Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ham, Egg & Cheese Pie

One thing you learn pretty quickly when you have kids, particularly during the toddler years, is that marketing is everything. In order to maintain your sanity you have to be an expert on spin, diplomacy and the art of letting them have your way. You become deft at packaging new ideas, foods, activities and chores, so not only will they do as you ask, but do it with vigor. Now I'm certainly not advocating that you lie or trick your children, just carefully choose your words so that they WANT to do the thing that you want them to do. As in "Wouldn't it be fun to see who can pick up the most toys in 10 minutes, now ready. . .set. . .go!" Before they have the chance to realize that they are doing "work" they've cleaned the room. Victory for everyone!

So that's how our family came to enjoy Ham, Egg and Cheese Pie. You and I both know it's quiche, but what 4 or 6 year old in their right mind would eat quiche. Sounds weird. Sounds foreign. Sounds down right YUCKY! But what they'll gladly eat is Ham, Egg and Cheese Pie. They like ham, it makes a delicious sandwich. They like eggs, boiled, scrambled, fried. They could survive on cheese alone if just given the chance. Top it all off with the word "Pie", a word that says "Yummy" all by itself, and you've got a winner for dinner. (Wow, pardon that cheesy rhyme.)

Now that my kids are older they eat quiche and they love it. But do what you need to do to get your family to at least try it. The bottom line is that quiche is an easy to make family dinner. Once you get the basic recipe the possibilities for variation are endless. Again, I invite you to tweak, fiddle and modify to your hearts content. . .

Here's what you need for the basic recipe: eggs, milk - skim, 2%, whatever you have on hand, sour cream, flour, onion powder, salt, nutmeg, shredded cheese (I prefer a combination of Swiss cheeses, something with a little tang.), powdered mustard, ham (I just used sliced lunchmeat.) and a 9-inch deep dish pie crust.

You can make your own favorite pie crust or just use a store bought one like I've done here. If you make your own, eliminate any sugar if called for in the recipe. If you're using store bought, check to make sure there isn't any sugar in the ingredients. The sweetness will be weird for this savory dish.

Start by pre-baking your crust. Line the crust with a layer of foil smoothing it down so it is snug against the crust. Pop it into a 450°F oven for 5 minutes. 

Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes or until it's nearly done. Reduce the heat on your oven to 325°F.

Dice the ham slices into approximately 1/2 inch pieces.
(1/4-inch cubes if you're using a ham steak)

Layer half the ham into the bottom of the pie crust.

Add the shredded cheese on top of that and finish with the remaining ham.

Mix the eggs, milk, sour cream, flour, onion powder, salt, nutmeg and mustard.
Blend with a whisk until well combined.

Set the crust on a sheet pan and gently ladle the "custard" mixture on top. Fill it about two thirds of the way then set the sheet pan on the middle rack in the oven and finish filling to almost the top of the crust. You may have a bit of extra custard mix leftover. The sheet pan will keep your oven clean if you happen to have an overflow. Now into the oven, 325°F, for 45-55 minutes.

The quiche is done when the center is no longer jiggly and knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. If the edges of the crust start to get too brown just cover them with foil. Let it rest for a good 30 minutes or more before cutting. Serve with green salad for an easy weeknight dinner. This also makes great leftovers. Just refrigerate and microwave slices as needed.

Here are some ideas for variations, get creative and use whatever leftovers you have available:
- Replace the onion powder with 1/2 an onion, diced and sauteed until tender, 
  layer with the cheese.
- Replace some or all of the ham with diced, cooked veggies (broccoli, asparagus,
  spinach, red bell pepper, etc.)
- Replace the ham with cooked crumbled bacon, cooked crumbled sausage,
  crab meat, or chopped cooked shrimp. (For seafood, adjust the spices, use dill 
  and/or lemon juice)


Easy Basic Quiche
1 unbaked, 9-inch, deep dish pie crust
3 eggs
1-1/2 C. milk
1/2 C. sour cream
1T. flour
1t. onion powder
Dash nutmeg
1t. dry mustard powder
1/2 t. salt
4 oz. ham, diced
1-1/2 C. shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line the pie crust with a layer of foil and bake for 5 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 5-7 minutes more until browned and nearly done. Turn the oven down to  325°F.
Layer half the ham on the bottom of the partially cooled pie crust. Layer all of the shredded cheese on top and finish with remaining ham.
Combine the eggs, milk, sour cream, flour, onion powder, nutmeg, mustard and salt. Whisk until well combined.
Set the pie crust on a sheet pan and gently ladle egg/milk mixture on top until crust is full. You may have some egg/milk mixture left over.
Bake on the center rack of a 325°F oven for 45-55 minutes until center is firm and a knife inserted near center comes out clean.
Let cool 15-30 minutes before slicing. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Serves 6

No comments:

Post a Comment