Ham, Tomato and Cheddar Quiche

I often find myself looking blankly into my fridge and trying to figure out what kind of concoction I can come up with for dinner without going to the grocery store.  This lovely ham, tomato and cheese quiche was the product of one such exploration.

If there is one thing that can ALWAYS be found in my fridge, it is a large block of Cabot Creamery’s Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese.  It is, as far as I am concerned, the very best cheddar cheese there is, no question.  I also, always seem to have eggs and this time of year try to put fresh tomatoes in every meal, because they are simply heavenly this time of year.  It also just so happened that I had some thick sliced deli ham, left over from some omelets I made over the weekend.

Seeing as how we had already had omelets in the last week, and a frittata the week before that, quiche, with its deliciously flakey pastry came to mind.

Over the past few months, I have been attempting to make old favorite recipes with at least part whole wheat flour, in an effort to make sure we eat more whole foods.  On this attempt, I used half white all purpose, half whole wheat flour.  The crust was certainly not as light and flakey as with all white flour, but it was still delicious.  I would perhaps recommend the use of half white whole wheat flour rather than regular whole wheat, or the use of a quarter whole wheat flour to three quarters white all purpose.

The pastry recipe I used for this quiche makes two nine inch pastry crusts.  It can easily be cut in half to make a single nine inch crust, but if you are going to go to the effort of making the crust, I recommend making the full recipe and simply freezing one crust for later use.  Simply, wrap the dough for one crust in plastic wrap and then place in a freezer bag.  Thaw completely, but be sure it is throughly chilled before trying to roll it out.

Flaky Pastry Dough

Adapted from the Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker
 
2 1/2 cups flour (If using white whole wheat: 1 1/4 cups all purpose, 1 1/4 cups white whole wheat; If using regular whole wheat flour: 1/3 cup whole wheat, 1 2/3 cups, plus 1/2 cup all purpose flour)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon cold water
 
  1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl.
  2. Cut butter into chunks and add to mixing bowl.
  3. Using a pastry blender or two knives (cut in opposite directions with the blade of each knife running against the other) cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is completely incorporated into a course sandy texture with no lumps larger than the size of a pea.  You may need to clean the pastry blender and edges of the bowl periodically.
  4. Use a spatula to gently incorporate the water a little at a time.  The small butter lumps in the mixture should start to stick together, you want it to become a unified ball, if it does not, add another 1 to 2 Tablespoons of water (I have never had to add more water when making this pastry, so I would not advise this unless you feel it is absolutely necessary).
  5. Cut dough into two equal parts, and roll into a ball.  Place the ball on a piece of plastic wrap and press down evenly with the side of the spatula so that the dough forms a 4 to 5 inch disk, then wrap tightly with the plastic.  Repeat for the second half of the dough.
  6. Refrigerate dough for about two hours before trying to roll it out, this dough is sticky and will be difficult to roll out if not well chilled.  If you only plan to use one crust, place the second disk of dough in a bag and freeze, at this point, for up to 6 months.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  8. Remove dough from plastic wrap, place on a floured surface and roll out evenly from the center in all directions so that the pastry forms a 12 to 13 inch circle.
  9. Wrap the dough lightly around your rolling pin and transfer to a waiting pie plate, unroll so that it is centered over the plate.  Gently press the pastry down into the dish so that it conforms to the shape.
  10. Fill a small dish with water, dampen your fingers and gently moisten the pastry that overhangs the edge of the dish.  Roll the overhanging pastry up to the top edge of the dish, pinching lightly so that the rolled pastry adheres to itself.
  11. Once the rolled pastry lays neatly along the top edge of the pie dish, take the forefinger on your left and press it gently against the pastry and into the thumb and forefinger, held about three quarters of an inch apart, on your right hand, to create a fluted pastry edge that resembles a zigzag pattern.  Repeat process around the entire rim of the pie dish.
  12. Using a fork, prick the bottom and sides of the pastry.
  13. Arrange a set of pie weights in the bottom of the dish.  If you do not own pie weights, you and also line the dish with a layer of parchment paper and then fill it with raw rice or beans, discard after use or reserve for use next time.
  14. Cook the weighted crust for 15 minutes, remove weights, and then cook for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the the pastry turns lighter in color and begins to puff slightly.  You will want to use a pie rim or tin foil to shield the pastry rim from getting to dark, since it will be cooked again.

Ham, Tomato and Cheddar Quiche

Adapted from the Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker
 
1 cup thick cut ham, diced into cubes
1 medium tomato, diced into cubes, reserving one whole slice
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon instant low fat dried milk (reserve if using heavy cream or half and half)
1 1/2 cups skim milk (you can use heavy cream, half and half, or any other milk you prefer, I use skim to reduce the calorie content and therefore add the dried milk to make the end consistency creamier, we never missed the fat)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
 
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Place tomato in a colander, sprinkle with an extra 1/8 teaspoon salt and allow to drain while you prepare the other ingredients, so that the excess moisture is removed.
  3. Combine eggs, milk, dried milk (if using), salt, pepper and nutmeg in a bowl and wisk thoroughly.
  4. Spread the ham evenly over the bottom of the cooled pastry crust.
  5. Spread the diced tomato evenly over the ham, reserving the whole slice.
  6. Spread the cheese evenly over the tomato.
  7. Slowly pour the egg/milk mixture over the top and place the reserved tomato slice in the center of the dish.
  8. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the egg filling begins to brown and bubble, and the tomato only giggles slightly when poked.  Be sure to use a pie rim or tin foil to shield the pastry rim from getting to dark while baking.
  9. Allow to cool and set for about 10 minutes before serving.

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