When you want a dish that is easy, elegant, and versatile, consider making a quiche. Often you will find you can whip one up with ingredients already on hand, making it especially convenient for when unexpected guests show up Ideal for a quick lunch to a light dinner to a great party food, quiche belongs in the repertoire of every cook, from novice to well-seasoned.
Quiche is basically a savory custard pie, with the three main elements of crust, custard and whatever filling ingredients one desires. Within these elements almost endless variations are possible, depending on taste and what is in your pantry. While there are classic renditions such as Quiche Lorraine, creating a unique recipe limited only by your imagination is as easy as, well, pie!
The options begin with the crust, for which a basic pie crust recipe can be used. If you wish, you can also use purchased pie pastry or a pie shell already prepared and ready to fill. The unbaked crust should be refrigerated until ready to use and can also be frozen for a half hour prior to usage for maximum flakiness. Some recipes call for baking the crust by itself before adding the filling ingredients while others do not. Time and personal preference can be your guide here.
As with just about any other dish, having all the ingredients prepared as much as possible ahead of time is a good idea. Shredding cheese and cutting or chopping whatever meats or vegetables are being used will make putting the quiche together quicker and easier. If any ingredients require cooking on their own, such as caramelizing onions or sautéing mushrooms, this can be done in advance as well.
The custard mixture is the main component that makes a quiche what it is and binds everything else together. It is basically composed of beaten eggs with the addition of milk and/or cream. The proportion of eggs to milk can be varied to produce a result that is softer or firmer depending on individual taste. While a more classic recipe may call for heavy cream, the dish can be lightened in terms of calories by substituting light cream or milk instead.
It is when you get to the filling ingredients that the possibilities for variation are really apparent. While shredded cheese is often used, it is by no means mandatory. Likewise, meats such as chopped ham or cooked bacon are popular, but fillings of only vegetables such as spinach and mushrooms also feature prominently. There are just a couple of guidelines to consider, of which moisture content is one of the most important. This usually is more of a concern with uncooked vegetables such as mushrooms, which can contribute substantial liquid to a dish. The other consideration is the overall proportion of filling ingredients to custard mixture, depending on how dense you want the final dish to be.
Cooking time will vary depending on factors such as recipe size, ingredient type and proportions, and oven temperature. As with many other dishes, time in the oven alone should not be used to determine doneness. However, a quiche can easily be checked by gently shaking the baking dish. The center of the custard should be firm, or with just a very slight wobble which will disappear as the dish stands after removal from the oven. The other way to determine doneness is to insert the end of a knife into the center of the custard; it should come out clean if the quiche is sufficiently cooked.
One of the best things about quiche, as mentioned before, is its versatility. It can be served for virtually any meal – breakfast, lunch or dinner – or as an hors d’oeuvres or party food. It also travels well once cooked, making it ideal to take along to a party or potluck dinner. Depending on personal preference, it can be served hot, warm, at room temperature or even cold.
With all this in mind, it is easy to see that quiche definitely deserves a place in your culinary repertoire and on your dining table. Easy, quick, almost endlessly variable, and also nutritious – there really is nothing not to like about this dish!
Image author: Butaris