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GOOD COOKING

It's Sunday--Give Me a Big Quiche

Where have all the quiches gone? They make a great dish for lunch.

March 07, 2001|ABBY MANDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

For those of us who love to entertain friends simply, Sunday lunch is the answer. There's time to get it together, enjoy the moment and get cleaned up before the week begins.

A few Sundays ago, I got into lunch mode and rediscovered the quiche. Why this absolutely delicious savory custard pie of French origin is rarely on the table, I don't know. The pastry can be right out of the box and baked the day before, ready for filling just before baking. A green salad with fresh herbs goes perfectly.

Start off with the Sunshine Compote and end up with "Sock-It-to-Me" coffeecake, an adaptation of the popular cake of the same name. The best I can say for it is that it's sweet and addictive. It begs for a steaming cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk.

*

* Plate from California Marketing Associates, L.A. Mart, Los Angeles. Napkins from Bristol Kitchens.

Denver Quiche

Active Work Time: 35 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 1/2 hours

The filling can be varied-substitute any good melting cheese (about 1 1/2 cups) and use any other cooked vegetables (about 2 cups). I used a 2-inch-deep quiche pan, which produces a nice quiche slice. I prefer Pillsbury pie crust. To bake it, lightly grease the quiche pan, fit the pastry into it, trim it to 1/4-inch above the edge and bake as directed on the package.

1 pre-baked pastry for 91/2x2-inch quiche pan with removable bottom, cooled

1 tablespoon butter or oil

1 large sweet onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup diced ham

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons flour

5 eggs

1 cup whipping cream

1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere and Fontina Val d'Aosta cheeses

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Heat the butter or oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. When it's hot, add the onion, bell pepper, ham, salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour. Set aside.

Whisk the eggs well in a large bowl. Whisk in the cream, stir in the Gruyere and Fontina cheeses and the vegetable mixture. Ladle into the cooled crust. Set the pan on a baking sheet.

Bake the quiche until it is puffed and golden, 55 to 60 minutes. Cool it at least 15 minutes before serving. Remove the ring; slide the quiche off the bottom and onto a large serving plate. This can also be served at room temperature.

6 servings. Each serving: 520 calories; 536 mg sodium; 274 mg cholesterol; 32 grams fat; 22 grams saturated fat; 34 grams carbohydrates; 23 grams protein; 2.40 grams fiber.

'Sock-It-to-Me' Cake

Active Work Time: 30 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

CAKE

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup oil

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Place a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease an 8-inch square cake pan and set aside.

Combine 1/3 cup of sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.

Stir together the sour cream and soda in a small bowl and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Use a mixer to beat the remaining sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla on medium speed until smooth, 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth. Pour enough batter into the pan to half-fill it. Sprinkle over 2/3 of the cinnamon sugar, then 2/3 of the nuts. Add the remaining batter and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar and nuts; press them into the batter.

Bake the cake until it's browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 20 to 30 minutes, then invert it onto a plate, sugar-side up. Cool the cake to room temperature.

OPTIONAL GLAZE

2/3 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons honey

Combine the powdered sugar, milk and honey and stir until smooth. Pour the glaze over the cake and let it set. (The cake can be kept at room temperature up to three days, covered airtight or frozen, wrapped airtight, up to a month. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

8 to 10 servings. Each of 10 servings: 411 calories; 450 mg sodium; 54 mg cholesterol; 21 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 53 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 1.01 grams fiber.

Sunshine Compote

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes

This compote can be served chilled, but the flavors come through better when reheated slightly.

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1 1/3 cups orange juice

2/3 cup diced dried apricots

3 tablespoons sugar

5 large navel oranges

Combine the zest, juice, apricots and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, to develop the flavors, about 5 minutes (it will not thicken). Remove the pan from the heat.

Meanwhile, use a sharp paring knife to remove the rinds from the oranges. Cut the oranges crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Lay the slices in a quiche-style baking dish. Ladle the hot juice over them. (The compote can be served immediately or refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.) Serve in shallow soup plates, divided evenly with sauce over each.

6 servings. Each serving: 176 calories; 2 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 0 saturated fat; 44 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 4.50 grams fiber.

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