Does your family have certain traditional family recipes? Dishes that only a certain person can make, just so? And does that person know the dish so well that the need of a concrete recipe has become completely unnecessary? And have you attempted to recreate the dish, only to be thwarted with the realization that these things are made by pure instinct?
It is so with my family. Try to get a list of ingredients of some of your favorite childhood dishes and you'll end up with a grocery list containing some gems like "some of this and that" or lots of "whatever you feel like." Such ingredients usually come in quantities of "enough" and "until it looks right." You, as an innocent, naively attempt to follow such accurate and detailed instructions. Culinary disaster ensues.
But! This holiday season witnessed not one, but two miracles! Neen, Do, and I may have finally cracked some of our most beloved family recipes! Our obsessions are satisfied! The haunting tastes will cease as our appetites are finally satisfied! Well, mine are, at least. I have made one of my mother's quiches! Neen and Do were faced with the more daunting task of our Grandfather's Beef Stroganoff, so they may still be writhing in agony and frustration somewhere. Oh well!
Unfortunately, I'm not sure what has set this quiche apart for me. The addition of cheese above and below the filling? The combination of spinach and mushrooms ("enough" of "this and that"), easily topped with an addition of ham (plus "whatever you feel like" -- "until it looks right")? It certainly gives the dish a taste and texture that scrambled eggs in a pie crust otherwise wouldn't have. But there's always been something about my mother's quiche that has given it a distinct taste that no other quiche has ever lived up to. It's made me quite prejudiced against the quiche population, really. I have come to believe that all other quiches are inferior. I guess that makes me a quichist.
-a single pie crust (I used Mark Bittman's Flaky Pie Crust -- not prebaked)
-3-4 eggs1 to 1,1/2 cups of milk/cream/half-and-half
-a fistful of cheese ("I like Gruyere, but really, whatever you have sitting around...")
-1 to 1,1/2 cups of cooked spinach
-1/2 cup of mushrooms (Champignons de Paris recommended)
-salt & pepper & nutmeg
-1/2 cup(ish) of ham (optional; if you're adventurous, give cooked bacon a try)
Mix the eggs and milk/cream/half-and-half as if you were making scrambled eggs (you are, really). Toss the spinach in the microwave to cook it quickly (3min for a bowlful was the most accurate cooking time I could get), and add that to the egg mix. Clean, chop, and sauté the mushrooms. Add them to the egg mix. If you're using meat, toss that in as well. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Fit the crust into a 9-inch pie pan and sprinkle the bottom with some of the cheese. Pour in the egg mix, and sprinkle the top of it with the rest of the cheese. Bake it at 350 degrees for 50min - 1 hour. Examine for culinary disasters. Devour.