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9 am Sunday: cream and creamier

We’ve all been wondering when it would happen. Sure, I may have traveled unscathed down a path slippery with butter, and by an astounding stroke of luck, I didn’t go instantly diabetic while hefting piles of sugar into my mouth on the backs of beignets and waffles. But this time, I overdid it. I was vanquished by a quiche. I would hang my head, but really, there’s no need for shame: this was an exceptionally mighty specimen. This was quiche, Jimmy-style.

Though there would be no obscene sugar consumption on this occasion, Rebecca’s invitation still came with a warning: “the fat, the sacred fat, will be more extreme than ever. And did I mention salt? The fat and the salt. . . . I suggest not eating from Friday on.” But as I’ve been known to do from time to time, I shrugged off her suggestion as simple hyperbole. It takes more than mere words to keep a fork out of my mouth, and anyway, I have a strict chocolate quota to fulfill. But I was sorely mistaken. It’s downright dangerous to be flippant about anything that involves this much cream.

I arrived at nine in an unusually trashy-tiny vintage Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups t-shirt, planning to carelessly consume vast quantities of fat and salt and hoping to have nothing to show for it. Rebecca had already taken up her usual position on the couch and was sipping her tall glass of morning iced tea through a straw, while Jimmy presided over the stove with his usual effortless grace, tending a large skillet full of new potatoes, onions, bell peppers, and of course, butter.

He had slipped the quiches—each individually portioned and breathtakingly beautiful—into the oven shortly before my arrival, and the air in the kitchen was almost palpably thick, heady and rich with butter and cheese. The quiches, Jimmy explained, had been layered with cheese and spiral-cut ham, over which he poured a custard of cream (milk being far too moderate) and eggs, topping each with delicate spears of pencil-thin asparagus. I kneeled to peer at them through the oven window and watched as they began to bronze and puff like miniature soufflés.

When I sat down with my plate, I suddenly began to regret my choice of clothing. There would be nowhere to hide the evidence.

This was no typical quiche, and a far cry from the prissy pastry so common of the genre. Whoever said that real men don’t eat quiche has obviously never had breakfast at Jimmy’s. This was serious sustenance: though deceptively dainty, the quiche was bold and lusty. Eggy, creamy, and yet somehow surreally light—in the way that whipped cream feels "light" on the tongue—its intense richness was barely balanced by the saltiness of ham and the green, vegetal flavor of asparagus. As a rule, I love to clean my plate, and this was no exception. It took stamina, however—not to mention willful denial of the fat-induced hot flashes I was suddenly experiencing. Upon scraping up the last heartbreakingly flaky crumb of crust, I quite nearly passed out.

But thank goodness for Jimmy: having foreseen the onslaught of my cream coma, he’d already written down the recipe for me. And happily so, because after a few days’ recovery and some long walks, I’m sure I’ll be hungry again. There’s already a pint of cream in the fridge.

Jimmy’s Souffléd Quiche with Ham, Cheese, and Asparagus

Vegetarians, take note: though the flavor of the ham plays an integral role in Jimmy's recipe, this quiche would still be lovely sans pork. It's the creamy custardy egg filling that's the true star here. [Jimmy, forgive me; I know this is blasphemy, but I'm an equal-opportunity quiche baker.]

½ recipe Martha Stewart’s pâte brisée
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
4 large eggs
1 Tbs unbleached all-purpose flour
A small pinch each of salt, cayenne, and nutmeg
1 cup grated cheese (Jimmy used colby, but I imagine that a nice gruyère or cheddar would be delicious as well)
1/4 lb. cooked ham, preferably spiral-sliced, cut into bite-sized pieces
12-16 skinny asparagus tips, steamed just until they turn bright green

Divide the pastry dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion into a circle 6 to 7 inches in diameter, and press the circles into 4 individual-sized tart pans (4-4 ½ inches in diameter; or, if you prefer, you can use 4 4-inch springform pans). Trim excess from edges. Refrigerate the tart shells while you prepare the filling.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium bowl, combine the cream, eggs, flour, salt, cayenne, and nutmeg. Beat on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

Remove the tart shells from the refrigerator, and divide half of the ham among them. Do the same with the cheese. Repeat with another layer of ham and of cheese, and then divide the egg mixture equally among the four tart shells (you may have some egg mixture left over). Distribute asparagus tips evenly among the tart shells, laying them in parallel lines over the top.

Bake the quiches for 30-35 minutes, until the filling has puffed and the tops are lightly golden. Allow to cool on a rack for a few minutes; then unmold and serve.

Yield: 4 individual-sized quiches


Blogger amylou said...

Dear God! Is that kind of artistry even allowed at breakfast? I mean, just how early does Jimmy wake up? More importantly, doesn't he deserve breakfast in bed one of these Sundays?

2:37 PM, May 08, 2005  
Blogger tara said...

My goodness! Jimmy must be cloned. It is as simple as that. Or, he'll have to start touring ... you are truly a lucky, lucky girl.

6:12 PM, May 08, 2005  
Blogger Miss Tenacity said...

Ok, wow. At first I scanned the recipe and thought, "that's not *that* rich.... ice cream must be heavier, especially when eaten by the pint...". So I plugged in all the ingredients into nutritiondata.com to check out the damage. I won't go into excruciating detail, but its actually on par with a pint of Haagen Daaz. (and it would lose half its calories if you baked it sans crust... thought I'm sure Jimmy would shoot me for that suggestion!)

6:22 PM, May 08, 2005  
Blogger Compmouse said...

Oh I love quiche! And the idea of mini quiches just makes me squirm with excitement.

5:52 AM, May 09, 2005  
Blogger Michèle said...

I think Jimmy may be some kind of superhero. Does he own a cape? If not, he should really have one!

8:55 AM, May 09, 2005  
Anonymous Melissa said...

Hi Molly, fantastic site, inspired writing, addictive anecdotes, great recipes! I could go on, but you get the picture. I find myself looking at food with more humor now, thanks to you. Anyhow, I do have one suggestion for dealing with all that cream and butter at breakfast (it's taken me years of painstaking research, naturally), which is - everything is more digestible later in the day, so sleep in! Why are you getting up at 9am on Sunday? Madness! That said, if I had someone making me quiche (or anything else, for that matter), I'd probably get up in the middle of the night. Thanks for the laugh!

9:10 AM, May 09, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Amy, in matters of sugar and fat, Jimmy is a man possessed. I have no idea what time he rolled out of bed, but it must have been pretty early...although I suppose that he could have prepped most of the individual quiche components the evening before. At any rate, he *does* deserve breakfast in bed (under, of course, his comforter with an enormous, mournful-looking image of Jesus on it; don't ask), but the man DOES NOT EAT BREAKFAST. That's right. He cooks and bakes all this stuff, and he doesn't eat it, at least not until after 11am. Again, don't ask.

Tara, I will definitely suggest to Jimmy that he consider going on tour. I think he's already working on his autograph technique...

Miss Tenacity, now that I've read your nutritional analysis, I'm starting to feel a strange tightness in my chest. Wow indeed.

Compmouse, if you're not too frightened by the nutritional information above, give Jimmy's method a go! This is truly superlative quiche, and Sundays were made for the occasional indulgence...

Michele, I think of Jimmy as having something of a saintly aura, myself--a notion that would no doubt send him into fits of wicked laughter. I think he'd prefer your superhero idea. Maybe he could have his own comic book?

And Melissa, thanks for stopping by. I stumbled upon your site a week or so ago, and it's beautiful. I look forward to spending more time there. And I agree--9 am on a Sunday is madness! I have no idea why these breakfasts have been set for such an early hour. I just do as I'm told. But a couple more hours of sleep might have prevented my cream coma! [Rebecca, Jimmy, are you reading this? Think it over.]

10:28 AM, May 09, 2005  
Blogger Jen said...

For Miss Tenacity: I have a cheater quiche recipe from college days that calls for a bit of Bisquick blended into the egg mixture to help the quiche hold its shape without crust--perhaps that would work. I know...Bisquick...

I should post this anonymously.

12:12 PM, May 09, 2005  
Anonymous Lyn said...

I love those quiches! The little asparagusses all lined up neatly like schoolchildren is just so perfect! I've been mulling over doing an asparagus and cheese tart this weekend and now will definitely have to do it.

3:59 PM, May 10, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Jen, I will try not to hold it against you. As a matter of fact, I grew up on Bisquick pancakes, so you should consider this a fairly Bisquick-friendly site. Fairly.

And Lyn, thank you! Keep me posted on your quiche adventures...

6:42 PM, May 10, 2005  
Blogger Lamby said...

Mmmmmm, I just discovered your site & everything looks soo yummy! I made a quick, lazy version of this quiche and it turned out really well. There are photos on my blog. Thanks for the great recipe! :)

2:23 PM, March 08, 2009  
Blogger frangipanic said...

Wow A quiche to die for (if you don't die from the heart attack first) the perfect food! :)

7:07 PM, September 20, 2009  
Anonymous Laura said...

Something I noticed is that Martha's Recipe has been moved.

7:36 AM, November 20, 2010  
Blogger Molly said...

Thanks for catching that, Laura! I've fixed it now.

4:34 PM, November 20, 2010  
Blogger Ellen Glek said...

Quiche is one of those things that I have always made well, but I'm excited to say that this recipe is replacing my old one! The quantities are spot on, and I love the addition of nutmeg and cayenne. Really pro. The 1 tbsp of flour is brilliant.

I did use this crust with white and wheat flour mixed. Much faster than Martha's and quite tasty! http://www.food.com/recipe/quick-n-easy-quiche-crust-18185

8:20 PM, January 26, 2011  

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