Mushroom, Leek and Cheese Quiche

I enjoy making many dishes from my childhood, such as fried chicken, meatloaf, stuffed cabbage, grainy soups with barley, vegetables and chicken or beef. But, I also take great pleasure creating new dishes. They’re fun, and taste delicious. Positive outcomes -along with an occasional flop, happens too- which encourages me to take more chances, while I continue to learn, broaden my palette. And too, I reinvent old recipes as I tweak ingredients and methods. Animation arises from unseen forces that tangle within me which points the way to more experiences. I follow lifes energy and achieve deep satisfaction in the kitchen which ripples outwards, helps heal wounds from earlier times.

I learned a little about how to make pie dough as a seven or eight year old child when, for moments I watched our maid make apple pie. Ann, the maid, never told or showed me anything, but, those times stuck with me. Over years and decades later I practiced and practiced. I tried many techniques from books, experiented often, did research and learned new skills to improve my crusts.

I’m pleased that I’m ready to cook when I see a recipe which includes pie crust since I often prepare them ahead of time, freeze several in my freezer. I don’t buy Nancy’s Quiche from the grocery store as often as I use to since I make my own! I feel proud of my achievement and how the creative effort pumps me up, makes me feel successful! I share many of my sweet and savory dishes with friends and family, and wonder, perhaps, if others catch my wave of pleasure.

I never used fresh mushrooms when I first began cooking, only canned; the same went for real lemons. I only used a small squirt-like bottle. Now I prefer fresh mushrooms and real lemons too.

INGREDIENTS Serves 4

1 One blind-cooked pie crust – see below for this recipe – read thoroughly

2 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil or one of those, plus 1 Tbsp butter

8 oz sliced mushrooms

2-3 leeks, dark green parts removed, white parts cut in thin pieces, thoroughly rinsed and dried

salt and pepper to taste

1-2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)

2 egg yolks

1 egg

3/4 cup milk or half and half

1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated, divided

1/4 tsp herbs mixed with 1/4 tsp paprika

PROCESS

1 In a large oven safe pan, Heat the olive or vegetable oil and/or the butter to medium heat. Add the leeks, cooking 5-7 minutes as they turn opaque and soften. Add the mushrooms, continue to cook keeping the heat to medium-low, turning occasionally, and cover the pan. Cook another 15-20 minutes, but do not let the ingredients brown. Add salt and pepper. Turn the heat to low, add the garlic, if using and cook about one more minute. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2 Beat together in a medium bowl the egg yokes and one egg. With a pastry brush, brush this mixture lightly in the blind-baked pie crust which you should put on a baking sheet. Bake it for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set it aside.

3 To the medium bowl in step 2, add a little salt, pepper and the milk. Whisk t ogether. Spread the vegetable mixture from step 1, in an even layer on the blind-baked crust. Sprinkle three quarters of the cheese evenly on top of the vegetables. Carefully pour in the custard filling on top of the cheese. Sprinkle the herbs and paprika on top. Bake for 30 minutes or until just set and the top just begins to brown. ( See TIPS AND TWEAKS BELOW FOR MORE DETAILS ABOUT BAKING THE CRUST.) If crust is getting too brown, cover carefully, using oven mitts, with alumniun foil along the edges.

4 Remove from oven and if desired, sprinkle the one quarter of additional cheese on top, while the quiche is still warm. Cool for 20 minutes before eating.

TIPS AND TWEAKS

  • Blind baking is a special technique for some pies. You blind bake the crust prior to adding the filling. To blind-bake a crust, roll out the dough and place it in the pan, stretching the dough as needed. Arrange the dough along the edges however you like. (I press down with a fork for a pretty design.) Stretch and pull the dough a bit further on the edges than you think as you press, since the dough will often shrink. Next, prick the bottom area several times with a fork to avoid trapping steam underneath. Weigh the bottom of the crust down with pie weights of alumninum or ceramic. Or, use about a cup or so of beans or rice. For either method it may be helpful to add a circle of parchment paper on top of the dough, since this will make removal easier. Still be careful, since the beans, rice or pie weights, once cooked, are hot!
  • For a partially baked crust–like in this recipe, which finishes cooking with its filling–bake for 14-18 minutes with the pie weights, then remove them and any parchment paper, return the now-empty pie shell to the oven, and bake for another 15 more minutes, or until slightly golden. Cool the shell slightly before adding the filling.
  • Alternatively to the above process, purchase ready made pie crusts at your local grocery store.
  • You can vary the ingredients for the filling, but, do not add more than 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 pounds of vegetables – weigh before cooking- otherwise the pie will be too full, and the custard will not work well. Try using bok choy, spinach, kale, cabbage, red or green pepper instead of the mushrooms and leeks. In addition, you can use firmer vegetables, like, cauliflower, kohlrabi or fennel, but make sure to cut them up small, and saute them well at step 1, until them are tender.
  • Instead of Gruyere, use Fontina, Swiss, Jarlsberg, or Comte cheese. Or too, you can use a combination of two cheeses.

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