A love for quiche: asparagus quiche with mashed potato crust

Asparagus Quiche

The first time I paid attention to the word ‘quiche’ was way back in the early eighties, and I did not even know how to pronounce it then.  It was from the title of a book, countless copies of which were stacked on a table as I entered a Barnes & Noble store in Fox Hills Mall in Culver City, California. 

I quickly flipped through Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche by Bruce Feirstein and while I found it funny in parts, I decided I was neither interested in why real men don’t eat savoury pies nor in a satire about masculine stereotypes.  Instead, I made a beeline for the periodicals counter and made a mental note to learn more about quiche upon my return to Singapore.

Within a day of arriving home, I checked my Oxford dictionary for the pronunciation. “keesh”, it said — and then pulled out my trusted and 1976 edition of the quintessentially British Good Housekeeping Cookery Book. There were at least five recipes for quiche including Crabmeat and Ricotta Quiche. I chose what looked easiest — Quiche Lorraine made with shortcrust pastry, gruyere cheese, cream and bacon.

I followed the Good Housekeeping recipe as diligently as if I was being tested in a middle school Home Economics course. The result of my first quiche attempt? While I liked it, especially the soft custard filling, frankly, I was not overwhelmed. The pastry was hard and tasteless and the bacon imparted an overpowering flavour. I was quite happy to give quiche a miss, until a few weeks later when I saw it being served at what was then my favourite café in London — Patisserie Valerie. As it happens, Patisserie Valerie was right next to Hatchard’s, which was my all-time favourite bookstore in the whole world and was a ritual stop for me on every trip to London, which was about three or four times a year.  I would visit Hatchard’s, buy at least one paperback novel  and then head to Valerie’s next door for a most indulgent chocolate éclair and a diet coke (my sugar quota having been blown by the éclair). This time, however, an elderly lady at the table next to mine was having what looked like a delicious quiche stuffed with greens and a side salad of tomatoes and lettuce.  It was then that I decided to give quiche another chance.  Ever since my first bite of that spinach quiche, I have become a great fan. I eat quiche at least three or four times a month, home-made, but I do like trying quiche found in nice restaurants and cafes as well.

Friends have been raving for years about the endless varieties of quiche at the famous Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, upstate New York.  The closest I have come to tasting Moosewood’s quiche is making my own using founder Mollie Katzen’s recipe.  My sister, who lives close to Ithaca, and has visited Moosewood regularly over the past fifteen years, assures me that mine is a very authentic version of a Moosewood quiche.

A typically French savoury pie, quiche is easy to make and is open to countless variations.  There are four components, of which three may be substituted with other ingredients:

  1. Crust. Typically made from shortcrust pastry, I have also tried a nut crust and breadcrumb crust with success.
  2. Cheese.  Coarsely grated cheese goes in first. Gruyere is recommended for its flavor but a mild or sharp cheddar will also work.  If preferred, you could also combine an extra-sharp English cheese with something milder.
  3. Filling. This is what makes the variations interesting.  Make it simple with sautéed mushrooms or more elegant with salmon and watercress.  Leftover roast chicken works, too.  It’s best not to add more than two fillings.
  4. Custard. This is just eggs and milk and is the only part of a quiche which allows very little variation, perhaps substituting cream for milk to bake a richer, heavier pie.



About Mahita Geekie

Mahita recently returned to Singapore after owning and managing a B&B in Bali. She now indulges in her twin passions of eating and writing. Mahita spent 30 years in advertising and hospitality. She is a sworn lover of Singapore’s street food. She co-founded a small book club which has been going strong for eight years. She is also an animal lover. Mahita is married with two daughters currently in university and 3 great pets–a dog and two cats.