It has been many moons since I have baked a quiche. Not ever having been especially fond of cooking, quiches were easy, satisfying and the food du jour, soon becoming a staple in our early home together. I actually phoned my now very-grown-daughter for tips preparing and baking quiche so as to ensure a successful outcome. Recently logging onto the “Penzey’s Spice” Facebook group page inspired me with a photo of an asparagus quiche wafting across my screen. I have been on a serious asparagus bender lately and wanting to take full advantage of this remarkable spring cleansing food, I am rejuvenated by modifying this quiche recipe.
Yes, I am promoting and consuming the creamy-cheesy-vegetable richness of this decadent delight with Crohn’s disease! Whaaaaaa? I know, right? Well, there is a disclaimer. When something is worth it, there is usually a disclaimer. First and foremost: everything in moderation. As I mentioned at the top of this manuscript, It has been many moons, precisely however many moons there are in a quarter of a century.
HOLY BASIL BATMAN the smell is absolutely intoxicating. I can taste the air in anticipation of this practically illegal prescription. The scent of the smoked Gouda melding with the tri-pepper blend and Herbes de Provence are enough to make me trip. This is no flashback, my friend, this is a newly discovered way of eating what I want while being nutritionally beneficial AND taste beyond belief! Now that I have tantalized your taste buds, I will share the culinary chemistry, outlining each wholesome ingredient working in concert with one another.
Proper food combining: the theory behind this practice is what allows me to consume a multitude of foods while maintaining a healthful lifestyle with Crohn’s. Quiche is mostly about all protein (meats) cheese and eggs. This is a crustless quiche recipe, therefore; the proteins are not neutralized by starches and breads creating an indigestible bolus that prohibits efficient absorption.
Quality matters: The quality of all ingredients is essential to ensure freshness and patency. Pasture raised eggs are the most wholesome and nutrient rich, making them more bioavailable. Like eggs, dairy from local farms is not only fresh, but animal friendly, meaning the animal byproducts are NOT subjected to synthesized hormones and antibiotics that are dumped into the environment and ultimately consumed by everyone, clearly proving “less is more”. Grass-fed organic cows produce milk that is unparalleled to anything most of us have ever experienced since WWII. We still get a little wonky with respect to pasteurization in the U.S., however; if you are fortunate enough to know of those with Gentlemen (& Gentlewomen) farms, you may be privileged to enzyme intact foods which do not interfere with the digestive process. For the rest of us who have compromised GI systems and conditions resulting from impaired digestion, there are digestive enzymes. Never leave home without.
Breaking it down: The cheese I chose is a sweet, smoked Gouda, melting like butter and broadening flavors with a familiar yet meatless smoky appeal. Much of the lactic acid is removed during the curd washing process contributing to the characteristic mellow, sweetness. Traditional cheeses like Lorraine, Emmenthaler, and Gruyere are of a similar quality and part of the globe from where quiche Lorraine originates. Quiche consisted of meat, cream and egg, ironically featuring local cheeses following WWII. This recipe is “Alsacienne” because it contains onions. Onions have remarkable antimicrobial effects and grow readily. Onions are a preferable vegetable to nightshades containing solanine, which interfere with enzymatic action causing inflammation. While making French onion soup, I learned caramelizing diced onion first enhances sweetness. The heat breaks down the plant cellulose, softening both texture and flavor. Onions are also a potent contrast to the powerful and pleasant chlorophyll filled asparagus. This lively spring vegetable spearheads the season with its diuretic cleansing properties. Lightly steamed prior to baking, asparagus continues to soften in the oven, allowing it to retain its nutritive value. So far we have the necessary elements that make good food enjoyable; quality, consistency, texture and flavor.
Savory and herbs and everything nice: There is a lot of leeway when preparing quiche. I consume vegetables most so I prefer accompanying savory herbs. This Alsacienne quiche lends itself to the savory “Herbes de Provence” blend, indigenous to the suggested area. I grow and dry my own varieties of oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, lavender, marjoram, dill and tarragon, using fresh when abundant and dried from the season before. I speak of these “kitchen crusader” herbs often having historical and geographical significance from my heritage and for my health! Whether I enhance or substitute my own, I keep a bulk quantity of the incomparably fresh Penzey’s Herbes de Provence on hand. Another must-have Penzey’s blend is “California Seasoned Pepper”. This colorful pepper and herb combination brighten all vegetables as well as the pallet.
The table is set with a ‘d’Histoire et des Cultures de l’Alimentation’, the gastronomical backdrop behind this quiche. Now I will serve this scrumptious recipe:
“Crust-Free Asparagus Quiche Alsacienne”
v ½ lb. prepared fresh organic asparagus
v 1 small diced Spanish onion or equivalent in-season sweet Vidalia
v 5 beaten pasture raised eggs
v 8 oz. shredded smoked Gouda or 4 oz. of 2 cheeses each.
v 1/2 C. farm fresh milk & cream
v 1 Tbsp. Mediterranean sea salt capers
v 1Tbsp. Herbes de Provence
v 1 tsp. “Penzey’s California Seasoned Pepper” or tri-colored peppercorn blend
Bring eggs and measured dairy products to room temperature to ensure a puffy omelette-like consistency upon baking. Gently steam asparagus spears. Caramelize onion, if desired. Beat eggs thoroughly, blending grated cheese(s) into the sunny mix.
Sprinkle in the herbs and spices of choice. Line the bottom of a coated quiche dish or large pie plate with vegetables, dotting with the capers. Pour the silky mixture over the prepared vegetable plate then bake in a preheated 375F oven for 35-40 minutes.
Quiche is ready when your senses are imbued by the creamy custard and the surface bubbles with a soft, bronze coating.
I opted for the deep dish pie plate since the eggs rise in a souffle-like fashion. I also add a dash of fresh ground nutmeg mace, suggesting a subtle sweetness and because it has become my traditional trademark! Whatever you decide, make it your own and enjoy the process, the product and the gratification.