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(post, Sophia Cauliere)
Quiche sounded so easy. A pie shell, sauteed veggies, a bit of cheese, what could go wrong, really? I eagerly looked up quiche recipes. Since I feel compelled to ignore directions, my strategy was to look at a dozen or so different recipes and chart a course that looks somewhat similar to the commonalities among them. I had expected to find that most quiche recipes had a similar base of eggs, milk, and flour that would be poured over a variable set of ingredients. Nope - my expectations were wrong. The proportions of the egg mixture varied a surprising amount from one recipe to another. Some wanted 2 eggs plus additional yokes, some wanted 4 eggs, some 3, some as many as 8 (egads!). Some whisked in cream, some milk, some half & half and the amount of liquid was as variable as the type. Some added flour, some did not (this was usually a function of whether the recipe called for cream or milk). Some added nutmeg, some added pepper sauce, some added sugar (eek!), some stayed with just the basics - salt and pepper. What's a girl to do?? I threw my hands in the air and decided to guess wildly. My plan was to make two pies so I tossed 8 eggs, 2 cups of milk and 1/4 cup of flour, and a pinch of salt into a bowl and whisked vigorously. This made far to much liquid mixture for my two 9" pies. In fact, I'd cut this down by 1/3 if I were to do it again (which I might...the results were tasty). The fillings were easy to select. They were the only remaining veggies in my fridge that had not decomposed into mush at the bottom of my drawer: button mushrooms, red bell pepper, and red onion. I sauteed these in rendered bacon fat (yum!), and kept the crisped up bacon to add to the mix. I also threw in several chopped up cloves of garlic. The key, I had read in one of the many recipes, is to saute long enough to reduce the water content of the mushrooms so the quiche doesn't end up soupy. I splashed a bit of white balsamic vinegar into the pan along with some red chili flakes for a bit of extra flavor. Once the veggies were sufficiently dry and mixed with the crisped chopped bacon, I spread them in the pre-baked frozen (store brand) pie shells and covered them with shredded Italian cheese blend. Unfortunately, I threw away the package so I don't recall what was in the blend beyond Mozzarella. Over this, I poured the egg mixture. Cooking times also seemed to vary considerably across recipes. Some cooked them as hot as 400 or 425 while others cooked them at 350. In this case, I resorted to advice from my trusty Betty Crocker, who suggested that Quiche Lorraine be cooked at 400 for 15 minutes and then turned down to 300 for another 30. This seemed to work OK except the crust around the edge was a bit more brown than I prefer. But, after 15 minutes the quiche was firm enough that I could throw on a layer of sliced tomatoes before turning down the heat. In all, the recipe was a success, but I would make changes next time. First, I clearly need less egg mixture. Second, I would use a more flavorful mushroom and perhaps add tomato into the quiche in addition to adding it on top. Perhaps I'd put foil around the edges of the pie crust as well. So, here is a rough guide to what I did (with the amount of egg mix trimmed down): 1. Pre-bake 2 9" pie crusts according to directions 2. Make filling (basically, about 3 cups of filling is needed...use whatever is fresh in your fridge): 3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms 3 cloves garlic 1 red bell pepper, coarse chop 1/2 red onion, coarse chop 1/2 c. chopped bacon, crisped with fat used to saute veggies splash of vinegar or wine (white balsamic) salt, pepper, chili flakes, to taste Crisp the bacon, rendering the fat. Remove bacon. Add additional butter or oil if needed. Saute the red onions until soft; add garlic, red peppers and mushrooms. Cook, stirring regularly, until most of the liquid from the mushrooms is gone. Mix the cooked veggies with the bacon. Allow to cool (I pop mine in the fridge) 3. Make egg mixture 6 eggs 1.25 cup of milk 1/4 c. flour salt & pepper to taste. Whip eggs, slowly add milk. Blend in flour slowly, making sure there are no lumps. 4. Assemble quiche & cook Spread veggie filling on bottom of pie shell cover with a layer of cheese of choice (cheddar, mozz, swiss, etc.) Pour egg mixture over the filling to nearly the top of the pie (leave extra room if you plan to top it with sliced tomatoes) Pop into 400 over for 15 minutes, then turn down oven to 300 for 30 minutes (note, oven times and temps vary and mine is a convection oven...check quiche regularly to see if its done. My friend says its done when its firm and a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean). Total time for the inexperienced cook -- 1 hour 15 minutes. Ways to save time in the future? Prep the veggies while prebaking the pie shells. Buy pre-sliced mushrooms. Drink less wine while prepping.