Tuesday, May 7, 2019

May Poles in Bonn (Germany) & Springtime Quiche

While the Month of April ended with 'Walpurgis Night' (Walpurgnisnacht), on April 30th, linked with age-old superstitions and customs, such as huge bonfires, the wonderful month of May is welcomed with fests, music and dance to celebrate the long-awaited arrival of spring. May is celebrated in many different ways throughout Germany.

May celebrations include the 'Dance into May' (Tanz in den Mai) and a variety of events such as setting up the ‚May Pole' (Maibaum) as well as a number of smaller outdoor fests. In Germany, there are two types of May Poles. First, there is the May Pole that is typically set up at the town market place during the morning hours on May 1st. It remains there throughout the month of May. The tradition of setting up a May Pole dates back to the 13th century and was customary as a religious practice in Austria, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg (southwest Germany) to represent new life, the beginning of spring and the earth awakening from winter’s sleep. The tree trunk is decorated with a garlands, wreaths, and hand-crafted wooden figures, guild symbols and painted pictures that tell the story of the village or town in which it is located. Secondly, there is the somewhat scaled-down, more light-hearted version  - pretty popular around here in the Rhineland – when (mostly) young men put up birch trees that they decorated with colorful papper ribbons and wooden hearts (with the name of the recipient) in front of the house or apartment of their beloved ones. The trees stay there for a good month.

The following pics were taken in the City of Bonn (where we live) - a few colorful, fun impressions of this year's Bonn May Poles (Bonner Maibäume):

To match the spring theme of the lovely month of May, I made a wonderful, delicate green and white Springtime Zucchini Ribbon Quiche.

A crisp crust hiding a soft filling has always worked for me. Baking tarts or quiches is like celebrating the delicious contrast of food that is both soft and crisp. Let me just tell you that to make this quiche, it helps to have a simple vegetable peeler. Rolling the super thin slices of zucchini is a bit fiddly and time-consuming, but it means you don't have to pre-cook them and it looks quite appealing.

I think its flavor and design is pretty perfect for any kind of springtime celebration, and it would add a welcome burst of green to any Springtime luncheon.

Springtime Zucchini Ribbon Quiche


For the Pastry
  • 150g plain (AP) flour
  • 75g butter, cold
  • 35g Pecorino Romano, grated (you could sub Parmesan here)
  • 1 egg yolk (M or L), free-range or organic
  • some iced water (use your judgment here)

For the Filling
  • about 3 zucchinis (courgettes)
  • 100g soft cheese (such as ricotta)
  • 100 ml cream (I use full fat)
  • 1 egg (L), free-range or organic
  • finely grated zest from ½ lemon (again, organic if possible)
  • freshly ground black pepper, salt
  • You will also need a 22cm diameter quiche/tart pan (round or rectangular) with a removable base

  1. Make the pastry first. Put the flour and butter in a food processor and reduce to fine crumbs. Add the Pecorino (or Parmesan) and egg yolk and blend briefly, then introduce enough water (about 2 to 3 tbsp) to bring to a soft rollable dough. With lightly floured hands, pat the dough into a ball then cover and chill in the fridge for a good 30 minutes.
  2. Set the oven at 200° C and place a baking sheet on the middle shelf.
  3. Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll out and line the tart/quiche pan (you may have a little left over – keep any remaining pastry for patchwork if necessary). Poke the bottom of the dough all over with a fork then place your tart pan on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Fill with foil and baking beans and cook in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes.
  4. Lift out the baking beans and foil, then return the tart case to the oven for 5 to 7 minutes until dry to the touch and golden.
  5. Lower the oven to 180° C.
  6. Using a vegetable peeler, slice very thin ribbons of zucchini.
  7. While pastry cooks, whisk together the soft cheese, cream, egg, lemon zest as well as freshly ground black pepper and salt.
  8. Once the tart case is blind baked, roll up the zucchini slices and stand them in the tart pan.
  9. Pour the ricotta mixture over the zucchini rolls.
  10. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top has browned lightly and the filling is set. If your quiche is brwoning too quickly, very loosely cover with foil while baking.

There are many ways to welcome the month of May and springtime - may poles, quiches and lily of the valley are just some of them...By the way, in German 'lily of the valley' are called 'Maiglöckchen' which literally translates to 'Bells of the Month of May'.