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Sometimes you just need a quiche

September 25, 2008

Oh, I love quiche

Quiche is one of my favorite things. It’s something I remember my mom making when I was a kid, a special event brunch kind of food. I have memories of mom squeezing and squeezing so much defrosted spinach in paper towels, and I think quiche was one of the first egg-based dishes I ever actually liked. And when Smitten Kitchen featured spinach quiche a few weeks ago, it was all over. I had a craving, and I needed a quiche.

Thank goodness for all that leftover pie dough from my nectarine galette experiment. The pie dough is the only potentially tricky thing about quiche, and honestly? Most of the time I buy it pre-made, because who needs to fuss with that stuff in the morning anyway? Not that I think quiche must be relegated to breakfast. In fact, this quiche made several satisfying lunches and dinners for me. And thank goodness for tart pans. I never thought to make quiche in a tart pan before; I’ve always used 9-inch pie pans. But the tart pan, while it does produce a thinner quiche, halves the cooking time, which made me very happy when I was very hungry. Who woulda thunk it? Oh, yeah, Deb at Smitten Kitchen.

I found myself quite curious as to when quiche became popular in America. I mean, everyone remembers that the 80s were when real men started to eat it, but did fake men, or anyone else, eat it before that? Apparently, not so much. Or at least not in America. In Europe, people were eating dishes remarkably similar to quiche since the Middle Ages, and it might even have originated in Roman times. But somehow, this delectable eggy wonder didn’t make its way to these shores until, well, probably the 1950s, but potentially as late as the 1970s.

In fact, I tried to put my burgeoning librarian skills to work on this question, and haven’t yet found a definitive answer. A search through Feeding America, a digital archive of influential early-American cookbooks, finds nothing even resembling quiche (though you can find a nice recipe for Stewed Terrapin with Cream). Other sites on American food history offer wildly varying dates. My mad library skillz haven’t panned out on this particular subject quite yet, but I feel relatively safe in assuming that quiche didn’t become popular in American until after World War II.

Which is just silly, because it’s frightfully easy. In fact, my recipes for quiche appear to be even easier than many others I’ve seen. I always knew I could find the lazy lady’s way to do most everything.

Crust in a tart pan

As I mentioned earlier, the only hard part to making quiche is making pie dough, and you don’t really have to do that, if your supermarket carries pre-made pie dough. If you want to make your own pie dough, though, I’ve got a great recipe for you (or, ok, Bon Appetit has a great recipe). And it’s really not that hard, I promise. Whatever way you shake it, though, once you’ve got your dough in a pie pan or tart pan, the rest is cake. Or easy as pie. Or…ok, I clearly need a nice relaxing weekend, because I think my mind is starting to go.

Some people do all kinds of pre-baking cooking when they make quiche, caramelizing onions and sauteeing spinach and bacon, and I generally say don’t bother.* Well, if you’re using bacon then yes, you should probably cook it first. But you can get around that by using cured meat like salami or prosciutto, and it’s just as delicious. Don’t dirty a skillet when all you really have to do is put a bunch of raw vegetables into some pie dough.

Uncooked Quiche

It will be in the oven long enough to cook everything up. This particular quiche included baby spinach, red onions, and aged sharp cheddar. And it was goooooood.

Once you’ve got your ingredients heaped into your pie crust, just whisk together about three eggs, a splash of milk, and some salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the pie crust; it might seem like there’s not enough egg, and you might worry because it seems to have disappeared under all that spinach (or chard or tomatoes or basil or whatever), but the egg custard will puff up in the oven and it will turn out a-ok, don’t you worry.

Now you can just throw the whole shebang into a 350F oven for about 30 minutes (probably closer to an hour if you’re using a deeper pie pan). It’ll be ready when the top is slightly browned and a toothpick entered into the center comes out clean. And you know what else you can do while your quiche is baking?

A favorite (and very bad) snack

You can bake up the crust scraps. This is one of my favorite tasty treats. My grandma used to do this when we made pies, but she sprinkled them with sugar and cinnamon. I’m not so much into the sweets, so I sprinkle mine with just a touch of salt, bake them for about 10 minutes right alongside the quiche, and then…well, then I devour them all and feel kinda bad about it, because it’s pretty much just straight butter. But it’s soooo goooood. Sigh.

Once the quiche is lovely and browned like this:

Quiche, untarted

you are ready to eat. This was dinner and lunch for me for about three days, with a little green salad on the side. And I already want more. I feel bad for all the generations of pre-World War II (or pre-1970s) Americans who never got to enjoy this lovely, savory, any-time-of-the-day meal. But I sure am glad that I get to enjoy it.

*Disclaimers: Alright, if you’re adding any kind of meat that’s not cured (sausage, bacon, chicken, what have you) of course you should cook it. And there are some vegetables that you might want to saute up first, like zucchini, because they can release a lot of water. But you don’t really have to. I’ve had some perfectly acceptable zucchini quiches that required no pre-cooking. I’m just saying.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 25, 2008 6:39 pm

    I never think to make quiche, and that is definitely an egg dish I can handle. (Pretty much anything I try comes out scrambled, so usually I just cut to the chase.)

  2. Gramma Saufley permalink
    September 26, 2008 10:12 am

    Hi Laura, I hope you have time to make this when you are home for the wedding, it sounds delicious…anxious to see you and meet Shawn…I don”t believe that you remembered the pie dough cookies; yummy for the tummt!!!Love you and can hardly wait to see you. Gramma

  3. Gramma Saufley permalink
    September 26, 2008 10:13 am

    Hi Laura, I hope you have time to make this when you are home for the wedding, it sounds delicious…anxious to see you and meet Shawn…I don”t believe that you remembered the pie dough cookies; yummy for the tummy!!!Love you and can hardly wait to see you. Gramma

  4. Nicole permalink
    October 22, 2008 6:29 pm

    I love quiche so much. I especially love that my toaster oven can fit an entire pie tin and will cook up a quiche quickly without heating up my whole house (I know you don’t have that problem in Boston winters). Yummy goodness!

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