Dear Friends, I initially wrote this post about 10 days ago. Before the world had spun on its axis and Putin had invaded – without any provocation – the free and independent country of Ukraine. It was scheduled to go live this Sunday morning Chicago time. However, I pulled it, thinking it was just too frivolous. Like most of you, I have been glued to the TV and internet, watching in disbelief as the Russian Military has brought in every horrible weapon but one in its arsenal in an attempt to drag Ukraine back under the Russian boot. I have watched as the incredibly brave and resourceful people of Ukraine have stood their ground and defended their homeland against incredible odds. And I have watched as they have held back the might of the Russian Military – not ceding territory and not giving Putin the easy win he had expected.
Just as we appear to be emerging from the pandemic of the past two years, we are again thrust into a very stressful time with a crazed Putin threatening the use of nuclear weapons. I am old enough to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis. We children were sent home from school to be with our families on the very real possibility of a Russian strike and possible death. Thankfully that disaster was averted and we were brought back from the brink of a nuclear war.
When I am stressed (as well as when I am happy, if I am honest) I turn to family and food for comfort and celebration. For me, if I have a big pot of soup on the stove and a bread and pie coming out of the oven, I feel just a little bit safer. It’s that warm hug that we all need at times. With that in mind, as well as hopefully providing a very brief distraction, I decided to have this post go live after all. Read this as my poke in the eye to Putin – that he will not destroy Ukraine or democracy. Let them eat quiche!
Custardy, comforting Duck Bacon Spinach Quiche is easy to make and even easier to eat. The flavor is a well-balanced blend of creamy custard with a gently savory duck bacon, gruyere and spinach filling with a hint of nutmeg all in a flaky crust. A crisp green salad is the only accompaniment needed to round out the perfect meal.
Foods and their popularity tend to go in and out of fashion. There was a time when quiche was EVERYWHERE. And then it was nowhere. When I was growing up, it was not uncommon for my parents to invite teachers to our home for a Sunday lunch or dinner. I couldn’t imagine doing that with my son’s teachers. Does anyone do that anymore?? Nevertheless, my mother’s go to teacher’s meal was a beautiful Quiche Lorraine. It was considered very avant garde at the time and the teachers were always delighted to experience it. My mother was a wonderful cook and hostess.
Quiche also went through a phase of being super-sized – the higher the filling, the better. I’m afraid that it became lost to the American tendency to make everything bigger, but rarely better. Real quiche, though, is a delightful dish that doesn’t over-power.
A word about duck bacon. Of course, you can make this with regular, thick-cut bacon. However, duck bacon is worth a try. It is meatier, with half the fat of traditional bacon. It cooks up easily and even when crisped, it retains a lovely chew for a great mouthfeel. As my readers know by now, we eat very little meat these days. So when I do eat some, I want something where a little bit goes a long way for flavor and satisfaction.
Recently I bought some duck bacon, but I didn’t actually have anything in mind to make with it at the time. My husband, however, was getting concerned that it would go to waste, so I started to think of how to use it in a way that would show it off. I almost always have cream, eggs, good cheese and either spinach or kale floating around my refrigerator, so quiche seemed like a natural solution. It had been off my rotation of foods for years and I honestly couldn’t think why.
After checking out a number of recipes, I came up with this one. My crust is from Cook’s Illustrated minus the sugar. You, however, can use any basic pie crust that you like, including one from the grocery. The only change I might make next time would be to blind bake my pie dough first. I did use a metal pie plate on top of a baking steel, so it was fine, but it could have been a bit crisper on the bottom. On the other hand, the ease of not blind baking my crust first kind of out-weighed doing it!
If you haven’t made a quiche in a long time – or ever – now is the time to do it.
Yield: 4 to 6 generous portions
1 unbaked 9-inch pie dough
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup of heavy cream at room temperature
1/2 cup of 1% or 2% milk at room temperature
4 slices of cooked duck bacon, cut into dice
1 cup of loosely packed, grated gruyere, Comte, Emmenthaler or aged Swiss cheese
2.5 cups loosely packed fresh baby spinach
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until smooth. Then add in the cream, milk salt and pepper.
Stir in half of the duck bacon and cheese. Pour this mixture into the pie crust. Place the spinach on top of the mixture and using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently submerge the spinach with some still peaking out.
Sprinkle the remaining duck bacon and cheese over the top,
Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees F. Then turn the oven temperature down to 325 degrees F. and continue baking for about another 55 minutes. There should be a slight wobble to the filling. The filling will puff up during the baking process and then settles down as it cools. Do not over bake! I then turned off my oven, left the door open with the quiche inside for another 10 minutes.
Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool for at least one hour before serving. This can be eaten warm or at room temperature. Serve a crisp salad alongside.