May 28, 2011 § 2 Comments
J: So, here I am in New England for Erik’s college graduation! I remember this time last year: I was half excited and half terrified about graduating and starting a new chapter of my life at grad school in a brand new city with nobody I knew. And now it’s Erik’s turn, and I know he’s going through a lot of the same things I did; he’ll be moving in with me this summer, which is exciting for both of us, but I know he’s a little nervous about being in a new part of the country. At the least, we’ll be doing a lot of cooking — I think that living together will make both of us push each other to get more creative with what we make and with the ingredients we use.
In fact, we’ve already gotten a jump start on that goal of creativity. We decided we would each come up with a new ingredient to “assign” to the other person, who would have to create a dish around it, somewhat reminiscent of Iron Chef America (though without the one-hour time limit, sassy judges, and insanity of Alton Brown). My first “secret ingredient” was tomatillos!
After toying with various ideas, I settled on making a quiche totally from scratch, including the crust. It was a good idea, if I do say so myself; the quiche is pleasantly tart because of the tomatillos, and serving it with some homemade guacamole really complements the flavors. You can do a storebought shell if you must, but making your own allows you to add exciting other things, like lime zest! And it’s not that hard, I promise.
For the crust:
(recipe for crust modified from here)
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/4 tsp lime zest
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c cold butter, chopped into smallish pieces
1/4 c cold water
For the filling:
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 – 3/4 c pepperjack cheese, grated
3 large tomatillos, diced
lime juice from 1/2 lime
3/4 c milk or cream (I used 1%)
1 heaping tsp cilantro, minced
Start off with the crust. In a large bowl, work together the flour, lime zest, salt, and butter. You can start off with a fork or pastry cutter or something but once the butter gets into manageable chunks, it’s easy to use your hands to finish working it in thoroughly.
Add the water and the egg, and mix in thoroughly. Again, once the egg is mostly mixed in, go ahead and use your hands to do this.
When you’ve got it mixed together such that it coheres into a vaguely ball-shaped blob, transfer it to a floured surface (be prepared to add more flour; it’s really sticky!). Flour a rolling pin thoroughly and roll the dough out into a circular shape, about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick. Gently and carefully transfer it to a 9″ quiche/pie pan. The easiest way I found to transfer with minimal casualties was to lift up one end of the dough and slide the pan under it, and keep lifting and sliding until it was settled into the pan in some reasonable fashion. Mine still tore in a couple of places so it required a bit of patching up, and consequently wasn’t the prettiest crust ever, but it looked fairly passable.
Now put this in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour.
While that’s chilling, we can get started on the filling! (Ooh, I rhymed!) Before anything else, preheat your oven to 375.
So, once you have everything chopped and minced and grated, heat up some olive oil in a skillet. Sauté the onions for a couple of minutes, and then add the garlic; continue to sauté for another few minutes, until the onion is translucent and somewhat soft.
Set that pan aside, off the heat.
Now, when your crust has chilled sufficiently, take it out of the fridge. Sprinkle the grated pepperjack cheese evenly over the base of the crust. It should comfortably cover the entire area. Next, add the diced tomatillos, again distributing evenly. Depending on how big your tomatillos are, you may not need to use everything you chopped up. These little things are quite distinctively tart, so you don’t want to overload the quiche with them — just add enough to form another layer over the cheese.
Sprinkle the lime juice over the filling-thus-far, trying to get as even a spread as possible. Then add in the sautéed onions and garlic.
In a small-to-medium sized bowl, whisk together your eggs, milk, and minced cilantro. Pour this mixture over the filling, and jiggle the pan gently to help it settle in and spread throughout. Go ahead and grind some black pepper and a pinch or two of salt over this, if you like.
Bake this at 375 for 30-45 minutes. Mine took 45-50 minutes, likely because the ingredients were cold. The center of the quiche should be puffed up when it’s done; that said, if you pull it out and cut into it and realize it’s not totally cooked through, don’t worry! You can go ahead and just slide it back into the oven and keep baking it until it sets fully.
When I pulled out the quiche, I had an odd “aha” moment looking at it: a few hours ago, this quiche was just a bunch of random ingredients — some flour and butter for the crust, a few eggs, some milk, an onion, etc… and all of a sudden, everything came together and made something else that is so much tastier than its component parts, and in no way really resembles how these things started out looking. I guess that’s part of the magic of cooking food from scratch.
Serve slices of the quiche hot, with guacamole or salsa, and enjoy your hard work!