Monday, March 22, 2010

Zucchini and Onion Mini Quiche

I really love working with eggs. It is amazing what you can do with them, eggs can rise to epic proportions, support almost any flavour combination, emulsify into a thick and creamy sauce or add a unique richness to almost anything. To top it off, eggs are inexpensive particularly if you build a dinner around the little wonder ovals. A fairly quick but really nutritious meal are mini quiches (you could also just bake it in a 9" pie pan but this is a lovely way to switch it up). Plus, little people really like feeling special and to have their very own little bowl of "cheesy and eggy in a pie crust, not really like pizza" (every try explain quiche to a 4 year old who asked for pizza for dinner?).

Quiche is so wonderfully versatile - you can go all out and really impress friends with a perfectly puffy and crisp quiche with artisan cheese, or you can feed it to your kids for a nutritious, protein-rich and inexpensive dinner. It is totally up to you. Once in the oven (where it will stay for only about 30 minutes) you can tidy up the kitchen or throw together a really quick salad. My children love carbs and eggs so, eggs in a crust? Brilliance. They eat it every time.

A few months ago I got it in my head I wanted to make a quiche. The only quiche I had was when I was 17 and it was horrible - a thick block of dense egg and cheddar cheese. As I have become more comfortable with my own cooking I am now trying to make up for all the crap food I have ever eaten. This was my attempt to make up for that cold sliver of cheesy hell. Helping me along the way was this fantastic recipe: Bacon-Onion Quiche from Mari at Once Upon a Plate. Her quiche is quite indulgent because of the heavy cream, bacon and gruyere, and I am not objecting to that (I think it's obvious I like rich food) but for an everyday dinner? Not so much.

Dinner with your family needn't always be an event with plated gourmet food that takes hours to prepare and every dish in the kitchen. It also shouldn't be laden with so much processed food that you only need to flit through the kitchen to grab a couple of plates. Give those cranky little wild animals you call children (not everyone does that? huh.) a good meal ... how you teach your children to teach their body is a gift. Don't make them resent it.

As always, the crust I will be using is gluten free.

The Crust*

128g gluten free flour - 1/2 white rice, 1/4 potato starch, 1/4 corn flour
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch of kosher salt

*This recipe is really a gluten-free version of Mari's which you should really check out. She is fantastic with quiche!

1. Mix together and divide into 4 equal amounts.

2. The dough is very soft so just gently pat it out and spread it up the sides of the bowls.

3. Mari advises to brush with a bit of dijon mustard and she is spot on. It adds just a little bite and depth to the quiche.

Quick! This crust needs eggs, stat!

The Eggs

4 eggs
1 cup soy milk
1/2 tsp. hungarian paprika
pepper and salt to taste
sauteed onions and mushrooms
handful of fresh baby spinach
chevre* (make sure it is really cold)

*use whatever cheese you feel like. We tend to use a lot of chevre because of dairy issues. Make sure your cheese is grated unless it is an unripened soft cheese.

1. Heat a pad of butter until it foams up then add your onions. Soften but don't brown and drop in the sliced mushrooms. I would slice them fairly thin because you really don't want them to dominate the dish.

2. In a bowl whisk together the eggs, soy milk, paprika and salt and pepper. Whisk until the whole mix is entirely incorporated and an even creamy spring yellow. The reason why you want the chevre cold is that it is much easier to crumble whereas if you took it out of the fridge when you started, you are mildly screwed. Chevre also wears a cream cheese cape ... Supercheese! So, crumble and mix into your egg mix.

3. In the individual crusted bowls spread a layer of the onion/mushroom mix, spinach and finally pour the egg mix over top. Make sure the spinach has a definite layer of egg over it, otherwise it will scorch in the hot oven.

4. Pop them into the oven (I placed all four bowls on a pizza sheet for stability) at 425 for about 25 minutes. The centre will puff up and become an enticing golden brown. When they are finished very gently take them out of the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes. Quiche is not nearly as temperamental as a souffle but you don't want to do any cartwheels on the way to the table.

All puffed up and strutting it's stuff.

5. Feel free to garnish with just a touch of cheese or sauteed mushrooms. Enjoy!

The zucchini and endive salad with cracked pepper and a light drizzle of honey!

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