Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Oldie but Goodie Quiche Alsacienne

You may wonder why "Quiche Alsacienne". Maybe you have never heard of it? 

According to my 1966 version of "The Joy of Cooking," it states that Quiche Lorraine (which most people HAVE heard of) is made with bacon, eggs and cheese. If onions are added, it is called Quiche Alsacienne. And that is what I made for dinner last evening. 
Quiche Alsacienne for dinner
Quiche Alsacienne for dinner

It has been positively ages since I made a quiche. I do make little quiche appetizer bites, which are found in the recipe index for this blog under Millard's Mini Artichoke Quiches. But those hardly count, at least not in the sense of this Quiche Lorraine / Alsacienne. In all the past 4 years since creating this blog, I have not made a quiche. So what brought me to it yesterday?

Quiche Alsacienne with Asparagus & Salad
Quiche Alsacienne with Asparagus & Salad
Well, I have been recompiling and collating some old cookbooks. The reason being that my son divorced his wife, and he is leaving, taking with him the old cookbooks I had given my children (with old recipe favorites). I love my daughter-in-law as a daughter, and I felt her pain and dismay as she would no longer have access to the cookbooks. This led me to make one bigger book with all the old recipes, plus many new ones; reconstructing, editing and adding photos as I go. So very many of the old recipes never had a photo, as long ago I was just not taking photos of every food I ate. If I was lucky, there might be a photo in the original book I used. Oftentimes not, as in the case of my "The Joy of Cooking".

So, as I go through and edit the recipes for the new pages, I find that the recipe as I make it is most often nowhere like the original recipe. I am a changer. It is hard for me to make something just as is, and there are very few recipes that get made without my personal touch being placed on them. And this led to making some oldies but goodies, such as Chicken and Dumplings last week, and Gumbo some few days back. Last night I made this quiche for dinner, and it is something my husband and I really do occasionally enjoy. All these meals were made so I could take photos!

While I made this quiche as dinner, the entire dinner would be a most excellent brunch served just as I did, with some broiled asparagus and a lovely green salad on the side.  
Fitting pastry into tart pan
Fitting pastry into tart pan

Long ago when I made this quiche, I fitted the pie shell in a pie plate. For the first time, I opted to make it in a tart pan, with a removable rim for prettier presentation. The tart pan is metal, and the edges are very sharp, so I rolled out the pie pastry, cut it larger than the pan, and then folded the pastry so it could be more easily transported to the pan without tearing, shown in the first of the series of photos above. The remaining steps I took are depicted in the remaining photos which I took as I completed each step. The pastry is unfolded in the pan (photo 2), then pressed into the edges (step 3), edges trimmed to fit the pan (step 4) and the finished pastry, waiting for its fillings (step 5).

I made a simple one-crust pie pastry using lard, as it gives the flakiest crust:

One-Crust Pie Pastry

Makes one single-crust pie pastry for a 9" pie shell or 10-inch tart pan

1¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup lard, butter or shortening
3 - 5 tablespoons ice-cold water

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in the lard/shortening/butter until the mixture looks mealy. Begin adding 3 tablespoons of the ice water and toss the mixture with a fork. As it begins to come together, see if it will all come into one ball. The dough should not be wet, but just adhere. Without overworking, if the mixture needs more water, add it in 1 tablespoon at a time. Once it comes together, form it into a ball, flatten and wrap well. Refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 3 days.


Most recipes out there today lean toward baking the crust first, before filling. Everyone looks for the crispiest crust, even underneath. Well!

I have to say, this is certainly not my thing. My favorite part of pie crusts are the soft parts in the bottom. I used to eat everything out of a pie shell, leaving that soft underneath crust for last, the better to spend my time savoring. To this end, I am not a proponent of a crisp bottom crust. Neither is my husband, thankfully. My procedure was to chill the fitted pastry in the tart pan and refrigerate it until I had all the filling ingredients ready to go.
Filling ingredients
Filling ingredients

The first step in the filling ingredients was the bacon. I fried that up until nearly crisp and set it aside to drain on paper towels. I left one tablespoon of the bacon fat in the pan, adding in 1 tablespoon of butter to saute the onions. I wanted them nice and deep golden brown. My husband abhors onions that are too uncooked, or have any crunch left. I got the cheese shredded while the onions were cooking. Separately I cracked the eggs into a bowl, reserving part of one of the whites aside. (I did make a token attempt at a less-soggy crust by using "The Joy of Cooking's" suggestion of brushing the pie pastry with egg white before filling.) I added in the cream, salt and white pepper, along with a bit of freshly grated nutmeg.

Assembly: the onions went into the tart shell first, followed by the bacon, spread out evenly. Next went the cheese and then the milk and egg mixture. I set the tart pan onto a pizza pan with holes, as I was hoping for the bottom crust to have access to the oven heat. The tart pan with removable rim makes it difficult to lift the pan without dislodging the bottom, so it was going onto some kind of baking sheet. This pan with holes seemed best for the job. Into the oven it went, on relatively high heat. It was baked in no time.

Quiche Alsacienne

Makes one 10-inch tart
Quiche Alsacienne
Quiche Alsacienne

1 (9-inch) single pie pastry, fitted in a 
    9-inch  pie plate or 10-inch tart shell, well 
½ pound bacon, sliced across into 1/4-inch bits
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion; 10 - 12 ounces, quartered and sliced ¼-inch thick
6 ounces Gruyere cheese (Swiss is also fine), shredded
4 eggs
1½ cups half and half (or cream)
½ teaspoon salt
a few grinds of white pepper
⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  

In a large skillet, fry the bacon until it is not quite crisp. Remove from pan to drain on paper toweling. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease from the pan. Add the butter to the pan and melt. Add in the onions and set over relatively low heat, cooking slowly for about 40 to 45 minutes, turning occasionally. Once onions are tender and golden, remove from heat and allow to cool down a bit.

While the onions are cooking, mix together the eggs, reserving aside one of the whites in a small bowl. Whisk the half and half, salt, pepper and nutmeg into the eggs and milk mix. Lightly whisk the single egg white and, using a pastry brush, gently brush the white into the tart pastry. Return any unused egg white from the little bowl to the larger mixture of eggs.

When ready to assemble, first place the tepid onions into the tart shell, scattering evenly. Add the bacon, spreading evenly. Top with the shredded cheese, spreading to edges. Pour in the eggs and half and half mixture. If using a tart pan with removable rim, set the pan onto a baking sheet for easier transport to the oven. If using a pie plate, the baking sheet is not necessary.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then lower the oven to 300 degrees. If using a 10-inch tart pan, being thinner, it may take only about 6 to 8 minutes more baking time. Test by inserting a knife halfway between the center and edge of the pan. It should come out wet, but with no apparent egg/milk on it.

If using a pie plate, the filling will be far thicker and may require up to 30 minutes in the oven to finalize cooking time. Trust your nose! When the quiche begins to smell mouth-wateringly good, it is likely done, or very close.

My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.

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