Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Swiss Chard and Goat Cheese Quiche

A friend of mine told me that after she had a baby, she kept forgetting to brush her teeth. It wasn't a question of a lack of time, or new-baby distraction (although these were both big themes in her life). It's just that toothbrushing is something that's tied in to a normal sleep cycle. You brush your teeth when you wake up in the morning, and you brush them again before you go to bed at night. In life with a newborn, there is no longer a discernible "morning" and "evening" -- just periods of wakefulness and sleep, scattered over random hours throughout the day and night. When does the day begin and end? Who knows.

For this reason, quiche has become a standard part of my food delivery package to all of my new parent friends. It's good for breakfast, and it's good for dinner. It's great heated up, but it's also fine at room temperature. It's got the protein and fat under-slept bodies crave, but it's also a good landing pad for healthy vegetables.

This particular variation features Swiss Chard and creamy goat cheese, but the template can be used to showcase whatever vegetables are in your refrigerator (or garden). I've made quiches with fresh spinach, thinly-sliced asparagus, smoked salmon and herbed cream cheese, and fresh tomatoes (and many combinations of the above). The basics of any version I make are the custard, which is more delicate than most (which tend to feature far too many eggs), and a bit of swiss or gruyere cheese to meld into it. I also use leeks in every quiche I make to add a savory depth. They subtly melt right in, so that you might not even notice them -- you'll just notice that the quiche is delicious.

Swiss Chard and Goat Cheese Quiche

Inspired by many sources, including Cook's Illustrated, but modified heavily

The exact amount of custard you need will vary, depending on the size of your pie dish and the size of your filling ingredients -- make sure you don't overfill. Keeping the crust well-chilled until baking helps it keep its shape without sagging, and keeps the custard inside. Can you tell I've had custard spills? If your crust does spring a leak, don't worry -- just place a cookie sheet on the rack below it to catch the drips.

1 unbaked pie crust (I generally make a whole wheat version), chilled
2 Tbsp butter
1 large leek, or 2 small, washed and thinly sliced
1 bunch swiss chard, washed, dried, and roughly chopped
2 cups milk or half-and-half
2 egg yolks
3 whole eggs
1/2 tsp salt
pinch pepper
pinch nutmeg
1/4 lb swiss cheese, grated (you can substitute gruyere or emmental)
4 oz goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a large saute pan or cast-iron skillet over a medium flame. Saute the leeks until well softened, about 10 minutes. Do not allow to brown. Remove, and set aside. Add the chard to the pan, and cook, until tender, stirring occasionally (you may want to cover the pan, until the chard cooks down). Set the chard in a colander, and press with a wooden spoon or your hand (once it's cool!) to remove excess liquid. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the milk, eggs and egg yolks, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Whisk gently, until just barely combined. Set aside.

Take your pie plate out of the refrigerator, and scatter the grated cheese over the bottom (the oils in the cheese are supposed to create something of a seal, to keep your crust crisp). scatter the sauteed leeks and chard evenly over the cheese. Break the goat cheese into blobs, and scatter them over the top. Give the custard another stir to re-mix, and gently pour it in. You might not need it all.

Carefully place the quiche in the oven, and bake until only the center inch or so wiggles when you nudge it (about an hour). Remove from the oven, and let set a bit before serving. Can be served at room temperature, but I like it best warm.

1 comment:

  1. Yum! Love the suggestion to layer the cheese in the bottom to 'protect' the crust. I always seem to end up overfilling my quiche, so a cookie pan underneath is required for me at all time. The outdoor food pics are great!