When I saw that the TFF April challenge recipes would be Tyler's Deep Dish Ham Quiche (and Asparagus Salad, too) the prospects didn't seem good. My husband has an almost knee-jerk tendency to reject pork products - especially ham - and is deeply suspicious of the fat and cholesterol in eggs. ("What about the bacon?" you ask. He does indeed eat food cooked with lardons of bacon, but there a little bit of bacon delivers a huge flavor impact so he's willing to make an exception. Well that, and the Benton's bacon we use is pretty amazing...) A ham quiche, especially a deep dish one calling for 12 eggs (not to mention a quart of cream!) wasn't likely to meet with a warm reception at our dining room table. And as luck would have it April didn't present us with any entertaining opportunities where quiche would be appropriate.
But then my husband got called out of town for a 10 day business trip, which opened the window for all sorts of cooking of food that normally wouldn't "fly", including the challenge recipe! You see, I love quiche, and on previous occasions I've been known to make it when he was out of town.
Seeing as I've never one to follow the recipe exactly, I'd say my biggest challenge with the April Challenge is to see whether what I made can still be called the the TFF selection! All I can say is "Thanks for the salad," because the rest is a pretty long stretch from Tyler's original!
Herb and Asparagus salad
Let's start with the salad, because I made that first, and completed it while there was still some natural light for photos!
- I made a tiny single-portion serving, using 2 oz thin baby asparagus
- Because it was such a small fraction of the original recipe, I didn't actually weigh or measure anything, but tried to estimate the proportions as best I could. In my opinion, this was pretty close to the way the recipe was written.
- I used a couple sprigs of flat leaf parsley and a sprig of chocolate mint from my herb garden - yay for Spring! I really really really don't like dill, so I left it out. I was trying to think of what herb I could substitute but I finally decided to just go with the parsley and mint.
- Instead of drizzling lemon juice and olive oil separately, I used a lemon olive oil.
- My parmesan was from Australia! The entire salad didn't take more than 5 minutes to make, and that's including blanching the asparagus!
- Second step = incorporate cubes of gruyere. Swiss-type cheese is essential for quiche, imo. So, my stir ins were:
1/2 Vidalia onion, sliced and carmelized
1.5 oz cubed gruyere
2 oz habenero chicken sausage (left over from previous pasta dish. I really wanted to use bacon or prosciutto but I didn't want the sausage to go to waste)
- My custard was:
1 duck egg + leftover egg yolk and white from all the cooking I've been doing - probably equal to one whole chicken egg
2.5 oz cream
5.5 oz nonfat milk (lactose free Smart Balance)
- I made my "quiche" into individual flans in 8-oz ramekins. I got the bright idea to seal the bottom of each ramekin with crumb-covered tomato slices:
3 thin tomato slices
2 T seasoned dried bread crumbs (I make these from leftover bread and keep them handy in the freezer)
1 T grated parmesan cheese
I placed the 3 ramekins into a larger baking pan lined with double layer of paper towels and filled halfway with hot water.
Then covered the whole thing loosely with foil and baked at 375 degrees for around 40 minutes.
At that point they were set and nicely golden on top. And the natural light was all gone...
- The flans/quiches unmolded easily, but then kind of collapsed. It's hard to be deep without the dish, or the crust, I guess! I was surprised to see that the tomato ended up in the middle - the custard had seeped beneath and around the slices.
I loved this meal!
I liked the little flans with and without the salad on top. They had lots of flavor and I didn't miss the crust (no, really, it's true). The gruyere was delicious addition, and the caramelized onions gave a rustic sweet note. The sausage I used was a little assertive, so I'd use bacon or some kind of ham next time, or omit the meat altogether.
The salad was fantastic with and without the "quiche." I wouldn't hesitate to serve it on its own. Easy and delicious.
As an aside, I used to be a confirmed asparagus-hater, and I've only recently discovered (decided?) that I can not just tolerate, but actually like, asparagus. This is an about-face of epic proportions. I give the credit to J.D.E. (who asked me to buy some back in March), to Mark Bittman (who taught me how to cook it - I'll post that recipe eventually!) and to some particularly tender pencil-thin asparagus.
I'm excited to have such a fantastic way to enjoy asparagus! This was a great dish/two dishes.
Thanks, Tyler and thanks, Megan for choosing it as our challenge.