July 3, 2010

Crustless Leek Quiche

When I was sixteen I had my first taste of quiche.  It was the real deal, and I had it in Paris!  I was on my way to a small village in the center of France where I would be spending nearly the next four weeks with an exchange family assigned by the student exchange organization. 

Unfortunately this program, in order to save money, had a group of over 100 students changing airports mulitiple times, causing layovers like crazy, so that by the time we touched ground in Paris, I'd been traveling for about 20 hours non-stop.  I'd been begun in Milwaukee, changed flights in Detroit, on to LaGuardia, where we then took a bus to JFK International to gather together all the students from around the US.  We then flew to literally the middle of nowhere in New Foundland, where we supposedly refueled for the journey over the Atlantic.  Before reaching Paris we dropped off exchange students in Madrid.

At our hotel we were served quiche.  I was already disappointed that whichever airport we were in was far enough out of town that we could see nothing of Paris, and now quiche.  Imagine a large group of travel-weary American teenagers sitting down to a dinner of quiche.  Our first culture shock.  I can't say my first taste of quiche was favorable.  Not only was it out of my element, but it was gummy, and hey, it was eggs in a pastry crust.  Why would anyone want to eat eggs in a pastry crust?  I just wanted a hamburger.

In my tiny hotel room, where I'd been assigned a chatty roommate and four hours to sleep, I lay in the dark trying to catch at least a nap, but no sleep would come as I worried about meeting my host family.

Fast forward, I've made it to the home of my host family, though I had my doubts I'd make it alive after driving so fast in their tiny "tin car". They have been so kind as to make me dinner as I try to settle in.  I don't have the command of the language to tell them that I've been awake for over 24 hours, and all I want to do is go to bed, so I politely sit down to dinner, where awaiting me is, you guessed it, a quiche. 

I have been instructed by the exchange student organization not to be impolite by refusing food.  My host sister has made the quiche herself, and I can see she is proud, so I accept a large piece.  Luckily that was my last quiche while in France.  It was better than the one I'd had in the hotel, but I still could not appreciate it.  It would be several years before I could appreciate quiche, and now I wonder what I could have been thinking.

This is, as named above, a crustless quiche. Why crustless?  Several reasons.  One, I'm a simple sort of girl who likes to cut down on steps in the cooking process, and if I'm being honest with myself, if I had to make pastry crust as part of the dish I'd never make quiche.  Two, my body does not process grains well and I look to avoid them in most of my food, and three, it's really tasty, even without the crust! 

The leeks add a soft sweetness that pairs well with the creaminess of the quiche.  If you've never used leeks before, you'll love the tenderness and flavor!  You can use most of the green portion, but use your judgment as to when to stop based on how tough it gets as you go up.  I encourage use of crumbled bacon in this if you have it on hand.  I used a cheddar/jack cheese combo, but I'm sure the traditional cheese would be gruyere.

Crustless Leek Quiche

serves 6, or 4 generously

6 eggs
2/3 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
1 LARGE leek, chopped and rinsed of any grit between layers
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper, to taste

Chop and rinse leeks, then saute in butter until soft, salting to taste.  In a bowl, beat the eggs and milk together until well combined.  Stir in cheese, leeks, and salt and pepper to taste.  Pour into a greased square or round baking dish.  Bake at 350 degreees F for about 30 minutes, or until set.  Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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