STUDIO CITY (KCAL9) — Make this Easter unforgettable with a sophisticated brunch fit for a king!

Sur La Table Resident Chef Vanessa DiStefano stopped by KCAL9 Monday to spill her Easter Brunch secrets and talk about their Easter Brunch cooking class.

In the perfectly timed class, DiStefano will share easy but elegant recipes for a complete gourmet meal that highlights the fruits and vegetables of the spring season.

On the Menu:

Leek, Parmesan, and Ham Quiche

Quiche is the perfect choice for brunch since you can serve it warm or room temperature. Make the pie dough a few days in advance and chill, or you can make it weeks in advance and freeze it. The quiche can even be baked without a crust if you wish. Just butter a tart pan and sprinkle with additional grated Parmesan cheese, add filling ingredients and pour custard over the top. Bake in a water bath until custard sets, about 1 hour.

Yield: 8 servings

1 recipe Flaky Pie Dough (recipe follows)

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, cut into 1/8-inch thick rounds
3/4 cup (6 ounces) heavy cream
3/4 cup (6 ounces whole milk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces ham, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

To prepare crust for baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously flour a work surface and place chilled dough disk on the flour. Dust the top of the dough with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a circle, turning and flipping the dough as needed with a bench scraper to prevent sticking, until the circle measures 14 inches wide and 1/8 inch thick. Starting at one edge, roll the dough around the rolling pin and lay it gently into a
9-inch quiche or tart pan with 2-inch sides. Unroll the dough and adjust as need so dough circle is centered over the pan. Carefully lift the edges of the dough and allow it to fall into the pan, pressing the dough gently into the corners. Trim excess dough flush to the top of the pan, reserving excess dough. Chill unbaked crust for at least 30 minutes before baking.

To bake quiche crust, line the chilled crust with aluminum foil, pressing the foil firmly into the corners. Fill the pan with pie weights, making sure the weights reach up the sides to the rim of the pan. Bake the shell for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the foil pulls easily away from the dough. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully lift out the foil and weights from the shell, setting them aside to cool. Return the pan to the oven and continue baking the crust for another 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and check for cracks in the crust. Patch cracks as needed with a small amount of reserved dough. Return the pan to the oven and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer, until crust golden brown. Transfer pan to a rack and cool crust slightly. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 to 9 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer leeks to
a medium mixing bowl and allow to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together heavy cream, milk, and eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Scatter leeks, chopped ham, Parmesan cheese, and parsley across the bottom of the crust. Carefully pour the cream mixture into the crust and gently stir to evenly distribute the filling ingredients.

Set the quiche pan on a baking sheet and place in preheated oven. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a paring knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let quiche
cool for 10 minutes and serve warm, or allow quiche to cool completely and serve at room temperature.

Flaky Pie or Tart Dough

Yield: makes 1 (9- or 10-inch) pie shell

Many bakers are so intimidated by the idea of making flaky pie crust that they either settle for the prepared dough from the grocery store or don’t make pie at all. But, like all baking, pie crust is quite straightforward once you know how the ingredients work together. If you’re new to pie dough, be sure to read the primer (page 168); then take a deep breath and follow the steps below for a beautifully crisp, golden brown, flaky pie crust. This recipe doesn’t call for shortening, as the flavor, aroma, and color of an all-butter crust can’t be beat. The drawback to butter is that it can soften quickly at room temperature, which is why it’s best to use the food processor to ensure great results every time. Weigh your dry ingredients if you can, but if you don’t have a scale, you can measure by the dip-and-sweep method.

1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
1¼ cups (6¼ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons sugar (omit for a savory crust)
¼ teaspoon salt

1. Place the butter pieces in a bowl or on a plate and freeze for at least 20 minutes. Refrigerate the water in a small measuring cup until needed.

Mix the dough:
2. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of the food processor. Process for 10 seconds to blend the ingredients. Add the frozen butter pieces and pulse 6 to 10 times (in 1-second bursts), until the butter and flour mixture looks like crushed crackers and peas.

3. Immediately transfer the butter-flour mixture to the large bowl. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the cold water over the mixture and “fluff” it in, then add another, and another, until 3 tablespoons have been added. Continue to fluff and stir 10 or 12 times. It will not be a cohesive dough at this point but a bowl of shaggy crumbs and clumps of dough. Before bringing the dough together, you need to test it for the correct moisture content.

4. Take a handful of the mixture and squeeze firmly. Open your hand. If the clump falls apart and looks dry, remove any large, moist clumps from the bowl then add more water, one teaspoon at a time, sprinkling it over the top of the mixture and immediately stirring or mixing it in. Test again before adding any more water. Repeat, if needed. The dough is done when it holds together (even if a few small pieces fall off). If the butter feels soft and squishy, refrigerate before continuing. If the butter is still cold and firm, continue to the next step. (Note: Adding the liquid may also be done on low speed in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment—add three-fourths of the liquid, test for moistness, then add the remaining liquid if needed.)

5. Knead and chill the dough: Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead gently 3 to 6 times. If it won’t come together and looks very dry, return it to the bowl and add another teaspoon or two of water (one at a time), mixing in as above, and try again. Flatten the dough into a 6- or 7-inch disk, wrap in plastic or parchment paper, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This allows time for the dough to hydrate fully and for the butter to firm up again.

Roll the dough:
6. If the dough has been refrigerated for more than 30 minutes, it may be very firm and hard and will crack if you try to roll it. Let it sit on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes until it is malleable but still cold. Dust your work surface generously with flour and set the disk on the flour. Dust the top with flour. Roll, turning the dough, until you’ve got a 14- to 15-inch circle about ¹⁄8 inch thick. If at any point the dough becomes warm and sticky, gently fold it into quarters, unfold it onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until the butter is firm again. If a crack or hole forms while rolling, brush any flour away and patch the area.

Transfer the dough:
7. Fold the dough circle into quarters, brushing off any excess flour as you fold. Put the point of the folded dough in the center of the pie pan, tart pan, or baking sheet and unfold the dough, lifting it slightly as necessary to ease it into the crevices of the pan. Do not stretch or pull the dough, which can cause thin spots, holes, and/or shrinkage during baking.

Trim the dough:
8. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim the dough so it overhangs the edge of the pan by 1 inch. Fold the overhanging dough under itself around the pan edge, then crimp or form a decorative border. Chill for 30 minutes before baking.

The dough can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days, or double-wrapped in plastic, slipped into a freezer bag, and frozen for up to 1 month.

What the pros know:
When doubling or tripling a batch of pie dough, whether for a double-crusted pie or simply to have some extra dough in the freezer for another day, it can be difficult to fit all the ingredients into your food processor. No problem. Take a tip from pastry chefs who have to make 20 times the recipe—use your stand mixer for the whole process. Simply chop the butter and freeze it for a couple of hours, then cut it into the dry ingredients, using the low speed and paddle attachment. Add the cold water just as the butter pieces reach the “peas and crushed crackers” stage, and continue to mix on low until the dough holds together in large, shaggy clumps. Once you’ve finished the dough, divide it into equal pieces, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll each piece into a ¹⁄8-inch-thick round and layer between sheets of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Wrap the entire sheet in plastic, then refrigerate or freeze until needed.

For more information, visit Sur La Table.


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