The day’s light is soft and golden, and beachside breezes can bite, with none of the summer’s sun-warmed caresses. Wool cardigans and fleece pullovers hang on mudroom hooks, replacing damp bathing suits and towels. Lawn mowers have been put away, and rakes and leaf blowers are now in easy reach.
Fall is here. We crunch the leaves under our feet as we hike along the lakeshore, play a backyard game of touch football, or go on a hayride and apple-picking, all the while breathing in the crisp, dusky air that only this season offers.
And when it’s time to share a meal with our family and guests, we want to serve something that’s richly flavorful, wholesome, and deliciously satisfying. For an autumn breakfast, lunch, or dinner, quiche is the perfect entrée.
Quiche — a dish that typically consists of eggs, cream, and cheese (often with pieces of vegetables and/or meat, usually ham or bacon) baked in a pastry crust — isn’t difficult to make, and it’s even easier to purchase.
A truly classic French quiche can be had from Claude Bouly-Pellerin’s Birmingham restaurant, The French Lady (zefrenchlady.com). At The French Lady, which opened in September of 2020, Bouly-Pellerin also creates and serves authentic French cuisine such as beef Bourguignon, cassoulet (white bean stew), coq au vin, salads, soups, lunch croissants and sandwiches, and an array of homemade desserts (chocolate mousse, meringues, madeleines, fruit-filled tarts) — all made only with local, fresh, in-season ingredients.
“I grew up on a farm in France,” Bouly-Pellerin explains, “and my grandmother taught me to cook. Everything was fresh, and mostly what we grew and raised ourselves. Now I’m lucky to be able to get all of our ingredients from farmers markets and local, small farms.” Some of her favorite local sources include Order Up Organic in Metamora, Stoney Creek Mushroom in Southfield,Wolgast Mushrooms in Berkley, and Fusilier’s Farm Market in Manchester. Rochester’s The Cheese Lady (thecheeselady.net) supplies her with farm-fresh cheeses.
In her restaurant, quiche is the best-seller, and many people order the pies whole, to take and serve at home. “Our quiches have two main ingredients: whole, large farm eggs and cream with salt, pepper, and a touch of nutmeg,” she says. “We have a ham and sweet Gruyere quiche and one with goat cheese and mushrooms. If you use only a few good ingredients, you can enjoy tasting everything, and you’re fully satisfied.”
When asked how she feels about a lower-fat-and-calorie version, she’s aghast.“No!” she exclaims, and then laughs, saying, “Just have a smaller slice and more salad!”
Offered here are three of my favorite quiche recipes (with cooking hints from Bouly-Pellerin), including ideas to make it gluten-free. Bon Appetit!
#1 Basic Homemade Crust for Quiche
Note: When there isn’t time to make this crust, or if you need one that’s gluten-free, these pre-made crusts are highly recommended: Wholly Wholesome gluten-free 9-inch pie shell, Marie Callender’s Pastry Pie Shell, or classic Pillsbury Pie Crust. All are available at major grocery chains.
- 1 ¼ cups unsifted, all-purpose flour (Note: Bouly-Pellerin uses French flour, which is available for sale in her restaurant. It’s not enriched and has less gluten.)
- 7 tablespoons salted butter, which has been frozen for 10 minutes
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 8-10 tablespoons ice water
Make the dough: In a medium bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour and salt. Using the large side of a grater, grate the butter into the flour mixture and toss with a fork. Sprinkle the ice water over the flour one tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork, until the dough just sticks together. Use as little water as possible to form the dough. With your hands, form the dough into a ball and then flatten into a disc.
Roll out the dough: Flour a clean work surface and dust a rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Then use the rolling pin to transfer the dough to a standard (not deep-dish), 9-inch pie pan. Fold the overhanging dough backward and seal it to form a rim. Use your fingers to crimp the edges.
Prick the bottom and sides of the dough with a fork.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place the dough in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove the dough from the freezer and place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the crust (crumbling the paper first will make it more flexible). Then, on top of the paper, fill the dough with dry beans or dry rice or, if you have them, pie weights, to keep the crust from forming “bubbles.”
Bake: For 12 minutes, bake the crust at 400 degrees. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees. At this time, remove the crust from the oven and carefully remove the beans, rice, or pie weights. Return the crust to the oven. During this baking time, you can make your quiche filling. Bake the crust for 20-25 minutes, until the bottom is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and add your quiche filling. Bake until the top is golden brown and the quiche is set, about 40 minutes. At 30 minutes, check the crust rim. If it’s browning too much, cover it (but not the filling) with a crust guard you can form from aluminum foil.
Tips for Success
“When preparing any crust, make sure the water is truly ice cold,” recommends Claude Bouly-Pellerin, who teaches cooking classes in homes and in her restaurant. “And stop working the dough as soon as it forms a ball.”
Classic Quiche Lorraine Filling
- ¾ cup cooked, chopped bacon
- 1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup cream
- Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste
Tips for Success
If available, use thick-slab bacon. For a truer country-French taste, use fresh farm eggs.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the cheese on the bottom of the crust, and then add the bacon pieces. To prepare the filling, beat the eggs in a medium bowl and then add the cream and the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Pour this mixture into the crust and then top with a little more grated cheese. Bake 30-40 minutes, until the filling feels firm to the touch, but not hard. Allow quiche to cool for 15 minutes before serving.
For any meal of the day or night, this quiche pairs perfectly with a lightly dressed mixed-greens salad and a side of fresh berries or melon.
#2 Vegetarian Broccoli Cheddar Quiche with Hash Brown (Gluten-Free) Crust
- 4 cups shredded, thawed hash brown potatoes
- 2 tablespoons melted butter, divided
- Butter (not melted) for basting the pan
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Baste a 9-inch pie dish with butter.
In a medium bowl, toss together the thawed hash browns, the salt, and one tablespoon of the melted butter. Press this mixture into the sides and bottom of the pie dish. Baste with the remaining melted butter.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the crust bottom is lightly browned and the top edges are a little crisp. Set aside to cool. Reset oven temperature to 350 degrees for the filling.
Tips for Success
Although most frozen hash browns are gluten-free, check the ingredients before purchasing. When forming the crust, try to make the thickness on the sides and the bottom consistent.
- 2 cups small broccoli florets
- 1 1/2 teaspoons oil for sautéing (I use light olive oil)
- 1 cup diced onion (sweet onion, if available)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup of cream or half-and-half
- ¾ cup grated cheddar cheese
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
In a medium skillet, heat the oil until just before smoking. Add the chopped onion. Sauté for one minute. Add the broccoli and sauté until just tender. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, with a whisk, whip the eggs, cream or half-and-half, salt, and pepper. Fold in the cheese and the sautéed vegetables. Spoon the mixture into the prepared crust. Bake for 40 minutes or until the filling is set and golden. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
This — or any — quiche makes wonderful leftovers. Reheat in a toaster oven (no microwave!) for 15 minutes. While it’s heating, make yourself some coffee or juice (if breakfast), or pour a glass of wine to go with a slice for lunch or dinner.
Tips for Success
Sautée the broccoli until just tender, to avoid sogginess after baking. This filling can be used with any type of homemade or purchased pie or quiche crust.
#3 Easy Appetizer Mini-Quiches
- 1 box of pre-made pie dough for two crusts
- 8 ounces of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed, with excess water squeezed out
- 2 cloves of minced garlic
- 3 large eggs
- ¼ cup cream or half-and-half
- ½ cup shredded cheese of your choice
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped and drained
- Salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray a 24-muffin mini-muffin pan with cooking oil.
On medium heat, sauté the squeezed spinach and garlic for 2-3 minutes, and then chop the spinach smaller. Set aside.
Roll out the pie crust and cut 24 rounds, 2 1/2 inches each, using a glass or cookie cutter. Lightly press each round into the muffin pan.
Into each crust, put divided spinach, shredded cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes.
In a large measuring cup or medium bowl with a spout, whisk the eggs, cream, salt, and pepper. Pour this mixture into each of the crusts. Bake for 23-25 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Let cool for 5 minutes. The tops will deflate a bit during cooling time.
The beauty of these (in addition to eating them) is that they can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for two days or in the freezer for two months. To reheat from the refrigerator, warm them at 350 degrees for 5-8 minutes; from the freezer, heat them at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Those who taste them are sure to say, “Merci beaucoup!”
Tips for Success
Using well-squeezed frozen (instead of fresh) spinach that is then sautéed ensures that the spinach won’t become soggy. Feel free to use ½ cup of crumbled bacon or vegetarian bacon product instead of the sun-dried tomatoes if you prefer, or use a variety among the little crusts. Using a dark-colored mini-muffin tin will help the quiches to brown a little better. Don’t overfill, as these little quiches will rise.