Friday, December 28, 2007

Quiche for a Rainy Day


Or for a sunny day! Quiche is always a lovely dinner treat -- it's so luscious and fancy-seeming, even though it's surprisingly easy to make.

One of the great things about quiche is that once you know the basic formula, you can play with the ingredients and make countless variations depending on what you're in the mood for.

Yesterday I made quiche in the morning to have for dinner with a small side salad later in the evening. I highly recommend this as a Sunday dinner! Plus you can make two just as easily as you can make one, which means you've got delicious leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. Quiche keeps wonderfully.

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Dena's Mushroom-Leek Quiche
(based on and adapted from Cook's Illustrated's quiche recipe)

Note: to keep it easy, I used store-bought, pre-made frozen pie crusts. Just make sure you look at the ingredient list -- the ones I bought had only four ingredients! If you're in the mood to make pie dough, by all means, you should.*

Makes two 9-inch quiches, since most pie crusts that you buy come in pairs.

2 pre-baked pie crusts
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp organic butter
3 medium leeks
2 cups crimini mushrooms (or any variety you prefer)
4 large eggs plus 4 large egg yolks
2 cups organic Half & Half
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper (or regular pepper, which is what I had on hand, so it's what I used!)
2 cups freshly grated Gruyere cheese

Follow the directions on the pie crust package to pre-bake them and get them ready for your quiche -- usually you'll want to bring them to room temperature by leaving them out on the counter for about 10 minutes, prick the sides and bottom with a fork, and put them in a 375-degree oven for 7-10 minutes or so. Set aside when done.

Keep the oven on.

Cut the tops and green parts off the leeks, then cut in half length-wise and then cut into 1/4-inch slices width-wise. Saute the leeks in 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter in a skillet over medium heat til they are soft, about 5-7 minutes.

Slice the mushrooms and saute them in the remaining olive oil and butter in the same pan over medium-high heat until they are nicely browned and even slightly crispy on the edges.

Whisk all the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the cheese (eggs, half & half, salt & pepper) together in a big bowl. Add in mushrooms and leeks and stir to combine.

Spread the cheese evenly over the bottom of the warm pie shells and set the shells on a baking sheet (lined with aluminum foil for easy clean-up should any spills occur). Pour the custard mixture into the pie shells so that it just comes up to right below the rim of the crust, but no further. Carefully -- very carefully! -- move the baking sheet to the oven.

Bake until light golden brown-ish, 32-35 minutes. Test for done-ness by inserting a knife blade about 1 inch from the edge of the crust: if it comes out clean, it's done! Don't worry if the center looks slightly uncooked or set but soft. It will continue to bake and become perfectly done once you've removed it and it's cooling. Remove from oven and set on a cooling rack (like the kind you use for cookies) so that air circulates all around and prevents condensation on the bottom.

Serve warm or at room temperature and ENJOY!

Other variations you could try:
  • Bacon
  • Spinach
  • Leek and goat cheese
  • Ham and asparagus

The list is really endless!

* The Best Pie Dough
(8- or 9-inch Single Pie Shell)

When rolling out the dough, roll to a thickness of about 1/8-inch thick (about the thickness of two quarters).

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
3–4 tablespoons ice water

1. Mix flour, salt and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat butter with some flour. cut butter into flour with five 1-second pulses. Add shortening and continue cutting in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal with butter bits no larger than small peas, about four more 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more ice water if dough will not come together. Shape dough into ball with your hands, then flatten into 4-inch-wide disk. Dust lightly with flour, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling.

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