3 Easter Brunch Dishes: Recipe #19
Plus, some thoughts on Chicago's delicatessens.
This has been a weird week with all my Substack plans upended by the new House and Senate bills heading to the floor with the goal of replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. This is vital for the survival of the national restaurant community. Follow here for more info. Like my Easter theme for this week, this economic lifeline for small businesses “has risen.” It’s a miracle. Let’s push it across the finish line.
Before we get to the recipe … I got a lot of heat for not including any Jewish delis in Chicago last week in my city recommender guide for delis.
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Maybe it would help to explain how this works. It basically comes down to the fact that I don’t make sh*t up. When I make a list I include places I have been to or taken food from in some cases. And I include places where the meal I had was memorable enough to want to go back. I have eaten twice at Manny’s in Chicago, and I respect them and their legions of fans and acolytes (and the lunches I had were good), but I never landed in Chicago and thought, “Boy, I really need to go to Manny’s.”
On the flip side, anytime I land in NYC I think about Katz’s. And that’s also why I asked at the end of the column for reader thoughts, because I would love to find a Chicago deli that really moves me. You all sent in some good suggestions, and I will try them next month and report back. I am starting to feel, that like the Twin Cities, Chicago could really benefit from a kick-ass traditional scratch deli.
Here were your ideas for me:
And this is tangentially related:
Loved this article. As someone who’s moved around the country after growing up in New York, finding a Jewish deli that’s good outside of New York City is a lifelong quest.
But: a request —
Do you have a recipe for making those superb square potato knishes that Jewish delis used to sell around the New York area in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and so on? Square, about 4” x 4”, and about an inch thick, basically flat on top and bottom. I have tried and tried and tried to reproduce that and never quite got it.
I have only made these, from an old Saveur magazine recipe that’s 15 years old. I add some schmaltz and butter to the potatoes and use extra onions, too. But this a good base recipe to start with.S hape them how you like. Their inspiration was Yonah Schimmel’s knish, which for me was the gold standard back in the day.
Recipe: King of Tarts
I like Easter. I don’t celebrate it, but I go to a lot of homes that do, and have had some amazing food over the years. I love ham, and a good roasted whole brined/cured pig leg is a thing of beauty, especially for those that also smoke it a bit. I also love roasting a whole fresh ham, which is butcher speak for a pig’s rear leg that isn’t cured.
That being said, like Thanksgiving and some other holidays. It’s all the OTHER food that I die for, the sides are everything. Here are two that I often make to bring to someone’s house and frankly they are good all year long for a weeknight dinner or weekend lunch. I love them both.
Bacon, Caramelized Onion and Gruyère Quiche
Classic French dishes like this quiche Lorraine are making a comeback, and for good reason.
Makes one 9-inch quiche
· 1 1/2 cups flour
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 7 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
· 1 egg yolk
· 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
· 3 ounces natural applewood-smoked bacon, diced small
· 1/2 cup minced onion
· 5 ounces aged Gruyère cheese, grated coarsely
· 3 large eggs, beaten
· 4 ounces crème fraîche
· Salt and ground white pepper to taste
· Pinch cayenne
· Pinch ground nutmeg
· 1/3 cup milk
Make the crust
Mix flour and salt together in mixing bowl. Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Press butter chunks between fingertips and drop into center of bowl. Toss to coat. With fingertips, gradually work flour and butter together until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Whisk egg yolk and 3 tablespoons of water together in small bowl to blend. Drizzle egg yolk mixture over flour mixture, tossing with fork. Stir dough until mixture begins to come together; press together with hands to form a rough dough.
Turn out onto cool counter and press together into mound. Dough will not come together completely. (If dough is very crumbly at this point, sprinkle with enough remaining water to reach this consistency.) Using the heel of your hand, smear a small amount of dough away from you on the counter. Scrape up and continue with remaining dough, mounding smeared dough together on counter. Press mound into disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Roll out crust to 12-inch circle; line a 9-inch tart pan with crust. Trim edges and line with parchment. Partially bake crust by weighing with dried beans or pie weights; bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until set. Remove parchment and weights; bake an additional 3 to 4 minutes or until crust appears dry. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F, setting aside the tart shell for filling.
Make the quiche filling
Fry the bacon to crisp. Remove bacon with slotted spoon to drain on paper towels.
Place the onions in the pan with the bacon fat and lightly caramelize. Drain. Add bacon and onions to the bottom of the baked crust. Follow with half the cheese.
Combine the eggs, crème fraiche, seasonings and milk. Whisk well. Pour over the onion mixture.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake the quiche
Place quiche on a foil-lined baking tray and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden and puffed. Cool for 15 minutes prior to slicing and serving.
Bacon and Onion Tart
This is one of my favorites. It’s a bacon and onion filling bound with soft, ripened goat cheese and a ballsy Gruyère, poured fairly shallowly into a delicate pâte brisée. Pay attention while you make the tart crust; it’s one you can adapt for a thousand fillings. Add some sugar to the dough and prebake with pie weights, and you will be able to fill it all spring with lime curd and berries.
For the tart shell:
· 1 cup all-purpose flour
· 1/4 teaspoon salt
· 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
· 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening, scooped into teaspoon-size pieces
· 3 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
· 4 ounces thickly sliced premium bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
· 1 small onion, halved and very thinly sliced
· 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
· 4 tablespoons crumbled soft goat cheese
· 2 tablespoons sour cream
· 1 large egg
· 1 egg yolk
· 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
· 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
· 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
· 1 cup heavy cream
· 3/4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
Makes one 9-inch tart
Make the tart shell
In a food processor, combine the flour with the salt, butter and shortening and process for 5 seconds. Sprinkle the ice water over the flour mixture and process until the dough just begins to come together, about 10 seconds; you should still be able to see small pieces of butter in it. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather any crumbs and pat it into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to an 11-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Fit the pastry into a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom; trim the overhanging pastry. Patch any cracks with the pastry trimmings. Using a fork, prick the bottom of the tart shell several times to allow steam to escape during baking. Refrigerate the tart shell for 30 minutes, or until chilled.
Line the tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 17 minutes, until lightly golden around the rim. Remove the foil and weights and lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Bake for about 13 minutes longer, until the pastry is lightly golden all over. Let cool completely on a rack. Leave the oven on.
Meanwhile, make the filling
In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate. Add the onion to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, add the maple syrup and cook until the onion is lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes.
In a blender, combine the goat cheese, sour cream, egg, egg yolk, allspice, salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Add the heavy cream and pulse just until the custard is blended.
Assemble the tart
Scatter the onions, bacon and Gruyère cheese evenly in the cooled tart shell. Pour in the custard, being careful not to overfill; you may have a bit of custard left over. Bake the tart in the center of the oven until golden brown and the center is just set, about 25 minutes. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the tart ring and serve warm.
One side dish I am very fond of for Easter Sunday or any spring meal is this pea and watercress purée. Make sure you don’t under-mix it, and if you work slowly, that’s OK, just make sure to serve this hot.
Puree of Peas and Watercress
· 4 cups frozen peas
· 2 one-pound bunches of watercress, trimmed of all but top 3 inches, reserving thick stems for another use
· 4 tablespoon unsalted butter, in small pieces
· 4 ounces crème fraîche
· 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
· 3/4 teaspoon sea salt or more to taste
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add peas and watercress tops and cover saucepan, killing the heat. Let sit 5 minutes so that cress wilts.
Strain vegetables through colander, pressing gently to extrude excess water from the cress, and add them to food processor. Add butter, salt and pepper and process by pulsing. Stir in crème fraîche, taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot.
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