Sephardic Recipes With A Modern Twist

Sephardic Spice Girls

The beauty of a quiche for brunch or any meal, is that it can be prepared ahead of time and then reheated quickly.

Mother’s Day, 2003 was a typically bright, beautiful Southern California day. The perfect balmy weather to host my mother, mother in law, my husband’s aunt Barbie, our good friend Louise and other guests for a special brunch. But I was stuck in bed feeling incredibly nauseous.

When my husband Alan and I were dating, I jokingly asked him, “I have a son, will you promise me three daughters?”

“No problem,” he answered. “My grandfather was the happiest man alive with his three girls!”

Six months after our wedding, I flew to Australia for the wedding of my dear cousin Sarah. While I was away, Alan and my son Ariel rescued a huge black Labrador-retriever named Lucas. But as the months slipped by, it seemed that our family of four wouldn’t be growing any bigger. I was diagnosed with endometriosis and had two surgeries to remove endometrial cysts from my ovaries. Drawing blood and ultrasounds and daily injections and (fertility) drugs in the refrigerator were the new normal. We were politely dropped from the first clinic, so we found another run by an acquaintance of my husband’s family from South Africa.

In March, between those injection cycles, Alan took me to New York. I wanted to pray at the grave of a Tzaddik, so we went to the Ohel of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I prayed for a baby from the Heavens.

When we returned to Los Angeles, the new doctor informed us that we would not be able to proceed with his clinic either.

That biological clock was ticking.

“What should we do?” Alan asked me.

“Nothing!” I answered.

I forced myself out of bed. I baked those fresh scones, whipped that fresh cream, spooned out the raspberry preserves. I arranged the smoked salmon, tomatoes, cucumber, purple onion and capers with the bagels and cream cheese. Alan fried the frittata and mixed the mimosas. We set the table outside on the porch, with it’s delightfully overgrown vines and greenery. And we had us a Mother’s Day Brunch.

That night Alan ran out to Albertsons and bought a pregnancy test. I woke up at the crack of dawn to take the test. The line was fuzzy. I sent him back with strict instructions to buy an EPT test, not the discount store brand. This time the line was a clear, straight, blue.

Now when I host Mother’s Day brunch at my home, my son always brings me flowers and my three daughters are in the kitchen helping me.

This Mother’s Day we made a Feta and Spring Vegetable Quiche. The beauty of a quiche for brunch or any meal, is that it can be prepared ahead of time and then reheated quickly. It’s simple to make but looks sophisticated and elegant. A quiche is a great way to showcase vegetables and they are often made with spinach, broccoli cauliflower and fresh tomatoes. We made our quiche with spring onions and crisp green asparagus, earthy mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes. Adding half-and-half to the egg mixture makes for a delightfully smooth custard. The basil pesto adds an earthy flavor and the feta cheese adds a salty, tangy profile.

Instead of using a typical pie crust, we used store bought puff pastry, which results in a lighter, flakier, crispier crust. If you have extra filling, pour it into little muffin tins.

Wishing you and all the mothers and all the loving nurturers in the world a wonderful Mother’s Day!

Rachel’s Feta Spring Vegetable Quiche

1 package puff pastry

Extra virgin olive oil, for sautéing

2 Shallots, finely chopped

12 asparagus spears, chopped into 1 inch pieces with tips left whole

10 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

8 oz white mushrooms, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

8 large eggs

1 cup half-and-half

4 tablespoons store bought pesto

1 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Line the bottom of two baking pans (round or square) with parchment paper.

Lay the puff pastry in the baking pan, making sure to leave a generous amount of puff pastry over the edges.

Using a fork, make lots of holes in the dough, then place in the oven.

Remove after 8 to 10 minutes, when dough has puffed and is lightly golden.

Sauté shallots until golden, then set aside.

Sauté asparagus until it is a bright green, sprinkle with a dash of salt and set aside.

Sauté mushrooms, making sure not to crowd the pan, then season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

In a large bowl, make a custard by beating the eggs and half-and-half with a whisk. When mixture is well mixed and creamy, add the pesto and a dash of salt and pepper.

Scatter the shallots, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms over the puff pastry shells.

Pour the custard over the vegetables.

Scatter the feta cheese and sprinkle the Parmesan into the quiche.

Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 350°F for 20 minutes or until the center of the quiche is completely cooked.

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A Feta and Spring Vegetable Quiche for Mother’s Day