Friday, August 7, 2009

Take It From Me....... Real Men DO Eat Quiche!......

Quiche is a baked dish that is based on a custard made from eggs and milk or cream in a pastry crust. Usually, the pastry shell is blind baked (this means the crust is placed on the pan, pricked with a fork all over, covered with foil and then filled with dried beans and pre-baked, see below) before the other ingredients are added for a secondary baking period. Other ingredients such as cooked chopped meat, vegetables, seafood or cheese are often added to the egg mixture before the quiche is baked.

Quiche is generally an open pie (i.e. does not contain a pastry covering like a "regular" pie, but then a pizza is also called a "pie", he?), but may include an arrangement of tomato slices or pastry off-cuts for a decorative finish. Quiche can be eaten warm but is more commonly eaten cold, making it a suitable component of the food served in a typical summer picnic.

Although quiche is now a classic dish of French cuisine, quiche actually originated in Germany, in the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, under German rule, and which the French later renamed Lorraine. The word ‘quiche’ is from the German ‘Kuchen’, meaning cake. The original ‘quiche Lorraine’ was an open pie with a filling consisting of an egg and cream custard with smoked bacon. It was only later that cheese was added to the quiche Lorraine. Add onions and you have quiche Alsacienne. The bottom crust was originally made from bread dough, but that has long since evolved into a short-crust or puff pastry crust.Quiche became popular in England sometime after the Second World War, and in the U.S. during the 1950's.

Today, one can find many varieties of quiche, from the original quiche Lorraine, to ones with broccoli, mushrooms, ham and/or seafood (primarily shellfish). Quiche can be served as an entrée, for lunch, breakfast or an evening snack.

We all love Quiche and have been known to get really creative when it comes to ingredients added to the classic custard and cheese mix. Let me give you some ideas:
  • Bacon, Cheddar and Onion with Chives on top
  • Asparagus, Pancetta, Parmigiano, White Cheddar and Nutmeg
  • Salmon, Brie and Potato
  • Figs, Mozzarella and Smoked Ham
  • Broccoli, Jack & Cheddar Cheese
  • Sausage, Onion and Mushroom with Jack Cheese
  • Chicken, Dill, Corn, Green Beans and Red Bell Pepper with Mozzarella
  • Tuna, Black Olives, Onion, Sun dried Tomatoes
  • Smoked Tuna and Brie
I think you get the idea.... anything can be made into a quiche. One of the nice things about these is that you can make them ahead and stick in the oven an hour before you need them (saving you time and hassle); they're great for picnics or the beach since they are best when they're served at room temperature or cold, yet they can be elegant supper fare too; they keep wonderfully so you'll have great leftovers (great cold for breakfast); can suit almost any diet from healthy to horrendous; serve really well as a "refrigerator cleaner" since you can put what ever leftover's you have and use it; you can make it sweet or savory plus you can change around any of the ingredients in the recipe and it will work...... with or without meat, with or without vegetables, you can add fresh or dried fruits; and cheese? Pick one or two.....

Here are some great examples of what I mean:

Quiche Lorraine.- The classic that all quiche's come from and a good "basic" to master:

For the crust (see other crust variations below):
1/2 cup grated cheese (I used Gouda cheese)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter

For the filling:
3 eggs
1/3 cup single cream (Mexican Crema, but I like heavy cream...)
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced bacon
1/3 cup grated Parmessan
1/3 cup mozzarella

Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/ 350 F. You can use a Quiche Pan or Pie Tin.....
Cook the bacon and leave to cool. Melt the butter. Mix the cheese with the flour and the butter and knead until you have a ball of dough.Grease the tin with butter. Put the dough in and press down. Peel and slice the onions. Beat the eggs with the cream. Crumble the mozzarella and add to the egg mixture. Stir in the grated cheese and red onion. Crumble the bacon (don’t make the pieces too small), add to the egg mixture and stir. Pour the mixture on the crust and divide with a spoon. Bake the quiche for 30 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then serve.

Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Quiche.- This is a fabulously simple pie yet the taste is super! I've also left out the onions and used cooked cold new potatoes:

1 pie crust for 9-in pie, chilled
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 tsp dried thyme
1 large onion, thinly sliced (I used 1 medium red and 1 medium yellow onion)
3 eggs

3/4 cup of milk
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375° F.

On a floured surface, roll out pie dough and place in a 9-inch pie pan. Trim edges around the pie plate, leaving about a 1/2 inch border. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork. Cover pie plate with foil and top with dried beans. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes (removing beans and foil after 20 minutes). Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onions and thyme, cooking slowly until onions are browned, a
bout 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, set aside. Lightly beat the eggs with the milk and season with salt and pepper. Spread half of the cheese in the pie pan. Add onions and cover with the remaining cheese. Pour egg mixture evenly over the top. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown and puffed. Let cool slightly before serving.
Crab Quiche.- Wonderful tasting, everyone loves it! Here's a recipe for crust too:

For pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 stick (6 tbl) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tbl cold vegetable shortening
1/4 tsp salt
3 to 4 tbl ice water

For filling:
1 (1-lb) king crab leg, thawed if frozen, or 1/2 lb lump crabmeat, picked over, or surimi if that suits your budget, it's all good
4 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
2 tbl finely chopped fresh chives
2 tbl finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tbl finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp seafood seasoning such as Paul Prudhomme's
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup coarsely grated Swiss cheese

Make pastry:
Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips, a fork or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Drizzle evenly with 3 tbl ice water and gently stir with a fork (or pulse in processor) until incorporated. Squeeze a small handful: If it doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 tbl at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until just incorporated, then test again. (Do not overwork mixture, or pastry will be tough.) Turn out mixture onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together with scraper and press into a ball, then flatten into a 4-inch disk. Chill dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

Roll out dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin and fit into pie plate. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang under pastry and press against rim of pie plate to reinforce edge. Decoratively crimp edge and lightly prick bottom and side of shell with a fork. Chill until firm, about 30 min. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line shell with foil and fill with dried beans. Bake until pastry is pale golden along rim and set underneath foil, about 20 min. Carefully remove foil and beans and bake shell until bottom and side are pale golden, about 10 min. more. Cool completely in pie plate on a rack, about 20 min.

Make filling:
If using crab leg, hack through shell with a large heavy knife and cut meat into 1/2-inch pieces. Discard shell. Whisk together eggs, cream, herbs, seafood seasoning, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, then stir in cheeses and crabmeat. Pour into prebaked crust and bake until filling puffs and is no longer wobbly in center when quiche is gently shaken, 40 to 50 min. Cool in pie plate on rack 15 min. before serving.
Cheese and Onion Tart.- This is so rich and tasty, you'll love it! You can add other ingredients too:
For crust:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cold butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1 egg, yolk
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

1 tbsp butter
6 large shallots, finely sliced, or use 1 large onion
1 cup heavy cream
4 egg yolks
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
4 oz Mont St. Benoit cheese, broken into pieces
Thyme sprigs, for garnish

Apple Blueberry Relish :
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 Granny smith apple, peeled, cored, diced
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of ground allspice
1 tbsp apple butter
Zest of ½ lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
pinch of salt
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp apple brandy/calvados
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp chopped parsley

Combine flour, butter, salt and pepper in food processor. Pulse several times until mixture resembles course meal. Do not overwork. Transfer to medium bowl. Add chopped thyme.In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and buttermilk. Add the flour mixture to the buttermilk and work gently with hands just until mixture comes together.Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead very gently to combine. Flatten into a disc and wrap with plastic. Chill for 30 min in the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry out into a 10 inch disc, roll pastry thinner to about 1/8-inch thickness. Transfer to a 9-inch fluted flan ring and press down. Poke small holes in bottom of pastry with fork and freeze for 10 min. Line ring with foil and cover with dried beans.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake pastry on the bottom rack of oven until pastry begins to crisp on sides, about 20 to 25 min. Remove foil with beans and continue to cook pastry for 10 more min until crisp and golden. Cool slightly before adding the filling.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a frying pan combine butter and shallots. Sauté on low heat until very soft and golden, about 15 to 18 min. In a small bowl whisk together the cream, yolks and seasoning. Spread shallots over crust and pour in cream mixture. Arrange cheese evenly on top. Decorate with thyme sprigs. Bake for about 20 to 25 min or until filling sets. Serve with Apple Blueberry Relish.

Apple Blueberry Relish:
Add butter to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onions for 2 to 3 min. Add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, allspice, apple butter, lemon zest, lemon juice and pinch of salt. Reduce and simmer, uncovered for 4 min. Add blueberries and simmer 2 to 3 min more. Add calvados and cider vinegar. Simmer until all liquid has become syrupy, about 5 to 10 min. (If the berries were frozen when added, it might take a few minutes more.) Stir in Dijon and parsley. Cool and serve with Cheese and Onion Tart. Makes about 1 cup.
Chicken, Feta and Dill Quiche.- Easy and so good!........
Pastry for crust (as seen above):
1 cup smoked chicken, shredded (rotisserie or baked is also good)
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
3 eggs
2 tbl of chopped dill
2/3 cup heavy cream
sea salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 180 C/ 300 F. Fit pastry onto pan you are using. Prick base of pastry with a fork and fill with dried beans and bake for 10-15 min. Watch the edges. Add the chicken and feta. Place the eggs, cream, dill, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk well to combine. Pour into the pastry shell and bake for 25 min or untill puffed and set.
I think you get the idea of what Quiche is all about and even though it sounds fancy, once you're familiar with the routine, it's a simple process which you can do easily. The dough can be done and refrigerated (or even frozen) ahead of time, so all you need is to roll it out. If you have a food processor it'll take 2 min to get great dough! The fillings leave you free to choose your own custom pie. You can see how the basics are pretty much repeated yet you can change the cheeses, meats, veggies and spices to suit your mood. Don't be limited by the recipes, add or change anything and discover your own favorites or to suit anyone's budget. Anything's game!

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