Find your quiche

Mushroom, Leek, & Onion Quiche

My family LOVES pungent foods.  I’m talking garlic, sardines, kimchi, cabbage, curries, … really, the stinkier the better.  Also falling into this category:  onions.  If a recipe calls for half of an onion, we use the whole thing.  I stop just short of eating them whole, like apples, but only just.

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Onions are a member of the Allium genus, the grouping that also contains leeks, chives, garlic, & shallots.  As luck (or, leek) would have it, this quiche recipe contains quite a few of these flavorful siblings!  Okay, it’s not luck; it’s entirely on-purpose.

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Onions, chives, & leeks all have generally oniony flavors, but to varying degrees.  As a result, they play nicely together!  Think of it as 50 Shades of Yay.

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This quiche features an amped-up version of my mom’s staple oil-based pie crust recipe — dressed to the nines with onions (caramelized in a touch of brown butter) and garden-fresh chives.  Its oil-based-ness makes this crust super easy to handle and roll out, plus, you don’t have to buy anything called lard to make it!  I just have mental blocks about certain things; lard  is one of those things, heroin is another.
The filling is a delicious medley of creamy goat cheese, sweet & salty ham, savory mushrooms, & mellow leeks, all settled in a yummy, eggy custard.  No component overshadows the others, just as no color in the rainbow outshines the rest (except, maybe, the purple).  Just be careful in your salting here, since the ham & cheese are inherently salty, so add only enough salt to sweat your veggies (I’m talking pinches here) — you don’t want to drown the delicate flavors of the ingredients by oversalting.
Let’s talk cheese.  I like BIG, HEAPING DOLLOPS of goat cheese in this quiche.  This way, the edges of the blobs melt into the egg custard as it bakes, but the middle of the blob stays creamy & purely cheesy.  I think the goat cheese might actually be my favorite part, but we’re not supposed to play favorites here.

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I made this quiche as a light Mother’s Day dinner, served with a fresh green salad and these Lemon Meringue Pie Cookies for dessert.  That evening, my parents and I decided to watch PBS’s marathon of The French Chef, with Julia Child, and, wouldn’t you know, she was making a classic Quiche Lorraine in the first episode we watched!  I like to think that Julia and I are birds of a feather.  A baker can dream!
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Mushroom, Leek, & Onion Quiche

Onion-Chive Crust:  [you can just use a plain pastry dough here, if you prefer]
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small sweet onion, finely diced
Pinch salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons cold water
Mushroom-Leek Filling:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter + 1 tablespoon olive oil
~3 medium leeks, halved lengthwise, rinsed, & thinly sliced
3 ounces baby bella mushrooms, rinsed, blotted dry, & sliced
Pinch salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup low-fat milk
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch cayenne pepper
3 ounces good deli ham, thinly sliced & cut into strips
4 ounces goat cheese, unflavored (there’s enough flavor going on here!)
Make crust dough:  In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Continue heating butter, scraping bottom of pan with a wooden spoon, until butter starts to turn golden brown and fragrant (yes, you have just “browned” this butter).  Add the finely diced onion and pinch of salt to the browned butter, and saute for ~5-7 minutes, until onion bits have caramelized.  Remove pan from heat, and allow to cool for ~20 minutes.
Use a whisk to combine flour, sugar, salt, & chives in a mixing bowl.  Add olive oil, water, & onions, being sure to scrape all of the browned butter bits off of the bottom of the skillet into the bowl.  Use a rubber spatula to combine all dough ingredients, using as few brisk strokes as possible, to generate a messy-looking, shaggy ball.  Use your hands to form the dough into a coherent disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill 2 hours or overnight.  Remove dough from fridge 1 hour prior to handling, if chilled for longer than 2 hours.
Thoroughly grease a 10″ springform pan (recommended!) or pie dish.  Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough, between two sheets of plastic wrap, into a circle ~14″ in diameter.  Peel off the top layer of plastic wrap, and roll the dough (still adhered to its bottom layer of plastic wrap) around your rolling pin.  Transfer dough to your prepared pan, unroll the dough, naked side down, over the pan, tucking the dough down into the corners of the pan, and peel off the now-top layer of plastic wrap (if you have another pie-dough-transfer method that works for you, go for it!).  Gently pat down the dough to make a smooth layer, pressing the dough at least 1″ up the sides of the pan — I like a rustic-looking jagged edge to the crust, but feel free to crimp or fold to your heart’s content.  Set aside.
[Note:  this quiche turns out just fine without blind-baking the crust before filling, but, if your aiming to impress in-laws or anything like that with this quiche, prick the bottom of the unbaked crust with a fork, load in your parchment paper & pie weights, and bake for 5 minutes @ 350, remove pie weights & paper, and bake an additional 5 minutes.  Cool 20 minutes before filling.  Blind baking ensures that you won’t end up with a soggy crust bottom; not blind baking renders a soggy bottom as a possibility, not an inevitability, just a possibility]
Make filling:  Preheat oven to 375.  In a medium skillet, melt together the butter & olive oil, add in leeks, saute for 5 minutes, then add mushrooms, sauteeing for an additional 5-7 minutes, until the excess liquid has been released from the vegetables & evaporated.  Set aside to cool ~ 10 minutes.  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, black pepper, nutmeg, & cayenne pepper.  Whisk in the semi-cooled leeks & mushrooms.  Sprinkle the ham strands around the bottom of the crust, and dot with large dollops of goat cheese.  Pour the egg mixture evenly over the ham & cheese, and gently jiggle the dish to distribute the egg mixture evenly.  Make sure all ham strands are fully submerged, but allow some goat cheese dollops to peak out, volcanic-island-style.  Carefully transfer to oven, and bake on bottom rack for 45-60 minutes, until top is browned & no longer jiggly — I know this is a large baking window, but variations in oven heating, pan type/material, & distance from the heating element all affect baking time, so start checking the quiche after 40 minutes to get an idea of how your baby is progressing.  If you notice the crust is darkening faster than the center of the quiche is setting, you can cover the crust with foil to prevent burning [if you blind-baked the crust 1st, you will almost definitely need to do this step].
Remove baked quiche from oven, and set pan on a wire rack to cool.  If you’re using a springform pan, wait 5 minutes, then run a butter knife around the outside edge (you should see that the crust has pulled away from the pan edge, but a knife-swipe is still recommended to ensure that you don’t pull off a crust wall when unmolding).  Unflask the springform ring, and allow quiche to cool 20 minutes before slicing & serving.
Leftovers are delicious, served cold, for breakfast the next morning!

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