Monday, March 7, 2011

Quiche Madness and the Art of the Pie Crust

This weekend was an exciting one: we celebrated Megan's bridal shower on Saturday. She and her fiance are so sweetly excited for their wedding, which is shaping up to be heartfelt and personal - full of Matt and Meg touches. I can't imagine a more gracious bride, so it was a joy to spend the day celebrating her!

First we feasted on quiche, which I provided, washed down with lots of Prosecco and cupcakes. Then to top it all off, we took over a salon for manis and pedis. After a crazy month, and before the insanity of the coming week (CAHSEE and a southern California college trip with 40 juniors), it was nice to get some girl time, eat too much yummy food, and be pampered.

My quiche was a surprise hit. The girls asked me to share my recipe, so here it is. There is enough dairy in it that I believe my cooking will make my Danish mother-in-law, Pam, proud. (I really do love butter too, Pam!) You've been warned.

Let's start with my no-fail pie crust. Making a perfectly flaky pie crust truly is an art (for a fun write up about it, check out my friend Anina's article here:, and this recipe (from Gourmet mag, I think) comes out of the oven buttery and flaky every time.

Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups unbleached All Purpose flour (I always use King Arthur brand or O Organics)
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar (I buy organic evaporated cane juice)
13 Tbsp. cold, unsalted butter
7 Tbsp. vegetable shortening (I like Spectrum Organics)
7-8 Tbsp. ice water

Mix flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Cut cold - not frozen - butter into small chunks and scatter over flour mixture.

Mix butter into flour with five 1 second pulses. Add shortening and continue pulsing until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse corn meal, or until butter is no bigger than the size of small peas.

Add water and pulse until dough *just* comes together. (Here's the crucial step: the dough should come together when you pinch it, not crumble, but you don't want it to feel sticky like pizza dough. I suggest adding one Tbsp. of water at a time until dough has the right consistency.)

Note: This crust was too crumbly, so I had to throw it back in the food processor and add more water. No biggie. Oh, and this is where I stopped taking pics. Sorry. I still have to remind myself to stop and snap...

Turn mixture out onto a flat surface sprinkled with flour. Form dough into two disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 mins or freeze for 5-10 mins before rolling.

A note on the importance of temperature: You want your dough to remain cold in between steps - and definitely before putting it in the oven - so your crust comes out flaky and not chewy. I refrigerate it before and after rolling, and I make sure not to pull my crust out of the fridge until I am absolutely ready to throw my ingredients in the quiche and put it in the oven.

Gently set dough into pie pan. Cut off excess crust and, you got it, stick it back in the fridge while you prepare the quiche filling.

Spinach, Mushroom (and Bacon) Quiche
12 pieces of thick-cut bacon (I like Neiman Ranch)
large handful spinach
handful mushrooms (I like cremini or baby portabellas for a little more flava', but buttons work too)
8 oz creme fraiche (I swear by Bellweather Farms)
6 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
shredded Gruyere cheese (I eyeball it, so I am not sure how much I use, but I am liberal with it!)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook bacon according to preference and crumble. Meanwhile, whisk eggs with salt and creme fraiche until well combined. Take your pie crust out of the fridge and add spinach, mushrooms, and finally bacon (if using), and pour egg mixture on top. (Don't worry, the eggs mixture won't cover your filling, but it will puff up as it cooks.) Sprinkle liberally with Gruyere.

Bake on a cookie sheet (to help the bottom get flaky) at 375 degrees for approximately 1 hour. The filling should not jiggle, the crust should be golden brown, the eggs should have puffed up, and the cheese should have melted and turned golden. (You can always cut into it to make sure the eggs are solid.) Remove from oven, let it set for 5 or so minutes, and enjoy. I make this dish for brunches and dinner. (In fact, we are having it tonight for dinner.) It really is divine any time of day. Happy eating!

P.S. Thanks for all the kind words about our plumbing. It was fixed on Friday, which allowed us to catch up on dirty dishes and three weeks of laundry this weekend. Hallelujah!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your kind words, wifey! And thanks for posting those recipes, I'll use it next time I need a crust. Delicious!!! Good luck this week.