Kohlrabi and Minced Meat Quiche

Yes, I have a thing for Kohlrabi at the moment. I get nervous when I don’t have a bulb lying around. And I’m constantly trying to find new recipes to use them in.  But more on that later.

This autumn, I’ve discovered, to my own surprise, that I prefer autumn and winter vegetables to summer vegetables (tomatoes probably being the only exception). The variety is huge, the flavors and colors are so inspiring and exciting. For a long time, at least here, the typically Mediterranean vegetables, like aubergine and zucchini, have been The Thing to cook with as they’ve been promoted as part of a light and healthy cuisine. And a lot of people, including me, have been using them throughout the seasons in their cooking, which left little space for the local seasonal produce, like all sorts of cabbage, turnips, beets, parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, squash, kohlrabi and all the other beauties that are so abundant here in autumn and winter.

A lot of magazines, cookbooks, and of course blogs, now feature recipes with these beautiful vegetables and this, combined with my efforts to buy and cook local and seasonal, have thankfully made me (re)discover these flavors.

Now back to the Kohlrabi. I really wanted to use it in a quiche or tart, but while browsing the internet, I couldn’t find any recipes that sounded particularly appealing (at least they didn’t address the particular craving for something hearty and rustic I had at that moment). So I came up with this recipe that I based on the two main ingredients I wanted to use, kohlrabi and minced meat. The rest of the recipe came together as I worked. I’ve now made it several times and had the opportunity to twist around a few things. For example, I found that it worked even better with a high edge crust than with a typical tart crust as the filling turns out even more juicy. The dimensions I used in the quiche as photographed are a ø 22 cm tin with an approximately 4 cm high edge. But you could of course make it with a larger crust in diameter and a lower edge.
Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi quiche prep

Ingredients:

– 1 ready-to-use or homemade crust (yes, I’ll have to post my homemade recipe one day but the problem is I keep trying different recipes   and I haven’t really found a favorite yet, so I’ll keep trying for a while)
– 2 tsp olive oil
– 350g minced beef
– 1 medium sized onion, chopped
– 1 clove of garlic
– 1 large Kohlrabi (or two small ones), cut into cubes
– 1 large carrot, sliced
– 200ml beef stock
– 3-4 sprigs of fresh parsley
– 2 tsp chopped fresh chives
– 3 eggs (preferably organic)
– 3 tbsp cream cheese (Philadelphia style)
– 100ml single cream
– 250ml full fat milk
– 2 tbsp parmesan
– 1 tsp cumin
– 1 tsp grated nutmeg
– freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Carefully place the crust in your baking tin. Cover the crust with baking paper and dry beans or baking weights and blind bake for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add the minced beef and brown it, stirring frequently until it’s cooked and evenly browned. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and fry until translucent. Add the garlic, kohlrabi and carrot and fry for two minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the beef stock, cover the pan and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the kohlrabi has softened and the liquid is absorbed. Add the cumin and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.

By now, the crust should be ready to come out of the oven. Discard the beans and baking paper and set the crust aside until the filling is ready. While the mixture simmers on the stove, break the eggs into a bowl, add the cream cheese, cream and milk. Season with the grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. Whisk until everything is well combined and the mixture is showing some bubbles on the surface.

As soon as the Kohlrabi-minced beef is ready, evenly spread it over the crust and pour the egg-cream mixture into the tin. Sprinkle with parmesan, push into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. The top should be golden and the tip of a knife should come out of the quiche more or less clean.

Take the quiche out of the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before taking it out of the tin. Serve with a green salad and enjoy!

Kohlrabi quiche 1

Kohlrabi quiche 2

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Kéisstaart or cheesecake the luxembourgish way

I’ve finally bought a cookbook I’ve been eying for some time now. It’s THE bible of luxembourgish cooking and has been completely revamped a few months ago in order to appear more modern and in sync with the current zeitgeist. And it has photographs, something the previous versions didn’t have.

The book I’m talking about is the “Lëtzerbuerger Kachbuch” or “Luxembourgish Cookbook” by Ketty Thull. It was first published in 1946 and has since then been a loyal companion to most luxembourgish housewives. Of course, back in the day, the major aim of the book was to offer every woman advice on how to be the best possible housewife, including information on stocking a pantry, preserving produce, entertaining or managing a household budget. I love the fact that the brand new edition still included the old chapters on table manners, …

My mother used to cook from this book, and before her, my grandmother. And even if they’re not there anymore to teach me their recipes, I can still recreate some of my most beloved childhood dishes thanks to Ketty Thull. For me, luxembourgish food is simple, hearty and comforting, things that couldn’t exactly be labelled as low-calorie, but dishes that keep body and soul together. Some of my favourites as Gromperekichelcher (a kind of potato fritters prepared with onion and parsley and served with stewed apples), Kniddelen (flour dumplings served with bacon and stewed apples – yes, we love our stewed apples!) or Kéisstaart, the recipe I want to share with you today.

Kéisstaart is a very popular dessert here in Luxembourg, but it’s also well known in our neighbour countries Germany (Käsekuchen) and France (tarte au fromage blanc), for example. The same thing goes for a lot of luxembourgish dishes that have been influenced by the culinary traditions of many different countries. France, Germany, Belgium and Italy probably have probably had the biggest impact on our local cooking and eating habits so far.

I love Kéisstart because it is a very simple cake with only a few ingredients, but it comes with a delicate, both sweet and refreshing flavour. The buttery, crunchy crust perfectly complements the smooth, creamy texture of the cheese topping. Kéisstaart is made with what we call “wäisse Kéiss” which literally means “white cheese” and can be found under the term “fromage blanc” in France or “Quark” in Germany. It is quite similar to yoghurt in texture and is often eaten with fruit or cereal. However, I wouldn’t substitute it with yoghurt in this particular recipe.

I slightly adapted the recipe from the new edition of the “Lëtzebuerger Kachbuch”. I used a different method to make the crust, added some quark cheese in order to make it a bit softer and replaced the vanilla in the filling with tonka bean. If you’ve never tasted or smelled tonka bean, you should absolutely try it! It is an enchanting smell you will never forget!


Ingredients (for a 24 cm/9.5 inch Ø cake tin)

For the crust

250g all-purpose flour
125g unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
80g sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons “white cheese”/”Quark”
a pinch of salt

For the filling

500g Quark cheese (preferably no low-fat variety)
100ml liquid cream
4 egg yolks
2 egg whites
20g starch
135 g sugar
1/2 Tonka bean

Directions

Pour the flour into the mixing bowl of your stand mixer and add the very (!) cold butter cut into cubes. Make sure to take the butter out of the fridge and cut it at the very last minute. Using the flat beater on medium speed, beat until you get a flaky butter/flour mixture. Add the salt, sugar, egg and quark cheese and beat some more, just until everything is roughly combined. Your dough will still be rather flaky. Flour a working surface and your hands and pour the flaky dough onto your counter top and knead it into a ball.

Usually, recipes now call for at least 30 minutes refrigerating time. But I have taken a habit of refrigerating the dough at this point only if the butter is already starting to become slightly runny and shiny. If the dough ball is still reasonably cold, I either refrigerate it for up to 10 minutes or roll it out on a floured surface immediately. I know a lot of people wouldn’t agree, but this works best for me.

Thoroughly grease the cake tin. Roll the dough out, making sure that it is large enough to cover the side walls of the cake tin. Do this quickly if you do not want your dough to stick to the counter top! Transfer the dough into the tin. I usually detach it from the working surface with a spatula and fold it over once before transferring it to the tin where I unfold it again. I find the transfer to be safer that way. Cover the baking tin with cling film and refrigerate tin and crust for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

For the filling, combine the cheese, sugar, egg yolks, starch and grated tonka bean in a large bowl. Make sure to get an even and smooth texture. Whisk the cream until tiny bubbles form and add to the mixture. Finally beat the two egg whites until stiff and delicately incorporate them into the cheese mixture.

Go get your crust out of the fridge and pour the cheese mixture onto the crust. Bake in the oven for 55-60 minutes until the filling is set. If the top of the cake should brown too quickly, cover with tin foil.

Let cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then take it out of the tin and set aside to cool on a cake rack. The filling will set further while it cools.


Gudden Appetit!