I vividly remember the very first time that, when I was about nine or ten, my mother let me go out to lunch alone with my good friend Melissa. We lived in a very safe, small town of about 3,000 people, the kind of town where it was fine for me to walk to my dentist appointment or the library on main street, because I knew all of the neighbors if anything should happen along the way. As with many small towns, there were only a few dining establishments appropriate for two young ladies who lunch, so we went to the Book Peddler’s Cafe, a small, lunch-only bistro that was built as an addition to our town’s boutique book shop. We knew the owner, and, looking back, I’m sure that my mom gave her a call prior to our arrival to let her know that we were coming.
Arriving at the cafe, I recall feeling very grown-up, so it was without question that I should order something grown-up from the menu. To me, quiche was the ultimate adult food and something that I had never ordered at a restaurant. It was what my mother served when she hosted her bridge group or a brunch, and, more importantly, it was a fancy French dish. I played it safe and ordered the ham and cheese quiche (I really liked ham and cheese sandwiches in my lunch box, so how different could it be?). Melissa, feeling equally mature, ordered the chef’s salad. We were the perfect little ladies, chatting about summer camp, and what we were playing in the piano recital, enjoying a delicious grown-up lunch. Gosh I hope we tipped enough…..
This quiche recipe is a little bit different from many in that it is made in a springform pan as opposed to a traditional fluted tart pan. The sides are deep, giving the finished product more of a rustic look, and offering a much higher filling to crust ratio. The maple flavor really comes through and the sweetness balances nicely with the salty bacon and sauteed onion. The crust is flaky and buttery and comes together in minutes using the food processor. Make it ahead of time and reheat just prior to serving. Here are a few tips for this slightly sweet and savory quiche:
- "Pate brisee" is just another term for a standard pastry or pie dough that is made with butter. The recipe below is very simple and forgiving, so it is a good one to keep on file. The pastry can be refrigerated for up to 2 days and it can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator prior to using.
- To lighten up this recipe, use turkey bacon instead of regular bacon. Instead of reserving the bacon grease, wipe the skillet clean and saute the onion in 2 tablespoons of heart-healthy olive oil. In place of the 4 eggs, use 2 whole eggs and 3 egg whites. Opt for the half-and-half over the heavy cream and use low-fat cheese in place of the full-fat version.
- The quiche can be served warm or at room temperature. The cooled quiche can be covered loosely with foil and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat, covered, in a 300F degree oven for about 45 minutes.
- Instead of Gruyere, try substituting other cheeses, such as sharp cheddar, fontina, parmigiano-reggiano, or smoked gouda.
Maple, Gruyere, and Bacon Quiche
Serves 8 to 10
For Pate Brisee
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 pound cold butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup ice water
6 ounces bacon (about 8 strips)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
4 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the crust: Pulse the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, about 10 pulses. With the machine running, add the ice water in a slow, steady stream until the dough just holds together. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a 14-inch round, about 1/4-inch thick. Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch springform pan, then fold the sides of the dough down to create a 2-inch high border. Prick the bottom several times with a fork and then freeze for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Line the dough with parchment paper and cover the bottom with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the edges are just firm, about 20 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment, return to the oven, and bake until lightly golden, about 20 minutes more. Let cool.
Reduce the oven to 375F degrees. Place the bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels and let cool slightly. Break into 1/2-inch pieces. Pour off the dripping, reserving 1 tablespoon in the skillet.
Add the oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the maple syrup and water and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the skillet, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
Whisk together the eggs, cream, Gruyere, and thyme in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the onion mixture. Pour into the cooked quiche shell and scatter half of the bacon on top. Bake until the edges of the egg mixture are just set, about 15 minutes. Scatter the remaining bacon over the top and bake until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes more. Let cook for at least 30 minutes and serve.