Quintessential quiche and frittatas

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 14, 2011

By Emily Wilder
For the Salisbury Post
SALISBURY – There are only a few meals that you could eat for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and leftover the next day. With just basic ingredients, though, you can prepare a quiche, frittata, soufflé, or strata for any meal…if you know the difference, that is.
Anyone with a cookbook is probably familiar with the classic Quiche Lorraine recipe. A quiche (pronounced keesh) is typically a baked tart or pie with a filling of eggs and milk (or cream), plus other savory ingredients, in pastry shell. The popular Lorraine hails from northern France and is simply eggs, bacon, cream, and Swiss cheese.
A frittata, on the other hand, is an Italian fried or baked egg-based dish, also with savory ingredients, but no liquid or pastry crust. A soufflé is whipped egg and is often a dessert, while a strata is more like a casserole with egg, bread, milk, and cheese or sweet ingredients.
Since the origins of quiche are French, I stopped by the Rowan Public Library to peruse the shelves for some authentic recipes. First on my list, none other than Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Volumes 1 and 2).” This was mostly just for fun because Child’s recipes, while delicious, are a little more time-consuming than ideal for me. So, I also found success in the brunch section with Mollie Katzen’s (of Moosewood fame) “Sunlight Cafe.” Not wanting the frittata to be slighted, I picked up the self-proclaimed “bible of authentic Italian cooking,” Phaidon’s “The Silver Spoon,” which is chock-full of tasty egg combinations.
These recipes frequently get a bad reputation for being unhealthy due to the cholesterol, fat, and calories found in many of the ingredients. The first way to make a quiche healthier: bake your own crust. Store-bought pastry shells are convenient but typically use refined white flour, lard, and preservatives. As always, read the labels, and look for only a few, real-food ingredients.
The other way to nutritionally improve your quiche or frittata is by carefully choosing what you put in it. While using local (pasture raised, antibiotic free) eggs is my first choice, I try to alternate or halve called-for ingredients, using egg substitute or egg whites, to achieve less cholesterol and fat. Substitute skim or soy milk for whole cream, and use a low-fat cheese or nutritional yeast instead of heavy cheeses. These are all personal choices, and I encourage you to experiment with just about anything you can mix together!
My Mama’s Pastry Crust
1 1/2 C. flour, all purpose whole wheat, or half white/half wheat
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. butter, or Smart Balance
4-5 Tbs. of cold water
Sift flour and salt together. Cut in butter with pastry blender. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of water at a time. Gently toss with fork and push to side of bowl. Repeat until all is moist, and dough ball forms. Flatten on floured surface, do not over knead. Roll from center out until ? inch thick using light quick strokes and press into pie plate, making edges with thumb. Bake at 450 degrees 8-10 minutes, or until golden. Prepare filling and bake as directed.
Leek, Asparagus and Salmon Quiche
4-6 fresh medium leaks
1 bunch asparagus
8 ounces salmon (poached fillet crumbled, or skinless boneless canned)
2 Tbs. flour
4 eggs lightly beaten (or egg substitute)
2 wedges Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss Cheese
2 Tbs. Parmesan cheese
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Prepared pasty crust (deep-dish if store bought)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare leeks by washing, removing roots and tough green tops. Slice light green and white portions in thin rounds. Cut asparagus in 1-2 inch pieces. Heat oil in large skillet and sauté leeks and asparagus about 5 minutes until tender. Add in salmon and continue cooking 3-4 more minutes. Before removing from heat, sprinkle mix with flour to coat ingredients. In a separate dish, mix eggs and cheese well. Transfer half of leek mixture to pie crust and top with half egg mix, filling in holes and around the side. Fill crust with remaining leek and egg, top with Parmesan, and place quiche on a cookie sheet. Bake 40-45 minutes until springy.
Shiitake and Mustard Green Quiche
5 medium shiitake mushrooms, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
1-2 C. mustard greens, chopped
1/2 C. red onion, chopped
5 eggs lightly beaten (or egg substitute)
1/4 C. milk (or soy milk)
2 Tbs. flour
1 1/2 C. sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
2 tsp. nutmeg
Garlic salt
2 Tbs. olive oil
Prepared pastry crust
Heat oil in a large skillet. Saute mushrooms and onions for 2-3 minutes. Add greens and continue cooking until just wilted. Mix together egg, milk, flour, cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a separate bowl. Combine all ingredients and transfer to pastry crust and bake 45-55 minutes until springy throughout.
Fried GreenTomato Quiche
— from Mollie Katzen’s SunliCafe
1 unbaked quiche crust
1 C. (packed) grated cheddar
Fried Green Tomatoes*
3 large eggs
1 C. milk
1/4 tsp. salt (rounded measure)
Freshly ground black pepper
A few dashes of cayenne
1. Preheat the oven to 375. Place the unbaked crust on a baking tray.
2. Sprinkle the grated cheese into the bottom of the crust.
3. Cut the fried tomatoes in half, and arrange them over the cheese. They will overlap, and that’s fine.
4. Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper to taste, and cayenne, and slowly pour this mixture over the tomatoes and cheese.
5. Bake on the baking tray in the lower third of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the custard is set. Cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing, and serve at any temperature.
*Prepare the tomatoes up to several hours in advance, and leave them on the cooling rack until you need them.
(Visit my Emily’s Green Kitchen blog at www.salisburypost.com/blogs/greenkitchen for Mollie’s Fried Green Tomato recipe.)
Tofu Freezer Quiche
This is perhaps one of the easiest meals I make, since all I have to do is clean out the frozen vegetable bags at the bottom of the freezer.
1 C. egg substitute (or 4 eggs)
2 Tbs. soy milk
8 ounces cubed extra-firm tofu (1 package, 1/2-inch cubes)
1/2 C. grated cheese
2 C. assorted small frozen vegetables (corn, peas, lima beans, green beans, carrots, etc.)
1/2 sweet yellow onion, chopped
1/4 C. nutritional yeast (optional)
2 T flour
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 pastry crust
Preheat oven to 400 and place crust on a cookie sheet. Heat oil in a skillet and sauté onion. Add frozen vegetables and cook 2 more minutes. Add tofu and continue cooking until vegetables are just tender, set aside to cool. In a separate large bowl, mix egg, milk, flour and 1/4 c cheese. Fold in egg-vegetable-tofu mix and stir well. Transfer half of mix to crust, taking care to spread evenly across the surface. Top with half of remaining cheese and yeast, if using. Add remaining mix and top with remaining cheese. Bake 45-55 minutes until middle of quiche is springy.
Potato, Red Onion& Feta Frittata
from Barnes & Noble Books’ Vegetarian
1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
12 ounces cooked new potatoes, halved (or quartered if large)
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 C. feta cheese, diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.Heat the oil in a large heavy-based, flameproof frying pan. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes or more until golden, stirring to prevent them sticking. Spread the mixture evenly over the base of the pan.
3. Preheat the broiler to high. Season the beaten eggs, then pour the mixture over the onion and potatoes. Sprinkle the cheese on top and cook over a moderate heat for 5-6 minutes until the eggs are just set and the base of the frittata is lightly golden.
4. Place the pan under the broiler and cook the top for 3 minutes until set and lightly golden. Serve the frittata warm or cold, cut into wedges.
Green Kitchen tip: If your frying pan is not broiler-safe, once the eggs are set (step 3), transfer the frittata to a cookie sheet to broil. To do this, place a large plate over the top of your pan and flip it out, upside down on the plate. Then place the cookie sheet over the plate and flip it again so that the frittata is right side up on the cookie sheet, continue to step 4.
Celery and Sausage Frittata
from The Silver Spoon, Phaidon
6 eggs
5 ounces Italian sausage, skinned and crumbled
1 celery heart, chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil
salt and pepper
Lightly beat the eggs, stir in the sausage and celery and season lightly with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a skillet, pour in the mixture and cook until browned on both sides. This fritatta is good eaten both hot or cold.