Sunday, February 21, 2010

0 Recipe #71: Crustless Mini Quiches

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You'll probably recall that quiche was really in vogue in the 80's; and then somehow, soon after, the mockery began. :) Do you when the slogan, "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche," became all the rage?!  If you don't recall that, my guess is that you probably weren't born yet. :) Then they seemed to gradually fade into the background, as people got sick of eating them & subsequently discovered that, yes, there were other things on the menu they could eat. :)
Truth be told, I've had a love-hate relationship with quiches, which probably explains why the last quiche I ate was probably sometime around 1982. LOL.

Aside from the fact that they were the hallmark of über-preppiness & everything 80's, I found other reasons to give them a rest after the craze was over. :)  First of all, the ones that are typically served at parties & restaurants are usually really fattening. They are highly caloric & loaded with salt, butter, & after eating one, I feel like I could slide off my chair from the grease factor. :) 

To be honest, I'm not a big hors d'œuvres person in general. In fact, they usually make me want to run in the other direction as quickly as possible, mostly because they're either not made with the healthy-gourmet in mind or they're just not very good.  For health-conscious people with taste buds, this doesn't leave many options, except for avoiding the hors d'œuvres tray at parties or, if so inclined, making our own healthy versions. :-D

So, that's what I ended up doing.  It happened completely by accident.  If you'd told me that I'd be making mini quiche that night, I would've laughed you right out of the kitchen.  

I was in one of those "use-up-the-odds-and-ends-in-the-refrigerator" moods, and here's what I found there: 2 eggs, 2 scallions, butter, & half an onion. What could I make with that? The dilemma was that I was trying to come up with a vegetable-based dish, but didn't have many vegetables left. :) It'd been snowing up a storm, & so the supermarket was low on practically everything perishable.  According to Erik, the shelves in the produce section had been emptied out to the extent that it looked like it'd been ravaged by a bunch of wild beasts. :) 

Then I looked in my cupboards.  I had a can of cracker meal, a head of garlic, & way too many spices than a normal person should have. :)  I have to say, at that very moment, I wasn't feeling very inspired. ;)

So, I decided to wing it & to let inspiration come to me as I cooked.  It's a strategy that had worked in the past, so I figured, "What the heck. Sure, why not. What have I got to lose?!"  There were some good signs to indicate that this method might actually be successful that evening: I'd been on a roll & had cooked several tasty dishes "on the fly" earlier in the day (that would be eaten later in the week). So I had a good feeling that it would turn out alright. :)

It started out typically enough: I diced the 1/2 onion & scallions & tossed them into the pan with some olive oil.  Then I sprinkled some salt on them to help them "sweat" (a gross culinary term, I know!) and cook down a bit. Next, I added an infinitesimally small sliver of butter (for flavor), a dash of black pepper, some dried oregano, & fresh, minced garlic. OK, that smelled pretty good. I tasted the mixture. Not bad. OK, actually, on second thought, that was rather tasty. I then deglazed the pan with white wine and then wondered what the heck I was going to do next. Sometimes this is the way I cook. There's no plan. I just do it, and something magically comes to me out of thin air. Those are the fortunate days. :)  

I was stumped for a bit, and scanned the fridge a second time to make sure I hadn't missed anything. The only thing I saw were 2 eggs. Hmmmm. I wasn't big on the combo of scallions & eggs in omelette form, but perhaps if I made it into something else it would work. Then it suddenly dawned on me: quiche. I could make quiche. Of course, first I scoffed at the idea, but then decided that perhaps I could make it work. So, I added the eggs, quickly stirring them so they wouldn't congeal into an unsightly blob of egg white + yolk, and then added the cracker meal from the can that had been staring back at me in the pantry. It spoke to me: "Use me up already, will ya?!" :-D OK, it didn't really say that. We all know cans of food can't talk. LOL.

The next thing that popped out at me was a jar of sesame seeds.  OK, that might work. So, in it went. After stirring all the ingredients together & cooking them for a little longer, I tossed them into a mini casserole pan & cooked it in the oven, so that it would brown. I thought that a really tiny casserole dish would take about 20-25 minutes, at most, to cook. Well, 45 minutes later, it was still not cooked. The oven had been cranked up from 350 to 375° F. An hour later, it was finally starting to brown. So, I came up with a better idea: The next time, I'm going to bake the quiches in muffin/cupcake pans, so they won't take an eternity to finish! Hahaha!

The other benefit to baking them in a muffin/cupcake pan is that they are bite-sized & perfect for a mid-day snack. Plus, it's certainly a much more nutritious snack than a candy bar snagged from a junk food machine out of total desperation. :-D

So, the below recipe is the direct end result of the above process. (Update from 3/11/10: I recently made some minor modifications to the recipe, so that it would taste more like "quiche," & less like "stuffing." ;) ) Needless to say, it's a much healthier version of quiche than I'm typically accustomed to seeing. As they say, "If you can't find something the way you like it, make it yourself." :) 

And lucky you, all you have to do is follow the recipe. The best part is that this activity shouldn't take nearly as long as I spent creating the recipe & testing it. :) Hope you enjoy the fruits of my labors!

 Crustless Mini Quiches

1/2 onion, diced
2 scallions, sliced horizontally into 1/2" rounds
1/2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of salt
1/8 Tbsp. (or less) butter
black pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, peeled & minced
1/4 c. white wine
3 eggs
1/8 c. cracker meal (or if unavailable, substitute almond or matzo meal, or bread crumbs)
1 tsp. sesame seeds

Directions: Preheat oven to 375° F. Sauté onion & scallions in olive oil on medium heat.  Sprinkle a pinch of salt on top to help them cook down a bit. Next, add sliver of butter (for flavor), a dash of black pepper, oregano, & garlic. Deglaze with white wine. Then crack 2 eggs & quickly combine/scramble with other ingredients to prevent egg from congealing. After liquid has cooked down to about 1/3 of its original amount, add cracker meal & stir. Cook until liquid has almost completely vanished. Mix in sesame seeds & remove pan from heat. Pour mixture into greased muffin/cupcake pan. Cook in oven for 20-25 minutes, or until top has been adequately browned.  Stick fork in one of the quiches; if it comes out clean, it's most likely finished cooking. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes.  Then dig in. :)

Yield: Approximately 3-4 mini quiches. This is a guestimate, as I've only made the quiche in a mini-casserole pan thus far.  If you'd prefer, you can also make this dish in a larger pan & have it for lunch. :)  It's the perfect size for a quick & easy meal.

Optional Ingredients: This quiche would taste really good with mushrooms, asparagus, artichokes, &/or sun-dried tomatoes (i.e., the kind that's not packed in oil), even though I didn't have them at the time I made this dish. Add 1/4 c. sliced fresh mushrooms & 1/4 c. julienned sun-dried tomatoes at the same time the onions & scallions are cooking.

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