Monday, December 9, 2013

ChezCindy: Quiche Quest

Classic Quiche Lorraine

A few years ago at dinner on New Years Eve, the restaurant served a magnificent quiche that set me  onto a quest to recreate that same dish.  The custard was silken, with a tender flaky crust, and sweet lobster nestled into the filling.  My quest lasted for weeks.  I started out by researching different processes and recipes.  Deciding whether to use a deep dish springform pan or a fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.  My first attempts were experiments with a classic quiche Lorraine (bacon & leeks).  Then I moved onto adding shrimp, before using the more expensive lobster meat.  I made a lot of quiches!  My neighbors didn't mind as they became my quiche-tasters.  It was fun and a bit exasperating.  At the time, I kept notes in my handwritten journal as I worked my way through the quest.  Below is a quote I wrote from February 13, 2009 regarding the first deep dish quiche, that was not going well.  The springform pan I used did not provide a tight seal and the custard was leaking out onto the tray.  (Thankfully I had placed the pan onto a foil lined tray or the quiche experiments might have stopped that night!)  In an attempt to save the quiche, I wrapped the bottom of the springform pan with heavy aluminum foil.  In the end, it worked! 

Notes on recipe testing from that trying night....
"It's called recipe testing not only for the recipe, but for my patience and ability.  The night was a trying evening.  But I am glad I didn't give up.  Having let the quiche cool overnight, still in the springform pan, by morning I found that all had been redeemed!  The quiche had fully set up and was delicious.  I press on to make the perfect quiche.  It will be a great progression."   

My homemade lobster quiche has never come out as good as what I had at the restaurant.  But my quiche Lorraine pleases many happy eaters.  Below is my recipe. 

Classic Bacon and Leek Quiche

For the Crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
7 tablespoons ice cold water

Working in a food processor bowl, add the flour and salt; pulse for a few seconds.  Dice the cold butter into 1/2 inch pieces; add to the flour.  Pulse until the butter is the size of small peas.  Add the egg yolk; pulse briefly to combine.  Beginning with 4 tablespoons of the ice water, with the motor running, add to the flour butter mixture.  Add the other 3 tablespoons as necessary until the dough comes together and is moistened.  Turn the pastry dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 2 or 3 times, just until smooth.  Divide the dough into 2 disks, wrap in plastic; refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
Roll out one disk into a 12-inch round, to fit into a 10-inch fluted pan with a removable bottom.  Fit the dough into the pan, trimming the edges.  "Blind" bake for 30 minutes in a pre-heated oven, set at 375 degrees.  Allow to cool. 
This dough makes 2 quiches or tarts.  One disk can be frozen for a future use. 

For the Custard Filling:
1/2 pound thick sliced bacon, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 medium leeks
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3 ounces of Gruyere cheese, grated
2 large whole eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
fresh grated nutmeg, just a pinch
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderate high heat, stirring until crisp and brown.  Remove the bacon from the skillet, drain off the excess fat, leaving 1 tablespoon in the pan.  Clean the leeks, removing all bits of dirt; slice the white and light green part into thin strips.  Add the sliced leeks to the skillet, season with 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt.  Cook until the leeks are softened, but not brown.  Add the fresh thyme; cook for an additional 1 minute.  Remove from heat and allow to cool. 
Working with a blender, add the eggs and egg yolk, heavy cream, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1/8 teaspoon of white pepper and fresh grated nutmeg.  Mix in the blender to combine. 

Pre-heat the oven to 375.  Place the pre-baked tart shell onto a foil-lined baking tray.  Spread the now cooled bacon and leeks evenly onto the crust.  Add the grated cheese to the tart shell.  Carefully pour the custard over the bacon, leeks and cheese.  Transfer the baking tray to the oven; bake for about 30 minutes until puffed and lightly browned.  Remove the baking tray from the oven; transfer the quiche pan to a rack to cool for about 15 minutes. 

Serve the quiche warm as an appetizer or with a small salad for a complete meal. 

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