Monday, July 21, 2008

Quiche, so many ways

Quiche in many variations has gone through a wave of American popularity over the past three to four decades. The original 'Quiche à la Lorraine' was a fairly simple French open-faced pie filled with seasoned egg-and-cream custard. A popular variant added fried un-smoked bacon. Subsequently, fried sliced leeks were often added. Cheese was not part of the original pie, but tiny cubes of Gruyère were added as quiche became more widespread. The recipe presented here substitutes smoked turkey or salmon for the bacon, scallions for the leeks, and adds a non-traditional seasoning, horseradish. But otherwise it adheres to the contents, if not size, of the individual quiches sold in bakeries in France.

While I've shown a variant on the fairly classical 'quiche lorraine', wonderful quiches are made with other meats -- diced cooked ham, cooked Italian sausage thinly sliced, or even shredded pepperoni, pastrami, or Genoa salami. and there are many vegetarian versions, such as with lightly roasted or blanched asparagus, spinach, or broccoli. And other cheeses can be partially substituted for gruyere, including cheddar, and blue. Cut back on the salt slightly if a salty meat or cheese is added.

This quiche makes a substantial first course in a fancy dinner for six people, or more commonly serves as a snack, lunch, or supper for four to six, either alone or accompanied by salad. Like with most cheese dishes, red wine is a good accomaniment, a dry, not too fruity red, like Cabernet Sauvignon, a Grenache or Garnacha, or Chianti.

Quiche Lorraine Tim

Pastry for a 9-inch one-crust pie (such as Pillsbury or homemade)
Dijon mustard for the crust

3 scallions (green onions)
1/4 pound sliced smoked turkey or smoked salmon
1 cup cubed (1/4 inch) or grated Swiss cheese, about 1/3 pound
3 eggs
1-1/4 cups whole milk (or part cream)
2 tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
3/4 teaspoon salt (or 1/2 teaspoon if using salty smoked salmon)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground black or white pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

If using a frozen pastry, let it thaw in its plastic wrapping. It's best to do this overnight in the fridge. If in a hurry, you can start to thaw it, carefully, in the microwave, and let it come to temperature out on the counter. If using homemade pastry, roll it and line a 9-inch pan. Fold any excess crust under and pinch the edge or press it with a floured fork to make a simple but decorrative border. Paint the inside of the crust bottom and sides with a little Dijon mustard, using your fingers or a pastry brush.

Trim off the roots from the scallions. Line them up together and cut both the white and the green into 1/4-inch lengths. Distribute the pieces over the bottom of the crust. Cut the smoked turkey or salmon (or other meat or blanched or roasted vegetable) into small pieces, and distribute it over the scallions. Spread the cheese over the ingredients in the crust.

In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a whisk. Add the milk, grated Romano or Parmesan, horseradish, salt, nutmeg, and pepper, and whisk it briefly to combine. Pour it into the piecrust.

Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 and continue baking until the center does not wiggle and a sharp knife inserted an inch from the center comes out clean (25 to 35 minutes). Serve warm or at room temperature.

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