Naysayers and pastry purists, look out: this post may sound a little weird. Crispy, you say? (they say, that is). A thin, crunchy crust on a creamy quiche? What is this, a pizza? The agent provocateur in this quiche was the use of pre-packaged square wonton wrappers instead of small, conventional pastry crusts (a marriage of convenience, of course). Genetically speaking, these share the same DNA as fresh Italian pasta — flour and egg. And the thickness of a pre-packaged egg wonton wrapper is about as thin as a pasta crank will get you.
So that makes egg wonton skins a good substitute for, say, making ravioli, or freshly pinched tortellini. Not quiche. Quiche must by nature have a buttery, flaky crust no thinner than a slab of cardboard. I see this point, having been there once myself. I was actually quite disappointed with my mini quiche creation when I first made them, the night of my housewarming party. The bottom crust, sheathing the filling, was almost unnoticeable and blended in with the baked egg mixture, while the top corners above its surface were uncannily crispy. But then, after eating crispy bite-cradling custardy egg filling after another, I actually began to crave it. (I’ve been eating leftovers from the party ever since, and had enough unused egg and cream mixture that I made a batch of mini quiches just for myself again. And then, again.) Now, I can’t get the sensation out of my mind. I want to go home in the middle of the workday just to experience it again, fresh out of the oven. Crisp — the wonton crust crumbles in my mouth like a potato chip; crunch, its crumbs mixes in with the savory, spongelike egg filling, crackling with each turn of my jaw. It’s a new sensation, alright. And none too disappointing after all.
Unfortunately I didn’t take too many photos of the first batch — or any, it seems, of most of the dishes I served at my housewarming party. In the whir of pre-preparation, buying plugs and cables for my newly cobbled-together-from-craigslist-ads stereo system, my patience for technology was about spent.
By the way, I’m still undecided about Hillary vs. Obama, since some folks have been asking me. At the party, I treated guests to many rounds of Hillary Rodhamgranate Rickeys and a tray stacked high with Obama Rolls alongside simple cucumber rolls and a bowl of steamed edamame. While devouring these and a stupefaction of cheese and crackers, homemade hummus and veggies, crispy bacon-wrapped mushrooms, hearts of palm bruschetta, scallion pancakes and these mini quiches, I forgot to get a tally going on which of the candidate-themed offerings everyone liked best.
However, the next morning it was pretty clear. There were two Obama Rolls left on the tray (which I promptly ate). Pomegranate juice? Vodka? Nowhere to be found, except logged in purple ginger slices at the bottom of eight hundred empty glasses. If I remember correctly, I think I even saw folks putting ginger slices in whatever drinks they had – beer and wine – since they were left out on the counter during the party. Sorry, Obama. Alcohol apparently speaks louder than sushi (which says absolutely nothing about anything, let alone politics).
Back to the quiche: while I think the formula of placing wonton skins in a muffin tin and filling it could work for any type of quiche filling, this time around I recycled a pleasing combination I made once involving carmelized onion and Feta. I think it surprised most guests, who expected to see green veggies rather than brown ones inside their quiche. I guess once you stray from first expectations, there can be no looking back sometimes. Call this what you may, a small quiche, small egg tart or neither of the above, or the recognizable. Hopefully it’s just not small-minded.
Crispy Carmelized Onion and Feta Quiches
(makes about 24)
8 large eggs
24 square wonton wrappers
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup crumbled Feta
4 medium onions, thinly sliced
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon butter, plus plenty for greasing the pan
Heat butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet. Add onions, and cook over low, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook on low, stirring occasionally, for roughly 40 minutes. If onions begin to brown around the edges, reduce heat slightly and add a more butter if mixture looks dry. Onions should be chestnut brown and translucent. Remove from heat and let cool.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl or blender, beat eggs with milk, cream and salt. Grease two 12-cup muffin pans generously with butter (or work in batches). Press a wonton wrapper into each indent. Fill with even allotments of the carmelized onions and the feta. Top with egg mixture. Sprinkle a little black pepper on top to taste. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until egg mixture just puffs up and the edges of the wonton skins have slightly darkened in color. Remove from heat and let cool a minute before serving.
(for 24 appetizers)
8 eggs (at $3/dozen): $2.00
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (at $3.50/pint): $2.63
4 onions (at $2/bag of 6): $1.34
1/2 cup Feta crumbles (at $2.99/lb): $0.50
24 wonton wrappers (at $1.29/50): $0.62
about 3 tablespoons butter, a few pinches of black pepper: $0.35
Seven brownie points: Quiche has never been known for its kindness to one’s cholesterol, so these appetizer-sized portions are best consumed just as that: as appetizers. (Rather than breakfasts, or in my case, as dinners.) About one-third of the filling is heavy cream, and another good portion goes to cheese, which makes for a tasty nibble with a bit of protein, yet none too light. Eliminating even more richness in the form of a buttery crust keeps this quiche healthier than most recipes, but even so, we’re not talking a whole lot of nutrition here — it’s mostly prescribed in the name of taste.