Thursday, January 15, 2009

Quiche. Yum. Low-Carb Quiche

It's the low-carb breakfast problem... cereal is pretty much out, fruit is hard, and sure you can have leftover dinner food... but mostly it leaves you with bacon and eggs. I think this is why there's this huge myth that Atkins is all about eating bacon and eggs and nothing else. Anyway, we've been fighting the egg battle here for a long time, because I (the not-picky person!) don't mind eggs in any form and bacon or sausage is fine, too. Michael, on the other hand, is not an egg person really. So I started making quiche... and, yeah, I know that quiche is bacon and eggs in disguise, but for some reason, the disguise works. Michael doesn't complain about it, it's a perfect thing to eat in the morning, and for the two of us, a quiche lasts 4 days, so that's breakfast taken care of, just reheating rather than cooking.

So I've been experimenting... doing what I almost never do with recipes, trying them again and again, fine-tuning the proportions, fine-tuning the taste, and so what I have for you is what I think is the perfect low-carb quiche recipe.... and it's easy to fiddle with or substitute things depending on how you want your quiche to come out.

This is a crustless quiche... that's the low-carb part... which takes a little getting used to, but once you do, it's hard to imagine why you would want a crust. Takes a LOT less time, too.

And best of all, it takes about 5-10 minutes prep time, and then you can go drink tea until it's done.

You will need...
2 eggs
2 egg yolks (or you could use them whole; see below)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk (any kind)
about 2 oz. Jarlsberg cheese, grated (can substitute an ordinary Swiss)
about 1 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated (can substitute more ordinary Swiss, but better if you don't)
2 leeks, white parts only (can substitute onion)
3 slices bacon, preferably thick-cut pepper bacon (but you can use anything. Use a little more if it's regular slices.)
salt and pepper to taste; a little grated nutmeg if desired

Preheat oven to 350 F. Use a 9-10" pie plate, preferably ceramic or Pyrex. Spray with a nonstick spray like Pam (this is not essential but makes cleanup easier.)

Finely chop the leeks. Snip the bacon into small pieces using kitchen shears, or dice small. Sauté the bacon until it releases some fat, and then add the leeks. Sauté until bacon is browned and leeks are soft. Drain on a paper towel.

While the bacon and leeks are cooking, mix everything else in a bowl. You probably don't need salt, because the bacon is salty enough. Put the leek/bacon mixture into the pie plate (spread it out), pour everything else over it, and bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before cutting.

Refrigerate leftovers... this will keep well for at least 3 or 4 days (we've never had one last longer); reheat about 1 minute in the microwave (for 2 slices).

There are lots of ways that you can substitute... onions for leeks in the beginning of the recipe is an easy one. You can also add mushrooms (be sure to cook them pretty well, though, because otherwise, they release a lot of water when baking and make the quiche soggy). You can use 4 eggs instead of the eggs/yolks combo... this will make a quiche that is firmer and less custard-y... we don't like the texture as much that way. You can use diced ham (or turkey ham) instead of the bacon. You could use more cream instead of the milk, which would give you a few less carbs, but I was trying to cut the fat content a little. I don't recommend using less cream, because it makes the quiche watery, which is an issue if you don't have a crust.

And I experimented a lot with cheese. I had two goals, great taste and NOT buying a lot of really expensive cheese for something that I cook about every 3-4 days. So... tried all generic store Swiss cheese. Awful. No taste. (But this is the cheapest option. Also, buy block cheese and grate it; it only takes a minute and is a lot cheaper.) Then I tried a really expensive Swiss variant that we had leftover from the Christmas Cheese Indulgence (moment of insanity when I bought about 8 very expensive cheese varieties at the gourmet cheese counter) plus Gruyere... fantastic. But really expensive, because both cheeses are in the range of $16/lb. After some fiddling around and compromise, I've found that the best thing is to use about 2 oz. Jarlsberg... which has more taste than Swiss but much the same consistency, is easily available, and is not that expensive, plus 1 oz. Gruyere, which IS expensive but you don't have to use that much. Other suggestions welcomed.

As written, this recipe is about 200 calories for 1/8 pie, and maybe 4 carbs if that. The carbs come mainly from the leeks or onions... and you could omit them... and from the milk. Definitely induction-friendly if you're an Atkins person. And not so bad on the calories, for a breakfast choice. Although a slice looks small, it's got a lot of fat from the cheese and cream, so it makes you feel full (for a loooong time), and all ready to start the day!

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