Monday, February 24, 2014

OMG a Recipe: Crusty Like a Pie Shell, and This Post

It's safe to assume it's mostly bloggers who read other blog posts, so when I say this, it's not for shock value so much as Can I get an Amen, fellow blogger sistahs and brothas? This post took me almost a year to go live. There was no catastrophic human tragedy. The rights to edible food wasn't in litigation hell, being argued over by teams of overpriced Hollywood lawyers. The recipe wasn't even all that complicated -- it's just a vegetable quiche, for heaven's sake! But you know how it goes -- you put together what you know will be a tasty seasonal post, take a million photos, and then fall behind on photo editing and the recipe loses timeliness. So I'm making up for lost time, giving this long-overdue, crusty post about building the perfect quiche its long overdue spotlight.

Happy First Birthday, Year-Old Quiche Photos! - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Thankfully, the quiche itself is not a year old. It was enjoyed many months ago last spring, when I got the bee in my bonnet to make the most of all the wonderful springtime greens and favorite vegetables. I get excited with asparagus is in season, when I know I'm not paying triple for a bundle that was hauled over from Mexico. I get even more excited when the first signs of spring kick the herb garden back into action -- the rosemary plants start producing more leaves and I'll often get little garlic greens (ghetto ramps, I call them) from spare, puny bulbs I just shove into the ground from the previous season. I want to eat it ALL, but not have the flavors overshadowed by some heavy protein. My thought was simply: Quiche.

All the Favorite Things! Fresh herbs, asparagus, eggs and mushrooms - Photos by Wasabi Prime
But how to fit all my enthusiastic favorite things into a single quiche? Ingredients often dog-pile into a quiche and end up being a sunken leviathan at the bottom of a heavy custard. Maybe that's fine for some, but I wanted a quiche with volume, minus the heaviness of it being nothing but eggs. The solution was to make a souffle-quiche hybrid, encased in a crispy, high-walled pie shell. Springform pan to the rescue! Similar to my previous experiment with a high-walled deep-dish pizza, using the springform pan, I made a batch of pie dough, used a little more than half, since most pie dough recipes result in enough for a fully covered pie, and pressed the dough into the bottom of the pan, making sure the crust reached upwards, along the edges. A blind bake with pie weights or docking the dough with fork tines helps set the crust, and then you can start going about the building of the beast.

Building the Quiche-Beast - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Separating the eggs, mixing the yolks into a custard, and whipping the whites into a stiff foam was the key to giving the quiche volume without being a 10-pound brick. I cooked off all the vegetable parts separately, to get as much of the liquid out -- asparagus, artichoke hearts and reconstituted wild mushrooms were my flavor weapons of choice. I mixed minced herbs with the egg yolks and some cream, and gently folded the beaten egg whites into the custard, similar to how you'd make a souffle, except that it won't really rise.

The cooked vegetables were folded into the egg mixture, and some pieces were reserved to top the quiche as it baked, just as a decorative element. I saved the asparagus tips, some artichoke hearts and part of the mushrooms to be the topping, and because the egg whites give the custard some stiffness, the ingredients stay on top, no sinking. A shaving of a strong/tart flavored cheese is nice, like Asiago or Fontina, right as the quiche comes out of the oven.

This is less of a recipe, more of a OMG a Technique post. You can fill a quiche with whatever you want, my springtime ingredient list is just a suggestion. The best part of the quiche was getting the eggs to just the right texture without being too dense, having an even distribution of filling, and a nice, tall slice. The main points to take note of would be:
  • Springform pans are your BFF for savory pies - you can get a nice, thin, high-walled crust, and blind baking it first keeps it from getting soggy.
  • Separate the eggs - about 10 for one large springform pan, 9 if you want to add a lot of vegetables to the filling.
  • Whip the whites to a soft peak; beat the yolks into a custard with cream and seasonings. Gently fold the two together right before pouring into the crust.
  • Baking temperature doesn't change for any of this -- 350 to 375 degrees, depending on your oven; just until the quiche isn't jiggly in the middle. 
Another thing to remember is keep some buttered ramekins handy. Somehow you always wind up with extra quiche filling, and you don't want to overfill the springform pan. I wound up with several baby quiches, baked in little bowls -- nothing goes to waste!

Waste nothing! Extra quiche filling makes for great baby quiches - Photo by Wasabi Prime
You'll also have extra pie dough. Not big enough for a typical open-topped pie, but enough for a small galette. These are my favorite pies to make -- they look so rustic, they photograph so well, and if you're like me who always has a spare apple and/or pear sitting in the fruit bowl, that's the perfect amount of filling for a wonky-shaped, folded-over flat pie. If you're feeling industrious and extra-efficient, you could bake the galette and the quiche in the oven at the same time.

Rustic sounds so much better than messy - I love galettes! - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Yes, it's been about a year since this quiche came to be in my kitchen. Despite waiting so long to finally unleash it onto the blog, the photos and the method makes me excited to see it, inspiring me to do another one with different fillings. Maybe this time, I won't wait a year to post that next version!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Commentary encouraged. Fresh baked cookies, super-encouraged. (hit the 'post comment' button twice, sometimes it's buggy)