Thursday, June 4, 2020

California Quiche without Reindeer

By Cal Orey

Hello quiche. This French dish uses eggs and rich milk or cream mixed up and put in a pastry like a pie. Recipes can include ham, bacon – and vegetables. As a kid, my mom first introduced to me this sophisticated European-inspired gooey yellow mixed pie. My ten-year-old palate preferred scrambled eggs. Once in my twenties, I re-discovered quiche at artsy cafes in San Francisco. Also, vegetarian versions grabbed my attention.

Last December when I traveled to Anchorage, I recall the sobering awakening to the fancy hotel breakfast menu. I couldn’t get past the Reindeer Skillet. Now the Crustless Quiche seemed doable (but I was afraid a piece of Bambi could be in it) so I settled for buttermilk pancakes. I should have taken a chance on the egg dish. To this day I swear the rubbery flat short stack was from a frozen batch – not fresh. And the syrup wasn’t the maple kind I fell in love with when in Quebec. (Yes, I am suffering from cabin fever and foreign adventures.)

As I sit in the cabin ready to book a late fall trip to Fairbanks for those northern lights I must see – I wait to see if it’s safe to go due to the new normal in our world. While an Alaskan quiche without crust seems romantic – I made it here at home, my way. This herby quiche is inspired by a friendly herb-savvy store man who I spoke with on the phone but didn’t get to meet due to the erratic weather (icy roads paired with surreal fog).

Herby Spinach Quiche

1 cup organic half-and-half
3 organic brown eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon red onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
A dash each of ground pepper, nutmeg, sea salt
1 (9-inch) premium store-bought refrigerated pie crust
1 egg white
1 cup all natural, premium organic mozzarella, shredded (save ¼ cup for top)
½ cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
3/4 cup spinach, baby, chopped
1 tablespoon European style butter

Eggs and Vegetables -- Superfoods
In a mixing bowl combine half-and-half and eggs. Add onion, thyme, and spices. Set aside. Bake pie crust covered in foil for 10 minutes in a 400-degree oven. Brush with a mixture of egg white and 1 tablespoon water. (This keeps it flaky.)  Chill in freezer for about 15 minutes. Remove. Top pie crust bottom with cheeses, spinach (rinse, dry well), and pour milk and egg mixture on top. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Stir lightly so it's even. Drizzle with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes or till firm and crust is light golden brown. Do not over bake. Cool for at least 30 minutes. You can serve warm or chilled. Makes 6-8 servings.

For some reason, like pizza, quiche can taste better cold than hot. The flavors have time to blend and the texture is amazing. I did have a slice in the early evening – but I knew it would be my breakfast. Go ahead – try it both ways. Sure, crustless quiche could be simply delish in Alaska but it’s welcoming on the home front at south shore, too. I give credit to the flavorful herbs and spices.

— Cal Orey, M.A., is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, and Essential Oils) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.)  Her website is . 

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