Today I’ll be teaching you how to make a quiche using a simple ingredient any competent 20-something should have stashed in the freezer. This magic ingredient is . . . Vodka! I’ve loved quiche for a long time, as my mother baked fresh quiche on a regular basis throughout my childhood. It’s been a fair while since I made it myself, but the other day my favourite webcartoonist (yes I am a geek) posted this cartoon, which brought the popular French eggy-pie-custard dish back into my mind. I didn’t feel like going to the store, so I’m not making the traditional quiche Lorraine for you, and most of the ingredients were things sitting around in my fridge that needed using, but it still turned out well, and that’s the beauty of quiche!
Step One: measure out 1 & 1/3 c all-purpose flour. Throw in a few pinches of salt, and then use your fingers to pinch and squeeze around 5-8 tbsp butter into the flour. You should wind up with a crumbly flour butter mixture with a fairly small crumb size (pea sized or smaller), and it should hold together a little before falling apart when you take a fistful and scrunch it up. Now time for the vodka. In alternating tablespoonfuls, add cold water and chilled vodka* to the flour mixture, until the dough just barely holds together and seems cohesive — it should still feel like it could crumble at any moment though (the more you work it, the tougher pie crust becomes as gluten strands begin to form). You shouldn’t need to add more than about 5 tbsp of total liquid (the less the better). When you’re done, cover the dough in plastic wrap, stick it in the fridge and ignore for about half an hour.
*Why did we add vodka? The idea is that because alcohol evaporates at such a low temperature, it will help create voids in the crust and lend a fluffy texture — just like the butter does, but without making you fat. It also helps keep gluten from forming long protein chains, to reduce overall toughness a little and make the dough more forgiving. Vodka leads to forgiveness! Also terrible mistakes that will require forgiveness.
Step Two: When the dough has chilled, preheat your oven to around 425 F, and get out a pie pan, quiche pan, springform cake pan, or any other high walled baking vessel. Remove the dough from the fridge, and lightly flour a work surface. Break out your handy bottle of vodka again! Instead of a rolling pin, we’re going to use a chilled bottle of vodka! Fancy cooking stores routinely charge tons of money for marble and granite rolling pins that can be chilled in the freezer, but our vodka will do nearly as well, and has the added bonus of causing hangovers instead of concussions*. Now roll out your dough until it’s around 1/3 inches thick, turning the dough 1/4 turn with every stroke of the pin. When the dough gets thin enough, wrap it round the vodka bottle to transport it to your baking pan without tearing, and unroll it into the pan. Press it into place, line the dough with parchment paper or aluminum foil, and pour pie weights, dried beans, or any other hard, heat safe weighting material on top of the dough. We don’t want it to bubble up during baking. Bake for 15minutes, remove the weights and foil, place back in the oven for 10 more minutes. It’ll be about halfway done cooking before we put our filling into it, and should look a very pale gold and be just firm enough not to leak or get soggy when we do add the egg mix.
*Why chill the rolling pin? The more the butter in the dough melts, the more it mixes with the flour, the smaller its crumb size, and the smaller the void it leaves when it bakes — which means the dough will be less flaky. This is also why we added chilled water and chilled vodka to form the dough.
Step 3: While your dough firms up, break four eggs and whisk with 1/2 to 3/4 c cream or milk. Throw some salt and pepper, shallots, garlic, or other herbs into this mixture for flavour.
Step 4: When the crust is done, line the interior with browned bacon, sliced sausage, roasted zucchini, caramelised onions, mushrooms, broccoli, kale, chard, whatever you’d like. It should be something that can hold up to almost an hour in the oven, and it shouldn’t release too much liquid when it’s cooked. The more you put in, the denser your quiche will be, so I usually go on the lighter side, with just enough to line the crust. Grate 1/3 cup of your cheese of choice on top of this, pour the egg mixture, and then add a second 1/3 c of cheese (I used blue cheese and broccoli). Reduce your oven to 350 and place the quiche in the oven for 30-50 minutes, until the centre sets and isn’t runny — check this with a toothpick, kebab skewer, or cake tester. The top should also be a golden brown. While the quiche cooks, preparation of a vodka martini is strongly encouraged.