Alright folks — are you ready for this? Here it is. My geekiest dinner party fantasy. One day, some day when I don’t have quite so much other work hanging over my head, I’d like to host a sci-fi dinner. I’ve been thinking about it for years, on and off, slowly planning the menu. It wouldn’t be Food Of The Future™ — not molecular gastronomy, or whatever its successor might to be. Instead, it would be the food of, and food inspired by, one classic television future: Star Trek.
I don’t have a main course worked out yet. I’m not sure what could stand in for leg of targ. But I’m pretty sure that the rest of the menu is set. First of all, there would be two dessert courses. The first one would be whole fruit: star fruit and dragon fruit and all the other spiny (mostly Asian) goodies that get used as “alien food” props on NextGen. And the second one would be, obviously, a cellular peptide cake. With mint frosting. Shaped like Counselor Troi (link is to video).
But the pièce de résistance, I think, would come in the very first course. The dish that would make the whole party worth it would be — like Star Trek itself — simultaneously thoroughly mundane, and thoroughly out of this world: egg drop soup, served in emu egg shells.
Why emu egg, you ask? Well, have you ever looked at one? They’re giant, vividly green, coarsely textured, and uncannily reptilian for something that came out of the hind end of one of these guys. They remind me in spirit, if not in fact, of the Cardassian taspar eggs that Picard had to swill down in Chain of Command. And with a particularly swirly egg drop soup inside — especially one that had bits of mushroom — I think that that impression would only be amplified.
But alas. My week did not include a dinner party, or a taspar egg, or even an episode of Star Trek to sate my sci-fi hunger. It did, however, include my first Emu egg. So we can consider this a practice round. And we can say that I’m working up from this (very yummy) quiche toward my ultimate dining fantasy.
For the Crust:
1 1/4 cups Unbleached AP White Flour
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, chilled and cubed (that’s one stick)
3 tbsp Water, ice cold
1/2 tsp Salt
For the Filling:
1 Emu Egg (or 2 cups of our Earth chicken eggs — that’s 6-8)
1 cup Heavy Cream (or Half-and-Half)
1 pint of Mushrooms
3 Sweet Italian Sausages, skinned and chopped
1/4 cup Romano Cheese
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp Parmesan Cheese
To make the crust: To the work bowl of a food processor, add the flour and salt, then pulse once or twice to mix. Add the chilled butter, and pulse, in five second intervals, until it has been integrated into the flour and the mixture looks sort of sandy. Then add the water, and pulse again, in five-second intervals, until it just barely comes together into a dough.
Dump the contents of the work bowl onto a piece of plastic wrap; use the plastic wrap to shape the dough into a small brick; wrap; and chill in the refrigerator for an hour.
At the end of the hour, remove the dough from the refrigerator, and on a lightly floured board, roll it into a circle about an inch wider than your pie pan. Lay the rolled dough into the pie pan, pressing it into the corners so that it fits snugly, and use a fork to perforate the bottom. Trim the extra dough, leaving a centimeter or two hanging over. Crimp the edges according to your preferred method, and then refrigerate the prepared crust for at least another 20 minutes — preferably an hour — to allow any gluten to relax. This will minimize crust shrinkage in the oven.
Preheat your oven to 400F. When the crust has chilled, line it with parchment paper and use either pie weights or beans (I prefer the latter) to weigh down the bottom of the crust. Then blind bake it for 20 minutes (or until the edges of the crust have just started to turn golden). Remove the crust from the oven and set aside.
To make the filling: Over medium heat, lubricate a heavy-bottomed pan with a little bit of olive oil. Add the mushrooms, along with a little bit of salt, and cook until they are partly browned and almost done (8-10 minutes). At the end of that time, add the Italian sausage, a bit more salt, and about twenty grinds of black pepper, and continue cooking until the sausage is browned and done all the way through. Remove from the heat and allow this to come to a warm room temperature.
Meanwhile, to a mixing bowl, add the egg(s), cream, Parmesan and Romano cheese, and a little bit of salt, and whisk until this all comes together into a thick mixture.
When the mushroom-sausage mix has adequately cooked, spread it out evenly across the bottom of the crust. Then pour the egg-cream mix over the top of it, shaking occasionally to release air bubbles, and filling the crust almost all the way to the top.
Bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes — or until it gives you just the barest hint of a jiggle in the middle — removing the quiche briefly at about 30 minutes to sprinkle that last one tablespoon of Parmesan over the top.
This quiche is good hot, cold, and especially reheated!