The Eggs

I used to fear that all egg casseroles were alike — a dozen eggs, a pound of sausage, a couple cups of cheese, a few slices of torn up bread. Nine recipes later, I know that you can achieve a wide variety of flavors and textures in your baked eggs. Both of the dishes I made for my birthday brunch were new to me and both were exquisite.

This Spinach and Cheese Strata was spongy and light, more like a bread pudding than an egg casserole. It required very little prep work, was easy to assemble, chilled overnight, and went straight into the oven in the morning. I probably baked it ten minutes longer than necessary, but it was very forgiving. I thought the browned edges were a nice contrast to the spongy center.

This was my first attempt at quiche, so I searched high and low for the perfect recipe. Every blogger I consulted told her own story of quiche disaster — broken shells and overflowing custards. I was a little put off, but still determined. I opened up the Joy of Cooking and, of course, that’s where I should have started. As usual, Joy gave it’s firm instructions on how to make the perfect quiche followed by several variations. The trick to making a quiche turn out is pre-baking the shell so that it stays brown and flaky even after you pour in the custard. After rolling the dough out and placing it in the pan, we covered the shell with aluminum foil and filled it with rice to weigh it down. After it baked for about fifteen minutes, we removed the rice and foil, brushed it with a beaten egg, and baked it for ten minutes more. Then the shell was ready to fill and bake. It was sort of an ordeal, but well worth it.

Quiche Lorraine

one 9 1/2″ pie crust
1 egg, beaten

4 slices of bacon, chopped into small pieces
1 thick slice of ham, cut into small cubes
1 cup of shredded Gruyere
1/2 cup of sliced red onion
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper

Roll out the pie crust and fit it into a 9 1/2″ pie pan. Weigh it down with pie weights or cover with aluminum foil and fill with rice . Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Remove weights (or foil and rice – rice can be reserved for later use). Brush crust with beaten egg. Bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown.

Fry bacon until cooked, but not crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add ham and onion to the bacon grease and fry until the ham is browned and onions are softened. Remove the ham and onions and drain.

Beat 3 eggs with the cream, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Once the crust is baked, spread the bacon, ham, onions, and cheese in the bottom of the shell. Pour the beaten eggs over the top. Bake at 375 for about an hour.

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