Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Munchies - Quiche and Pie Crust

The last couple of weeks have been CRAZY here at the Hoffman household which is why Monday Munchies (and the blog in general) has been completely neglected.  The short version of the story is that I'm still trying to move, but two weeks ago my brother came back from DC for the weekend, found out Feb. 20 that he would be relocating to Jeff City for the summer and starting his new job on March 1.  I flew out on the 25th to help him pack up his stuff, then we drove 940 miles and arrived in Jeff City on the leap day (thank goodness for that extra day this month!) went apartment shopping for two days and got back home on the March 1!

So, that's what I've been doing the last two weeks, and because I've been behind, you're getting a two-for-one today - pie crust and quiche!  The quiche is delicious and really you can put anything you want in it.  Use whatever cheese you want, throw in some broccoli or spinach, use sausage instead of bacon, or don't use meat at all - make it your own, you pretty much can't go wrong!

Pie crust used to intimidate me.  I'd made pies a few times, but the crust never turned out well.  I'm not very patient with kitchen blunders, and I don't even like pie crust, so it seemed easier just to buy a crust (or even better, let my mom make it)!  However, before thanksgiving this year I decided I wasn't going to let crust get the best of me, I would work at it until I could make a tender, flaky and tasty crust consistently, maybe not perfect, but at least acceptable to serve to non-family!  Once I realized that my main mistake was following the recipe exactly (Mrs. Taylor, my food science prof. is probably somewhere crying right now) instead of going by texture, every pie crust has turned out great!

Pie Crust (yield: 2 crusts) 
3 c. flour
1 t. salt
1 c. Crisco
1 egg (beaten)
2 T. vinegar
5 T. COLD water (A key part of the crust is making sure the water is cold enough, so the first step I do in this recipe is to put two ice cubes in a cup of water, and put it in the fridge while I'm mixing the other ingredients.  This ensures that your water is good to go by the time you're ready to use it!) 

Sift flour and salt, cut in shortening.  Combine beaten egg and vinegar and add to flour mixture.  Add enough water to moisten. (This is where I had gone wrong in the past.  The recipe called for 5 T. so I put in 5 T.  For whatever reason, you need different amounts of water each time you make a crust.  Sometimes you need 3 T., sometimes you need 7 T.  I haven't figured out why there can be such a big difference, but the size of the egg has something to do with it.  Add enough water so that as you work it into a dough ball, the majority of the dough sticks together and the crumbs left at the bottom can be worked in with a little effort.  If you have a bunch of dry crumbles at the bottom add some more water directly to that spot.  Basically add just enough water that the dough sticks together and not so much that it is as moist as cookie dough or other dough similar to that.)

Pie Rolling 101: Make sure you are generous with your use of flour as you're rolling out the dough.  Flour the pastry board and the the top of the dough ball, roll a couple of times to flatten, then pick the dough up, spread more flour on the board, and flip the dough over.  Continue rolling until flattened to the correct size.  Roll the dough over the rolling pin to transfer to the pie plate, and before you know it, you have a practically perfect pie crust in front of you!

Quiche Lorraine
1 unbaked pie shell
6 slices bacon
1/2 c. diced onion
1/2 lb (2 c.) shredded cheese
1.5 c. frozen peas
4 eggs (beaten)
1 c. milk
1 c. cream (I just use all milk and omit the cream)
1 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1/4 t. nutmeg

Heat oven to 450.  Cover inside of pie shell (which should have holes poked in it with a fork) with waxed paper then fill with dry rice or beans.  Bake 10 min.  Remove beans and waxed paper and cool.

Fry bacon till crisp.  Drain and crumble.  Cook onion in 1 T bacon fat just until transparent.  Put shredded cheese, bacon and and onion in the pie shell.

Combine eggs, milk, cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and pour into pie shell. (Tip from my mom: If you microwave the egg mixture at 1 min. intervals until the mixture is warm but not scrambling the egg it cuts down on the cooking time).  Bake 15 min. at 450 then reduce the temperature to 350 and bake 10-15 min. more (this was more like 20 min for me, even with microwaving the egg) or until thin metal blade inserted into the middle of the quiche comes out clean.  Let stand 10-15 minutes before cutting.

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