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For Baby Shower, Quiche May Prove Best Choice : Pastry Shells Filled With a Variety of Tasty Fillings Sure to Delight Guests

May 23, 1985

While that newborn baby is still a few more weeks away from making his or her long-awaited arrival, it's not too soon to begin making plans to celebrate. How about a baby shower? An artistically decorated table featuring delicate hues of pale yellow, pink and blue, adorned with fragrant fresh flowers and animal baby centerpieces, is a perfect salute to the mother-to-be. Besides which, a party is fun.

Just imagine the look on the surprised honoree's face when she arrives. There'll be lots of silly games and plenty of laughter and good cheer. Don't forget the clothespins and the cotton balls.

Unfortunately for many friends with good intentions, a party, no matter how informal, usually entails a lot of fuss. But an impressive gathering need not involve so much anxiety. For intimate affairs of this sort, choose quiche--it is splendid luncheon fare.

Variety of Hearty Fillings

Delight guests with flaky pastry shells filled with a seemingly endless variety of hearty fillings, from the basic bacon and cheese ingredients to ham with zucchini and dried beef with mushrooms. And as spring blossoms, remember that crisp, fresh vegetables make the perfect addition to almost any quiche recipe. Round out your baby shower buffet with a compote of seasonal fruits.

Quiche, or kiche, as it is spelled in French, is a custard to which tidbits of meat, fish, poultry or vegetables and grated cheese are added. There are several types of quiches, but the original dish, featuring Gruyere or Swiss cheese, bacon and green onion, was developed in Lorraine. The cooked ingredients are first layered in the bottom of a pastry shell (usually baked) then the custard mixture is poured in. The quiche shell should not be more than three-quarters full to allow filling to rise, and it is done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. For a gratin, simply bake this mixture in a buttered baking dish without the pastry shell.

Some unique quiche ideas include a Crustless Spinach Quiche, which combines shredded Swiss cheese, spinach and beaten eggs nestled in a crunchy topping of crumbled saltine crackers and crisp bacon. For more wholesome eating, try Wholegrain Quiche Lorraine. It has all the flavors of the classic recipe cradled in an oat crust. Yogurt, Zucchini-Tomato and Sausage quiches round out the selection.

HAM-ZUCCHINI QUICHE

1 1/2 cups zucchini slices, cut 1/4-inch thick

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup water

1 1/2 cups diced cooked ham

Wheat Pastry

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons flour

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon oregano leaves, crushed

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

In medium saucepan bring zucchini, onion and water to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. In bowl gently combine zucchini and onions with ham and spread in bottom of unbaked Wheat Pastry shell. Toss cheese with flour and sprinkle on top of zucchini mixture. In large bowl combine eggs, milk, oregano and red and black pepper and pour over ingredients in pastry shell. Bake at 425 degrees 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking 25 minutes or until set. Makes 6 servings.

Wheat Pastry

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup lard

3 to 4 tablespoons cold water

In medium bowl combine all-purpose and whole wheat flours with salt. With pastry blender or two knives cut in shortening until pieces resemble small peas. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, and toss with fork until all flour is moistened and mixture forms ball. Shape dough into flat sphere. On lightly floured surface roll dough out to 12-inch circle. Fit into 9-inch pie plate or quiche pan.

WHOLE GRAIN QUICHE LORRAINE

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup shortening

3 to 4 tablespoons cold water

1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

1/4 cup sliced green onions

4 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups half and half

Dash nutmeg

Dash black pepper

In medium bowl combine flour, oats and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, and toss with fork until pastry forms ball. On lightly floured surface roll out dough to form 13-inch circle. Fit loosely into 9-inch pie plate. Trim edges, fold under and flute, if desired. Place in freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.

Sprinkle cheese over bottom of crust. Then sprinkle with bacon and green onions. In small bowl combine eggs, half and half, nutmeg and pepper. Slowly pour mixture into crust. Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees then reduce temperature to 325 degrees and bake 25 to 30 minutes longer or until center is set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings.

CRUSTLESS SPINACH QUICHE

2 slices bacon, diced

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 medium clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 tablespoon flour

1 (19-ounce) can condensed home-style chicken noodle soup

3 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

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