A few weeks ago Bets wanted to have a few of her law school friends over for a boozy brunch before classes started again for their last semester of law school and I was happy to oblige with some cooking. Brunch, after all, is my absolute favorite meal.
As tends to happen, we ended up having way more food than we could eat because it turned into kind of a potluck thing. There were about 10 people total which is probably the max our apartment can comfortably handle.
In my humble opinion, one of the best brunch foods you can make to feed a crowd is a good quiche. I made two varieties for the affair. This was one of them!
I have to give a quick shout-out that a few of these photos were taken by one of our friends, Yasmin, who’s also photographing our wedding. She happened to bring her camera over so I put her to work.
1) Add flour and salt for crust to a bowl and then cut in the butter using fingers or a fork until it's in small pea-sized pieces.
2) Add enough cold water to the dough to bring it together in a bowl. That's probably 6-8 tablespoons of ice cold water.
3) Split the dough into two balls and wrap them in plastic wrap. Refrigerate them for 30 minutes at least.
4) Once the dough is chilled, lightly flour a clean surface and roll out each dough ball to two inches in diameter larger than your pan. If it tears a bit, that's okay. Just work slowly and patch up the crust as you go.
5) Carefully transfer the dough to your pie pan. Press the dough carefully down into the corners of the pan and, if you want, do something decorative with the edges.
6) Add a circle of parchment paper to the bottom of you pie and fill it with uncooked dry beans (or pie weights). Poke holes around the edges to help steam escape.
7) Prebake this at 425 for 10-12 minutes until it's lightly browned.
8) For filling, heat butter in large pan over medium heat and add all your onions. Cook until they start to brown slightly, about 20 minutes.
9) In a separate bowl, whisk together all your other ingredient. Let your onions cool and then stir them in to the mix.
10) Pour this into your pre-baked crust, grate some cheese on top and bake it for 40 minutes at 325 until it's golden brown and the center is firm.
Making the crust
Can you buy a pre-made crust? Of course. But seriously people, I think it’s worth learning it. Once you get it right, you can bang out a crust with just a bit of effort. It gives you the flexibility to make a pie or a quiche on the fly without having to go to the store and is also a lot cheaper.
As you might know, the key to a good crust is to keep everything cold. This keeps your butter in small chunks so it doesn’t get immediately absorbed by the flour. Then as it cooks it melts and creates a delicious and flaky crust.
So step one is having cold butter. Chop it up into pieces to make your life easier.
The best way to mix in the cold butter with the flour is to use a food processor. Just add your flour and salt and then throw in your cold butter and pulse it a few times. Your butter should be in chunks, like this:
If you don’t have a processor you can definitely use your fingers, but the butter will just warm up a bit which could theoretically make your final crust not as flaky. I’ve done it with my fingers before though and it works just fine.
Next add enough cold water (like ice cold) to this so that it just comes together in a ball. The dough should barely hold together. Then split up your dough into two balls and wrap them in plastic wrap. Refrigerate these for 30 minutes at least or stick them in the freezer for 10 minutes if you are in a hurry.
Once your dough is very cold, dust a clean surface with some flour and then roll your crust out to two inches in diameter larger than your pan. It might tear a bit around the edges, but just work slow and it should be okay. You can repair any holes once you get it in the pan.
I think it’s easiest to carefully fold the dough in half twice (forming a quarter of a circle) and then set that in your pan and unfold it. Once it’s in the pan the hard part is over! Then carefully press the dough into the corners of the pan and, only if you want, do something decorative around the edges. At a minimum, you can use the tines of a fork to make some designs all the way around the edge.
Pre-baking the crust
For quiches, it’s important to pre-bake your crust or else it might not cook all the way. The problem is that if you bake it like this, it will puff up a lot and just be a disaster. The solution is to either use pie weights to weigh down the center or just cut out a circle of parchment paper and lay it down in the center of your crust and pour a layer of dried beans in the pie! The beans will give just enough weight to prevent the dough from puffing too much.
Also, take a fork and poke holes over the crust and around the edges to help steam escape.
Don’t worry, you can’t taste the beans in the final product. Just make sure to get them all off before you add your quiche filling!
Bake this at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes until it’s lightly browned.
For the record, if you don’t have a pie pan, it’s pretty hard to do this using a cake tin. I tried it and it failed miserably. The edges just curled all over the place. I tried a second time and wrapped foil around the edges to keep everything in place. It worked a lot better but was a pain in the butt.
If you need to make two at a time, it’d be worth buying two pie pans. This was a fail:
Once your crusts are pre-baked, the rest of the quiches are pretty easy to throw together. You could pre-bake these hours ahead if you wanted. I’m not sure I would pre-bake them the day before, but a few hours wouldn’t hurt.
As an aside, I also found some of the largest bacon slices I’ve ever seen for this brunch. The package was 24 ounces of bacon and there was only 10 slices of bacon in it. I ended up cutting them all in half, but check these suckers out!
Anyway, back to quiche, let’s make some fillings.
Heat the butter or oil in a large pan and then add all your onions. Cook them until they wilt down and start to brown, about 20 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together all your other ingredients in a bowl. Let your onions cool slightly and then add them to the egg mixture. Pour this all in your pre-baked shell.
If you wanted to kick this up a notch, you could grate some cheese on top before baking it.
Bake this at 325 for about 40 minutes or until it is golden brown and the center is firm. Let it cool before slicing into it!
The Mushroom Variety
I made a mushroom variety also that was the exact same as the onion except I used about 1 pound of crimini mushrooms and sliced and sauteed them in butter for about 10 minutes until they were soft. I also grated a little smoked Gouda on that one and it worked nicely.
There was a ton of other food for this brunch including a baked oatmeal dish that I’ll be stealing and someone even made bagels!
I also contributed a loaf of the babka I made a few weeks ago.
Tipsy the cat was hard to find during this event. She’s in her angst-y teenager phase and doesn’t like to interact with her parents’ friends.
Yasmin found her hiding in her tunnel at one point…
All in all, this was a great brunch. Quiche is a fantastic warming winter dish that I’d recommend everyone try to learn. It’s very versatile as you can use all kinds of stuff in the filling.
Just remember the keys:
1) Keep your butter cold for a flaky crust.
2) Pre-bake your crust.
3) Watch out for cats in tunnels.