Monday, March 28, 2011

What to do when you have too many eggs in your basket

I recently celebrated a special night and had my family and close friends over for a Pancake Supper for Fat Tuesday.

Fortunately there was a lot of great food and good fun had by all (and a lot of yummy leftovers to eat the rest of the week)

Unfortunately between purchasing eggs myself, getting another dozen from my Mom, and the roommate bringing home another dozen a few days later, we were left with quite the plethora of eggs in the refrigerator..

I decided to use them in such a way so they would be a little more appetizing than egg salad for a week: Quiche.

I have recently acquired a copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by the esteemed Miss Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck. I've perused a few pages and it seems to be a comprehensive and extremely well written culinary tome.

I based my quiche making on the recipe for Quiche aux Epinards with only a few changes. I made my quiche in a square baking dish instead of a tart pan or round pie plate. Instead of blanching the spinach, I sauteed mine in a large pan in olive oil. I also sauteed some diced mushrooms to add in as well. Lastly I used Mozzarella cheese instead of Swiss cheese.

You could probably get away with a store bought pie crust or use a roll of biscuits, re-rolled into a round and placed in the pan as a crust. If you can't get the biscuit dough to roll out thinly, let it come to room temperature and then press into the corners of your pan. Remember to poke holes in the bottom with a fork so the crust won't puff too much then pre-bake the crust slightly; 8 - 10 minutes in a 375* oven should do the trick.

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

8 inch partially cooked pastry shell (recipe to follow)
5 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 container of sliced mushrooms
1/4 large onion, diced
1/2 16 oz bag of fresh spinach
1/4 large onion, sliced
4 to 6 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
Pinch of nutmeg
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Mozzarella cheese

If you are making your own pie crust, assemble the dough and let chill in the freezer for about an hour while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

Heat up about 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large saute pan. Drop 2 or 3 of the lightly smashed garlic cloves in the oil. They should still be in large chunks, big enough to pull out with tongs later, once they have flavored the oil.

Dice 1/4 of the large onion and add to the hot oil. Saute the onions until they soften and start to become translucent. While the onions are cooking, quickly dice up the sliced mushrooms and add those to the pan as well.

Saute the mushrooms, stirring often, until they have released their juices and have started to brown up. This can take about 8 - 10 minutes. Once the mushrooms have browned, season them to taste with salt and pepper, cook a few moments more, then spoon them into a bowl and set aside. Pull out the chunks of garlic clove and discard.

In the same pan, pour in another 2 - 3 Tbsp of olive oil and another 2-3 cloves of smashed garlic. Slice the onion quarter this time and add those to the oil to saute until softened and slightly translucent. Go ahead and pull the garlic gloves now so they don't become lost in the spinach.

Start adding the spinach in handfuls. It will look like a lot, but the leaves will start to wilt down. Add the spinach in batches if they don't all fit into the saute pan at once. Stir often so the unwitled pieces can get closer to the heat. It should only take a few minutes for all of the leaves to wilt down. You don't want to over cook them; they should look bright green.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside to cool slightly. While the mushrooms and spinach cool, start making the egg portion of the quiche.

Beat the 3 eggs, milk and a pinch of nutmeg in a large bowl to blend. Gradually stir the mushrooms and spinach into the egg mixture. Add 1/4 cup of the Mozzarella cheese and stir to blend. Set the mixture aside while you finish the crust.

Preheat the oven to 375*

Take the ball of dough out of the freezer and roll out on a floured counter or board. Work quickly so you don't over soften the butter in the dough. Knead the ball a few times to soften, then using a rolling pin, roll the dough into about a 1/8 inch thickness. Turn the dough and re-flour the board as necessary so the dough doesn't become sticky.

Once the pastry has reached the desired thickness carefully transfer the round to your baking dish. Trim any overhanging edges and pinch the dough about 1/8 inch above the rim of the baking dish, to make a even ridge of dough around the edges. Poke holes in the bottom of the pastry dough and pre-bake it for 8 -10 minutes, or until it starts to brown. To keep the dough from puffing up too much, layer a piece of tin foil on top of the dough and either sandwich another similar shaped dish on top, or poor in some dried beans or rice. This is also called blind baking.

After the crust is ready, carefully pour the quiche mixture into the prepared pastry shell; it should come about 3/4 up the sides. Sprinkle the rest of the Mozzarella cheese across the top and place the quiche in the middle of the center rack and bake for another 30 - 35 minutes. The quiche is done when a knife plunged into the center comes out clean.

Julia says that the quiche "will stay puffed for about 10 minutes in the turned-off oven with the door ajar. As it cools, it sinks down. It may be reheated, but will not puff again. A cold quiche makes a good snack and is easy to take along on a picnic."

Here is the recipie for the pie crust

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