lundi 12 mars 2007

A tart for a tart.

So, I was supposed to make this quiche for a potluck, but then decided that I'd rather have it myself and not share with others. That's me, the generous giving one. (No worries, I made a coffee hazelnut chocolate chip sour cream cake for the event, so I doubt they're too sad).

Again, I turned to my trusty Joy of Cooking for the recipe. This is the cookbook I grew up with, and the first recipes I ever made were from this book (chocolate chip cookies and lemon bars, if I recall correctly). Since my mother wasn't about to give her copy of the cookbook up, I asked for the newest version for Christmas this past year. It's a very handy manual - clearly written and usually my first go-to book whenever I want to make anything. Nothing I've made from this cookbook has turned out poorly, which is either a testament to the fact that I think that everything I make is great or the quality of the recipe-writing. Probably the latter (with a smidge of the former thrown in - I've got a healthy ego).

Anyways, so quiche. I wanted a ham and cheese quiche, therefore had to improvise. (Quiche lorraine, if you're interested, has bacon and traditionally NO cheese. I didn't know that. I wanted cheese. And regular ham, not bacon). I started out with the basic recipe for a cheese quiche, and then made some changes along the way. Obviously, this recipe is open for a lot of fiddling around, and you can add any fillings you want. Not a meat-eater? Substitute spinach and/or mushrooms and/or any other vegetables you like. Use a different kind of cheese. Use multiple cheeses. Don't use cheese. Add sauteed leeks. Et cetera. (A guideline - you want approximately 1.5-2 cups of whatever filling you use, aside from the cheese.) The important thing to do is make sure that whatever filling you use, that it's cooked and drained of any excess liquids as to not make the crust soggy.

The crust, while very easy to make, was a bit more crumbly than flaky, which I suppose was to be expected since I did pat it into the pan. While I prefer flakier crusts, I am also exceedingly lazy and hate rolling pie crusts out. (You can see further evidence of my laziness in the uneven exposed crust. Whatever. I was hungry and it worked.) This was a nice simple substitute, and should allay any worries people have about the difficulties of making pie crusts.

Yum! Quiche! If I were a bit healthier I'd bring it along with a salad for lunch, but salad is a silent killer (see Jeffrey Steingarten, The Man Who Ate Everything, pp. 177-186). Sometimes, I agree.

Ham and cheese quiche
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, softened
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 egg yolks, beaten

1.5 cups shredded cheese (I used Emmenthaler)
1.5 cups diced ham (good ham, not those thin prepacked deli slices. You want something that has a presence)
2 eggs + 2 egg whites (leftover from the 2 egg yolks you separated out above, obviously)
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Whisk the flour and salt together. Add butter. Mash with the back of a fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle cream over the top, and stir until the crumbs look damp and hold together when pinched. You can do all of these steps in a food processor, but I haven't taken mine out of the box yet.

Pat the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Thoroughly prick the sides and bottom of the crust with a fork. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

While still warm, brush the baked crust with the beaten egg yolks and pop back into the oven for a couple of minutes, as you finish preparing the rest of the quiche. (This creates a glaze which prevents the crust from being soggy when you pour the egg mixture in.)

Meanwhile, whisk together the cream, eggs, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Make sure that no streaks of egg white remain.

Take the pie crust out of the oven. Sprinkle the cheese over the bottom of the crust, then follow with ham. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the cheese in the pastry shell.

Bake until the filling is puffed around the sides and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 30-40 minutes. (You can place the quiche on a baking sheet in case you are worried about spillage). Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.