Long the traditional July Fourth meal in the state of Maine, early peas and salmon have not been in season so far north at the beginning of July for over a hundred years, according to culinary historians. Oh, well, they still taste great together, especially when paired with a lemony hollandaise sauce. All the elements of the dish are quite at home in a tart crust, and it’s also an easy way to serve them all hot at the same time. A great way to use leftover cooked salmon or other firm-fleshed fish, this is also good with diced cooked shrimp or even crabmeat.
Makes one 10-inch tart, 8 to 10 servings
One 10-inch tart crust made from Flaky Buttery Dough (see below)
12 ounces skinless and boneless salmon fillet
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups/6 ounces shelled tiny peas, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped dill
4 large eggs
2/3 cup light cream or half and half
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
A small buttered pan or gratin dish
Set one rack at the middle level in the oven and another at the lowest level and preheat to 375°F.
Season the salmon with salt and pepper and place it in the prepared pan; bake the salmon on the middle oven rack until it just begins to flake easily, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on its thickness. Undercooked a little is preferable to the alternative. Transfer the salmon to a plate to cool. Raise the oven temperature to 400°F.
Meanwhile, fill the bottom of a small saucepan with water and add the peas, the butter, and the sugar. Bring to a boil and cook on low heat at a slow simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Cool the peas.
Flake the salmon with a fork and scatter it evenly on the tart crust. Top with the chopped parsley and dill, then the peas.
Whisk the eggs well, season them lightly with salt and pepper, then whisk in the cream and lemon zest.
Pour the custard mixture into the crust, filling only to within 1/4 inch of the top.
Set the pan on the bottom rack in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 375°F. Bake until the crust is baked through and the filling is set and puffed, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool the quiche briefly on a rack, then unmold and serve it either hot or warm.
Flaky Buttery Dough
To maximize flakiness and get as much delicate buttery flavor as possible, you need to use enough butter in a dough. If you remember to chill this dough after mixing it and again after rolling it, you’ll enjoy both a superior texture and flavor. To keep from melting the butter and creating an excessively soft dough, this is best mixed in the food processor.
Makes enough for 2 single-crusted pies or 1 double-crusted pie
2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large eggs
Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor; pulse several times at 1-second intervals to mix.
Add the butter and pulse again 3 or 4 times. Use a metal spatula to scrape the side of the bowl and mix the butter pieces throughout the flour.
Pulse again 3 or 4 times.
Using a fork, beat the eggs to break them up, and add them to the bowl. Pulse again until the dough almost forms a ball; avoid pulsing too much, or the pieces of butter needed to make the dough flaky will become too small.
Invert the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, carefully remove the blade, and quickly press it together.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces, form them into thick disks, and wrap each one in plastic. Chill the dough for a couple of hours before rolling. This dough keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.