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Cast Iron Quiche by Guest Blogger JR

September 9, 2010

As previously posted, my sister-in-law is generous with her time and her cooking. JR loves to cook, and has introduced us to countless foods and recipes. Although she isn’t a vegetarian, she largely cooks that way, and raised her children on tofu and a plethora of vegetarian staples. In fact, it is her cooking which gives me faith that Serafina can be raised vegetarian and be healthy and happy.

JR and family moved to Asia a month ago, and although they move often, it appeared that a tricky packing problem occurred. Somehow, possibly my brother putting in a skillet instead of bakeware, JR has been forced to cook absolutely everything in a cast iron, including quiche. I am thinking we won’t let him live this down. Recently, she sent me the pictures of her quiche, and I couldn’t resist! Below are her comments, pictures, and her recipe.

Cast Iron Quiche by JR

JR Says,

While not exactly a low fat food, quiche can be a soul-satisfying meal served at any time of day. Even my kids like it. And really any seasonal vegetable can be substituted, depending on personal preference. My kids would eat asparagus every night, if I was so inclined to make it that often, and it’s in season in our neck of woods right now. But zucchini or spinach would also be delicious.

As is typical in my daily life, I planned the quiche ingredients and then forgot that our pie plate is floating in a box on a container ship somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Although my baking items are MIA, my husband was nice enough to slip his whole set of cast iron pans into the shipment that has already arrived at our new house. How can a man live without cast iron for three months? Well, necessity being the mother of all invention and all that, I thought, why can’t my elegant french quiche be served in a cast iron skillet? Voilà! Lovely golden brown crust! (I also had to roll out the dough with a wine bottle because my rolling pin is similarly lost at sea, but the wine served two purposes–as a beverage and a rolling device.)

This is my public service announcement for pie dough: do not fear pastry. Yes, it does take a little extra effort but the results are fantastic. A few attempts and your hands will remember what to do without your mind even getting involved. Just remember to keep it cold and don’t overwork it. Thanks to my mother and to Martha Stewart, both being goddesses of baking.

We served this particular quiche with some french lentils for extra protein and a side salad.

Asparagus Quiche

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 leeks (white and light green parts only), halved and thinly sliced, (see note)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 bunch (1 pound) asparagus, tough ends removed, thinly sliced on the diagonal, tender tips reserved separately
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups half-and-half
  • Ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (4 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pie Crust, see below, (can also use a premade crust in a pie plate)

*Note on leeks: Leeks are grown in sandy soil. To remove all the grit properly, it’s easiest to chop them as directed and then submerge them in cold water. The leeks will rise and the grit will sink. Just scoop out the leeks and dry thoroughly.

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lowest position. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium. Add leek and asparagus; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, 1/2 teaspoon salt, one teaspoon pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Place pie plate with dough on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle dough with cheese; top with asparagus mixture. Pour egg mixture on top.
  3. Bake until center of quiche is set, 50 to 60 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
  4. While baking, warm olive oil in a small skillet over a medium flame. Add asparagus tips and saute for 4-5 minutes or until they are bright green and crisp. Place on top of finished quiche.

Pie Crust

(makes one single crust)

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces (see note)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

*Note on preparing butter: I usually grate the butter on a large hole grater and then chill again. I find it much easier to incorporate with the flour without softening.

Method

  1. In a large bowl, using a pastry blender or fork, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and cut in with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal, with just a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.
  2. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons ice water, and continue to work dough with pastry blender until crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers (if needed, add up to 2 tablespoons more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Do not overwork.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; form into a 3/4-inch-thick disk. Wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

*Note: In a pinch, I used a 10.5 inch cast iron skillet. To do this, place your rolled out pie dough on a large square of lightly floured parchment paper. Then lift the dough and paper together and place in a cast iron skillet. Both the paper and the dough will overhang the edges. If there is a lot of excess dough, you can trim with kitchen shears to about an inch over the edge. Fold excess dough under so it’s flush with cast iron pan edge, and pinch to form a flat edge. Using your thumb and forefinger, press the dough gently against a knuckle from your other hand, and continue at regular intervals. It should look like a wave. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Colleen permalink
    September 9, 2010 11:00 am

    omygod i’m so hungry that looks sooo good!

  2. JR SR. permalink
    September 10, 2010 8:58 pm

    Boy, I am very impressed with JR’s ingenuity and her husband’s forethought to bring those cast iron skillets. I know that’s the first thing I would pack if I I had to live on some remote deserted island out in the middle of nowhere.

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