Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Caramelized Onion Quiche

The focus this week is preparing simple and light meals to help re-balance digestive systems over-loaded by holiday food.

Yesterday I implied that eggs, preferably free-range, are virtually meals-in-a-shell especially with the addition of a side of leafy and or winter greens.

I know some people are concerned about the cholesterol in egg yolks, yet as with any food, I'm suggesting consumption in moderation.

So although this week's posts are all about eggs as the cornerstone of a light meal, I'm not suggesting you prepare the dishes I post and eat them everyday for the next week.

I have high cholesterol: high LDL (which is the "bad" cholesterol), however my HDL is on the increase and this is a good thing, since it's the "good" cholesterol.

As my HDL levels have risen, due to my consuming good fats and oils, the ratio between my LDL and HDL levels have become more ideal and apparently this is what you want to see, an ideal ratio between the two.

I've had health-care practitioners go into panic over my cholesterol levels in the past. Yet at 5 feet 6 inches and about 125 pounds (give or take a few pounds, depending on the time of the year), and with a blood pressure on the low side and no health issues, I don't feel too concerned -- particularly given that my physically healthy 93 year-old father has always had high cholesterol.

In other words, I think I'm probably a good example of a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol correlating with good health.

That said I do monitor my intake of animal fat, including eggs which I'll eat several times a week, one or two at a time. Therefore, my average weekly consumption of eggs is about 4, including the yolks; it's not an egg to me if it's just the whites.

One of my favorite light-meal egg dishes is quiche. I have a friend who also loves quiche too, but she rarely has success with her pastry. If you find pastry-making too fiddly but love quiche, I posted a recipe for Crustless Quiche back in April so you might like to try that over today's recipe.

And of course, quiche lends itself to any number of fillings despite that the traditional French version, Quiche Lorraine, is an egg and cream-based custard with smoked bacon.

My recipe today includes caramelized onions for no reason other than I love the combination of the brown, caramel-like sweet onions with egg-custard.

Feel free to add other ingredients in addition to the caramelized onions, i.e. sliced tomato and a grated, dry Italian cheese or spinach, broccoli or chard.

Caramelized Onion Quiche
1) To make a simple short crust pastry, add one stick of butter to the bowl of a food processor. Add to that, one and half cups of plain flour. Run the processor until the flour and butter blends to a crumb-like state. Add about a tablespoon of cold water and run the processor again. The pastry will form into a ball or it will remain crumbly. Now turn the mixture out onto your kitchen bench and knead it with your hands so that the pastry becomes smooth and pliable. Allow the pastry to sit.
2) Peel and slice in half one large brown onion, then slice halves again. Toss the onion into a skillet with a chunk of butter; saute till the onion begins to wilt. Add a tablespoon of brown sugar, and turn the heat to low. Gently cook until the onion becomes soft and brown or caramel-like in color. Set aside to cool.
3) Into the clean bowl of the food processor crack four eggs, add one and a half cups of half and half or heavy whipping cream. I use half and half mostly; it's less rich than whipping cream and more substantial than regular milk. Add salt and pepper.
3) Run the food processor, mixing the eggs and milk well.
4) Roll pastry out to fit a standard size quiche pan, either a ceramic pan as in the picture above, or a aluminum pan with a removable base. Press the pastry to fit the pan, pinching the edges of the pastry to create a pretty fluted effect.
5) Spoon onions onto pastry base, spread them about the pastry.
6) Now pour egg and milk over the onions, perhaps sprinkle with a chopped herb like sage or thyme. Don't overfill the quiche pan with the custard mix otherwise it will spill out during baking.
Note: At this point, if you want to add grated cheese, sprinkle it over the top, or lay sliced tomatoes over the top and then the grated cheese -- you get the idea.
7) Pop quiche onto a baking tray (I do this because sometimes some of the custard spills out during the cooking and rather than have it burn onto the bottom of the oven, it cakes to the baking tray instead); slip into a 350-degree oven for about 45 mins or until the top is golden and the custard set.

To Serve: Allow quiche to cool slightly before cutting into portions (see pic above); serve with a salad or sides along lines of those I suggested yesterday.

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