Sunday, April 12, 2009

My Birthday Quiche

Today is my birthday. This year, I'm sharing my special day with Jesus (it's Easter). I decided to make a fabulous brunch for my family, both to celebrate my birthday and also tie in eggs to help celebrate Easter. What more perfect concoction could marry these ideals than a flaky, buttery, eggy quiche! We all know my love for the French, so this is a perfect substitute for birthday cake. I think that birthday quiches will be the new black. What do you think?

My Birthday Quiche
Serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 T olive oil, separated
1 1/2 cups onion, sliced
1/2 lb thickly sliced ham (1 slice should be enough), chopped into cubes
1 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
5 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 flaky pie crust (see below)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat up 1 T. olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened. Then add mushrooms and garlic and cook until mushrooms soften and release their juices. Add zucchini and cooked until softened. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a small skillet, add remaining 1/2 T. olive oil and saute ham until it heats through and releases some of its juices. Strain juices and set ham aside.

Spoon vegetables, ham, and sun-dried tomatoes over baked pie crust, evenly distributing filling. In a bowl, beat together eggs, cream and more salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over filling and place pie dish into the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes until quiche is set and eggs are no longer runny. Let sit for a few minute before serving.

Flaky Pie Crust
Makes 1 9-inch or 10-inch pie crust

1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup very cold water
1 1/2 cups + 1 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup + 2 1/2 T. unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small cubes

In a small bowl add the salt to the water and stir to dissolve. Keep cold in the refrigerator.

In a food processor, put the flour in the work bowl and add the small butter cubes, scattering all over. Pulse briefly until the mixture forms large crumbs and some of the butter is still the size of peas. Add the water-salt mixture and pulse for several seconds until the dough begins to come together in a ball. You should still be able to see some butter chunks.

On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a disk 1 inch thick. Wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or up to overnight (this dough can now be frozen in a freezer bag and then defrosted in the refrigerator the day before it is to be used).

Place the chilled dough on a floured surface and roll out 1/8 inch thick, lifting and rotating the dough to make sure it doesn't stick, and working quickly to ensure the dough stays as cold as possible. Add more flour to the board as needed.

Roll the dough circle gently over the rolling pin and then gently unroll the circle over the pie dish, easing it into the bottom and sides, and pressing gently into place. Avoid stretching the dough, as it will shrink back when baking. Trim the dough edges with a sharp knife and flute or crimp the edges if you prefer.

Chill the crust 30 minutes to an hour in the fridge before baking. This ensures the flakiest crust.

To parbake the crust, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line the shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (or dry beans if you don't have weights). Bake until the surface looks dry and pale, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the weights and paper and return the pie crust to the oven and bake a few minutes longer.


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