Quiche, alors

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On New Year’s Day, I made a quiche for me and a friend. I thought that I would be focusing on my new ability to compost, based on the new state law requiring it (SB 1383), but alas, I learned that my area would not be rolling out the program until July. Those readers who were on board with me back when I wrote CompostAble, know that I have a tough time when I can’t compost – once you have done it, it is very hard to toss all your food scraps in with the regular garbage. So, I am delighted that I will have the opportunity to get composting again a few months down the road. For those of you who are in a part of California that has not already mandated the practice, and are not so sure how you are going to go about it, check out this helpful article from the LA Times:

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=3fd75212-c1cc-4a8d-8033-faf12242631f

Back to quiche – I love quiche. It’s very rich, so a person shouldn’t eat it all the time, but it is a wonderful and special thing to put together when you look in the fridge and realize that you have some cream that needs to be used up, or a Jarlsberg cheese surplus, or a little leftover spinach or Swiss chard that would be used well as a filling. Quiche, for me, is also a part of this revisiting my cooking roots. It’s one of the first things I used to make regularly and competently when I was a youngster. The secret of a really good one was gifted to me via my mother’s very close friend, the late and very special Francesca Chamberlain, who was a beloved history teacher at Dobbs Ferry High School. She was an exceptional cook and told me to add smoked cheese to quiche and scalloped potatoes to give it extra rich flavor. This is an especially helpful tip for those who want to avoid bacon for kosher or vegetarian reasons. The smokiness in the cheese gives you that similar hit you would get with bacon. On the more-is-more front, I generally use both. I also like that you can freeze an extra piece, if you have any of the pie leftover, and pull it out to have as a nice lunch a month or two later.

I have never gotten good at making pie crusts, and I like to use Marie Callendar’s frozen ones. With a frozen pie crust, I will stand by my claim that a quiche is a very quick and easy thing to put together. It’s also an easy recipe to invite a young person – child or grandchild – to join in the assembly who shows interest in being a kitchen helper. So, for the recipe archives, here is the basic quiche recipe that I’ve visited many times.

Stay warm and stay well, everybody!

Baked Onion Tart, aka Quiche

  • 1 9-inch prepared pie crust
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/4 cups half & half
  • 3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss or Jarlsberg cheese
  • ¾ cup shredded smoked gouda or other smoked cheese
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste (white or ground black)
  • Two slices premium bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)
  • Vegetable variations to be cooked and drained before being added to custard filling – ½ medium onion, diced, 1 cup sliced mushrooms, 1 cup shredded Swiss chard or spinach.

Instructions:

If using a frozen pie crust, thaw shell according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 425◦F.  Shred the cheeses and combine. Sauté your vegetable(s) so that they are mostly cooked and are not holding extra moisture. If using bacon, cook thoroughly, making sure the pieces are not still pink.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and add Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir in the Half & Half or light cream.

Layer half the shredded cheese in the bottom of the pie crust. Add half your vegetable filling and bacon and spread it over the cheese so that it’s evenly distributed. Repeat the layering of cheese and vegetables. Even out the cheese if it is mounded in the middle and carefully pour the milk and egg mixture over the cheese and veg filling.

Bake in the oven at 425◦F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 325◦F and back until firm and golden, approximately 25 more minutes. If the crust starts to get too dark at the edges, crimp aluminum foil around the edge for the last 10 or more minutes of baking.

SCALE UP: If you are having a bigger crowd and want to make two pies, it’s quite easy to up the recipe and fill two pie shells at once. Increase eggs from 3 to 4, Worcestershire sauce from 3 tsp. – 4 tsp., and increase the cheese and the Half & Half by a 3/4 cup each. Double your veg fillings, or vary them. Well-drained crab meat can be substituted for bacon, if you want a meat component in the tart.