The famed egg and cheese dish is for real men, real women and anyone who isn’t afraid to experiment with leafy greens
By Louise Crosby
When my Mom goes out for lunch, nothing makes her happier than to have quiche, slightly warmed with a bit of salad on the side. She has a point: quiche done well, with a crisp yet tender, flaky crust and a creamy custard filling, is a wonderful thing.
This recipe, part Julia Child and part Martha Stewart, all revised by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen and then tweaked again by me (things do get recycled!) is classic. Leeks are braised with water, butter and salt until they’re soft and sweet, and the mushrooms are sautéed in butter with a splash of port until slightly caramelized. Once cooled, the vegetables are added to the egg-and-milk custard and poured into a baked pastry shell. Swiss or Gruyère cheese is sprinkled on top and into the oven it goes.
I extended the cooking time for the pâte brisée because it’s important that the crust be done so it holds its own against the wet custard and doesn’t get soggy. I reduced the amount of salt in the leek braise because I found 1 teaspoon to be too salty. And, while the original Julia Child recipe for the quiche calls for whipping cream, I used mostly whole milk with a bit of cream. This recipe works well for a 9-inch tart, even a 10-inch if you stretch it out a bit and add a few more sprinkles of cheese. It also lends itself to innovation: try adding wilted baby spinach, chard, or other cooked and chopped leafy greens, steamed broccoli, or softened sweet peppers.
Leek and Mushroom Quiche
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons ice water
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
With the machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together. If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Form dough into a single ball, flatten it into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator, and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.
To par-bake the shell, roll out the chilled dough as quickly as possible on a lightly-floured surface until it is about 2 inches larger all around than your pie pan. Either reverse the dough onto the rolling pin and unroll it over the old or fold it into quarters and lay it over the old, unfolding it. Press the dough lightly into the bottom of a 9-inch pan, lifting the edges and working it gently down into the old. Trim off excess dough by rolling the pin over the top of the old. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork at ½-inch intervals.
Line the pastry with foil or parchment paper and fill it with pie weights, uncooked rice or beans, and bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 8 to 9 minutes. Remove the foil and bake the shell until it is a light golden brown and just beginning to shrink from the sides of the mold, up to 10 minutes or more. Makes one 9-inch tart shell.
Leek and Mushroom Quiche
3 to 4 leeks, white part only, cut in half lengthwise and sliced crosswise
½ cup water
3 tablespoons butter
5 to 6 large white mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon port
1½ cups whole milk, or combination whole milk and whipping cream
A 9-inch cooked pastry shell on a parchment-lined baking sheet
¼ cup grated Swiss or Gruyère cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Boil the leeks over moderately high heat in a heavy-bottomed, covered saucepan with ½ cup water, two tablespoons butter, and ¾ teaspoon salt, until the liquid has almost evaporated. Lower heat and stew gently for 20 to 30 minutes until leeks are very tender. Put them aside in a bowl.
Add a tablespoon of butter to the pan along with the sliced mushrooms, ¼ teaspoon salt and port. Cover pan and cook over moderately low heat for 8 minutes. Uncover. Raise heat and boil for several minutes until liquid is completely evaporated and mushrooms are beginning to sauté in their butter. Stir cooked mushrooms into leek mixture.
Beat the eggs, cream or milk and seasoning in a large mixing bowl to blend. Gradually stir in the leek and mushroom mixture. Check seasonings. Pour into pastry shell. Spread on the cheese. Bake in upper third of pre-heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until puffed and browned.
Makes one 9-inch quiche
For more fantastic recipes, visit Louise Crosby’s food blog at kitchenonfourth.com