Traverse City Record-Eagle

May 9, 2013

Demystify Mother's Day quiche

BY J.M. HIRSCH The Associated Press
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — Quiche has a reputation as a complicated dish. And I’m not sure why.

Home cooks worry about the crust. They angst over the fillings. Do they have the right mix of meats or veggies? Which type of cheese? And how much is too much? And then there is striking the balance of egg and dairy, never mind determining the best way to season the mixture.

Which makes it all sound so very troublesome. And yet quiche really is such a simple dish that is both versatile and forgiving. Not even the least skilled home cook has an excuse for skipping it. Especially come Mother’s Day. Quiche is perfect for breakfast in bed. It’s easy enough for the kids to help with. It even can be prepped the night before.

So let’s demystify it step-by-step, starting with the crust. Homemade is fine, but I just don’t bother. Purchased pie dough won’t win you any baking competitions, but it’s completely respectable for a quiche crust. I try to always keep a package of rolled crusts in the freezer. They thaw quickly and are simple to unroll and fit into a pan.

As for the pan, I prefer a tart pan with a removable bottom. It is easier to slice the quiches and remove each serving, and it’s attractive. But a pie pan works fine, too.

Next up, the fillings. I like to keep it simple with ham or sausage. But whatever meat you use, keep the chunks small. Veggies should be at least partially cooked before they go into the crust. This isn’t just to ensure they are fully cooked, though that’s important, too. Whatever mix you use, aim for about half a pound.

Cheese should be grated or shredded. Cheddar and gouda are nice, as is Gruyere. Aim for a total of about 11/2 cups of cheese.

The final step is the eggs and milk. For a large quiche, you’ll want about 8 eggs and 1/3 cup of milk. Don’t have that many eggs? Use what you have and up the milk. Don’t have milk? Up the eggs and add a splash or water or half-and-half. Whisk it.

Seasonings? Keep it simple. I usually use salt, pepper, dried thyme, maybe some fennel seed, and nothing more.

I don’t pretend that my what-have-you approach to quiche making would make Julia Child proud. But the nature of quiches means they tend to be delicious almost no matter what you do.

Ham and Cheddar Quiche

1 prepared uncooked pie crust, room temperature

8 oz. deli-sliced ham, chopped

6 oz. (11/2 c.) grated cheddar cheese

8 eggs

1/3 c. milk

1 t. dried thyme

1/2 t. fennel seed

1/2 t. kosher salt

1/4 t. ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 425°. Coat an 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom with cooking spray. Alternatively, use a 9-inch deep dish pie pan. Set the pan on a baking sheet.

Unroll the pie crust and set it into the prepared pan. Gently push the crust into the corners and up the edges of the pan, crimping and trimming as needed.

Scatter the ham and cheese evenly over the crust.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, thyme, fennel, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the ham and cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until puffed and set at the center and lightly browned at the edges. Cool slightly or completely before slicing and serving. Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 360 calories; 210 calories from fat (58 percent of total calories); 24 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 220 mg cholesterol; 18 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 18 g protein; 840 mg sodium.