~ Succulent Shiitake Mushroom & Gruyere Quiche ~
Got quiche? In my opinion, quiche is one of the most delicious meals on the planet. What's not to love: Meat, seafood and/or vegetables, cheese, cream and eggs, all baked together in a pie pastry until puffy and golden. When sliced and served, it is like having a party in your mouth. In my opinion, no self-respecting cook should be without at least one quiche recipe tucked in their apron pocket. I find my quiche recipes to be particularly valuable over holiday weekends, or whenever I have overnight guests. Quiche is an easy way to feed a group of people breakfast or brunch without dragging out every pot and pan in your kitchen. It is also great served at almost any temperature, so, whenever your guests meander to the table, all you have to worry about is putting it on their plate. Besides that, "in a pinch", "on the spur of the moment", or, "at the drop of a hat", quiche is a meal that just plain makes people happy!
In the latter 1970's and into the 1980's, quiche became very trendy and I for one was "on the bandwagon". The quiche tsunami occurred in 1982 when a man by the name of Bruce Feirstein wrote the bestseller Real Men Don't Eat Quiche. As you can see, I still have my copy. It coined the phrases "quiche-eater" and "real man" and separated them into two groups. There was a third category too: "Guys who think they're real men but really aren't". A "real man" might enjoy a bacon-and-egg pie if his wife made it for him, while a "sensitive guy" would make it himself and clean up afterwards. The book is hilarious. It was written after a decade of feminist critiques ("The Women's Movement") on traditional male roles and beliefs. I for one had a lot of fun during 1982-1983 as serving quiche spawned spirited conversation each and every time!
A bit about quiche: Quiche originated in northeastern France, in the region of Alsace-Lorraine. It consists of a pastry shell filled with a savory custard made of eggs, cream, seasonings and various other ingredients such as onions, mushrooms, ham, shellfish or herbs. The most notable of these savory pies is the famous Quiche-Lorraine, which has crisp bacon bits and grated Gruyere cheese added to the custard filling. Quiches can be served as a lunch, brunch or dinner entree, as well as a first course or an hors d'oeuvre!
This quiche is really easy to make. That being said, the prepped shiitake mushroom caps need to be sauteed and cooled to room temperature prior to baking it, so, this must be done at least two hours in advance. Don't let that get you down, as this step can be done up to three days in advance of assembling and baking the quiche. How convenient is that!?!
For the mushrooms:
1 1/4 pounds shiitake mushroom caps, sliced into 1/4"-1/2" strips (Note: Shiitake mushroom caps have woody, inedible stems which must be removed and discarded. To insure 1 1/4 pounds of tender caps, I recommend purchasing 2 total pounds of shiitake mushrooms.)
1 stick salted butter
1 tablespoon dried herbes de Provence, the best blend available (a classic mixture reflective of Southern France, usually containing dried basil, fennel seed, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, savory and thyme)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
~ Step 2. Over medium-high heat, stirring frequently/constantly, saute until mushrooms have lost all moisture, are tender, succulent, and, if left in the pan any longer would be beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Cover and set aside to cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. You will have 2 1/2-3 cups of sauteed mushrooms.
For the remaining quiche ingredients:
1 7 1/2-ounce boxed, refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature, fitted into a 9" quiche dish and decoratively edged
1 pound sauteed shiitake mushroom caps (from above recipe), about 2 1/2 cups
4 ounces diced shallots or sweet onion
8 ounces grated Gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons Wondra Quick-Mixing Flour for Sauce and Gravy
3 jumbo eggs
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice, preferably fresh, or quality bottled concentrate
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce, more or less, to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
additional Wondra flour, for preparing quiche dish
~ Step 2. Using two forks, toss, as you would a salad, until shallots and cheese are evenly coated in the flour.
~ Step 3. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cooled mushrooms, until they are evenly incorporated into the cheese mixture.
~ Step 4. Sprinkle a light coating of flour evenly over bottom of prepared pastry shell.
Gently spoon the mushroom mixture into shell. Distribute the mixture evenly, mounding it slightly towards the center, but do not compress the mixture or press down on it. You want it to remain light and airy.
~ Step 5. In a 4-cup measuring container, whisk together the eggs, cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, pepper sauce, nutmeg and white pepper.
Slowly drizzle cream mixture over and around the top surface of the mushroom mixture. Go slowly, so as to give the liquid time to drizzle down into the cracks and crevasses of the light and airy mushroom mixture.
~ Step 6. The quiche is now ready to bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes.
Quiche will be golden brown, puffed throughout and a knife inserted into the center will come out clean.
Remove from oven and cool on rack, about 30-60 minutes, prior to slicing and serving warm or at room temperature.
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 12" chef's pan; 9" quiche dish; cheese grater; 2 forks; large rubber spatula; 1-quart measuring container; whisk; cooling rack
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)