ALL-PURPOSE CUSTARD: Whatever the filling, the custard mixture remains the same. Since pie shells vary in depth, calculate the custard by egg:

Whisk 1 large egg in a measuring cup. Blend in liquid (usually milk) to reach the 1/2 cup mark (e.g., whisk 3 eggs into 4- cup measure; stir in enough milk to reach the 1 & 1/2-cups mark). Whisk in a little salt to taste, freshly ground white pepper plus perhaps a speck of nutmeg or drops of hot-pepper sauce. This is usually the amount you’ll need for an 8- to 9-inch shell.


PIE SHELL:
Quiches are traditionally served in a prebaked, freestanding, straight-sided shell formed in a ring 1/2 to 3/4 inches deep. If you can’t find one, use a regular pie tin with slanting sides or a store-bought frozen pie shell. Prick the bottom of the dough at 1/4-inch intervals with a table fork and, to prevent sides from collapsing and bottom from rising, weigh down with buttered aluminum foil filled with dried beans (which can be kept and used indefinitely for this purpose).

Bake at 450 degrees F for about 10 minutes, until the dough has set.

Remove foil and beans and bake another 7 to 8 minutes more, to brown slightly.

Cheese and Onion Quiche

  • 2-3 c. sliced onions cooked to very tender in 2 tbsps. olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little sage
  • prebaked 9-inch pie shell in its ring or tin
  • 1/4 c. lightly pressed down, coarsely grated Swiss cheese
  • 1-and- 1/2 cups of the preceding all-purpose custard

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place the rack in the upper-third level.

Spread half the cheese in the bottom of the pie shell, spread on the onions, and top with the remaining cheese.
Beat up the custard briefly and pour it over the onions, filling the shell to within 1/8 inch of its rim if it’s straight-sided, not much more than halfway if the shell is slant-sided and the sides seem at all fragile.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until filling is lightly puffed and nicely browned.
For serving, slip the warm quiche out of its ring or pan and onto a serving board or platter, or serve from the pan cut into wedges.

Spinach Quiche:

Stem, wash, blanch, squeeze dry, then chop 10-oz. pkg. of fine fresh spinach.

Saute 2 Tbsp shallots or scallions briefly in 2 Tbsp butter, add spinach, and stir over moderate heat for several minutes until very tender.

Season carefully with salt, pepper, and a speck of nutmeg. Proceed to build and bake the quiche as above.