I have a secret.
Despite the fact that I am well known throughout Brooklyn for my infamous, 40-proof pumpkin pie, I have never made a pie crust. That's right! And not only THAT, but I've never even made a pie that actually USED a traditional butter crust--only graham crackers. If you ask my Texan grandmother, that makes me a cheater. If you ask me, it just makes me kind of a wuss: years of horror stories of Crusts Gone Awry (too tough! too floury!) have left me afraid to try.
In a fit of euphoric optimism, I decided the other day that it was time to throw caution to the wind and just go for it; this happily coincided with a massive craving I was experiencing for quiche. So, I bought a pastry cutter*, and went straight to a trusted source for my recipe: Martha Stewart, and her Pate Brisee. Being me, I wasn't totally faithful to the recipe--I made a half-batch, with whole wheat flour replacing 1 1/4 cups of all purpose--but fortune smiled upon me anyway and produced a nice, flaky crust (which totally decimated my pastry cutter, though I suspect that's far more a reflection on the cutter and the awesome power of nearly frozen butter than the crust) that went beautifully with the mushroom, shallot, and fontina filling.
As far as I'm concerned, the mushroom/shallot/cheese trifecta is perfect for quiche (though next time I might try either gruyere or a gruyere-asiago mix instead of fontina); I will probably experiment with other fillings further in the future (what's up, prosciutto and gorgonzola!), but I can already tell I'll keep coming back to this classic for more. For now, however, I think the time is right for me to start using my newfound understanding of crust to experiment with other forms of pie, both sweet and savory. Any suggestions?
**UPDATE! I made another quiche last night, using asiago, mushrooms, onions, prosciutto, and scallions. I made the crust in the food processor (and I'm NEVER going back), and it was AWESOME. Highly recommended for the carnivores among us.**
Quiche with mushrooms, shallot, and fontina cheese
1/2 batch Pate Brisee (the original recipe is scaled to make two crusts)
3 large eggs
8 oz fontina cheese, grated
12 oz mushrooms, stemmed and very finely diced
3 medium-sized shallots, sliced
3/4c half and half
salt, pepper, etc
- Preheat oven to 350F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough to about 12-in in diameter; press into a 9-inch pie plate (Trick: to ease the transition from surface to plate, sprinkle a little flour on the top, then fold it in half before moving. Sounds simple, but it's extremely helpful). Line the dish with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights; bake 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and beans, prick the bottom of the crust several times with a fork, and pop it back in the oven for 10 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven and set aside. This can be done up to 6 hours in advance.
- In a large skillet, melt a bit of butter over medium heat; saute the shallots until they are just translucent; then, add the mushrooms. Continue to sautee over medium heat until the mushrooms have released their liquid, and then reabsorbed it. Season with salt and pepper.
- Whisk together the eggs, half and half with some salt and pepper. Set aside
- Grab your prepared crust. Line it with: half the cheese, then half the mushroom mixture, then the other half of the cheese, then the other half of the mushrooms. Pour the egg mixture over the top of that.
- Bake at 350 until the custard has set; let it cool for 15 minutes before serving.