Friday, June 26, 2009

Reporter's Table: Quiche and tell

By Helen Klein

When I’m looking for an easy-to-prepare main dish which is both flavorful and nutritious, I often fall back on my version of a recipe for crustless quiche which I acquired a couple of decades ago from a co-worker.

I am apt to make the quiche when I have leftover cooked vegetables, such as a melange of sweet peppers, onions and garlic quickly sauteed in olive oil and spiked with fresh basil, or chunks of zucchini, onion and tomatoes that have been marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper and grilled. In fact, I often make a double recipe of vegetables because I’ve planned to make a quiche the following day.

The recipe I originally made was straightforward. It combined steamed broccoli or spinach with cheddar cheese, eggs, milk and flavorings to make a main-dish custard that was both easy and substantial. With a salad and a loaf of crusty bread, the quiche was more than adequate for a weeknight dinner. And, because it had no crust, it could be whipped up in just a few minutes, and on the table after 35 to 40 minutes of baking.

Over the years, I found myself varying the original formula. Sometimes I use cheddar cheese; at other times, I use mozzarella, Swiss, Jarlsberg or pepperjack cheese -- pretty much whatever hard or semi-hard cheese I find in my refrigerator that I think will accent the vegetables I have available.

I do adjust the amount of milk to accommodate the relative softness or hardness of the cheese I’m using. While half a cup works well for the cheddar, you probably need less with the mozzarella or pepperjack.

As for the veggies, it really is dealer’s choice -- whatever vegetable you have or like, in whatever combinations you prefer, with whatever herbs or spices you want as grace notes.

One note of caution: The vegetables should be cooked, but not mushy, as they will continue to cook once the quiche goes into the oven to bake.

Crustless Quiche

6 extra-large eggs
7 oz. hard cheese, grated
½ cup milk
4 heaping Tbl.. unbleached white flour
2 cups cooked vegetables
Salt and pepper to taste

Liberally grease a 9" porcelain quiche pan. Scatter half of the grated cheese over the bottom, Then, add the vegetables, making sure they are evenly distributed around the pan. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, add the milk to the flour till the flour is dissolved. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a second, larger mixing bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the milk mixture to the eggs and beat again. Pour the egg-milk mixture into the quiche pan. Top with the remaining grated cheese, distributing it evenly.

Put the quiche on the middle rack of a cold oven, set to 375 ° F. Bake for 25 minutes, then rotate 180° and bake for an additional 10 minutes until Quiche is golden on top, puffed and a cake tester inserted into the custard in several locations comes out clean.

Let stand five minutes, then cut and serve.

Serves 4-6 as a main dish.

Helen Klein cooks out of her Flatbush kitchen, where she trades her pen and pad for a wooden spoon and whisk. She has been cooking since the age of 16, when she made a batch of spritz cookies in her mother’s Madison area apartment. Neither the culinary universe nor her figure has been the same since.


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