Fluffy Wonder: Mom’s Quiche with Local Eggs

A slice of quiche on a plate with fork.

Slice of quiche. Original photo. June 2014.

Two things happened recently that have elevated my quiche game to unheard of heights: I learned how to make homemade pie crust, and I incorporated local chicken eggs.

Quiche is a dish I have made dozens, if not hundreds of times. It may seem like a somewhat esoteric recipe for someone outside of the dinner party set, but my mother makes a very good quiche, so it fatefully ended up in my repertoire. And, of course, I have come to appreciate any recipe that can be boiled down to “cut stuff up, pour eggs and cream over it, put in pie shell and bake”.

The stumbling block was always that last part: the pie shell. Pie crust, being part of the pastry family, has always intimidated me. Cookies, brownies, cakes – all of these are friendly, painless little things. But stories of finicky pastry are legion, and I didn’t want to be added to the body count.

In the name of this blog, I gave it a shot. And the results were mind-blowing.

My homemade crust was leaps and bounds more tender and flaky than store-bought crust. When I attempted to tear off bits of crust to snack on, the crust would twist just a little before yielding with an elastic-like snap! – something completely lacking in store-bought, which has a tendency to immediately splinter into a million, dust-like pie shavings. And the flaky quality was lovely, too; when I accidentally rolled my second crust too thick I was actually able to pull apart multiple layers with my fingers.

It turns out that making pie crust is not especially difficult, just time consuming; I spent most of my time trying to keep my work space cold and letting the dough chill, but even that wasn’t much of an imposition. What else are Netflix queues for?

And the eggs.

This quiche was easily the fluffiest, most cloud-like sculpture I have ever made, and there is no doubt in my mind that it is the result of fresh eggs.

So, here is the recipe for my mom’s quiche. The type is my favorite, Swiss cheese and bacon, but quiche is endlessly adaptable and you can put in practically anything you’d like.


Mom’s Quiche

1 frozen 9” deep dish pie shell – pierce thoroughly and bake @ 375 degrees for 7 – 10 minutes

3 eggs slightly beaten

1 pint cream*

½ tsp salt**

1 T butter

½ cup finely chopped onion

½ lb swiss cheese

½ lb bacon – fried and crumbled

Directions:

Mix eggs, half & half and cheese; sauté onions in butter 5 minutes and add to eggs with remaining ingredients.  Add a little nutmeg*** and cayenne pepper.  Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.  Reduce to 325 degrees and bake until done 40 – 45 minutes.

Note:  Be careful when pouring in liquid – the pie shell will hold slightly less than the total liquid this recipe makes.

*A pint is 2 cups imperial, if you can’t remember, which I never can. Also, any high-fat liquid should do the trick: half-and-half, whole milk, evaporated milk. I always use cream, but the idea of using shelf-stable evaporated milk is quite appealing.

**You may wish to omit the salt if you add in a salty cheese such as Parmesan; taste the batter before cooking if you’re worried.

***I never use nutmeg, as I almost always despise it outside of molasses cookies; mustard goes better with the cayenne in my opinion. But to each their own. 

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Which came first?

A farmer holding eggs

Sonoma County, California. Freshly laid eggs. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The instant I held a fresh brown chicken egg in my palm, marveling at its perfection and precociousness, I decided to start a food blog.

That’s the simple version.

In reality, the idea of starting a blog had been rattling around in my head for weeks, and I had been attempting to keep it at bay by sampling reality television and catching up on my never-ending pile of reading material.

I’ve always liked the idea of having a blog — my generation being the generation that grew up alongside the AOL dial-up ringtone of death, you understand, and the days of wide open Internet prairie country that seemed perfectly suited for public introspection — but I’ve lacked direction. Or voice. Or commitment of any kind. It’s much easier to think of yourself as the kind of person that would have a blog than it is to be the kind of person that actually writes for a blog.

I tossed around a few ideas — a book review blog, a rant and rambles blog, a social justice blog, a history blog centered around my unnatural fascination with Victorian era morality, who knows? — but nothing seemed to stick. Safely wrapped in indecision, I continued with my daily life as a “nontraditional” (read: missed the boat) college student in coastal Virginia.

But unfortunately for me, a few weeks ago I met the chickens Shelly and Pearl.

Shelly is sweet, quiet, and has feathers of a orangey-brown variety. (The internet suggests she is an Orpington, which apparently are known for being pushovers, a characteristic that certainly fits well-mannered miss Bessie). She likes to follow around her coop-mate, Pearl (who is as white as her name implies), while cooing to herself in a self-soothing manner and avoiding a pair of yippy small dogs.

I had not intended to meet chickens. I had intended to visit my boyfriend’s mother.

But, as these things turn out in life, my boyfriend’s mother had recently moved into a pleasant but ultimately chaotic household full of half a dozen animals, which included Shelly and Pearl – and, by extension, their eggs. Which, apparently, no one in the household really cared to collect, much less eat. The pair aren’t there to provide sustenance at all, and apparently they are free to wander the yard, eat as many bugs as they like, and provide free heart palpitations to any hapless newcomer who attempts to drive up the house while simultaneously avoiding their cute little feathered bodies.

I have never been an egg eating person, but this untapped treasure trove was too much to resist.

Because I do cook, regularly — almost obsessively. And I attempt to buy as much produce and other grocery goods as locally as I can afford on my (alas, wafer-thin) wallet, because I believe it is always good to know where your food is coming from. It is much harder to throw away food when you can picture the person that grew it for you, as opposed to the food materializing, origin-less and anonymous, on grocery store shelves. Local food connects you not only to the land but to the people around you, people who eat, breathe, and live just as you do. Eating locally connects me to dozens of people, from farmer to neighbor, and even to creatures like Pearl and Shelly.

And so, as I tenderly washed and dried each miraculous little oval for the first time, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I would soon be a blogger.