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Thursday, May 23

Gapers Block

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Quiche. Some people are afraid of it, believing it to be complicated and time consuming, but they're wrong! Quiche is easy to prepare, with ingredients you probably already have on hand, easy to customize to suit your tastes, and an impressive dish to serve for breakfast, brunch or even dinner! Quiche is in my regular rotation of recipes, though I seldom make it exactly the same.

Here is a basic recipe to which it is easy to add just about any additional ingredients you may have on hand, and two special recipes that are sure to wow your friends and loved ones.

Basic Quiche
one pie crust
1-1/2 cup shredded cheese
5 eggs, beaten
1-1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

You can make your pie crust from scratch, use a mix, a frozen crust (thawed of course), or my new favorite semi-homemade product, the ready-to-roll-out crust, found in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. Whichever type of crust you decide on, preheat your oven to 450°, poke the bottom of the crust with a fork a couple of times to minimize bubbles and then cover the crust with aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly brown. This is called "blind baking" and will keep the crust from soaking up the wet egg mixture and getting all soggy.

While the crust is pre-baking, beat the eggs, then add the milk and whisk until combined. Shred your cheese into a bowl, then add the flour and toss until the cheese is lightly coated. The flour will help the quiche set, and mixing it with the cheese before adding it to the wet mixture prevents clumps of flour winding up in your finished quiche. Add the cheese to the egg and milk mixture, then add salt and pepper, more or less to suit your personal taste.

Once your crust comes out of the oven, pour in the filling, reduce the temperature to 325°, and put the quiche back in the oven. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

That's it! It's that simple! You can use almost any type of cheese and add any number of ingredients to this quiche recipe: ham, sliced zucchini, broccoli, prosciutto, tomatoes, basil, etc. Just be sure to reduce the milk a tiny bit if you're adding ingredients to the basic filling that will sweat (tomatoes, squash, etc.). Depending on your ingredients, you can either add them to the egg and milk mixture after the cheese and pour it in the crust all together, or layer them in the crust as you alternate between the ingredient and the egg filling. I would layer any sliced veggies and meats, and mix together any small chopped ingredients. As a time saving measure you can even blind bake your crust and mix your egg mixture up the day before, cutting out most of the preparation. When you're ready to bake, just pour your mixture into your crust, pop it into the oven and come back in a little under an hour to a delicious warm quiche.

Apple Cheese Quiche
For a sweeter variation, try this apple cheese quiche. The sweet apples and spicy cinnamon add a unique taste and make this recipe perfect for breakfast or brunch. Plus, it will make your kitchen smell absolutely heavenly.

Basic Quiche Recipe
Minus salt and pepper
Reduce milk to 1-1/4 cup
Shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 large granny smith apple, chopped
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese for top
Cinnamon to sprinkle on top

Sauté the diced apple in butter with the cinnamon and the nutmeg until soft. Blind bake your crust, mix together the eggs and milk, combine the cheddar cheese and flour then add together. Stir in your apples, then pour the filling into the crust. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and the quarter cup cheddar cheese, and bake 45 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve and enjoy!

Mediterranean Quiche
The feta cheese in this recipe makes a rich savory quiche. Serve with a sprig of parsley and a dollop of plain yogurt on top.

Basic Quiche recipe
Minus shredded cheese
1 package frozen spinach (thawed and drained) or 2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 finely chopped green onion
8 ounces crumbled Feta cheese (two 4-ounce packages)
Tomato slices for top

Blind bake your crust, mix together the eggs and milk, combine the feta cheese and flour then add together. Stir in the green onion and spinach then pour into your crust. You may want to carefully stir your filling in the crust to make sure all of the spinach is evenly distributed. Lay the tomato slices carefully on top in any pattern you wish. Bake 45 to 60 minutes, or until lightly browned in spots and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve and enjoy!

These are just two variations on the basic quiche recipe, but you could also try Italian (tomato, basil, mozzarella), Mexican (chihuahua cheese, onion, tomato, jalapeno and a dollop of sour cream on top), the classic Lorraine (bacon and swiss), and countless others. Once you try it for yourself, you'll agree that quiche is an easy, versatile, and delicious dish, and is nothing to be afraid of. Perfect for brunch, or even dinner, and it makes wonderful leftovers. Three cheers for quiche!

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