Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 11:00 AM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (1)
  • Print

Quiche finds its savory roots

City Kitchen: The quiche, which has fallen out of fashion, is reconsidered, using a good pastry and a soft, tender eggy custard. Recipes: Classic Quiche Aux Lardons, Quiche With Herbs and Goat Cheese, Crab Meat Quiche, and Basic Short-Crust Pastry

The New York Times

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
Cafe Besalu, on NW 24th in Ballard just north of 59th St NW. That is all you need to... MORE

advertising

"Does anyone still wear a hat? I'll drink to that."

A vodka-addled, acid-tongued character poses that question in "The Ladies Who Lunch," an irony-laden song from Stephen Sondheim's 1970 musical "Company."

In culinary terms, the question would be "Does anyone still make a quiche?" It's a harder word to rhyme. But there is no doubt that Sondheim's bored upper-class lunching ladies of the 1960s served or ordered quiche frequently.

In those days, the few French words most Americans knew were quiche, baguette, pate, Brie and souffle, and these items got a lot of play at dinner parties among those in the vanguard of elegance, as well as well-traveled academics. Glossy food magazines featured quiche Lorraine, and a lowbrow recipe for a version that used Bisquick (magically makes its own crust!) circulated, too.

Perhaps quiche hasn't disappeared entirely, but you certainly don't hear much about it these days, and the kind you see in shops seems stodgy and quaint.

Fashions change, though, and it's time to reconsider the quiche. Not that it really ever went out of style in France. Every bakery sells them and home cooks still do make them there, although they are thought of as delicious but rather ordinary. But even a store-bought French quiche has a delicacy that quiches in America would do well to emulate. For quiche on this side of the Atlantic has gone astray, eschewed for being, as a friend put it, "so heavy, so filling, so rich!"

It really doesn't have to be that way. Quiche was never meant as a deep-dish repository for too much cheese, a lot of chopped meat and assorted odd vegetables. A proper quiche (also known as a tarte salee, or savory open pie) should have really good pastry and contain a soft, tender eggy custard. It should be light enough to serve as a first course, or in larger portions for a simple main course. It should be something to sing about.

Here are three quiches that fit the bill, each with its own winning personality: a classic bacon and egg quiche in the Alsatian manner (cheese or stewed onions are sometimes added, though not traditional); a green quiche laden with herbs and with thin slices of fresh goat cheese baked on top (it has a Gallic rusticity); and a rosy bisque-like shellfish quiche with a handful of crab meat (use shrimp or lobster if you like).

The proportions for the batter and pastry are the same for all of these tarts, and all are baked in a 9 ½-inch fluted French tart pan, the sort with the removable bottom. The resulting quiches, as opposed to those baked in a deeper pie pan, stand only one inch high, and their relatively short baking time ensures a creamy, unctuous texture.

Regarding the pastry: The dough takes just 10 minutes to make, so resist the temptation to buy that packaged crust from the refrigerator case. Homemade pastry always tastes better. Make it the day before. You can even roll it out, line the tart pan and keep it frozen until you're ready to bake.

So here's to the old-fashioned quiche, or should I say hats off? It's very last century, but awfully nice.

CLASSIC QUICHE AUX LARDONS

Time: About 1 hour, with pre-made dough

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Short-crust dough (see recipe), rolled and chilled in a 9 ½-inch tart pan

3 large eggs

¾ cup creme fraiche

½ cup milk

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Black pepper, to taste

About 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Pinch cayenne

1/4/pound thick-cut bacon, sliced into ¼-inch lardons

2 ounces grated Gruyere, optional

1. Bake prepared dough at 375 degrees until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Patch any small holes with leftover dough. Cool.

2. Make the custard: In mixing bowl, beat eggs. Whisk in creme fraiche, milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne. Set aside.

3. Put bacon in small saucepan, cover with water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until tender, then drain and cool slightly.

4. Set tart pan on a baking sheet. Spread bacon evenly over bottom of pastry. Add Gruyere if using. Beat custard once more and carefully pour into tart shell. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, until top is golden and custard is set. Cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

QUICHE WITH HERBS AND GOAT CHEESE

Time: About 1 hour, with pre-made dough

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Short-crust dough (see recipe), rolled and chilled in a 9 ½-inch tart pan

3 large eggs

1 ¼ cups half-and-half

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Black pepper, to taste

½ teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

2 tablespoons chopped scallions

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

4 ounces fresh goat cheese, sliced into ¼-inch rounds

1. Bake prepared dough at 375 degrees until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Patch any small holes with leftover dough. Cool.

2. Make the custard: In mixing bowl, beat eggs. Whisk in half-and-half, salt, pepper, lemon zest, thyme, scallions and parsley. Set aside.

3. Set tart pan on a baking sheet. Spread goat cheese slices evenly over bottom of pastry. Beat custard once more and carefully pour into shell. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, until top is golden and custard is set. Cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

CRAB MEAT QUICHE

Time: About 1 hour, with pre-made dough

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Short-crust dough (see recipe), rolled and chilled in a 9 ½-inch tart pan

1 small red pepper

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Black pepper to taste

1 teaspoon paprika

Pinch cayenne

1 ¼ cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon

2 teaspoons slivered chives

6 ounces cooked crab meat

1. Bake prepared dough at 375 degrees until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Patch any small holes with leftover dough. Cool.

2. Set red pepper in the flames of a stovetop gas burner turned to high. Turn with tongs until skin is blackened, 5 to 7 minutes, then cool. Peel, remove seeds and veins, and slice into ¼-inch strips.

3. Make the custard: In mixing bowl, beat eggs, mustard, salt, black pepper, paprika and cayenne. Whisk in cream and herbs. Set aside.

4. Set tart pan on a baking sheet. Spread crab meat evenly over bottom of pastry. Arrange red pepper strips over crab meat. Beat custard once more and carefully pour into tart shell. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, until top is golden and custard is set. Cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

BASIC SHORT-CRUST PASTRY

Time: About 10 minutes, plus chilling

Yield: One 9 ½-inch tart crust

145 grams all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 stick cold unsalted butter (1/4 pound), cut in 1/8-inch pieces

3 tablespoons ice water

1. Put flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor. Add butter and quickly cut it into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal.

2. Add ice water and mix briefly, about 30 seconds, to form a soft dough. Remove dough, shape into a thick disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Bring to cool room temperature before rolling.

3. To roll, lightly flour dough and counter. Roll out gradually, periodically letting dough rest for a moment before continuing. This makes rolling easier and will keep dough from shrinking back during baking.

4. Roll dough to a thin round approximately 13 inches in diameter, then trim to make a 12-inch circle. (Refrigerate and save trimmings for patching.) Lay dough loosely into a 9 ½-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom, letting it relax a bit. Fold overlap back inside to make a double thickness, then press firmly against the pan so the finished edge is slightly higher than the pan. Refrigerate or freeze for an hour before pre-baking.

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

The Seattle Times photographs

Seattle space needle and mountains

Purchase The Seattle Times images

Homes -- New Home Showcase

Condo community has resort-like atmosphere

Condo community has resort-like atmosphere


Advertising