I bet you want to know more about my awesome grandmother, Marnie, whose advice inspired this culinary adventure. I’m sure she’ll come up now and again in my writing, but for now here’s a beautiful photo her when she was young. It is probably my favourite photograph of all time.
So, quiche. I pretty much never make quiche, though frittata is a go-to last minute dinner choice. Quiche is not last minute, but like frittata it can be whipped up with pretty much whatever you’ve got going on in your fridge, as long as you have a few staples. In light of this whole “a pie a week for a year” challenge, I’m guessing that I’m going to be eating a fair amount of quiche. I’m okay with that. I often get stressed in the last moments of making a quiche or a frittata because I have a hard time telling whether the egg is sufficiently cooked. Maybe by the end of this year I will have developed some kind of quiche intuition, I will have honed my quiche-craft enough to just know when a quiche is done. The quiche whisperer.
On Tuesday night I made the first of 52 pies while listening to Herman Dune (is it summer yet?), and it was a roasted cauliflower and caramelized onion quiche. My inspiration for this recipe came from Smitten Kitchen, as many of my inspirations do. I made a number of changes though, enough that this recipe felt like my own in a small way. I’m generally pretty comfortable in the kitchen, and I usually make substitutions on the fly, and don’t write them down – which is a problem when it comes time to write about them or tell others about how I made something. I’m going to try and get better at this. Another thing you should know is that my oven is crazy and runs very hot. I finally bought an oven thermometer at the end of last year only to discover that it is often a full 100 degrees hotter in there than the dial says. But it is finicky. I am going to try my best to keep track of what the actual temperature of my oven is when baking, but as always just know that individual ovens vary, and I really recommend you get an oven thermometer of your own! You might never burn your granola again.
Cauliflower & Caramelized Onion Quiche (adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted from a 2007 issue of Bon Appetit. Those are some good roots)
For the quiche:
- Half of a large head of cauliflower, chopped into medium-sized chunks/florets
- 2 small onions, halved and sliced into what I call “half moons” and separated
- 3/4 cup full fat yogurt (sour cream would be even better)
- 1/2-3/4 cup milk (I started with 1/2 cup and added a good splash more without measuring)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups of grated cheese of your choice, I used a combination of mozzarella and old cheddar, because that’s what I had
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs
- salt & freshly ground pepper
- 2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
- dash smoked paprika, dash cumin (optional)
- 2-3 Tbsp. butter
One batch of my standard single-crust pie dough. When the dough is rolled out and crimped in the pie plate, chill it for a good half hour, at least.
Toss the cauliflower with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in an 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice, until it is nicely browned – remember yours might take longer because my oven runs hot. Melt the 2-3 Tbsp. butter in a cast iron or other pan, and add your sliced onions. Cook them over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are good and brown and caramelized. This took about half an hour for me – I cooked them while the cauliflower roasted. Combine the bread crumbs with some salt, pepper, and paprika and cumin, if using. Add some olive oil and combine until the bread crumbs are moist.
Spread a thin layer of mustard on the bottom of your chilled pie shell. Spread the onions in next, then the cauliflower. Combine the yogurt/sour cream, milk, eggs, and 1 cup of the cheese and pour over the cauliflower-onion mixture in your pie plate. I originally started out with 2 eggs and less milk + yogurt, but found that it wasn’t enough to fill my 9-inch deep dish pie plate (which is what I use for all pies). This is why my milk measurements are not exact in the recipe – because I did a last minute mix of more yogurt and milk and an extra egg in order to top up my pie. Place the whole pie on a baking sheet to prevent spills. Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese across the top of the quiche, and then sprinkle on your bread crumb mixture.
Now turn your pie into a space pie. Yes, space pie. Space pies look like this:
Space pie is what I call my pies when they are wearing their protective tinfoil coats. You see, it is essential that you protect your outer crust edge when you put your pies in the oven, otherwise they burn. For years my mom and I would try and put the tinfoil onto hot pies that had already been baking and were already starting to burn. One day I realized (okay, I read it in a book) that you can do this in the opposite order – put the tinfoil on while the pie is cold and then just remove it for the last 5 minutes or so of baking time. This works like a charm.
I baked my quiche for a full hour – maybe an hour and 5 minutes even – before I was convinced that it was done. I’m not yet an expert on quiche done-ness, as previously mentioned, but when it was cooked it was puffy, browned, and springy to the touch. I checked it by making a slice in the top and peering it to see how cooked the egg look. Not a perfect system, but it worked.
Eat this with a nice fresh, green salad to offset the richness. We just ate it all on its own because we’re disorganized like that, and it was still awesome.
Pssst! If you have suggestions for pies I should make – especially pies to make now (i.e. before summer fruit season has hit) then please let me know in the comments!