Quiche, a Versatile Wonder

Quiche, a Versatile Wonder

The original “quiche,” a savory custard pie, appears to be French. But there are somewhat similar pies in both English and Italian culinary traditions. Probably the best-known classical version is Quiche Lorraine, from that northeastern region of France. It contains ham and leeks in the custard, with cheese as a more recent addition.

Basil, feta, sun-dried tomato and mushroom quiche
Nowadays, almost any meats, fish, vegetables, specialty cheeses, herbs, and even almonds or walnuts can go into quiche. Restaurants, unapologetically including ours, Donderos’ Kitchen in Athens, GA, vary the ingredients so as to feature a “different” specialty quiche each time.

Here’s my basic recipe, which was influenced by my culinary hero Craig Claiborne, the long-time food editor of the New York Times when I was younger. His recipe appeared in the book, “Craig Claiborne’s Herb and Spice Cookbook,” in the chapter on green onions.

The recipe makes several quiches, depending on size. Leftovers keep well and reheat easily in a toaster oven or oven (microwave makes the crust rubbery).

Pastry for 2 (9-inch) or 3 (8-inch) pies (homemade or purchased refrigerated)
6 medium-large scallions (green onions)
*1/2 pound thick sliced smoked turkey (or turkey salami, ham, pastrami, smoked salmon, or mixed meats, including a little thinly sliced pepperoni) and/or blanched, steamed, or lightly microwaved vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower) or thawed, squeezed out (but not further cooked) frozen spinach
2 cups coarsely grated Swiss cheese, or cheddar
6 eggs
2 1/4 cup whole milk (or part cream)
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon salt (3/4 teaspoon if using a salty ingredient like feta, salami, etc)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
A pinch of cayenne
2 teaspoons Dijon or whole grain mustard for painting inside of pie crusts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Roll crusts lightly and line pie pans. Paint inside the bottom and sides of crusts with mustard.

Slice scallions into 1/8-inch lengths. Distribute them over the bottoms of the crust. Cut the meat(s) or salmon into small pieces, and distribute it over the scallions. Or if using vegetables, add them with or without meats over the scallions. Spread the Swiss and/or cheddar over these ingredients.In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a whisk. Add the milk, grated Romano, horseradish, salt, nutmeg, pepper and cayenne, and whisk briefly to combine. Pour it into the piecrusts. If using disposable aluminum pie pans, place them on cookie pans for security.

Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to 310 and continue baking until the center doesn’t wiggle and a sharp knife inserted an inch from the center comes out clean (25 to 35 minutes). Serve warm or at room temperature.

A salad accompanies quiche well for a lunch or supper.

*Other possible quiche ingredients: bacon (fried and crumbled) plus blue cheese (along with the regular cheese); chopped canned artichoke hearts with chopped walnuts on top; sliced black olives, green olives, moistened and heated sun-dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, baked chicken; chorizo out of casing and pre-fried, jalapeño, and roasted red pepper; Italian sausage, out of casing and fried, roasted peppers plus olives.

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