Eleanor Braddock’s Savory Custard
(or Ham and Cheddar Quiche)
From the novel A Beauty So Rare
by Tamera Alexander
Most people think
quiche originated in France. Not so. It’s originally a German dish and people
referred to them as "savory custards" in the 19th century. Which is
accurate since the egg-based mixture forms a luscious-like custard as it bakes.
In my novel, A Beauty So Rare, the second standalone novel in the Belmont
Mansion series, the heroine, Eleanor Braddock, is "a cook with a
dream." But her dreams don’t quite turn out like she thinks they will.
However, her savories always do!
I hope you enjoy this
recipe (or "receipt" as recipes were called in the 1800s) from A
Beauty So Rare. For more about A Beauty So Rare and for recipes from
all my novels, visit www.TameraAlexander.com.
1 old-fashioned unbaked pie crust (recipe
1 large onion, diced (or sliced if you
like larger pieces of onion in your savory)
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound cooked ham diced into cubes (if using
bacon, use 8 slices, fried chewy, not too crisp)
8 large eggs
1-1/2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, or to taste (I
always go heavier on the pepper, personal preference)
1 3/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Sauté onion in the butter in
a skillet over medium-low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is
golden brown. Set aside to cool.
Chop the ham into
bite-sized pieces (or fry your bacon until chewy, then chop). Set aside to
cool. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out pie crust and press into a deep
dish pie plate. A medium-sized iron skillet works wonderfully for making a
savory custard (and is what Eleanor used). The crust comes out divine. I
just happened to use a pie plate this time.
Whip the eggs, cream,
salt and pepper in a large bowl, then mix in the onions, ham (or bacon), and
cheese. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Cover the pie plate (or skillet)
lightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the foil and
continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the quiche is set and the crust
is golden brown. QUICK BAKING TIPS: The quiche may still seem a little loose
when you first remove it from the oven, but it will firm up nicely once removed
from the heat. Also, watch that lovely crust so the edges don’t get overly brown. I use a silicone pie crust
shield if that starts to happen. Those are a fabulous invention (but foil
crimped around the edges works just as well).
Remove from the oven
and allow the savory custard to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before diving in. It’s so
good, and just like Eleanor Braddock would make. It’s
also delicious left over and warmed up the next day.
Eleanor Braddock’s Old-Fashioned Pie Crust
(makes two large crusts)
From the novel A Beauty So Rare
by Tamera Alexander
This is a wonderful
crust that I’ve been using for years. Eleanor would likely have used lard in
place of Crisco (since lard was cheaper than butter in her day), and you may
too, if you prefer. Yes, lard is still available on most grocery shelves,
although I’m pretty sure I just felt you shudder!
This pie crust
"freezes beautifully " as they say in Steel Magnolias (instructions on
freezing below), so even though I may need only one pie crust at the moment, I
always use this recipe and make a second, and freeze it for later. Makes that
next pie (or savory custard) go twice as fast!
1 ½ cups Crisco (or lard)
3 cups all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon white
1 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, using
a pastry cutter (or two knives will do the job), gradually work the Crisco into
the flour for 3 to 4 minutes until it resembles coarse meal. In a smaller bowl,
whip the egg and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5
tablespoons of ice-cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of
salt. Stir gently until all ingredients are blended well.
Halve the dough. Form 2
evenly-sized balls of dough and place each into large sealable plastic bags. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each
to about 1/2 inch thickness to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and
place them in the freezer until you need them. (If you’re
using the crusts immediately, it’s still a good idea to let them chill in the
freezer for about 15- 20 minutes. They’ll be much easier to work with.)
ready to roll the dough for your crust, remove from the freezer and allow to
thaw for 15 minutes (if it’s frozen). On a well-floured surface, roll
the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. Sprinkle flour over
the top of the dough if it’s too moist. If the
dough starts to stick to the countertop, use a metal spatula and gently scrape
it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it’s about ½ inch larger in diameter than your pie plate
(or iron skillet).
Using a spatula,
carefully lift the dough from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. (I
sometimes fold my well-floured dough in half and then "unfold" it
onto iron skillet. Or you can lop it over your rolling pin. That works well,
too.) Gently press the dough against the sides of the pan or skillet, getting
it all tucked in. Then crimp the edges in whatever way you prefer. And now, you’re
ready for that yummy savory custard filling above, or maybe for a fruit pie.