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Monday, March 17, 2008

ham and gruyere quiche

ham and gruyere quiche

Quiche is a dish that I make fairly regularly, especially in the spring and summer, and I never really follow a recipe. The gist is basically start with a crust, put whatever cheese(s) and other filling in the bottom, then cover with egg mix and bake until it's set. I haven't found a combination of fresh spring vegetables and good quality cheese that I don't like. So when I saw an article recently (in Elle Decor, of all places) about it being the "season for quiche" now that it's spring, it reminded me that it's time to have a little brunch get-together.

I followed the article's recipe somewhat, because I have never made a crust as light and airy as this one was described. The foundation is phyllo dough, paper thin sheets of dough that you have to glue together with egg wash. I tried this to see if the challenge was interesting, and even though I now know I can make a phyllo crust for quiche myself, I probably will stick to the old fashioned southern pie crust in the future. It has a more solid, salty, dense texture, which I prefer. But I'll walk you through this one anyway, because phyllo crust is just good to know about...

Grocery list: phyllo dough (I found this in the freezer section of WF, a single box of 20 sheets), 8 eggs, 1 c half and half, ham, gruyere, goat cheese, 1 roma tomato, 5 T breadcrumbs, about 3 cups uncooked rice.

phyllo step one

Lay one sheet of phyllo down on the counter. Beat a single egg in a bowl, and brush a little egg wash on the surface of the dough. Sprinkle 1 T plain breadcrumbs over. Add another sheet of dough, and repeat the layers (dough + egg wash + breadcrumbs) until you have 6 total sheets of dough, ending with dough on top.

cutting quiche crust

Take your pie plate and set it on top of the dough layers. With a pointy knife, cut the dough *about an inch wider than the perimeter of the pan*. This is important b/c the dough shrinks when you cook the crust, and if you cut it to the exact size to start with it will shrink and not cover the bottom of the pan.

Take the dough layers and put in the bottom of your pie pan. Lay down a sheet of parchment papers, then cover with the uncooked rice, to weigh down the paper. Bake 12 minutes at 350 degrees, remove from the oven to cool (remove the rice and paper first), and turn the oven down to 300 degrees.

Grate a handful of gruyere and crumble an equal amount of goat cheese. Slice a handful or 2 of ham (virginia ham is perfect -- you can ask for 1-2 thick slices at the deli counter). Sprinkle the ham & the cheeses in the bottom of the crust. I prefer to slice the roma tomato and arrange the slices around the pan so when it cooks, each piece of quiche will have a slice of tomato right in the center.

custard mix

The egg mix is 4 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk, beaten together with 1 cup half and half and a pinch of white pepper, tiny pinch of cayenne, and salt and pepper. Pour this over the toppings and bake for at least 45 minutes. You'll know when it's done because the top will be golden and the egg mixture "set" -- i.e. if you shake the pie dish a little, it shouldn't be liquidy in the middle.

Let set on the counter for 10 minutes or longer before slicing and serving.

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