Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gluten-Free Quiche Lorraine

The Irene Chronicles - Part 3

And now... the conclusion....

We had power. We had water. Whew!

We found out that our daughter's school was going to be open for the delayed first day of school on Wednesday. Our son's school was still closed, due to lack of power. We made plans to have him ready to go to school, in case power was restored in time.

We also found out from a neighbor that the county was giving out Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) and 3 liters of water to every resident without power. The problem is that they had been handed out at an intersection in an area that had power and no one was stopping to pick them up.

Why would you hand out food and water in an area that has power? The people without power don't know it is being handed out and they aren't anywhere near where the distribution is being done.

Well, it didn't matter so much for us anymore. We had power and that was great, but it still made me wonder who was making these decisions about distributing food and water....

Tuesday night we went to bed relieved.

Early Wednesday morning, I got email that The Boy's school was going to be open too. Finally! The kids were finally starting the school year two days late. I wonder if these will come out of our usual "snow days" at the end of the year....

I headed back to work. I had been able to weed through the most important emails Tuesday night, so I knew pretty much what I was facing. No catastrophes, but I needed to get caught up on what happened in those missed meetings.

Several of my friends and colleagues at work still didn't have power, but they had water.

One friend and her family still did not have power or water. I was feeling their pain. I offered to help any way I could. She assured me that they were doing fine, considering.

Another colleague had his basement completely filled with water. His insurance company sent out a repair company who proceeded to pump out the water, and then rip out all the carpeting and all the wet drywall in his basement. And apparently they left one heck of a mess behind. He hadn't heard when they would be back to fix it and but it all back with new materials.

One friend who lives very close to work never lost power or water.

It was interesting driving to and from work Wednesday. Debris was everywhere, except in the road. There were a lot of leaves still in the road, but the branches had been moved to the sides of the streets and into the medians. As I left work, I saw this tree down.

Being as hollow at that, it's not surprising that it finally gave up the ghost. I'm glad it didn't fall on a house or car.

By Wednesday afternoon, I started getting daily emails from the school system announcing that the MREs and water were being handed out through the senior centers at various locations around the county. That's better. Somebody started thinking about better distribution.

Unfortunately, it wasn't until Friday that I realized that some of our nearby friends were still without power and water. One of our family friends live in a more remote area not far from us and they still didn't have power on Friday afternoon. I called them for a separate reason and learned that we could have shared our water, our power, our showers, our phone, our information with them. I wish I had known sooner! If only I had known....

But the mom told us that the fire department had just stopped by their house and delivered MREs and bottled water to them. The fire department was going door to door! Now, that's getting the food and water to where it is needed. Very good. I was relieved to hear this. And the power company was promising to have their power restored by that same night.

In spite of all my angst about getting water, we faired well. We had a nice neighbor that gave us power through an extension cord. Other neighbors gave us pool water. Two fire stations gave us water. And we didn't have a tree come down in our yard. We only lost the top third of one tree and it fell away from the house. Lots of branches and leaves, but nothing serious. No storm surge. No flooding. No leaks.

We were very lucky.

And we are very thankful to those who helped us. The neighbor with a generator and long extension cord. The neighbors with the pool. The fire fighters. I hope we can return the favors some day. And even if I do, these folks are still getting Christmas cookies this year!

Gluten-Free Quiche Lorraine

Now, with power to my oven, I can do some more pie practice! Savory pie, this time.

Lately I've been reading blogs and seeing that some people are making their pie crust using a food processor. I've never done this. I've always made it by hand, cutting in the butter with a pastry blender. Maybe it's time to try something different.

Here's just the dry ingredients.

2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp tapioca flour
2 Tbsp sweet rice flour
1/4 tsp salt

To these I added cold butter, cut into one tablespoon chunks that I had put in the freezer for 15 minutes. Cold is key here. It keeps the butter in small bits, instead of melting, which is vital for flakiness. Yay for the freezer! And no margarine this time. No shortening. Just butter. This is pie, after all.

6 Tbsp cold butter.

After adding the cold butter to the flours, it looked like fine crumbs. Those little bits are the butter. We want to keep them little bits and not melted. Here I pulsed the food processor five or six times.

In a small bowl, I mixed the egg and vinegar. There is no need to whisk these. I just like to use my little whisk. Stir until combined.

1 large egg
1 Tbsp cider vinegar

I poured these into the food processor with the flours and butter. This time, I needed to pulse the food processor ten or twelve times. I waited until I could see that the liquid was coming together into little balls with the dry ingredients, but still with some flours not yet incorporated. This is fine.

I removed all of this and put it all in a bowl. Using my hands and working quickly, I formed this into a tight little disk about an inch thick, wrapped it in plastic wrap and refrigerated it.

Let me just say that I love making pie dough with the food processor! I may never do it with a pastry blender again. This was quick and easy, and it let me get the dough back into the refrigerator quicker than my old way. Keeping those bits of butter from melting is important!

While the dough was in the refrigerator, I started on the filling. I cooked the bacon in the microwave on the bacon tray, which collects the drippings for me. I usually like my bacon cooked crisp, but here, you want to have it just cooked, not crispy. When it was done, my husband chopped the bacon and reserved half of the drippings.

1/2 pound bacon, cooked, but not crisp, chopped
1/2 medium onion, minced, cooked in drippings

Then he chopped half of a medium onion. Since this is a quiche, I asked him to chop the onion into small pieces. Some might call that minced. I think of garlic when I say minced. I didn't want it that small. He put the chopped onion and reserved drippings together and cooked them in the microwave, until the onion was translucent. He could have done it on the stove. But he chose not to.

While he finished the bacon and onions, I rolled it out the dough and put it in the pie plate, fluting the edge. I am now in the habit of using two pieces of parchment paper, and this time floured them lightly with sweet rice flour. It worked like a charm.

I sprinkled the bacon evenly across the bottom of the pie crust, then topped that with the cooked onion.

I still needed to shred the cheese. I switched out the blade of the food processor, inserted the shredding disk and used the food processor again to shred the cheese. I. AM. IN. LOVE. I love how this machine shredded the Jarlesberg cheese! In five seconds flat, all that cheese was shredded. In my moment of machine bliss, I forgot to take a picture.

1 cup egg whites
1 cup shredded Jarlesberg cheese
1 1/2 cup evaporated milk

If I had had Gruyere cheese, I would have used that. Instead, we had Jarlesberg. I could have used cream, but we didn't have enough. Besides, I like to substitute evaporated milk for cream when cooking. It dramatically reduces the fat content and gives a richer flavor than regular milk. With all this bacon and drippings and cheese, we need to reduce the fat!

And that's why I also chose to use egg whites, instead of whole eggs. Either works fine. I chose to keep the bacon fat and cheese fat and forego the cream fat and the egg fat. You can adjust as you see fit.

I mixed the egg whites, evaporated milk, and cheese together in a bowl. It would have been easier to sprinkle the cheese on top of the onion. But I didn't. I carefully poured the egg-milk-cheese combination over the bacon and onion, trying to keep the bacon and onion evenly distributed.

I sprinkled some fresh ground pepper across the top.

I need to pause here.

This is one beautiful quiche. If I say so myself. And I do. I like to look at it. I'm remembering how I liked fluting that edge. I'm remembering how it got golden across the top. I'm remembering how it tasted.

Oh right. Sorry. Back to the baking.

I baked it on the bottom rack at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375, moved it to the middle rack, and continued baking for an additional 30 minutes.

We pulled it out and let it rest for about ten or fifteen minutes. That is some difficult waiting.

It seems that I have neglected to indicate the level of enthusiasm for quiche in my house. Let me rectify that now.

During this waiting time, the kids were bouncing off the walls. They couldn't sit. They couldn't wait. They couldn't help get the rest of dinner ready. We all love quiche in this house! The kids had literally bounced when I had suggested making quiche. Bounced and grinned and giggled and nodded and smiled from ear to ear.

And now we were forcing them to wait. Probably not a wise decision, but necessary. Wait. You need to anyways. It is too hot to eat.

Finally we served it.

This was so incredibly delicious! The crust was perfect! Light, flaky, and tasty. The filling was delicious without tasty overly fatty. Never mind the high fat already in there. It tasted right. And yummy.

This was a resounding, wholehearted, complete success! Pie practice success!

It was gone in a flash! And then the negotiations for the two remaining pieces began. Seconds or save for lunch the next day? Tough decision.... We all finally decided to share the remaining small amount for our lunches the following day.

I'm hungry for this again. Right now. I want more of this quiche!

Whoever said gluten-free was tasteless has never had this quiche! Try it!

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