Making a quiche is a quick way to either use up your leftovers or to serve an elegant company dish, whichever suits your needs at that moment. You only need eggs and cream and either a homemade or store-bought pie crust. Most other quiche ingredients are items you probably have in your refrigerator, such as cheese, bacon or broccoli. If you're using frozen broccoli, it's usually not necessary to pre-cook it before you make your quiche.
Before broccoli is frozen, it usually goes through a process called "blanching," which means steaming or boiling the florets for a few minutes, then cooling them. The blanching process enhances the broccoli in a number of ways. For starters, blanching causes the florets to take on a beautifully vivid color, and it also improves the quality of the frozen vegetable by stopping enzymes that would otherwise break down the cells. Finally, blanching partially cooks the broccoli, so it will finish cooking more quickly when you need it. Commercially frozen broccoli is always blanched, and when you're freezing your own broccoli at home, you should also blanch it.
Thawing and Using
Measure out the amount of broccoli you need for your recipe and let it thaw. The florets will release some moisture, so pat them dry on paper towels. Otherwise, they'll dilute the eggs in your quiche and might interfere with it setting properly. Cut up any extra-large florets into smaller pieces, then spread them evenly over your crust. Cover them with the egg mixture and bake as directed in your recipe.
When to Pre-Cook
If your quiche is thin and the cooking time is brief, you might need to pre-cook even previously frozen broccoli. Classic quiches are usually 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep, and they typically take 45 minutes to bake until jiggly and just set. If your pan is shallow or the recipe calls for 25 minutes' cooking time or less, that might not be long enough to cook the florets. Cook the florets on the stovetop or microwave as directed on the package; then drain and cool them and pat them dry. Bake the quiche as your recipe advises.
A Few Pointers
If you find that your quiches tend to be soggy on the bottom, you should probably par-bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes before adding the broccoli-and-egg mixture. Par-bake by first brushing the crust with a bit of egg white -- you should have enough egg white still in the shells you cracked for the quiche filling -- to help seal the crust and protect it from getting soggy. Take the quiche out of the oven while the center is still soft and jiggly; it will finish cooking as it rests. Always let your quiche sit for at least 20 minutes before you cut it. It's even better if you let it cool completely, then heat it until warm when you're ready to eat.
- On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen; Harold McGee
- On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals; Sarah Labensky, et al.
- The University of Georgia: National Center for Home Food Preservation: Freezing -- Broccoli
Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.
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