Eating better food for less and other tales from a no-moneymoon

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Quiche Love

I seem to be on a kick: forgiving food. Not food to ask forgiveness, or to forgive others with, but food that actually can stand up to a challenge. Sometimes you need a dish that can go the distance, or at least the length of a buffet without wilting, drying out or going bad. And the answer happens to be one of the easiest and most delicious options around, and did I mention that it's actually pretty thrifty?

Quiche can be made ahead, frozen and reheated, served hot or at room temperature, and can sit out for, well, usually as long as you need it to (I wouldn't go overnight, but...) And then there's the flexibility of ingredients. The basics are some sort of pastry base, some eggs and some milk/cream. Then, you just go wild: vegetables, meats, cheeses.

But even with swapping in skim milk for cream or using fewer eggs, the fact remains that quiche isn't exactly healthy. There's that little problem of, oh, the butter-laden crust and the cheese (and you DO want the cheese.)

So here's the solution: make it small. I like wee food in general, and I actually prefer my quiches mini. Over the winter I'd turned out batch after batch of itsy bitsy quiches that I froze for those "impromptu" guests. (Well, not impromptu so much as coming by when I wouldn't necessarily want to be rushing around before they arrived.) They were perfect as everything from proper cocktails to a starter for brunch.

And this weekend I had the honor of co-hosting an afternoon bridal shower for a dear friend, so another perfect time for my forgiving little friends. But this time I turned out a batch of 3-bite quiche using my handy muffin pan (regular size, not mini!) I filled a flaky crust from Martha with yellow pepper, asparagus and Gruyere; Gruyere, onion and bacon (aka Lorraine), and my personal favorite, leek and parmesan. Good things do come in small packages

Mini Quiche Universal Recipe
I studied up on my quiche recipes in trying to figure out a healthy option that would still taste yummy when shrunk down. And you know what? You can pretty much do what you want with quiche. So this is a universal recipe that swaps in ingredients, but I've also included some suggestions of what I used. And the thrift factor of being able to use what you have can't be beat.

This is from Martha Stewart and you can find her original mini quiche recipe here. I've changed mine to reflect healthier ingredients and different proportions. But Trust In Martha when it comes to pastry. She knows her stuff. This is her Pate Brisee recipe and I follow it to the T:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 cup ice water

In a food processor, combine the flour salt and sugar. Add all the butter and pulse about 10 seconds until the butter is no longer visible. With the machine running pour in the ice water and allow the mixture to come together. This will NOT take long so keep your eyes on the processor. I also hear a different sound because the blade is dealing with a more solid form. Divide the dough into two disks. I usually spread out two large pieces of plastic wrap and dump it onto them directly. Wrap tightly and refrigerate at least one hour. I've kept this stuff for several days in the fridge and it is totally ok.

Roll out on a floured surface and cut circles that are about two times the circumference of the base of your muffin pan. Haha, kidding. Grab a wide mouth glass or jar from your cupboard and play around to see what size circle fits nicely when nestled into a muffin pan, as pan sizes vary. I used a big old plastic cup from my college days that is about 3 1/2 inches across. Grease your muffin tin well and then start fitting the little dough circles into each spot. I often cut out a small wedge to make the dough fit more easily.Half the recipe above made about 15-18 3-bite quiches.

For 15-18 quiches, you need about 1 cup of filling, and cook anything that is not a soft vegetable (tomatoes can go in raw):
  • 1 leek, cut into 1/8 disks and soaked in water to get rid of any grit
  • 1/2 pepper, diced + 3 spears asparagus, sliced thin
  • 5-6 strips of bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces + 1 onion, diced

You *want* cheese in your quiche, and you need about 1 cup grated. I love my microplane and it does a great job of creating a fluffy mound of cheese that I can easily distribute into the smaller cups.

Egg Mixture
4 eggs
2 cups milk (I tried 1 % and it worked)
Freshly grated nutmeg (microplane, again, about 1 teaspoon)
A little salt

Put it together: evenly distribute the filling and cheese in the bottom of your dough-filled muffin pan. Pour in the egg mixture until it is even with the top of the pastry.

Bake at 350F for 35 minutes when a knife comes out clean from the center. Let sit about 10 minutes in the pan before removing to finish cooling.

I've used both my silicone pan and my regular old tin. Both work well.

Great party food that stands up over time
Thrifty way to use up bits and pieces of vegetables, cheese and meat
Bite-size dishes let guests determine how much they want to indulge
Put leftovers in the freezer and reheat whenever you need a quick nibble or lunch.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome job. I'm sure they were a hit at the party. I wonder if you could use whole wheat pastry flour for the dough to make it healthier? I too cannot live without my Microplane.