Bonjour! We are crossing the border from Italy into France this week so that I can share with you the recipe for one of my all-time favorite dishes: quiche.
I say France, but I suppose what I’m really talking about is 1970s New Jersey, which is where quiche first crossed my radar. All of a sudden, my Italian mom and her friends were exchanging recipes for quiche Lorraine, serving spinach and mushroom quiche at potluck brunches, and lunching on ham and Swiss quiche at little soup-salad-quiche eateries that were popping up around Princeton.
In those days, our mom would occasionally take my sister and me into the city to shop. We would hit Blooomingdales and Bonwit Teller (RIP), and the glittery Disco-era clothing emporium Fiorucci (RIP), with its iconic twin cherub logo, bright animal prints and cool, flourescent graphics. A few blocks away on West 55th was (the much more sedate) La Bonne Soupe, where the three of us would sit down to a cup of the soupe du jour and an omelet or a wedge of quiche. La-di-dah, life was good for us, and for quiche.
Then, one day, in sashayed sushi, fresh, colorful, whimsical, raw. So exciting. It was the 80s; disco was dead. Au revoir, La Bonne Soupe, adieu quiche.
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I hadn’t thought of La Bonne Soup in many years, but it popped into my head the other afternoon as I was rolling out the dough to make quiche for dinner. I had to stop what I was doing and google it, and I am happy to say it has not gone the way of Bonwit’s, Fiorucci, and disco. What’s more, I’m pretty sure the menu is the same.
The truth is, I never stopped loving quiche; a childhood favorite is a favorite always. I made it occasionally when I was living on my own and I started making it again regularly when my kids were little. It was something we all enjoyed, because how can you not like a fusion of egg custard, melty cheese, bacon and/or vegetables? I started with a classic Jacques Pepin recipe for leek and Gruyère quiche, but I quickly veered without paying too much attention to tradition: Swiss chard and Comté, roasted peppers and Fontina, sundried tomatoes (yep) and Asiago, ham and caramelized onion. Shiitake, bacon, scallions and fresh corn off the cob was a particularly successful experiment.
As good as my quiches were, I didn’t realize that I was making a fundamental mistake until a trip to France in 2017. I was visiting my friend and fellow food writer(we were teaching a food-writing workshop at her hotel in Chinon). I had a slice of quiche at a brasserie for lunch that changed everything. For one thing, it was nearly twice the height than standard quiche. And though it was rich, it was also deceptively light; that is, the custard was smooth, silken, not at all “eggy.”
It dawned on me: all these years, I’d been baking quiche at the wrong temperature. In fact, if you look up recipes for quiche, almost all of them call for baking it in a moderately hot (375° F) oven, when really you should be baking it at a low temperature to keep the custard from toughening. Duh. When I got home, I switched to a deep-dish tart pan and turned the oven temp down to 325°. Voilà: next-level quiche unlocked.
The quiche recipe I’m sharing below, which has smoky bacon, broccoli florets, and dollops of Gorgonzola, is a family favorite. You can adjust it to suit your own tastes. But first, some tips in case your quiche skills are a little rusty.
TIPS FOR MAKING DEEP-DISH QUICHE
Use a tall, fluted pan with a removable bottom. This makes it easy to dislodge the quiche once baked. I use this one, which is flared and measures 9 1/2 inches in diameter at the top and 2 inches in height.
If you have a food processor, use it to make the pastry. It gets the job done quickly and if you do it right, your crust will be just as flaky as if you had mixed it by hand.
After rolling out the pastry and fitting it into the tart pan, chill it in the refrigerator or freezer. This will help keep the crust from shrinking during baking.
Always pre-bake the crust to avoid the dreaded soggy bottom.
Avoid using raw vegetables in the filling, as they release water and can affect the texture of the finished quiche. I always sauté onions, broccoli, mushrooms, spinach, etc. before spreading them into the pre-baked crust.
Use semi-firm cheeses, such as Gruyère, Comté, Fontina Val d’Aosta, etc. These cheeses and others like them melt well when shredded and fuse the filling ingredients together during baking.
Don’t overdo it with the filling. I write this a little tongue-in-cheek, seeing as the recipe I’m sharing does, in fact, overdo it just a smidge. Be thoughtful about what goes into the quiche; make sure the ingredients work together harmoniously.
Readers: What are your favorite quiche fillings?
RECIPE: DEEP-DISH BROCCOLI, BACON & GORGONZOLA QUICHE
If this were a baked potato, it would be loaded. Which is to say, it’s rich, with multiple filling ingredients, but lots of room for variation. You can omit the bacon, for example, and instead sauté the leeks and broccoli in olive oil. This would also make the quiche vegetarian and suitable for Lent, though, obviously, not vegan.
Makes one 9-inch deep-dish quiche, to serve 8
For the crust:
2 cups (260 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
12 tablespoons (6 oz/170 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch (1-cm) pieces
6 to 8 tablespoons (90 to 120 ml) ice-cold water
For the filling:
2 thick slices smoky bacon, about 2 ounces (57 g), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch (1-cm) strips (optional)
2 leeks, white and light green parts, sliced crosswise (about 1 packed cup), well-rinsed to remove any grit
2 packed cups (6 oz/170 g) small-cut broccoli florets
2 teaspoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
5 large eggs (sometimes I use 4, depending on how many other filling components I have)
3/4 cup (170 ml) heavy cream (see NOTES)
3/4 cup (170 ml) whole milk
3/4 cup (42 g) shredded Gruyère cheese
3/4 cup (42 g) shredded semi-firm cheese, such as Comté, Fontina Val d’Aosta, or other dense or tomme-style cheese (I used Appalachian, a Virginia cheese from Meadowcreek Dairy); may substitute more Gruyère
1 ounce (28 g) Gorgonzola (piccante or dolce) or another blue cheese
1. Make the crust. Measure the flour, sugar, and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse to combine. Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse it is broken up into small pieces. With the motor running, dribble in the water and process just until the dough just begins to clump together (you may not need all the water). Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and press it into a disk. Wrap it in reusable or wax paper and refrigerate for at least an hour, until well chilled. (I often make it the day before and chill it overnight.)
2. Lightly flour your work surface and have ready a 9-inch (23-cm) deep-dish quiche pan or pie plate. Roll the chilled disk of dough into a large circle, about 15 inches (38 cm) in diameter, then carefully transfer the dough to the quiche pan. Press, rather than stretch, the dough into the pan—this will minimize shrinking during the pre-bake. Press the palm of your hand along the rim of the pan to trim the overhang. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (or freeze for 15).
3. Heat the oven to 400° F (200° C). Line the quiche shell with parchment paper or foil and partially fill it with pie weights, dried beans, or rice. Set the quiche pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Carefully lift out the parchment or foil and weights. Prick the bottom of the shell with a fork to settle any puffing. Return it to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes longer, until lightly browned on the inside. Transfer to a wire rack to cool while you make the filling.
4. Lower the oven temp to 325° F (160° C).
5. Put the bacon in a large, cold skillet and set it over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the bacon is somewhat, but not completely crisped, and has rendered some of its fat. Lower the heat to medium-low, if necessary, to keep the bacon from browning too much. Remove the browned bacon with a slotted spoon or spider to a paper towel-lined plate. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat.
Stir in the leeks, turning them to coat them with fat. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the broccoli florets and a splash of water, about 1/3 cup. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and stir in the herbs. Cover and let simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, until the broccoli is just starting to turn soften. Uncover and raise the heat to medium high. Cook, stirring, another 3 to 4 minutes, until most of the liquid is evaporated. The broccoli should be tender, but not drab or mushy.
6. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat well. Whisk in the cream and milk, and season with a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir in the shredded cheeses, but not the Gorgonzola.
7. Place the quiche pan with the pre-baked shell back on the baking sheet. Spread the broccoli and leek mixture onto the bottom of the shell and scatter the reserved bacon pieces on top. Pour the milk and cheese mixture over the vegetables, taking care to distribute the cheese evenly (you may need to move things around a bit with a spoon). Finally, scatter bits of Gorgonzola here and there over the top, pressing it in if necessary to submerge it slightly into the cream. Bake the quiche for 55 to 65 minutes, or until it is browned on top and set in the middle—a little wobbling in the very center is fine, as it will set as the quiche cools.
8. Transfer the quiche to a rack for 20 to 30 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Remove the quiche from the pan by pushing up the removable bottom to free the quiche from the fluted ring. Let the quiche cook another 10 minutes, then slide a long, wide spatula between the bottom of the quiche and the bottom of the pan to dislodge the quiche. Carefully transfer the quiche to a serving plate and slice into wedges.
You can omit the bacon; just sauté the leeks and broccoli in 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.
You can change the ratio of heavy cream to milk; use 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream, or vice versa.
FOOD WRITERS IN LIGURIA UPDATE
There are just 5 spots left for Food Writers in Liguria, the workshop I am co-hosting with writer Kathy Gunst and Beautiful Liguria in October. We will spend five days on the Italian Riviera, with Santa Margherita Ligure as our base. Dates are Oct. 22-26, 2023. You can find out more and inquire about registration here.
COOKING CLASS UPDATE
There are plenty of spaces open for my online Savory Easter Tortes class on Saturday, March 25. We’ll be making two traditional tortes: Pizza Rustica, with cured meats and cheese (pictured above), and Torta Pasqualina (vegetarian). Find out more and register here. Paid subscribers receive a 30% discount.
COMING ATTRACTION: Tarte Tatin
On Tuesday I’ll be sending out another French recipe to paid subscribers: the luscious, caramel-infused Tarte Tatin (upside-down apple tart) you see in the photo above. J’adore.
PICTURE FRANCE: Chinon, 2017
I’ve shared a bunch of rather indulgent recipes lately: the ragù bianco and baked milk custard from last week, the fried choux puffs from the week before. I promise that next week’s recipe, whatever it may be, will be lean and mean.
As always, thank you for reading, subscribing, and sharing.
Fiorucci! I hadn’t thought of that in years. Pretty sure I had a pair of wild leggings from there 😆.
Just ordered the deep dish tart pan, I absolutely love the sound of this. I haven’t had a good quiche in ages.
Your Le Bon Soup memories reminded me of my DC days when I was a temp in downtown offices & I felt so grown up eating soup at Au Buon Pain.
I make a lot of quiche, sometimes the traditional quiche lorraine but more often a mix of whatever vegetables are left in the fridge. I must try that low oven method! (A note for your Italian readers, the COOP pasta sfoglia is made in France, with butter!)