I love quiche. Are you kidding me? Done right, it’s delicious. Done wrong and it’s soggy, flaccid and just kind of disgusting. OK, too much of the wrong kind and I kind of get why people might not like quiche. So all the more reason to get it back on the right track. And the beauty of quiche? It’s easy. Stupid easy. If you don’t want to mess with making your own crust, buy a pie crust at the store. It’s acceptable. But the BEST part? It will impress the hell out of your friends. I’m not kidding. They won’t believe you made it.
But wait! There’s more! It’s flexible and easily adaptable. You can put just about anything in a quiche so it’s great for those leftover bit and bobs you have hiding in the fridge. Mix those with a little cheese and you’re good to go. Just make sure your ingredients are dry or they’ll seep too much liquid and make for a soggy tart. For example, sauté wet vegetables like mushrooms first, de-seed tomatoes and sauté the onions – they won’t cook through all the way if added raw. I also like to oven roast cherry tomatoes with a little olive oil, salt and pepper at 350°F for 15-20 minutes first to enhance those natural sugars and loose some of the liquid.
I really encourage you to give the crust a whirl. It’s not all that hard if perhaps a bit intimidating at first. The key things to remember is keep everything cold and don’t overwork it. Pastry is flaky because those chunks of butter aren’t completely blended into the flour. As heat hits the butter, it starts to melt between the layers of flour, creating flakes. Easy peasy.
As I said, you can use any filling combo you like. For this one, I had some droopy cherry tomatoes that perked up nicely with a little oven roasting, lovely thin asparagus and some smoked gouda leftover from a party. It made sense in my head and turned out, it was mighty tasty. I made 6 smaller individual tarts and discovered something interesting. Though cheese, eggs and cream in theory shouldn’t freeze well, the leftover baked tarts froze quite nicely. I popped one into a 350°F oven right from the freezer for about 20 minutes and it was a pretty darn good snack last night. One of these days, I’ll look into the rationale behind that because I really didn’t think it would work. Huzzah!
One caveat on the custard base: don’t go all get all low fat on me here. Skim milk makes for a gross quiche. It’s a fact. Just go all out and take a smaller slice. You’ll be happier. The original mixture called for all cream and that’s really tasty but I tend to prefer half cream and half milk. To make it even easier, you can actually use half-and-half.
Something else I should probably mention … I’ve pretty much ditched the blind baking/pie weights technique often seen in filled tarts. Basically, I’m lazy. I’ve discovered that if you freeze your empty crust solid and bake directly from the freezer to the oven, you can skip the pie weight hassle. It doesn’t work as well with a taller pie crust but for tarts, hell yeah.
Makes one 9” quiche (or 6 individual tarts)
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½” chunks
3 Tablespoons ice water
3 large eggs
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
8 stalks thin asparagus, cut into 1” pieces
½ cup grated smoked gouda
1/3 cup oven roasted cherry tomatoes (see note in text above)
- For the pastry: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour and the salt with a couple of pulses.
- Add the cold butter chunks and process for 30 seconds to 1 minute until butter is broken up and the size of peas. Take care not to over-process.
- Add the ice water and process until dough just comes together. Resist the urge to process the hell out of it until it forms a ball. You want to stop when it’s still a bit loose and you think you haven’t done it enough.NOTE: if you want to do this with your hands rather than the processor, just rub the butter/flour between your fingers until you have pea sized pieces. Stir in the ice water until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out and give it a few quick kneads until it comes together.
- Turn the dough and loose bits out onto the counter and with your hands, give it a few kneads and turns to bring it together.
- Pat the dough into a circle, wrap in plastic and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes (or freeze, tightly wrapped, up to 1 month.)
- Roll the dough: remove the dough from the fridge and let warm up a bit while – 5-10 minutes so it’s easier to roll.
- Lightly flour your work surface and rolling from the center out, roll about 1 ½” larger than your 9” tart pan.
- Roll the dough up onto your rolling pin and carefully roll over the tart pan.
- Carefully ease the dough into the pan, making sure it fits into all the flutes but careful not to stretch too much.
- Roll the pin over the top to cut off excess dough (or you can pinch off excess with your fingers but I like the satisfaction of rolling the pin over. Feels so professional and looks like you know what you’re doing.)
- Now this part is important – put the tart pan on a sheetpan and put in the freezer for at least 20 minutes until frozen solid.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and place oven rack in the lowest position.
- For the filling: in a medium bowl, mix the eggs, cream (or half-and-half), salt and cayenne until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
- Bake: bake the frozen empty tart shell for 12 minutes until just set.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle the cheese over the bottom of the partially baked tart shell, top with asparagus and cherry tomatoes.
- Pour the filling mixture over the filling ingredients and carefully slide the tart back into the oven.
- Bake for 30 minutes until custard is just set and crust is golden brown.
- Let cool a bit before unmolding. The quiche is delicious warm but also very good at room temperature. I’ve had great success freezing individual tarts and warming in a 350°F oven right out of the freezer for 20 minutes. Not bad at all.