Quiche has such a reputation. And depending on when you grew up, it ended up taking the brunt of a lot of unnecessary angst.
‘Real Men don’t eat Quiche.’ was the title of a book. But it became so much more than that. The book was a satyrical look at what constituted masculinity, back in the early 80’s. Real men eat meat. Not salad. And definitely not custardy slices of egg and cheese assigned as the main dish. Quiche became the symbol of everything that was frou frou, feminine, about cuisine back then. So even if it tasted amazing, guys buckled under the pressure of that title, and suddenly what was quite acceptable in the decades previously, became a no no. Trying to get the guys in the house to eat this became a real ‘pulling teeth’ assignment.
That didn’t stop restaurants from serving it. It’s such an easy dish to prepare, and is the perfect vehicle to all sorts of variations. One of the first restaurants I worked at had a daily quiche on the lunch menu. Whether it was chicken and broccoli, beef and cauliflower, mushroom and spinach, or even the classic Quiche Lorraine (onion and bacon) quiche was there. And it was ordered! Us waiting staff all had our favourites, and we were always hoping that there would be a slice or two leftover that we could then eat after our shifts ended.
And quiche is one of the first things that I learned how to make, as a teenager. Like a frittata, it is pretty easy to get the ingredients together. It was just a matter of picking out the extra ingredients. But I quickly learned that quiche can also be temperamental. Too much liquid, and the custard will not set. Too many eggs, and the final custard would be hard and rubbery. It is a fine line between a silky, just firm enough quiche, and a puddle or a rubber ball.
And it is all about the egg to milk ratio. If you come across recipes that call for 5 or more eggs for one 9 or 10″ quiche, you will end up with a rubbery texture. You really only need 4 eggs. For 4 eggs, you only need 1 1/4 cups of milk and cream. For the dairy, you want a combination of milk and heavy cream. More milk than cream. But if it is mostly all milk, especially at 2% or less, it will be too watery, and the custard will not develop. When I use cream, it can be anywhere from a half and half, to a whipping cream. Depending on what happens to be in the fridge. If it is whipping cream, I will up the amount of milk, and reduce the amount of cream. Because it is so heavy to begin with. The best ratio is in the recipe below. You will season the custard mixture now: salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, etc.
The other components are easy. Two cups of any filling. That can be leftover cubed rotisserie chicken, steamed broccoli spears, steamed cauliflower or asparagus, bacon lardons, sautéed onions, seeded tomato chunks, cubed ham, even artichoke hearts, mushrooms, spinach or peas. Whatever combo of meat and or veggies you want!! For this recipe, I used 2 cups of steamed Romanesco. Romanesco is related to cauliflower, but with a slightly nuttier taste. And it’s green! The texture alone is why I love finding one at the market! And if you use slightly more than two cups, that’s fine, but not too much more than that. Most veggies will need a bit of steaming- just to fork tender.
The cheese: go for at least 1 1/2 cups up to 2 cups of shredded cheese. This can be a sharp cheddar, mozzarella, provolone, swiss or jarlsberg, beemster, or even a combo of all of the above! Some (about 2/3-3/4) of the cheese will be sprinkled over the fillings you’ve chosen above, and the rest will be sprinkled on the top after the egg mixture has been poured over the filling. At this point, you could even use ricotta or fiore di latte as your final layer of cheese. For this recipe I used a combo of cheddar and beemster cheeses.
As for the crust. You all know how much fun I have making a crust!! So naturally, this is a place for a lovely savoury crust. See my Perfect Pie Crust recipe for how to create a savoury crust. You will only need half of the recipe outlined for a quiche, so freeze the other disc for a future quiche.
But for today’s recipe, I decided to show you how a crustless quiche bakes up. When I’m trying to behave, I omit the crust. It just does add that extra bit of heaviness to the dish. And if I’m having a bout of wheat belly (which I mostly suffer through) I am quite happy to just bake up the filling. This will mean that the pie/quiche plate will need to be sprayed or spread with a thin layer of butter.
Assembly is easy. First the layer of sautéed or steamed veggies and cooked and cooled meat (if using) is spread all over the prepared dish. Then 2/3 or so of the grated cheese is scattered over the filling. At this point, if you want to add some heat, why not sprinkle some hot chilli flakes over the cheese! Pour the whisked eggs/ milk and seasoning gently over the filling. Then scatter the final amount of cheese over the egg mixture.
Bake it in a 375F oven till just set. The very centre can still be slightest bit jiggly. The cheeses will have bubbled and browned in the most delightful way. You will want to let the quiche set for at least 30 minutes. In fact it will be great if you let it set overnight and then reheat pieces the next day! But if I have leftovers, I will often eat them just as they are out of the fridge! So this dish can easily be breakfast, brunch, lunch or even dinner. Talk about a versatile dish!! Just add a side salad and you’re set.
Along with the specific recipe below, I’ve really given you the basics for any quiche you want to make. Totally customizable! So have fun, and let me know what you come up with!
Earlier I mentioned frittatas. Really, they are almost the same thing. Eggs and milk and veggies cooked in the oven. But frittatas never had the bad rap. They had a great PR team! So if you have a guy that thinks his reputation would be tarnished if he ate quiche, just say it is a frittata, and call it a day!
Romanesco and Cheddar Crustless Quiche
Bright and nutty romanesco, cheddar cheese as well as some Beemster are baked into the silkiest custard. No crust means that the carbs have been cut way down!
- 2 cups of romanesco florets cauliflower can be used instead if you can't find romanesco.
- 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese I also used some beemster cheese to make up the amount
- 1 tbsp AP flour
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup 2% milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- good pinch of grated nutmeg
- chilli flakes
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Place the romanesco into a steamer basket and steam in a pot filled with 1" water, over high heat. Only steam till just tender, about 5 minutes or so- test with a fork. Set aside.
Grate the cheese and toss in a bowl with 1 tbsp of AP flour- make sure it is evenly coated with the flour (this will help suspend it in the custard, as opposed to having it all settle to the bottom.
Whisk the eggs, milk and cream together till frothy in a medium bowl. Season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Rub butter all over the interior of a 9-10" pie plate or ceramic quiche pan. Alternatively you can use veggie spray. Place onto a baking sheet.
Spoon the steamed romanesco all over the bottom of the plate. Scatter 2/3 of the cheese all over the veggies. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp chilli flakes over this (optional)
Pour the egg mixture gently over the veggies and cheese. Top with the remaining cheese. ( I reserved some of the nicer romanesco florets to add at this point as well, just so that they would be slightly elevated, for presentation!
Place the baking sheet on the centre rack and bake the quiche for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and set. The centre can still be ever so slightly jiggly, but it shouldn't be soggy soft.
Remove and let it set for a good 20 minutes to let the residual heat continue cooking the eggs.
Serve with a salad and hunk of crusty bread!
This keeps well in the refrigerator and can be served the next day, re-heated or at room temperature.