GOD-DESS

Simple! Sensible! Sensational!®

January 2004
© 2004 by Bret S. Beall

Real Men DO eat Quiche!

(and pies and tarts and other good stuff)

If you’ve been following this column, you are aware that I often cite “quiche filling” as an application for some of my recipes, and have offered the consolation that I would eventually provide guidance in quiche-making and -baking. Well, this is your lucky month! Not only will I discuss quiches, but also general pie crust making; in a future column, I’ll discuss how to adapt the pastry crust for pizza and flatbread! This month, I’m also going to stick with the savory quiche application of the crusts, and address sweet creations in another future column.

Let’s start with the crusts:

SIMPLE PASTRY CRUST:

I have seen so many piecrusts. I have experimented with lots of them developed by other people, and I am often struck with how “busy” they seem. This one is really quite “bare bones,” and it works! The only problem is ambient humidity, which varies throughout the year, and is the scourge of every baker on the planet. So, you’ll be in good company when you find your dough a bit difficult to manipulate … just persevere, add a bit more water, and don’t expect perfection.

Combine the first five ingredients in a bowl, and mix thoroughly with a fork, pastry cutter or by squeezing the ingredients quickly through your fingers. After about 30 seconds of mixing the mixture should be granular and crumbly; add 1 T of ice water. Continue mixing by hand, adding more drizzles of water until the mixture becomes a cohesive ball. Flatten the mixture, and fold it onto itself repeatedly, adding drizzles of water if it starts to crumble. After about 3 minutes, wrap the flattened dough in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and plastic wrap. Sprinkle 1 T of flour on a clean work surface, place the dough on the floured surface, and flatten slightly. Using a rolling pin (or, if lacking a rolling pin, a tall drinking glass or a wine bottle [empty or full]), roll out the dough into a circle about 1/8” thick, turning and rotating the dough often. Line a pie plate with the dough, crimp the edges using the thumb and forefinger of each hand, moving around the pie, prick the interior of the crust with a fork, then blind bake at 350ºF for 10 to 15 minutes, or until light brown (you can use a piece of aluminum foil filled with dry rice and/or beans, and place within the crust to keep the crust in place, or bake empty, though the crust will distort slightly). Proceed with your quiche or pie recipe.

RICE CRUST

This crust is a wonderful option for both sweet (dessert pies) and savory (quiche) applications. Sugar can be added if the crust is for a sweet application, but I find that sweet fillings permeate the crust and sweeten it adequately without the addition of sugar. This recipe is inspired by one created by Deborah Taylor-Hough, presented on page 131 of: Hunt, Mary, 1997, Cheapskate in the Kitchen (St. Martin’s Paperbacks: New York, 257 pp.). The original included 1 t of soy sauce, but I find that soy sauce is not appropriate for all applications, plus it introduces more salt than is necessary, especially since the rice should be cooked with salt. By the way, I have forgotten to oil or butter the pie plate more than once prior to adding the rice mixture, and while sticking is more of a problem than if I had oiled the plate, the slices of whatever you bake will still come out with a little careful manipulation.

This crust was born as a solution to several problems. First, some people are sensitive to wheat, so this crust allows them access to quiches and pies and tarts that where outside of their world before. Secondly, I always tend to have leftover rice, so this is a great use for that. Thirdly, a rice crust just adds a different flavor to a pie or quiche, and since Simple! Sensible! Sensible!® is about taste, I had to offer this as an option. Finally, also in keeping with Simple! Sensible! Sensational! recipes®, rice crusts are just easier than pastry crusts; no flour, no kneading, no chilling, no rolling. Try it!

Combine the ingredients and stir until well-blended. Use the butter or oil to cover the interior of the pie pan. Press the mixture evenly into a deep 9” pie pan (including up the sides), and bake in oven at 350ºF for about 15 minutes. Remove pan with crust from oven and hold until filling is ready.

FANTASTIC QUICHE EVERYTIME

There was a period of time when we were told “real men don’t eat quiche.” What rubbish! Real men know the value of delicious and convenient food, so they had better eat quiche! Quiche is a fantastic way to use small amounts of leftover meats and/or vegetables. Here is a general recipe that can be adapted to use whatever you have on hand. One quiche will serve about 4-6 people as a light lunch or breakfast, or as a first course for dinner. NOTE: not all 9” pie crusts are created equally; some are deeper than others, and some just don’t seem to be 9”; the following proportions will work for two “small” 9” quiches, or one “large” 9” quiche (sorry to be so vague). Also be aware that the filling should be on the “dry” side; too much liquid will make your quiche soggy.

Crust:

Use your favorite homemade or store-bought single 9” to 10” deep piecrust (or two shallow crusts), or make a rice crust (all blind baked)

Add oil to a large skillet over medium heat; when oil is hot, add the vegetables, meats, salt, pepper, lemon juice or vinegar (if using), herbs or spices (if using), capers (if using) and olives (if using). If using raw vegetables or meat, cook until tender; if using already cooked vegetables or meat, cook until all flavors are melded. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, combine the eggs, milk, additional salt and pepper, and beat with a fork until thoroughly mixed. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

To assemble the quiche, place half of the cheese on the bottom of the baked piecrust. Combine the egg-milk mixture with the cooled sautéed mixture, and stir to combine; pour mixture into piecrust on top of the cheese (alternatively, if sautéed mixture is still too hot, place it in the pie crust and arrange evenly on top of the cheese, and pour the egg mixture on top). Top with the remaining cheese, place in the oven and bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about half the time if using two small crusts). Serve hot, or warm, or cold, for breakfast, lunch or dinner, with a side salad or steamed/sautéed vegetables. Cooked quiche freezes well for up to a year.

Variations:

Shrimp-Garlic-Spinach Quiche: Sauté about ¼ lb raw shrimp cut in ½” pieces with about 1.5 c chopped raw spinach and 1 T finely minced garlic until shrimp is just cooked and spinach is wilted; use the lemon juice and zest in this version. For the cheese, fresh goat cheese is particularly good, though I have sometimes complemented the goat cheese with something more pungent, like about 1 oz of Danish bleu or hard grating cheese (pecorino, asiago or parmesan). It’s delicious! You can also keep this basic mixture and use lump crab or lobster (or crab/lobster-flavored surimi), fish cubes, or some leftover pork or chicken. Another tender green, like arugula or young mustard, is a good substitute for the spinach.

Corn-Crab Quiche: Sauté ½ to 1 c lump crab (or cubed raw lobster or surimi, but not canned crab, which is insipid) with ½ c chopped green, yellow, red or white onion and ½ to 1.5 c corn kernels (cut from the cob, or drained whole kernel corn from a can, preferably organic) until mixture is warm and onions are translucent; 1 t of ground thyme or 1 T of crushed thyme is a particularly good addition to this quiche, especially if using lobster, or try an equivalent amount of tarragon. A mild cheese like Monterey Jack or mozzarella is a good complement, or fresh goat cheese.

Ham and Cheese Quiche: Sauté 1 c of cubed ham (or chopped prosciutto or serrano ham) with 1 c of chopped green, yellow, red or white onion until onion is tender. Sharp cheddar is particularly good as the cheese in this quiche. Mushroom Quiche: Sauté 1.5 c of domestic or wild mushrooms with ½ c chopped green, yellow, red or white onion; thyme is a good herb with mushrooms, and the addition of ¼ c vinegar will enhance all flavors. The capers and/or olives are great with the mushrooms, especially if using mildly flavored button or crimini mushrooms. A medium flavored cheese, like Swiss, is perfect to accompany the mushrooms. As a sophisticated alternative, use 1 c of wild mushrooms (like chanterelles) with ½ c of chopped roasted duck.

Broccoli Quiche: Sauté 1.5 c of chopped raw broccoli (peeled and finely chopped stems and slightly coarser florets) with ½ c of any finely chopped onion until onion is translucent and broccoli is tender; add ¼ c of your favorite vinegar to the sautéing mixture, and the capers and/or olives can be delicious additions. Use a medium to robustly flavored cheese, like an aged goat or cheddar, or hard grating cheese like pecorino, asiago or parmesan. Replace ½ c of the broccoli with ½ c of leftover and diced chicken or turkey for a non-vegetarian alternative.

Ham-Broccoli-Mushroom Quiche: These three ingredients can be combined in any proportion to make about 2 c (consider ½ c ham, ¾ c broccoli and ¾ c mushrooms if using all three, or use any two in equal proportions); an additional ½ c of chopped onion and ¼ c vinegar are recommended. A medium to robustly flavored cheese is also recommended.

Roasted Vegetable Quiche: A good way to use up leftover roasted vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, celeriac, parsnips, or your favorites) is in a quiche. I usually roast bulb onions or green onions, and when chopped, they make great additions to the other roasted vegetables (1/2 c chopped roasted onions to 1.5 c other roasted vegetables); I usually roast vegetables with rosemary, thyme or chile powder, so additional herbs or spices are unnecessary. Be sure to use the lemon juice/zest or the vinegar (especially balsamic) with this quiche (letting the juices soak into the roasted vegetables), and consider adding the capers and/or olives. The cheese is the star here, so use any strong flavored cheese, even a bleu. Adding ½ c diced roasted chicken, turkey or duck will further enhance the flavor.

Roasted Green Onion-Bacon Quiche: Roast one lb of green onions (about 3 bunches, or 18-20 green onions). Remove from oven, cut into ½” pieces, and toss with the citrus juice or vinegar. While onions are roasting, fry about ¼ lb of bacon in a skillet until crisp; drain on paper towels, crumble and hold. Assemble the quiche as described above, using the cheese of your choice. Gruyere is used in the traditional Quiche Lorraine, which also includes bacon, but don’t let that limit you. Fresh goat cheese is great in this, as are various bleu cheeses. I happen to enjoy cheddar with bacon.

Use these proportions and variations as guidelines. Experiment. Let your imagination and your taste buds be your guide. Contact me if you need additional guidance (email me ).

 

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