Monday, August 24, 2009

Quiche Lorraine
with Spinach and Mushrooms

Birthdays were always extraordinary in my family growing up. My mother made them into really wondrous occasions (especially when we were small) involving special presents, clothes, foods, friends and activities. She celebrated the mere fact that we were alive with absolute joy, which is darn sweet considering that she was the one who should really have been getting the presents from each of us! After all, she was the one who put in the hard work to give us life.

Somewhere along the way I internalized these birthday rituals as part of my personal code of living. Birthdays are special, because they remind us how lucky we are to have a certain person in our life.

Last week my husband celebrated his 35th birthday. He's a no muss, no fuss type of guy so it's rare that he actually wants anything specific for his birthday. H is genuinely happier to go hiking or for a ride on his bicycle than he would be to receive a fancy new watch or gadget. For this reason, I try to find ways to appreciate him on his birthday that I know will truly mean something to him.

Luckily, my man's heart is definitely in his stomach!

For his birthday this year, I decided to bake him a quiche. I don't know who said that real men don't eat quiche... because my father loved it and so does H. He especially loves Quiche Lorraine for its bacon. Usually I try to minimize bacon consumption in our house as I am hoping my husband will live a long life with clear arteries and a healthy heart. Still, every now and again the occasion calls for bacon or sausage... and this was one of those times.

Quiche is such a wonderful dish. Using the simplest of ingredients, you create a sophisticated masterpiece brimming with flavor. I invented this gluten free recipe for Quiche Lorraine working from three main ingredients my husband loves under all circumstances: eggs, mushrooms and bacon. From there, the ingredients seemed to suggest themselves one by one... caramelized onions, spinach, cream, crumbled cheese. They just made sense together.

My husband ate no less than three large slices of his birthday quiche for his birthday dinner. His main comment was that he wished I'd doubled the recipe and made two of them, since we managed to polish off the entire pan in one sitting. This heartfelt praise made me glow... and I feel so confident about this recipe that I expect that you will be glowing with pride too when you serve it with love to your family, friends or co-workers.

With a relatively fast preparation and cooking time, such a yummy meal doesn't have to wait for special occasions. It could be your comfort food after a long day at work, the dish you bring to exhausted parents caring for a new baby, or even your contribution to a potluck supper. You don't need a reason for quiche. Or shall I say, there's always a reason for quiche.

Quiche Lorraine with Spinach and Mushrooms

What You'll Need:

Italian Style Gluten Free Breadcrumbs (3-4 oz per glass pie dish)
5 eggs
6 strips bacon
1/2 cup crumbled sharp white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 small onions
8 oz crimini mushrooms
1/2 bag baby spinach leaves
Sea salt (to taste)
Fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
Penzeys Bavarian seasoning (to taste, optional)

How It Works:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

While it is heating, grease a standard 9.5 inch pie dish (I use glass) with a thick layer of butter. Next, dust the entire dish liberally with your gluten free breadcrumbs, until there is a thin coating of breadcrumbs covering all of the butter.

It takes a little while to fry bacon, so I would recommend cooking your bacon on the stove in a separate pan while you begin the process of chopping the mushrooms and onions.

Using a very sharp knife, finely chop your onions and mushrooms. Depending on how much you enjoy the texture of mushrooms, you may also use a Cuisinart mini-prep machine to mince them for this recipe.

In a large saute pan, add a large glug of extra virgin olive oil over medium temperature. When it is hot but not smoking, add your onions and mushrooms. Stir frequently until onions begin to turn translucent. While the mixture sautes, season it with sea salt, fresh ground black pepper and Pensey's Bavarian Seasoning to taste. (If you can't find Penzeys, consider whipping up your own mixture of crushed brown mustard, rosemary, garlic, thyme, bay leaves and sage). Once the onions are a bit caramelized (and your mushrooms may have given off a good deal of liquid) remove the pan from burner and cover it.

You will need a large bowl in which to make the custard. Add the eggs, milk and heavy cream and blend it well with an electric hand mixer or fork. Set aside.

Now you are ready to assemble the quiche for baking. Take your greased pie plate full of breadcrumbs and layer the bottom with healthy handfuls of baby spinach leaves (about half of a standard pre-washed bag). Next, sprinkle your crumbled sharp cheddar cheese on top of the spinach. Pour the custard on top of the spinach/cheese mixture. Finally, crumble all the cooked bacon on top of the custard and allow it to sink slightly into the mixture.

Bake in your preheated oven for 30 - 40 minutes until its top has browned and your tester (whether toothpick or knife) has come out clean when dipped into the center of the quiche.

Serves 4 to 6 (two slices each vs. one larger slice each).

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