I am a big fan of road trips. I love prepping the car, packing snacks and diversions and mapping out the route. The mister and I are on vacation for the next week, on a trip from Seattle down to Northern California. We are going to hit some wineries, visit family and enjoy some of the sunshine that never seemed to make its to the Northwest this summer. We generally like to get from point A to point B, so instead of stopping for a meal en route we pack along lunch and find a good rest stop for a picnic along the way.
When we were in our 20s (and driving a 1976 VW camper van), road food was cheap and easy: hoagie rolls, pepperjack and cheddar cheeses and a bottle of Dijonaise. The Dijonaise was really the key ingredient. It elevated a simple cheese sandwich to something really special.
A few years ago, we got into wraps. Turkey, bacon, cheddar wraps with ranch dressing was the flavor of choice and they were, and still are great road food. More recently, we’ve been making calzones. The night or two before leaving on a road trip, we’d make homemade pizzas and then use up the leftover dough and all the remaining toppings to make a couple of calzones. These are an easy and filling road food that taste great cold and have the bonus of using up food in your fridge.
For this trip, I again wanted to use up food in our fridge. We didn’t have too many perishables left but there were eggs, cream, half an onion, and cheese. We also had some spinach and bacon in the freezer plus a small disc of tart dough.
Last week I bought a copy of “Around my French Table,” the latest cookbook from Dorie Greenspan. It is enormous and packed with typical French food without all the fuss and French names of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I’ve had my nose buried in Dorie’s book all week so after assessing available ingredients, I knew I’d be making her spinach and bacon quiche.
Quiche is great any time of day, cold or at room temperature, which makes it great road food. I decided on making mini quiches since the mister doesn’t eat vegetables, so I could make two minis with the spinach and two minis without. Plus, making the quiches small would mean a greater crust-to-filling ratio and that my friends, is always a good thing.
(Adapted from Around my French Table, by Dorie Greenspan)
1 disc tart dough (see below)
1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed (optional)
3 strips bacon
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Tart dough (courtesy of Fine Cooking)
This is technically a galette dough, but it works well for the quiche and I am sure it would work fine for a pie as well.
11 1/4 ounces (2 1/2 cups) all purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and chilled
5 ounces (about 2/3 cup) ice water
1-2 Tbsp unsalted butter
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. With a pastry cutter, cut in the chilled butter until the butter is evenly distributed but visible in small, pea-sized pieces. Add the chilled water all at once to the mixture. Mix the dough until it begins to come together. Gather the dough with your hands into two disks. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour. You can freeze the other disk for about a month well-wrapped in plastic and foil. If you are making a full-sized quiche, you likely need all the dough.
Prepare the filling:
Wrap the spinach in paper towels or a dish cloth and wring out as much excess moisture as possible. Chop finely and set aside. Dice the bacon and sauté in a non-stick skillet on medium-high until crisp, 5-8 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Pour off most of the bacon grease from the pan and wipe out any brown bits. Turn the heat to medium and add 1 Tbsp of butter and melt until the foam subsides. Add the diced onion and sauté until soft and lightly browned, 5-8 minutes.
Like Dorie, I like roll out my dough between two sheets of lightly floured wax paper or plastic wrap. Working from the center out, roll away from you and rotate the dough clockwise every 2-3 rolls. Roll out to about 1/8 thick and 12-14 inches in diameter. If you are making mini quiches, cut the dough in fourths.
Melt 1-2 Tbsp butter and brush it liberally on the insides of a 9-inch spring form pan, 8-inch pie plate or 4, 4-inch mini spring form pans. Even if your pans are nonstick, they need to be buttered. Transfer the dough to the pan(s) and gently press it into the edges and up the sides, taking care not to stretch it. Dorie says to trim the top edges evenly, but I like to leave them rustic-looking. Poke the bottom of the dough with a fork a few times. Place the pan or pans in the freezer for one hour, no less. Reserve any remaining melted butter for the foil.
When the pans have been in the freezer for about 40 minutes, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When one hour is up, it’s time to bake the crust. Use the remaining butter to butter one side of a sheet of foil (or 4 small sheets). Line the dough with buttered foil and press it into the edges. For mini pans, I find it easier to preform the foil around a cup or mug first. Fill with pie weights (dried beans or rice work fine, thought make them unusable in other way after that). Bake for 15-20 minutes (less for mini pans). Remove the foil and bake another 3-5 minutes until the crust is golden. You don’t want them completely cooked, since you’ll be baking them again when they are filled. Let the pan(s) and crusts cool completely.
Whisk together the eggs, cream, salt and pepper until well-blended.
Assemble the quiches:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Evenly distribute the bacon, onions, cheeses, and spinach in the pan or amongst the pans. If someone doesn’t like spinach (like someone I know), give them more bacon and cheese. Pour the egg mixture into the pan(s) slowly, allowing time for the liquid to seep into the crevices around the filling.
If using spring form pan(s), place them on a cookie sheet in case they leak.
Bake for 20-30 minutes (less for smaller pans), until the filling has risen slightly in the middle, doesn’t jiggle and is lightly golden.
Remove from the oven and let cool before either removing from the spring form pans or slicing and serving. My preference is to pack up the mini quiches or leftover slices of quiche and hit the road!