I spent a year living in the Land of Quiche Lorraine (known locally as just “Lorraine“…). The quiche–bacon, cream, chive, perhaps a bit of mustard, lots of butter–really does some up the region’s cuisine. Coming from the Midwest, I appreciated the connection the food still seemed to have to its agrarian history. Plus, it’s hard to argue with cheese-egg-deliciousness tucked in a pastry crust.
Everyone needs a good quiche recipe. There was a book written once, Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche. I’ve never met a man that agrees. It’s good for lunch. It’s good for brunch. It’s good for straight-up breakfast. Or at 2 a.m., when you wake up for a glass of water & grab a slice from the fridge instead. It’s good fresh from the oven, with cheese still gooey. It’s good at room temperature–like you find in pastry shops & markets, wrapping the flaky crust in a napkin & holding your market bag in the other hand before continuing your stroll down the street.
It’s just plain good.
So my goal today is to give you the basic, never-fail, add-what-you-want quiche recipe. (That, however, was too long of a title.) Add Lorraine ingredients. Add feta & spinach. Add roasted red pepper & fresh goat cheese. Try cheddar & ham with lots of chive. Try Virginia Willis‘s Vidalia onion confit filling, found in her incredible cookbook.
A good quiche starts with good pastry, & this recipe is tops. Actually, I’m doing something I’ve never done before. I’m giving you a recipe from a cookbook, one I received this Christmas. Willis’s Bon Appetit, Y’all is amazing–a blend of French cuisine & traditional Southern & Creole comforts, reflecting this woman’s fascinating family history.
So let’s start with the pastry…
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into bits & chilled
- 1 teaspoon of your preferred salt (Willis uses fine sea salt for all things, which is nice but not something most people just have on hand)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 egg yolks
- 5 tablespoons of cold water + a bit more if the texture is still off
Pastry Instructions: I realize that this looks long when you can just buy a crust at the store, but good pastry needs a good process.
- Whisk flour & salt together in a bowl.
- Add all of the butter. Cut the butter in with a pastry cutter, two knifes (working in opposite directions–this is the method I was actually taught while working in the café in my hometown, where I first started making quiches) or your fingers. I use my fingers, but it takes a bit & you run the risk of melting the butter a bit with the warmth of your hands. If you find the butter getting a bit soft (which stops the pastry from being as fluffy), pop it back in the fridge for a few minutes. (Willis stops this problem by cutting her butter in with a food processer. I think it’s extra dishes. Or rather, it would be if I had one.)
- Add egg yolks. Follow the same “cutting” process until combined.
- Add the ice water. Here what I was trained to do: I run the water down the side of the bowl, rather than into the middle. Then, I use a fork to stir/toss/fold the pastry around the bowl & on top of itself. Don’t go crazy stirring. Work slowly, in concentric circles, going in one direction. You don’t want to mash everything together & get one heavy, flat blob. That said, make sure the dough is well-incorporated. If it’s dry, add a bit more water, but you want it a bit crumby rather than sticky or damp.
- Shape the dough into a ball. Compress with your hands & chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Flour your work surface. Put the chilled dough in the middle of your work surface & roll it out. Begin in the middle & go out in each direction, returning to the middle for your next stroke. Roll to 1/8 inch thick.
- Place your rolling pin at the bottom of your pastry & roll the dough lightly around your rolling pin, so that you can transfer it to the pie pan you’ll be using.
- Drape over & press into pan with fingertips. Decide how to deal with the bits hanging over the edge of the pan. I do one of two things: (1) cut to an even length & flute it; (2) trim off right at the top of your pan, just running a paring knife around the edge. Digression: At the café where I first started baking for an audience, we wanted snacks in the kitchen… so we’d use those extra trimmed bits of pie crust to make “crust cookies.” Line them up on a parchment-covered cookie sheet; douse with cinnamon-sugar & bake at 350 until golden. Dunk into coffee & enjoy.
- Poke crust in various places with a fork, to allow air to escape. Chill for 45 minutes, giving you time to do yoga, drink a glass of wine or watch an episode of Mad Men on DVD (in preparation for SEASON FIVE THIS YEAR!).
- Blind bake: Preheat oven to 425 F. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit inside your pie man. Put in the pan & top with the dried beans or uncooked rice you’ve been buying in bulk. Bake for 20 minutes. This leaves the pastry a bit undone, so that it will finish baking when the quiche is inside. Save those beans & use them each time you make a pastry crust. (Don’t eat them, though.)
And now the good stuff…
- blind-baked pie crust
- 3 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (or any fresh herb you have that you’d enjoy with eggs)
- salt & pepper to your taste
- fillings of your choosing (though it’s also good plain–best with a cup of cheese)
- Now, quiche usually has cheese. If I’m using it, I use a full cup. Before mixing the eggs together, I spread the cheese (& any other fillings I decide to add) out in the crust.
- Whisk the eggs together–enough to break the yolks & get things looking messy.
- Add all the other ingredients & whisk vigorously. You want to add a bit of air here, so that it gets fluffier. At the café, we “whisked” in a blender on medium speed for a bit.
- Pour into crust, over filling ingredients you’ve chosen to add.
- Bake 30 to 35 minutes, so that the filling is lightly browned & the insides are set–not much jiggle when you move the pan. Place on cooling rack. Serve as you like.
I can easily eat a quarter of this quiche as a serving, meaning Joe & I will eat it for brunch… & then again for dinner without feeling bad about it. I don’t recommend that much quiche consumption for the normal adult, but I promise it will be equally satisfying at any time of day. Do try it best fresh from the oven, though–a side of spring mix salad & absolutely any beverage. An easy meal to adapt, serve, pair with drinks, pair with sides & devour? What is there not to love?
Keep this one in your back pocket, & give thanks to Willis each time it comes to the table. Bon appetit.