Friday, October 22, 2010

Mini Quiche

Quiche is basically an open pie baked in the oven with creamy custard made from eggs and milk/cream.  You can also add your favorite cooked meat, seafood, vegetables and cheese into the egg mixture before baking  in the oven.  

While most quiches are baked in a shallow loose-based flan tin, what I have here are mini quiches.  I love mini quiches as they are:
  • Versatile: They are more versatile than baking it whole in a flan tin.  You can choose to bake just a few mini quiches, instead of one big round quiche and worried about leftovers.  After all, quiches are best eaten warm and fresh from the oven.  
  • Size and cost-savings: You do not have to worry whether the pastry will fit the size of your flan tin.  A flan tin is quite expensive, especially if you just use it once in a blue moon.  I baked my mini quiches in disposable aluminium muffin cases.  They can be washed and reused after baking!
  • Easy to handle:  Depending on the size of your flan tin, you need a pair of steady hands to roll & fit the pastry sheet over it.  Very often, you will need to patch up holes here and there.  In contrast, a palm-sized pastry sheet is easy to fit in the muffin cases and slip out easily after baking.
  • Varieties:  Instead of making just one big Quiche Lorraine, you can have a variety of flavours - think: smoked salmon & dill, mushroom with ham & cheese, roasted bell peppers & zucchini, and how about some kimchi quiches to spice up your day?  They look so cute in their mini pastry crust and are perfect finger food for parties and gatherings!
Here's what you need to make these mini quiches:

Ingredients:
(makes 11 to 12 muffin-sized mini quiches)

For the shortcrust pastry:
2 cups (250g) plain flour
125g cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
3 - 4 tbsp water

Method:
1) Sift flour into bowl, add butter. Using your fingertips, rub the butter quickly into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  

2) Mix egg yolk with 3 tbsp of water and add into flour mixture.  You can use a fork to help bind the ingredients together before using your hand.  If the mixture is too dry, add another tbsp water.

3) Form the pastry into a ball and wrap in cling-wrap and place in refrigerator to rest for at least 30 minutes (You can store in the refrigerator up to 3 days).  

4) Take the pastry out from refrigerator and wait till it softens a little for easy rolling.

5) Roll the pastry on a lightly floured surface or between two sheets of baking paper.  Cut rounds (about an inch bigger than the size of your muffin case) from the pastry sheet and fit them into the muffin cases.  Refrigerate for at least 15 mins (to reduce shrinking during baking).

6) Take pastry shells from refrigerator and prick the bases with a fork.  Cover each with a small sheet of baking paper and fill it with baking beads, or uncooked rice/beans to prevent the pastry shell from puffing up while baking (I placed a small tartlet tin over the baking paper).   

7) Preheat oven to 190C - 200C.  Bake the pastry shells for 10 minutes. Remove the baking paper and beads and bake for a further 10 mins, or until the pastry shell has dried out (but not browning yet).  Remove the shells from oven.

8) Reduce oven heat to 180C.  Prepare the fillings (see below) and fill them into the pastry shells.  Bake for 25 - 30 mins, or until the fillings has set and the top is golden.

Prepare the filling (while the pastry shell is baking in the oven):

For the egg mixture:
Beat 2 eggs + 1 cup of milk (or 1/2 cup milk + 1/2 cup cream).  As I use just eggs & milk, I added 2 tbsp of Campbell's Cream of Chicken  for flavour and a creamy consistency.  This is optional, you can replace it with salt and pepper.  

For meat/vegetable fillings:
1) In a pan, heat 1 tbsp butter/oil over low heat, add 1/2 cup chopped onions and a clove chopped garlic.  Add 3 slices chopped bacon and cook till slightly brown, followed with 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms and 1 cup frozen mixed pea/carrot/corn.  Cook for 5 minutes. 

2) Get ready 1 cup chopped spring onion and 1/2 cup grated cheese (I use cheddar and mozzarella).  I added 1/2 roasted red bell pepper (sliced) for colours and taste.

To assemble:  
Spoon a heaped tablespoon of meat/vegetables fillings into each pastry shell, topped with some chopped spring onion.  Pour egg mixture over the fillings, sprinkle grated cheese on top and bake.


You can be as creative as you want with the fillings.  You can replace the chopped bacon with our good old luncheon meat!  How about using Chinese sausage for a touch of festive during Lunar New Year?  Or perhaps a variety of mushrooms for a healthier version.  Serve them warm with soup and salad for a meal or simply have them as a snack.

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