Monday, April 9, 2012

All of the quiche, none of the crust

Several weeks ago, my friends Willy and Jessica came over early(ish) on a Sunday morning to help me tackle a DIY project I'd been hoping to try for a while: making homemade almond milk (stay tuned for that post!). Gracious hostess that I am, I decided to feed my buddies something appropriately brunch-y as we readied ourselves to juice nuts. Now, you might notice a distinct lack of brunch recipes here on the blog, as, in general, I'm not a big fan of said meal: certainly not in restaurants, where the food tends to be overpriced and phoned in by some line cook while the chef takes the morning off, and not usually at home, either: my motor skills in the morning are up to the task of pouring a bowl of cereal or sliding some bread into the toaster oven, but nothing much more complicated than that, and especially not on a weekend morning, when I might have stayed out late the night before.

So I spent some time thinking about what people eat for brunch, and then I remembered: quiche! Now, quiche is not something I make all that often, but it's easy and tasty, so I figured it would fit the bill. Not wanting to fuss around with a crust, I decided to just do without. In this I drew some inspiration from my friend Patricia, who has lived in France for so long now that she's basically French, and therefore prepares quiche on a regular basis (not a myth—French people actually do make quiche all the time). Patricia makes delicious quiches, and they never have a crust. One thing they usually do have, though, is fish, in the form of tuna or salmon. Since I had a beautiful, wild-caught fillet of salmon in my freezer, I decided to thaw it out, poach it, and flake it into my quiche, along with some melted leeks:

To keep the filling moist and flavorful, I folded in some additional ingredients: chopped fresh dill, créme fraiche and Dijon mustard, then spread the mixture into the bottom of a greased pie plate:

Taking my cue from from France yet again, I prepared the quiche batter with a lot of dairy and not a lot of eggs. My usual instinct when making quiche would be to use many eggs, adding a bit of milk to stretch them, but I've noticed that French people always make quiche with a ton of milk, or créme fraiche, or both, and only a few eggs, and their quiches always come out phenomenally: exceptionally moist and tender, more like a custard than an omelet. And when you think about it, this approach makes sense: quiche, if not a poverty food, is certainly a classic use-up-the-leftovers dish: stick 'em in a pan, bind 'em together, and bake 'em. If the idea is to not draw too heavily upon everything else in the fridge, keeping the meal frugal and quick to prepare, then the French recipe is logical. So I did as the French do, and I have to say that although my quiche wasn't as exceptional as Patricia's (or my other French friend, Mathilde's) egg pie, it was still pretty darn good:

Salmon, Leek and Dill (Crustless) Quiche
Makes one quiche


1 salmon fillet, about 4 oz.
Fresh dill, with about 3 tbsp. finely chopped
1 large or 2 medium leeks, well cleaned of all grit, white and light green parts finely sliced into half moons and dark green tops set aside
Black peppercorns
3 tbsp. butter
1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. créme fraiche or sour cream, divided
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Cooking spray or additional butter
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. milk, preferably whole


1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Poach the salmon: in a small saucepan, combine the salmon, some torn fresh dill, some torn dark green leek tops, a few black peppercorns, and about 1/2 tsp. salt, along with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then drop to a simmer. Simmer for six minutes, then turn off heat; four minutes later, remove fish and let cool. When cool, flake fish into small pieces and place in a large bowl.

3. Prepare the filling: in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add sliced leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add leeks to flaked salmon; add 2 tbsp. créme fraiche, the Dijon mustard and chopped dill, as well as salt and pepper to taste. Stir gently to combine, then spread evenly across the bottom a a glass pie dish, greased with spray or additional butter.

4. Prepare batter: combine eggs with remaining créme fraiche and all the milk, plus a generous amount of salt and pepper. Pour over filling and place in oven, baking quiche until it is puffed and browned on top, about 45 minutes.

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