The first time I ever encountered a quiche was on the menu of the first restaurant I ever reviewed–the Flambeau Room of the LSUNO (now called UNO) University Center. I didn’t know what to make of it, but it sounded good and tasted better. Quiche–a very popular dish in the Lorraine region in Northeastern France–was becoming very popular in America, and had not yet acquired the reputation as something that real men don’t eat. After that untruth got out, quiche was relegated to salad restaurants and pastry shops. It’s making a mild comeback, now that eggs have been revealed as not the death-dealing element in your diet that the nutritionists had been telling us they were.
The filling of this quiche is classic, except that in France they’d probably use bacon instead of ham). But the crust is decidedly offbeat. That’s half because I was trying to avoid making a pie crust or a puff pastry crust (I hate both jobs), and I saw these spinach-and-herb flour tortillas in the store. They are made by Hola Nola, a Louisiana-based maker of tortillas. I made a few snips at the edges and folded them up to make the quiche’s sidewall. After fitting it into the straight-sided pan (6-8 inches in diameter), I toasted the empty crust in a 400-degree oven until it became stiff around the edges. Then I poured the filling in, lowered the heat a little, and baked the quiche. It made the whole house smell good.
- 6 oz. (about four thin, wide slices) deli smoked ham (Chisesi’s, a New Orleans brand, preferred)
- 1 thin flour tortilla, preferably green herb kind, 10 inches in diameter
- 3 large eggs
- 2 additional large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. salt-free Creole seasoning
- 1 green onion, tender green part only, snipped into thin round rings
- 3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, chipped
- 1/2 tsp. dry tarragon (or 1 tsp. fresh and no parsley)
- 1 cup coarsely grated sharp provolone cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees for a few minutes.
Slice the ham into thin squares about as big as your thumbnail. Scatter these chips on a pizza pan and put it into the oven. Take them out when the ham has begun to brown around the edges, and set aside.
Cut eight slits from the edge of the tortilla inward about two inches. Fit the tortilla into a straight-sided, eight-inch-diameter round baking pan (a smallish springform pan works perfectly). Put the pan into the oven and bake until the tortilla gets a little stiff at the edges.
While the two steps above are going on, break the eggs and egg yolks into a bowl (check each one to make sure it’s good before adding it to the bowl). Beat the eggs with an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, or whisk it by hand. Keep going until the eggs are frothy and a light shade of yellow.
With a rubber spatula, gently stir the half-and-half into the eggs. Add the salt, Creole seasoning, green onions, parsley, tarragon, ham, and cheese (in that order) and stir gently to preserve as many tiny bubbles as possible in the eggs.
Pour the filling into the tortilla-lined pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. When perfectly cooked, the center part of the quiche should be wiggly, not perfectly firm. Remove it from the oven and let it cool down to feel just barely warm. That will set it the rest of the way without overbaking it.
You can slice the quiche into wedges and serve it right then. Or you can wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for later. (A few seconds in a microwave brings it quickly back to warm.)
Serves six to eight.