Mini, Customizable Quiches. Maximum Flavor!

finishedcloseup-2Whether you make them for a brunch buffet, as a cocktail nibble or to take to a pot luck party, these mini quiches are fun to make and even better to eat!

The best thing about them (in addition to their taste, of course) is that they are so very customizable. Leave out the meat for a tasty vegetarian option, or add a meat of your choice for the carnivores and omnivores in your crowd. You can mix and match your add-in’s for endless combinations, taking advantage of what’s in season as well as making multiple flavors in one batch. And you don’t have to feel guilty about these little pleasures because they are truly two-bite sized, even though they are powerfully large in flavor.

I made these above (click each photo for more detail) to take to a pot luck and they were gone within minutes. Then I started thinking about how great it would be to make them as part of a brunch buffet…my next endeavor, or possibly bake and freeze them…haven’t tried it, but I will.

This batch features caramelized onion on both versions, then broccoli and cheddar cheese in one half of the batch and sautéed mushrooms with gruyere cheese in the other. Future combos will be Italian sausage or finely chopped chorizo, red bell pepper, onion and a little grated Manchego or mozzarella cheese, and another version will feature ham and/or asparagus and parmesan cheese. What fun! It’s truly like playing with your food.

finished-1Below is the recipe for these, a variation on one of my larger quiche recipes utilizing the same custard base. Enjoy playing with these and making them your own!

***Note, I will continue to be a bit erratic with my posting as I spend time with family on and off for the next few weeks. Bear with me. One of these days I’ll get back on a more regular schedule, I promise!

Caramelized Onion, Brocoli and Cheddar Mini Quiches and Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Gruyere Mini Quiches
Makes about 32

1 uncooked refrigerated 9-inch pie crust
1 medium sweet onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups fresh broccoli crowns, blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes, drained and dried
4 ounces button mushrooms, sliced, then halved
2-3 teaspoons olive oil
Generous 1/2 cup of grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
Generous 1/2 cup of grated gruyere or swiss cheese
4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup 1% milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place half of the olive oil into a large skillet heated to medium low heat, add the onions and sauté until they are caramelized, about 10 – 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with a tiny pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove the onions from the skillet when they a nice medium golden brown color and set aside. Add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil to the skillet, then add the mushrooms, sprinkling with 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper, and sauté them over medium low heat until they are done and tender, about another 5-8 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the skillet and set aside.

Roll your piecrust out on a floured surface as though you were planning to put it into a 9-inch pie plate, about a 14-inch round. Using a 1 1/2-inch biscuit cutter (or a water glass), cut out as many rounds as you can fit out of the rolled pie crust, saving the scraps. Roll each individual round a bit more to ensure that it will just fit into the muffin tin, then place into the tin, fully covering the bottom and sides of each depression. Gather the pie crust scraps and roll out the crust again, using the same cutting and rolling process to fill the remaining muffin tins until all of the crust is used. Layer the onions first into the bottom of each crust. Next add a tiny piece or two of broccoli floret on top of the onion to 1/2 of your total crusts. Add two to three pieces of mushroom on top of the onion to the remaining 1/2 of your total crusts. Sprinkle about a rounded teaspoon of grated cheddar cheese over each broccoli quiche and the same amount of gruyere over the mushroom quiches.

In a blender or food processor, combine the 4 eggs, the milk, the cream, the nutmeg and another small pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Blend until well mixed. Pour the egg mixture over the top of the layered ingredients on all of the mini-quiches, filling to just slightly below the rim of the depression and not above the edge of the crust. (Any leftover add-ins, cheese and custard can be placed into well greased ramekins and cooked alongside the mini-quiches to make small crustless quiches. These may need a little longer to cook than the minis!) Place the filled mini quiches into the oven on a center rack and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, until the custard is golden, puffed and just set. When the quiches are done, remove from the oven and allow them to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Pop each one out carefully with a knife and serve warm or at room temperature.

*For other add-ins, just cook or prepare your ingredients prior to the layering stage, then layer them adding the cheese last, then pour the custard.

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Rustic Spinach, Pancetta, Wild Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Quiche

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Not the most carefully composed nighttime shot, but a nice quiche just the same!

Sometimes pie is just the right thing for dinner or dessert. This is the first of two pie recipe posts…one savory pie and one sweet.

My spurt of pie making started when my friend Diane gave me a wonderful authentic ceramic pie plate from Colonial Williamsburg as a birthday present and I’ve been making pies with it ever since. It was the perfect vehicle for inspiring this quiche with it’s cozy colors and even clay cooking. Of course you can use any pie plate you happen to have, but I like either clay or glass pie plates for cooking a quiche. Continue reading

The Last of Winter’s Harvest: Chard, Gruyere and Pancetta Pie

finishedpie5Yes indeed, I really had planned to change the header to Spring for my next post, but due to an extremely busy week and some traveling, that’s not going to happen. Fortunately, the “Winter Look” seems entirely appropriate for this post (in spite of the fact that we hit 80 degrees here last week), because this recipe is all about using the last of the Winter chard from my garden before turning it and planting new veg for Spring/Summer.

lastofchardWe’ve had a truly mild Winter here, a non-Winter almost, and my rainbow chard really loved it. Just enough cool weather to make it continue to produce, and no hard freezes to kill it. I had almost a pound of it left to harvest this week from the few plants in my tiny raised bed garden plot. But what to make?

Then I remembered I’d seen someone posting a quiche recently, and it made me start thinking how long it had been since I’d had one. That might be a nice way to use up my chard! A quick reconnaissance of items in the fridge resulted in the knowledge that I already had some pancetta that I’d found on sale, some gruyere and Parmesan cheeses, plenty of eggs, milk, a red onion, et voilà!

This was quite a delicious pie, with more defined layers than your average quiche because of all the greens…more like a cross between a quiche and a pie. The greens do release a bit more of their liquid during the second round of cooking, so be forewarned that you’ll need to let this sit for a few minutes before you cut it, as it’s a little juicy. It does firm up nicely once it approaches room temp, but of course we couldn’t wait that long and I only let it rest 5 minutes before cutting. Even so, I found that it held together just fine. And regardless of how pretty or not any slices may have been, it’s gone!

layersLike most quiche or pie recipes, this one is pretty flexible. You can use less chard, but I wouldn’t try more, and you can sub bacon for the Pancetta, and white onion for red. I think spinach would work nicely here, too, in lieu of the chard, or as a mixture.

Chard, Gruyere and Pancetta Pie
Serves 6

1 – 9 inch good quality frozen whole wheat pie crust (yes, you can make your own, but  as I said, it was a busy week!)
4 oz. Pancetta or you can substitute good quality bacon
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
12 oz. ( you can use less if you like) rainbow or other chard, washed, dried, stems removed and leaves chopped crosswise into bite sized pieces
3 large eggs
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup milk (I used 1%, but any will do)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or more to taste
4 oz. grated good quality gruyere cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

If you’re using the frozen pie crust, check the package directions to make sure that it is ready to go for a quiche or pie, or if you need to pre bake it, do so. Same with a home made pie crust, which will probably need blind baking. My crust is ready to fill from the freezer.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cook the pancetta in a large non-stick skillet over medium low heat, turning occasionally, until it is golden brown and crisp. Remove the pancetta from the pan to a paper towel to drain, reserving 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the grease in the skillet. Add the onion to the skillet and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until the onion softens and becomes translucent. Add the chard to the pan, sprinkling half the salt and pepper over the chard, and saute until it is wilted and tender, about 5-8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, milk, the remaining salt and pepper and the nutmeg until combined.

If using a frozen crust, remove it from the freezer and the packaging, and place it on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil, or follow the instructions on the package. Crumble the pancetta into the bottom of the crust, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the cheeses evenly over the pancetta. Top the pancetta with the chard mixture, then pour the egg custard mixture evenly over the top. It will be full, and you may have a couple of tablespoons of extra custard left, depending on how much chard you use, or how large your pie crust is. Carefully transfer the pie on the cookie sheet into the oven and bake at 375 degrees F for about 40 minutes, or until it is puffed and beginning to be golden, and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. If you need to, cover the edges of the pie crust with foil if they start to brown too quickly. When the pie is done, remove from the oven, allow it to cool for at least 5 minutes, and cut into 6 wedges. This can be served warm, at room temp, rewarmed slightly in the microwave or oven, or even cold.

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