Asparagus and Leek Quiche
June 26, 2013
Aunt Suzy says . . .
My friend, Ruth, and I recently read My Life in France by Julia Child and thought it would be fun to cook some things inspired by her. . . maybe not exactly her recipes from The Art of French Cooking, but similar ones using fresh seasonal ingredients. We had talked about a souffle, but I’ve always been intimated by them. Probably should give one a try at some point, but we decided on quiche and chose an asparagus quiche because asparagus is at its peak right now. I did look in TAOFC to see whether Julia had a recipe using asparagus (no) and to see her methods (interesting and helpful!). Ultimately, we chose this recipe from Martha Stewart that we modified slightly. I know the perfect person to buy from at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market, so we went Saturday morning to buy asparagus and other items for our menu. I realized that while I enjoy ordering quiche out or having it at other people’s homes, I had never made one myself! This was very easy and definitely delicious, so I will make quiche again, experimenting with other types and recipes. It was fun to cook with friends, with everyone diving in and making light work of the tasks. We served this with a beautiful salad and a glass of chardonnay.
Quiche is kind of a staple in our house. My dad made quiche a lot when I was a teenager, so it’s like comfort food to me. And it’s (relatively) easy, inexpensive (especially if you just use leftover stuff like I do a lot), and really delicious. This recipe is definitely a little fancier than I usually make, with the Gruyere and leeks, and it’s super good. We usually have a few leftover pieces for breakfast the next day, but this one we totally polished off that night!
When I make quiche, or any baked single-crust pies, for that matter, I use the Joy of Cooking method with the crust, and I find that it always makes for a better finished pie. In the Joy of Cooking test kitchen, this was the only way they found that didn’t end in a soggy, under done crust. The edges may get a little brown, but it’s totally worth it. I’ve included the instructions for this method after the recipe.
Your favorite pie crust for a single crust pie
1 pound asparagus, tough ends removed
2 medium leeks, white and light green part only
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups half and half
A pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Crust: Roll out the dough and place in a 9-inch pie plate. Crimp or flute the edges. Bake at 350° for 7-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and make a few stabs with a fork to deflate any bubbles. Set aside to cool slightly. Leave the oven on. (Or follow Margaux’s instructions below for pre-baking the crust).
Vegetables: Wash the asparagus and pat dry. Cut in roughly 3/4-inch lengths. Cut the tops off the leeks so only white and light green part remains. Slice these pieces in half lengthwise and wash thoroughly under running water, fanning out the layers. Thinly slice in half moons then pat dry with a towel or paper towels. Heat the oil in a non-reactive skillet over medium heat. Sauté for about 10 minutes until asparagus is beginning to soften and the leeks show a few browned bits. Remove from heat and set aside.
Eggs: Whisk the eggs and half and half together and add the nutmeg along with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk to completely blend and emulsify a little.
Assembling and baking the quiche: Place the slightly cooled pie crust on a jelly roll sheet pan. Scatter the grated Gruyere onto the bottom of crust. Place the vegetable mixture in a layer over the cheese. Next pour the egg/cream mixture over all. Place the quiche on the sheet pan in the center of the oven and bake for 45 to 60 minutes. (check at 45 just in case it’s done. At Ruth’s it took an hour in a gas oven and at my house it took 45 min in an electric oven.) A knife inserted into the center should come out almost clean. The quiche will continue to cook slightly as you let it rest for 15 minutes (or more) before serving. You can serve warm or room temperature.
NOTES ON THE INGREDIENTS:
Suzy says…None of us had time to make a crust so we used store bought and it was fine! While I swear by homemade, I have friends who swear by store-bought. Today I was convinced that if pressed for time purchased crust is a good option. On the recommendation of the cheese department manager, I used half local Gruyere and half imported French. Her idea was that the French is nutty and flavorful, but not very “melty” and the local is very melty, but does not have as much flavor as the French. If Gruyere isn’t readily available, you can use regular Swiss cheese.
Margaux says…I have used store bought crust before too, and prefer Whole Foods brand by far. But I have to be REALLY pressed for time to do it…I always make an all-butter crust and it’s way more flavorful. :)
Joy of Cooking pre-baked crust method:
Roll out your dough and place in pie dish. Crimp the edges as desired, and freeze for about 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and set a rack in the upper third of the oven. Take the pie dish with crust out of the freezer and smooth a large sheet of aluminum foil, shiny side down, into the pie crust, leaving an overhang all the way around the edges. Fill the liner with raw beans or rice or metal pie weights, banking the weights along the sides if you don’t have enough to fill the whole shell. Bake the crust for 20 minutes with the weights in to set the crust. Take out of the oven, carefully remove the foil by grabbing the corners and pulling it out with the weights, then prick all over with a fork. Put it back in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until its golden brown. Check periodically for doneness and if there is any puffing up, prick the puff with a fork and gently push back in place with a spoon. Take out of the oven and fill with the filling and bake (don’t forget to turn the oven down to 350). If your crust edges start to get too brown during baking with the filling in, carefully cover just the edges with aluminum foil pieces. Or get a vintage crust saver (aluminum ring that you set on the crust) like I have…it’s great!