Enfin une Quiche

3 07 2008

I actually make quiche on a not-infrequent basis.  It’s relatively easy, and since I know where to get cheap eggs, it’s a good source of inexpensive protein.  But for some reason, none of my quiches have made it onto this here blog.  Why?  Maybe I was embarrassed about using store-bought pâte brisée, maybe I didn’t get any good pictures, maybe I had better things to blog about.  But this time I made up my mind to document the quiche.

First things first: the crust.  (A funny story just popped into my mind – for my culinary school final, I drew a menu containing quiche Lorraine.  We were given ingredient lists, but no other clues.  The list for the quiche did not include ingredients for the crust because, honestly, if you don’t know what goes into pâte brisée, you don’t deserve to graduate from culinary school.  At any rate, the TA told me after the test was finished that I had been the only student to make a crust for the quiche!)  Anyway, the crust is easy.  I used to make it in the Cusinart, which certainly makes it a quick process, but the truth is that it doesn’t take long to do it by hand.  Mix flour and salt in a bowl, rub in cold butter, gently stir in cold water.  I use my hands, that way there are no pastry cutters or knives to wash later.  (I’ll put my recipe at the bottom of this post.)  A French pastry technique called fraisage, which involves smearing the dough on the counter, gives the crust long, flaky layers that are totally worth the mess.  After chilling the dough for an hour or so, I rolled it out and wrangled it into my rectangular baking dish.  I lined it with foil and, since I don’t have any pie weights, weighed it down with a few ramekins.  I parbaked it for about 20 minutes, and it was ready for the fillings.

Parbaked quiche crust

 It was one of those rare moments when we didn’t have any bacon in the house, so I decided to use a ton of caramelized onions.  (For those of you just tuning in, I absolutely love caramelized onions.)

Mmmm... caramelized onions

But wait, there’s more…

We also had a hunk of Emmenthal in the fridge, so naturally it was grated and added to the onions.  (The pie dough may sound like it takes a while, with all the chilling and parbaking, but it’s largely hands-off, so you can do all your other prep while you’re waiting.)

Crust+onions+cheese

For the custard, I whisked together eggs, yolks, milk, and cream and seasoned it with salt and pepper.  Nutmeg would have been nice, too.  I poured this over the onions and cheese, and sprinkled a few shards of cheese over the top.

Quiche - before

Then into the oven it went, while I started on the side salad.  I made a vinaigrette with my rosemary-red wine vinegar, and then pulled the Biggest Lettuce in the World out of the fridge.

That's a normal-sized colander, for the sake of comparison.

Seriously.  I made salad for four and this thing was still the size of a regular head of lettuce.

When the quiche finally emerged from the oven, it looked and smelled fantastic.

The finished quiche

And I’m pleased to say it tasted that way, too.

Caramelized Onion and Emmenthal Quiche

 

Crust:

 

188g/6oz. All-Purpose flour

Pinch sea salt

125g/4oz. Unsalted butter, cold, cubed

63g/2oz. cold water

Egg whites (leftover from custard, see below)

 

1. Combine flour and salt in a bowl.  Add butter cubes and toss to coat.  Begin rubbing the butter into the flour by grabbing small handfuls of flour and butter.  Slide your thumbs across your fingertips until you feel the butter against your skin.  At this point, let go and repeat.  Do this until the remaining pieces of butter are the size of peas or small almonds.  (This can also be done with a few quick pulses in a food processor.)

2. Add the water and gently toss it into the butter-flour mixture.  Dump the contents of the bowl onto the counter and, using the heel of your hand, begin smearing small sections of dough away from you.  When you’ve gone through the dough once, gather it back up and repeat the process.  By this point the dough should be fairly cohesive.  (If not, add a few more drops of water and do the smearing thing again.)  Shape the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill for an hour or so, until firm.

3. Preheat oven to 190C/375F.

4. Roll out dough to 3mm (1/8”) thickness, and place in pie plate or baking dish.  Prick the bottom and sides with a fork.  Line the crust with foil and weigh it down with something oven-proof (if you don’t have pie weights, use your imagination).

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until you begin to see browning on the edges of the crust.  Remove the weights and foil.  Brush the bottom of the crust with egg whites and bake another 5-10 minutes, until the bottom begins to color.  Remove crust from oven, but leave the oven on.

 

Filling:

 

2 medium onions, julienne

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter or lard

2 sprigs thyme

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Splash white wine

 

125g/4.5oz. Emmenthal, grated (substitute Gruyère, Comté, or other Swiss-type cheese)

 

2 eggs

2 yolks (save whites for the crust – see above)

7 oz. milk

7 oz. cream

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

 

1. While the dough is chilling, melt the butter or lard in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onions and season with salt and pepper.  Pick the leaves from the thyme sprigs and toss them on top.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a lovely dark golden brown color.  Add a splash of white wine and continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Remove from heat.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, yolks, milk, and cream.  Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

3. When the crust is ready, spread the onions over the bottom.  Sprinkle most of the cheese over the onions.  Pour in the custard and top with remaining cheese.

4. Bake (the oven’s still on, right?) 30-40 minutes until the top is lightly browned and the custard is set.  It’s ok if it’s still a little wobbly in the center, it will continue to cook a bit out of the oven.  A good way to test is to insert a sharp knife about halfway between the center and the edge of the quiche.  If it comes out clean, the quiche is done.

5. Let cool 15-20 minutes.  (The custard will have puffed up a bit in the oven – let it return to more or less flat before cutting.)  Serve warm with green salad on the side.

 

Makes 1 quiche, approximately 23cm/9” in diameter.  Serves 4 as a main course.

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