Introduction: Quiche - Double Batch
This quiche is pretty easy to make, but it goes easier if you have a helper. I make this in a double batch, one to eat now, and one to freeze for later. I use two 10-inch by one-inch deep quiche pans. You can use pie plates, but don’t fill them too deep or you'll have trouble getting the middle to cook.
Ham, I use about a pound, diced (bacon also works fine)
Onion, large, diced
Cheese, half a pound each of Gruyere, and Jarlsberg, grated. (You can use all one kind if you like.)
Frozen spinach, one 10-ounce package
Eggs, one dozen large
Cream, one cup
Cayenne pepper several shakes
Nutmeg - several shakes
Three cups flour
One and 1/2 teaspoon salt,
1 and 1/8th cup oil
3/8ths cup milk
Cayenne pepper - several shakes
Nutmeg - several shakes
Waxed paper - for rolling out the crusts
Set oven to 375 degrees F
Step 1: Trim and Dice the Ham, and Start It Browing
Trim off any fat, and dice the ham in about half-inch chunks. Heat a large frying pan on medium-high, and drizzle about a teaspoon of oil in the pan, add the ham and begin browning, turning with a spatula every few minutes.
Step 2: Dice the Onion and Add to Ham Mixture, Continue Cooking
While the ham is cooking, dice the onion and start getting the crust ingredients measured, checking back every few minutes to keep the ham from burning. Turn down to medium after much of the water cooks off. Once you cook off most of the water and get some color on the ham, add the diced onion. The onions will deglaze any browned bits from the pan. Keep turning the ham/onion mixture every few minutes to ensure even browning. Cook the onions till they are just starting to caramelize. Caramelizing the onions adds flavor, but can also make the finished quiche come out looking dark, so don’t overdo the browning. Once the ham/onion mixture is done browning, set aside to cool.
Step 3: Thaw, Drain, and Add the Spinach
If you haven’t already thawed the frozen spinach, take off the outside wrapper and microwave the box for a minute at a time until the chopped spinach is no longer frozen. Do this gently, you don't want to cook the spinach. It's okay if there are still a few ice crystals in the spinach. I prefer chopped spinach that comes in a paper box over the stuff packed in plastic. Take the whole box of thawed spinach to the sink and fold it in half, squeezing out as much water as you can. You don’t need to wring it dry, just press out most of the water. Break up the chunks of spinach with your fingers and sprinkle evenly over the top of the cooled ham/onion mixture. Mix the spinach with the ham and onions and set aside.
Step 4: Make the Crusts
This crust recipe is kind of cheating, but I’ve never had anyone complain about it. The basic proportions for a regular pie crust are two cups of flour and a teaspoon of salt to 3/4ths cup oil mixed with 1/4th cup milk. Since we need more crust to make two quiches, I’ve increased the recipe by 50% to make a three-cup batch.
Put three cups of flour in a large mixing bowl, add 1 and ½ teaspoons of salt, several dashes of cayenne pepper, and several dashes of nutmeg (I grate about a quarter of a whole nutmeg for the crusts, and the same for the filling) and mix with a fork.
For the liquid ingredients, use a two-cup measure, and fill it to the 1 and 1/8th cup line with oil, then fill it up to the 1 and ½ line with milk. Mix the oil and milk with the fork to get all the milk globules into suspension. Pour quickly into the flour mixture and mix with the fork till the mixture forms a ball. Knead a few times and form into two equal-size balls. Place one of the balls between squares of waxed paper and roll out to form a disk as large as the waxed paper is wide. Peel off the top sheet of waxed paper and, keeping the bottom sheet attached to the crust, pick up an edge and roll the crust side over the top of the rolling pin. Lift the crust and ease the dough and waxed paper into the quiche pan, unrolling the crust as you lay it into the pan. Use the waxed paper to position the crust and peel it off when you have the crust where you want it. Repeat for the second quiche pan.
This crust is very forgiving, you can move it around in the pan by sliding it with the palm of your hand, and you can tear off pieces and press them in to fill gaps. In a pinch, you can just press the dough into the plate with your fingers.
Prick the completed crusts with the fork and set aside while you grate the cheese onto the waxed paper you used to roll out the dough.
Step 5: Grate the Cheese and Mix the Eggs and Cream With the Other Filling Ingredients
If you have a helper to grate the cheese, you can get on with mixing up the eggs. This is also a good time to start preheating the oven to 375 degrees F. Break the dozen eggs into the bowl and scramble lightly, add the cup of cream, mix; add a few shakes each of cayenne and nutmeg, mix; add the ham/onion/spinach mixture, mix; add the grated cheese, mix. The mixture will be pretty thick, divide it evenly between the two quiche pans, and smooth the tops.
Note, I don't add any salt to the filling, the ham and cheese are salty enough.
Step 6: Bake Until Brown and Puffed Up All the Way Across the Top
Place on the middle rack of the 375 degree oven, leaving room between the pans and the sides of the oven, and bake for thirty minutes or until the tops begin to puff up and brown a bit. Once the tops start to puff up, rotate the pans 180 degrees, and bake for another ten minutes, or until the tops are browned and puffed up all the way across. Cool before slicing.
Note: my oven bakes a bit hot, so your quiche may take a bit longer than 40 minutes, but keep an eye on it. If the filling starts pulling away from the crust and the tops are brown, pull them out before the edges get too dry. Testing for done-ness by inserting a knife helps, but I generally go by how puffed up the quiche is.
If you used pie plates and the quiche seems to be browning too much, but has not puffed up all the way across the top, you can cheat by putting the quiche in a microwave oven for a few minutes, watching closely to stop when the top puffs up all the way across. It's not ideal, but it will get the middle cooked in a pinch.
These can be eaten warm, cold, or reheated in the microwave. Reheating one slice at a time works best, but if you have time you can slowly reheat the whole quiche in a 250 degree F oven, cover with foil to keep it from drying out. Use a quick-read thermometer to see when it's warm in the middle.