May 18, 2011 12:22:00 PM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
It may be the inimitable Julia Child quiche lovers in the Golden Triangle should thank for popularizing the egg custard oven-baked pie filled with everything tempting and savory. The classic dish of French cuisine (with origins tracing back to Germany) got a big boost from the Le Cordon Bleu chef''s cookbooks on French cooking in the 1960s. Before long, the open-top pie had become a favorite of hostesses everywhere. Fortunately for us, many of our favorite area restaurants include it on their menus.
One of those is Le Gourmet on Main Street in Columbus. Walking through the doors is an interlude in continental ambiance. Individual quiches, each baked in its own crust, are among the luncheon favorites at this gourmet cheese shop and bistro that also offers unique gifts and connoisseur chocolates. Shannon Borcher''s business encompasses Euro-Suites, a bed and breakfast service, too.
Not familiar with quiche? "It''s like an omelet in a pie shell," said manager Dana Borcher, Shannon''s daughter. "And one of the best things about it is that it''s good for breakfast, at lunch or dinner."
So many ways
Just as home cooks can personalize quiche with their favorite foods, Le Gourmet features a different quiche each day Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Cheese/gift shop hours are longer.) Some may inspire you in your own kitchen. Rotating selections include quiche Lorraine (probably the best known), made with cheese, bacon and onion; a shrimp caprese quiche, with mozzarella, basil and tomato; and a unique turkey and three pepper peach quiche, featuring a sauce produced by Oxford Falls out of Starkville, a line the shop carries.
Other mainstays include a spinach, bacon and feta quiche and one made with red bell pepper and goat cheese.
"We try to incorporate some of the items we have in the shop, so people can get an idea of what they might like," said Dana, citing European cheeses like Jarlsberg, cream Havarti and Parmigiano-Reggiano as ingredients used. Quiche Lorraine, named for the Lorraine region of northeastern France, probably takes the title as restaurant favorite, according to Dana Nolen, also on the shop''s staff.
And contrary to what you may have read, yes, real men do eat quiche. Le Gourmet''s staff confirms it.
Quiche is really simple to make, assured Dana. "You have your egg, milk and cheese mixture, and you can put in anything else you like."
Additions might run the gamut from zucchini to pepperoni. Fresh herbs like rosemary can enhance the flavor, as do so many different cheeses. Experiment to determine your own favorite. Then experiment some more, because everyone needs more than one.
Numerous recipes, complete with tips for a perfect quiche crust, abound online at sites such as quicherecipes.com and foodnetwork.com.
Think outside the pie
Most quiche fans expect to enjoy the dish in wedge-shaped "pie" pieces, or in individual crusts, like those served as Le Gourmet. But our recipes today share a few ideas from incredibleegg.com that show how versatile your quiche mixture can be. Use them for a special breakfast, as pick-ups for a poolside party, or colorful, tasty treats at a summer night''s dinner on the patio.
MINI WONTON QUICHES
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 12 to 15 minutes
Makes two dozen
24 wonton wrappers (3-1/4-by-3-inch)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons finely chopped ham (1 ounce)
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
BROCCOLI QUICHE IN PEPPERS
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 60-70 minutes
Makes four servings
Four medium red, yellow OR green bell peppers (4 oz. each)
1 cup frozen broccoli florets, defrosted
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
(Note: Baked custards should be removed from the oven before the center is completely set. The center will jiggle slightly when dish is gently shaken. Custard will continue to cook after it''s removed and center will firm up quickly. Overbaked custard may curdle.)
BREAKFAST BISCUIT QUICHE
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes
Makes 10 mini quiches
2/3 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped ham
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
One package (10 biscuits) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.