floured board.  You will use more flour than you might be used to because of the extra moisture in this crust.  Then do whatever your recipe says as far as filling your crust! 

Go ahead and take all of your other pie crust recipes and throw them in the recycle bin.  Unless it is some sort of specialty pie crust, like graham cracker or a sweet one with cream cheese or a savory one with herbs or something, this is the only basic pie crust recipe you need.  I just gave you more space in your recipe file!  Yeah!

Foolproof Pie Dough
adapted from Cooks Illustrated
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening , cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup vodka , cold
1/4 cup cold water 

Process 1 1/2 cups  flour, salt and sugar in a food processor until combined, about 2 1-second pulses.  Add butter and shortening and process until dough starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds.  Dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour.  Scrape the bowl of the processor with a rubber spatula to redistribute the dough around the bowl and blade.  Add the remaining 1 cup of flour and pulse until the mixture is broken up.  This will take 4-6 qhick pulses.  Put the mixture into a medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture.  With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion t mix, pressing down on the dough until the dough is tacky and sticks together.  Divide the dough until 2 even balls and flatten into 4 inch disks.  Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.  If you live in a humid climate or it just happens to be more humid the day you are making the crusts, you might use a little less water/vodka, but try to use equal amounts of both.  I might use about a tablespoon less of each to start, then add more as necessary.
Printable Recipe

I made a yummy quiche with one of my pie crust balls.  I didn't take any photos of the process of making the quiche but it came together very easily.  I found the recipe on Cooking Light.

Summer Squash, Bacon, and Mozzarella Quiche
adapted from Cooking Light
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups (1/8-inch-thick) slices yellow squash 
2 cups (1/8-inch-thick) slices zucchini
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk 
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 slices center-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled 
3 large egg whites 
3 large eggs
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400°.  Roll pie crust to fit a 9 1/2 inch deep-dish pie plate.  (I just used a regular pie plate).  Pierce the dough with a fork and bake for 15 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.
Reduce oven temperature to 350°.
While the pie crust bakes, sweat the squash and zucchini by placing the slices in one layer on a paper towel and lightly sprinkling with some salt.  Let them sit while the pie bakes and cools.  Liquid will form on and around the squash and you can dab it off with another paper towel when you are ready to use them.  This helps prevent the squash from sweating in the quiche and making your amazing crust soggy!
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil and swirl.  Add the squash, zucchini, shallots and thyme, and saute for 5 minutes or until the squash and zucchini are tender, stirring frequently.  Allow this mixture to cool slightly.
Combine the milk, salt, pepper, COOKED bacon, egg whites and eggs in a medium sized bowl with a pour spout if you have one.  Stir with a whisk.
Arrange the squash mixture evenly over the crust and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Pour the egg mixture over the cheese.  Bake at 350F for 45 minutes or until the filling is set.  Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack. 
Printable Recipe

The day I made the quiche, my daughter asked what we were having for dinner.  I said, "I am making a quiche".  My sweet almost-4-year-old said "Oooh, that sounds delicious and nutritious!"  She cracks me up.

Hmmm, what to make with that other pie dough ball?  I think a pie might be in order!!

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