These days nearly everyone I know is on some kind of budget. Some are unspoken, quietly saying, "I'm good," when asked if they want the usual at Starbucks. Others are much more forthright, making bold statements like, "I'm never going to brunch again." Heck, going on a budget is the thing to do. Before writing to you all, I went through my credit card bill itemizing and then micro-itemizing every single purchase into ultra specific categories. I realized that my down-fall is baked goods so I've decided not to buy another cookie, cake or quiche ever again! Well, let's just settle on seldom.
Speaking of quiche, last weekend I had a little budget anxiety over hosting our friends and their 2 year old baby boy. Usually, I go hog wild, stocking up on expensive cheeses and imported olives; making so many hors d'oevres no one's hungry when the real meal is ready. So, at the behest of my husband and my wallet, I decided to make a quiche. Alice Waters, in The Art of Simple Food dedicates an entire chapter to eggs, quiche being perhaps one of the tastiest things you can do with an egg.
For the health, eco and budget conscious, pasture-raised eggs are probably the best thing you can do for yourself. While regular old cage-raised eggs are decent, pasture-raised eggs are better. According to the Sustainabletable.org, they have 10% less fat and 400% more omega 3s and 40% more vitamin A than their corporate counterparts. Seriously, pasture fed eggs rule and have become a major staple in our kitchen.
Bacon, Cheese, Mushroom & Tomato Quiche
Too many quiches taste more like a fritatta in a crust. In search of a creamy, balanced quiche, I turned to Thomas Keller for his ridiculously easy crust - aka, you can use a mixer! And, for the filling, I turned to the best American master of French cooking, Ms. Julia Child herself. The quiche was a hit for even the most discerning two year old taste buds.
Add two cups of flour (I use white whole wheat) and one teaspoon of salt to the mixer. Mix for a second or two. Then turn the mixer to medium and slowly add 2 sticks of chilled unsalted butter that has been sliced into tablespoon sized pieces. Mix until everything is combined. Then add a 1/4 cup of ice water and mix that until combined. Turn out the dough onto a piece of saran wrap, flatten into a disk, wrap it tightly and store in the fridge for a few hours. Then preheat the oven to 375, roll out your dough and fit it into a pie pan, poke a lot of holes in the bottom and cook until brown and golden, about 40 minutes.
Get a liquid measuring cup and for every egg, pour enough milk in to reach the 1/2 cup mark. So, for 2 eggs, crack them into the cup and then pour in the milk until it reaches 1 cup. I used about 6 eggs so that was about 3 cups. Add salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of nutmeg if that sounds tasty to you.
You can fill your quiche with anything under the sun. I chose to caramelize some sweet onions, broil some pasture-fed bacon, cook some cherry tomatoes and mushrooms, and add some sharp farmers' market cheese that I can't remember the name of. When you go to fill the pie crust just don't go too overboard with the accessories because you might miss out on the custard consistency. I try not to let the accessories make it more than 1/3 to 1/2 of they way up the sides. Sprinkle the cheese and other things all over the bottom of the crust and then pour in the egg and milk mixture. Bake at 375 for about 35 minutes until the top is puffed and brown and the quiche is just set.
The result will be a custardy masterpiece of subtle flavor and smooth texture. And remember, since the egg and milk base is relatively inexpensive, you can go all out on the accessories since you really won’t need more than a handful of lovely mushrooms or fresh crab or whatever you decide to add. Enjoy!
Approximate Dinner Cost
• W/Wine - $29
• W/o Wine - $17
• Leftovers – Zip, but there were six servings so that is $2.83 per person!