What a shame that quiche is usually reserved for bridal showers and ladies lunches. After all, it’s an economical entrée of endless variations that is equally at home on the table for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Consider that you can prepare it ahead of time and serve it hot, cold or at room temperature and your probably kicking yourself that you don’t have a quiche in the fridge now.
Before you run off to the grocery store to buy the ingredients to make this quiche, stop for just a minute. Peek inside your fridge. I’m willing to bet that you have some milk or cream and a couple of eggs. How about some flour and butter? Yes? Congratulations. You can make a quiche.
Obviously we’ll want to dress it up a bit although by no means is this required. Check your cheese drawer for your favorite cheese and then check out your produce bin. With a little ingenuity, little bits of this and that from your refrigerator and pantry can become an elegant and delicious meal. Try spinach, onion, and some cheddar or swiss cheese for a classic quiche or get creative by adding roasted bell pepper strips with a spicy jack cheese. Ham and swiss cheese make the classic Quiche Lorraine, while those leftover pieces of steamed broccoli from last night’s dinner suddenly sound mighty tasty baked in a creamy egg custard.
The most time-consuming part of making quiche (besides the baking) is the crust. And while I’ll never endorse a store-bought crust, I’m not one to judge and certainly won’t argue with the fact that keeping store-bought crusts on hand makes this meal come together that much quicker. If you are aiming for glory and want to make your own crust, there are a couple of things to remember.
First you’ll want to make sure your fat (butter, lard, or shortening) is very cold. Work quickly when making the dough. You don’t need to knead it. Rather, pull it together as quickly as possible and get it in the refrigerator to chill. While a food processor can do this part quickly, I find that when you calculate in the time it takes to wash the food processor it really doesn’t save that much time from doing it by hand. I prefer to make it by hand as it ensures that the dough doesn’t get overworked and stays tender.
I find that one of the most common mistakes in making pie dough comes when you are rolling out the dough. This is the fun part and I find that most of us tend to get a little excited. We start rolling out the dough and before long we have a pizza-sized circle sitting in front of us. Things are looking good until we go to lift the dough to transfer it to the pan and find it stuck to the counter. Been there? The easiest way to avoid this problem is to brush the dough with flour as you roll it out. After every couple of rolls, brush the dough with flour and then place your rolling-pin in the center of the dough. Fold the dough over the rolling-pin and then use the rolling-pin to help you flip it over (see the pictures if you are a visual learner). Brush with flour again and repeat until you’ve rolled out the dough to the proper shape. I typically will flip my dough 3 to 5 times while I’m rolling it out. Once you are ready to move your dough to the springform pan or pie plate, don’t try to pick it up. Again, enthusiasm gets the best of us here. Gently fold the dough over the rolling-pin and move it carefully to the pan. Roll the dough over the pan and then trim it as needed. Easy enough, right?
This recipe requires that you blind bake the crust. On a side note, “Introduction to Baking and Pastry” was my first class in culinary school and I had nightmares about blind baking. I thought it was a test where we had to bake something without looking at it. I have a vivid imagination and fortunately, it is not as threatening as it sounds. Blind baking simply refers to pre-baking the crust before you add the filling. Pie doughs have a tendency to develop air bubbles when baking so to prevent that from happening, you’ll want to lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the dough and then weigh it down with either pie weights or dried beans (if you got a little over-ambitious and bought several pounds of white beans for last week’s recipe, this might be a good use for some of them). After you’ve weighted down the crust, simply put the pan in the oven for 20 minutes to bake. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully remove the foil and the weights or beans and then return the crust to the oven for another 10 minutes. Ta-da – you’ve successfully blind baked your crust. That wasn’t so hard, was it?
And with that I leave you to bake your quiche. If you do decide to follow the recipe and make this bacon, kale, and onion quiche, I urge you to serve it with a mixed green salad of apples, toasted walnuts, and dried cranberries. It’s a perfect pairing and I’ve included a recipe at the end of this post. Happy cooking!
Kale, Bacon and Onion Quiche – Printer Friendly Recipe
2 cups of milk can be used in place of the 1 cup milk and 1 cup heavy cream that are called for in the recipe. However if you have the heavy cream, I would encourage use to it as it does make the quiche that much more luxurious. Don’t feel guilty. Everyone deserves a little indulgence now and then.
For the pastry dough:
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons cold lard (shortening can also be used or substitute butter)
5 tablespoons ice cold water, more if needed
Special equipment: pie weights or dried beans for blind baking, aluminum foil
For the quiche:
2-3 strips thick-cut bacon, chopped into strips
2 cups chopped kale
1 medium sweet (i.e. Vidalia) or regular yellow onion, sliced
5 large eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated gruyere cheese
Special equipment: 9-inch springform pan
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Use two forks or a pastry blender to cut the butter and lard into the flour mixture until the fat is in small lumps. Sprinkle the ice-cold water over the flour mixture and use a fork to pull the mixture together. Add up to 1 more tablespoon of water, in teaspoonfuls, if the dough is not coming together.
Turn the dough out on the counter and, working quickly, mold it into a large ball. Press the ball into a 5-inch disc. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least thirty minutes and up to one day.
On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough to a large, 1/4-inch thick circle. Use the rolling pin to transfer the dough from the countertop to the 9-inch spring form pan. Trim the edges of the dough as needed, but make sure the dough reaches almost to the top of the springform pan. Excess dough can be folded over to create a thicker crust along the edges. If the dough is thin in any place, patch that area with an excess piece of dough. Place the pan with the dough in the freezer for at least 10 minutes before baking.
When ready to bake, place a piece of aluminum foil over the dough and cover with pie weights or dried beans to weigh it down. Pre-baking the crust in this manner is called blind baking.
Place the springform pan atop a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully take out the aluminum foil and pie weights/dried beans. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Render (melt the fat over low heat) the bacon in a large skillet until the bacon is crispy. Remove the bacon using a slotted spoon and set aside. Discard all but a thin film of bacon grease and add the onions. Cook on medium heat until the onions soften and begin to brown. The longer you cook the onions the better they will taste. Remove the onions using a slotted spoon and, if needed, add a teaspoon or less of the reserved bacon grease or olive oil to the pan. Add the kale and sauté until just soft. Remove the kale using a slotted spoon and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the heavy cream and milk and season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Scatter half of the onions, bacon, and kale on the bottom of the pre-baked tart shell. Top with half of the grated Gruyere. Pour ½ of the milk and egg mixture over the ingredients. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Be careful not to overfill the tart. The filling can come almost to the top of the crust, but you don’t want it to slosh out.
Return the springform pan (on top of the baking sheet) to the oven. Cook for about 50 minutes or until the quiche sets. It can be a little jiggly in the center, but otherwise should be pretty firm. Do not overcook. Overcooking the quiche can result in it taking on a greenish tint or can result in it “leaking” water (a result of the eggs being overcooked).
Remove the quiche from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for ten minutes. Remove the quiche from the springform pan and let cool for 10 minutes longer. The quiche can be served warm or at room temperature. It can also be refrigerated and served at a later date. For a nice lunch or light dinner, serve a sliced of the quiche with a mixed green salad with apples, walnuts, and dried cranberries (recipe follows). Bon appétit!
Serve with a Mixed Green Salad with Apples, Walnuts, and Dried Cranberries: This salad serves as a nice contrast to the richness of the quiche. To make, combine a couple handfuls of mixed greens, one chopped red apple, some toasted walnuts, and dried cranberries in a large bowl. Finely chop ½ a shallot and mix it in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar and a ¼ teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Slowly whisk in 4 to 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the ingredients with the dressing and serve.