Play along with me...
Sitting on the patchwork picnic blanket, set upon as yet green grass on an early spring afternoon amidst sun breaks and the sense of the surrounding fragile awakening of fertile earth, it's a spring picnic.
And on the horizon the deep violet clouds threaten your precarious soiree but they hold back for now. Upon the blanket, made up of flowery orange and pale blue calicoes, the picnic is set out. A crow sits hungrily overhead, bold and presumptuous from a winter spent with meager pickings, he eyes your food. Out of the picnic basket comes that special goat cheese you impulsively bought last week at the specialty food store after you took a small sample and wanted more. You smirk at the memory, recalling how hungry you were at the time. Along with this cheese are crispy crackers----the kind for special occasions. Like this. And a bottle of chardonnay, since we're dreaming.
While uncorking and pouring the wine, the seemingly distant clouds emit snowflakes that travel through the spotty sunshine; they are bits of fluttery white, like faeries who surreptitiously join your picnic.
But since it's spring, early spring, you expected this---even welcomed it, for the delicacy of spring and its capricious behavior adds a beguiling allure to a picnic.
And after enjoying the cheese and crackers, the sips of wine, and a spicy green salad, the picnic's showcase arrives: the Quiche you made the night before. Its deep-hued yellow custard cradles flecks of spring chard, sweet squares of ham, and a medley of cream and cheese captured in a golden crust that frames the Quiche like a ruffled halo. As you take small bite after small bite, a spring gust lifts your hair as if to whisper secrets in your ear of the summer yet to come... A tingle runs down your spine and you feel alive and open to new possibilities... A spring picnic.
Basic Quiche formula: With this basic filling formula, you can customize your Quiche to your own taste, or whatever you might have on hand. I have a few suggestions at the bottom of this post---use your imagination!
This is the whole shebang, which means I included my favorite savory tart/quiche recipe with my method for preparing it. However, if you don't have time to make your own crust (heaven forbid!), a store-bought variety will suffice.
A sturdy and tasty Quiche Crust
2 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
9 T. unsalted cold butter, cut into a dice
2 large egg yolks
1/4 C. ice water
Method: In a large enough bowl to really get your hands in there, add the flour and salt. Cut the butter into the flour using either your fingers (my preferred method: I rub the butter into the flour with my fingers), two knives, or a pastry blender. Whisk the egg yolks into 3 T. of the water (reserve the last T., only adding it if you need to). Sprinkle the egg/water mixture over the flour and using a large fork, toss the water around into the flour. Using your hands, knead the dough just two times to bring it together somewhat. Pour the mixture out onto a cool surface and knead a couple more times. Check the dough's consistency. Is the dough moist enough? It should justcome together with some of the flour not incorporated (and that's okay). It should not fall apart if you pinch it, however. If it is still too crumbly and won't come together, sprinkle on the last T. of water (or more, if needed) and knead that in. Don't over-knead, though! Form the dough into a disk and wrap securely in plastic wrap. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Pull out the dough and on a floured surface, roll the dough into a circle that is larger than your pie plate. Place the dough into the pie plate and freeze for at least 30 minutes (at this point, you can wrap the dough up and keep it frozen for future use). In fact, if I were more industrious, I would have a few of these in my freezer to pull out at will.
Prebake the Quiche crust: In a 450 degree oven, bake the crust for 15 minutes.
The Quiche Filling
While the Quiche's crust bakes, mix together the filling.
4 large eggs
1 C. half & half
1/2 C. cream
2/3 C. grated Jarlsberg cheese
1/2 C. grated cheddar
1/8 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4. powdered mustard
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C. add ins (see below for ideas)
Method: Whisk together the eggs, half & half, cream, and seasonings. Set aside a few gratings of cheese to sprinkle on top. Over the prebaked crust, sprinkle the cheeses and the add ins. Pour the filling over it all and sprinkle a little cheese on top. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees and then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for at least another 25 minutes. The Quiche is done when the middle no longer sloshes around but rather jiggles with the rest of the mass. If the crust begins to brown too much, cover with a guard or tin foil. Let cool a bit before enjoying.
The one Pictured: Sauteed Kale with garlic (chopped very fine), diced ham. Also, could be spinach and ham.
French: Diced sun-dried tomatoes and sauteed arugula and instead of cheddar, add fresh chevre into the filling until combined.
Herb: Sauteed Arugula with fresh parsley, thyme, chervil, and marjoram.
Spicy Version: Roasted Diced Red Potatoes, 1 tsp. smoked paprika, alternate Monterrey Jack Cheese for the Jarlsberg.
Southwestern: Diced roasted peppers, shredded roast chicken, Santa fe spice mixture.
Ocean: Lump crab meat, a bit of Old Bay Spice.