I hate quiche.
"Oh no," some will say, "'Hate' is such a strong word." OK, Mom, you're right, it is. How about, "I loathe quiche"? I do. I loathe quiche.
Quiche lovers (or, as we quiche loathers refer to them, "the unwashed masses") will claim I've not had a good one. I have eaten quiches in people's homes, in restaurants, and made them myself, and I have yet to come across one that I would friend on Facebook, much less have as a meal. (As an aside, is "quiche" like "sheep"? Are the singular and the plural the same word? Or is "quiches" a word? I am too indifferent to look it up, so I will just use whichever suits me at the time. If you see me use "quiche" as the plural, you'll know I was too lazy to execute the additional keystroke.)
I've had quiche that were no thicker than the average IHOP pancake, and ones that were 4+ inches deep (true story). Every single one was completely, and in all ways, feh. I think this whole response to milk and eggs cooked together actually dates back to my early childhood. When I first was able to eat solids, my mother lovingly made me a custard of the finest ingredients, carefully coddled, and served with the deepest maternal pride. (This is my mother's version of the story, as you may gather.) She popped a spoonful into my precious little mouth, whereupon I turned my head to one side, and ever so delicately pushed it right back out with my tongue and refused to take so much as one more bite. When you consider knowledge of this event--an event that took place long before my conscious memory could have recorded it--you will deduce that my mother told the story many, many times over the years. (MANY times.)
So it is, perhaps, not suprising that quiche is not on my list of Dishes to Serve at My Last Meal on Earth. Nor even on my List of Things I Like to Eat Very Much. Every quiche I've ever had has been an unfortunate combination of bland and soggy. It's just not possible to put milk and eggs into a pie crust and not have the crust get sodden. And no matter how much bacon and cheese you put in, milk and eggs are just never going to be that flavorful. I am a firm believer that there is almost nothing on this earth that can't be improved with the addition of some combination of bacon, cheese, heavy cream and/or Dijon mustard. But quiche, in my opinion, is beyond redemption, even by those most holy of ingredients.
Poor quiche. What did it ever do to me to excite such venom in my being? And so, because I feel in my deepest heart a bit guilty over my unqualified aversion to a foodstuff that never really caused me any harm, I offer an alternative to it.
If you've never had mushrooms with Taleggio cheese, I'm quite envious of you, because you're in for an amazing discovery. It is, in my opinion, one of the classic pairings, like mozzarella and tomatoes. Because the crust of this tart includes some cornmeal, it's sturdier than a regular pie crust. And since the filling is held together by just a suggestion of creme fraiche and an egg yolk, it doesn't turn the crust to mush.
The filling can be varried according to your taste and the tastes of your guests. If you're serving vegetarians, you can leave out the proscuitto and increase the red onion and mushrooms. If you don't have (or don't like) red onion, you can substitute something else--scallion, perhaps, or shallot.
And, in the cliched words of every cookbook author that ever wrote, this tart, along with a green salad, makes a nice lunch or light dinner.
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
11 tablespoons butter, chilled
3-6 tablespoons ice water
1 egg yolk
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup crème fraiche
2 egg yolks
1 ½ ounces prosciutto, chopped fine
½ pound mushrooms, washed and sliced
2 tablespoons butter
½ red onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
¾ pound of Taleggio cheese, rind removed, sliced thin
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat a 9” tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a food processor, combine the flours and salt and pulse a couple of times to combine. Add the butter, cut into small pieces, and pulse 10-12 times until butter the butter is in pieces the size of a pea.
3. With the motor running, add the egg yolk and ice water until the dough pulls together. Start with 3 tablespoons and add more tablespoon by tablespoon as needed. Do not overprocess.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a 12” circle. Roll the dough up on the rolling pin and unroll it over the tart pan. Press the dough down into the pan and up the sides. Roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to cut off the edges. Using a fork, prick the dough all over. Line the pan with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
5. Bake the crust for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven, take out the pie weights. Return crust to the oven for another 10 minutes. The crust is done when it’s lightly brown. Remove and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
6. Make the filling. Combine the crème fraiche and egg yolks in a small bowl. Set aside.
7. Over medium heat, melt the butter until foaming, then add the mushrooms. Sautee until the mushrooms release their liquid and it evaporates, and the mushrooms are starting to get golden brown, about 10 minutes. Turn the mushrooms into a bowl, and return the pan to the heat.
8. Add the olive oil and sauté the red onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Turn the onion into the bowl with the mushrooms. Return the pan to the heat and add the prosciutto. Sautee until crisped, about 4 minutes. Stir into the mushroom and onion mixture.
9. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
10. Once the crust has cooled slightly, spoon the filling into the crust, making sure to distribute it evenly around the crust. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the top, distributing it evenly (use a spoon to push it around—you may need to push the filling along with it, but you can smooth the filling back into place; there should be a thin coating of the egg yolk mixture all over the tart).
11. Top the tart with the cheese, placing slices close to, but not touching, each other. They’ll spread out as they cook.
12. Bake for 22-27 minutes until the filling is set. The cheese will puff slightly and may turn golden in spots. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes for the filling to set up. Slice tart into 6 or 8 wedges and serve warm.