Since acquiring chickens, I'm always on the lookout for interesting ways to use eggs. We don't get tons of eggs - we only have two hens, after all - but we get enough that it seems like a good idea to use them creatively. I'm not particularly fond of eggs on their own; I much prefer to use them in something, such as baked goods, but you can't bake cakes and cookies all the time. So I've been using them in frittatas and quiches a lot lately, usually serving them for dinner with salads or soup. Do you like quiche? If you've never eaten it before, it's a pie, usually savory, made with an egg-custard filling. You can add vegetables, meats and cheeses to make many different flavor combinations. I've mentioned my new-found skills with quiche a few times and have had some requests for a quiche recipe, so here's how I make an easy Quiche Lorraine, a classic French recipe containing bacon, onion and cheese.
1 pie crust (regular size, not "deep-dish"; I prefer Pillsbury's refrigerated pie crusts)
4 slices of bacon, diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Dash of nutmeg, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a large skillet for cooking the bacon and onions. You'll also need a medium-sized mixing bowl for preparing the egg mixture. A mixing bowl with a pour-spout is especially useful.
Let the pie crust sit at room temperature as directed on the package, then unroll it over a standard pie plate. I like to use a plain glass one by Pyrex, but you can use any kind, metal or glass. Push the crust into the bottom edge with your fingers, then prick the bottom all over with a fork. You can give the top edge a decorative look, if you want. I just use my fingers to make a fluted design. Place the pie plate in the oven to pre-bake the crust for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. I find this helps keep the crust from becoming soggy later when baking the assembled quiche.
Place the diced bacon into the skillet and cook it on medium heat until it becomes crispy. Remove cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and pour off most of the fat, leaving a couple of teaspoons in the pan.
Add chopped onions to the skillet and cook them in the fat until they become lightly browned. Return the bacon to the skillet and cook with the onions for a few minutes. This will blend the flavors and help the onions crisp a bit. The pie crust should be pre-baked by now; remove it from the oven and place it on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Now spoon the bacon/onion mixture into the pre-baked crust, topping the mixture with the grated cheese. The quiche can rest like this for a few minutes while you prepare the egg mixture.
In the mixing bowl, beat four eggs with a whisk. Then whisk in the milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Now open the oven and pull out the rack you want to use for baking the quiche (I like to bake mine in the lower-middle part of the oven). Move the foil-lined baking sheet with the prepared pie plate to the oven rack. Pour the egg mixture over the bacon, onions and cheese, stirring a bit with the whisk just to make sure everything is distributed evenly. Carefully slide the rack into normal baking position and close the oven door. Bake the quiche until the top is lightly browned and set in the center (test with a knife inserted down through the filling). My quiches are usually done in 45-50 minutes, but yours may need more or less time depending on your oven.
Remove the quiche, baking sheet and all, from the oven. Let the quiche rest for 10-15 minutes, to help it finish setting. A hot quiche fresh out of the oven will be really difficult to slice and serve neatly. Take it from me.
When your quiche has cooled a bit, you can slice and serve it. I like to use a short, sharp knife and a small offset spatula to serve quiche, especially for the first slice, which can be hard to remove as with any pie. I like the offset spatula because it allows me to slide right under the crust to loosen it from the pan. Then you can come back with a regular pie server if you want, or just lift it out with the spatula. With this baking procedure, my quiche will be moderately set with a firm top layer and a browned crust. We like it this way, but if you like a firmer or softer set to the eggs, you could experiment with baking time or temperature.
There's more than one way to make a quiche! I've shown you my Lorraine recipe because it's my family's favorite quiche style. But I also make various vegetable quiches. If you opt for an all-veggie quiche, you can cook veggies lightly in a skillet with a little butter before placing in the pie plate. I've had good results with spinach, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms or zucchini, always with chopped onion (and sometimes a little minced garlic). Or you could use bacon (or chopped ham) along with veggies, that works well too. You can vary the cheeses too; I like to use mozzarella, cheddar or Swiss cheeses because they melt nicely and make a good, bubbly top on the quiche. I've also used cheese mixtures (either bagged ones from the store or mixtures I've put together at home). Parmesan is also very good in a quiche, especially with zucchini or asparagus. I use it rather sparingly, though, because it can be very salty. You can also add your choice of herbs or spices. I think it's difficult to go wrong with quiche; you can put almost anything in one. The only thing I don't tend to change is the egg-to-milk ratio; I find that four eggs to one cup of milk seems to work best. I hope you found this recipe useful. Quiche is simple, delicious and easy!