By Anne P. Braly
Bea Salley loves to cook. So much so, in fact, that she says she’d like to own a restaurant in her hometown of Walterboro, South Carolina. But until her ship comes in, she’ll stick to catering for area residents in her spare time. Her forte? Quiche.
“I make potato pies, apple pies, coconut pies and cakes, but quiche is my specialty,” she says. “It’s a good, year-round dish, but particularly in the spring.”
Salley’s mother died when she was 13 years old. So with just her father and no siblings, she would never have learned the intricacies of cooking had women in her community — she grew up in Oakman Branch right outside Walterboro — not intervened, taking her under their wing to teach her and stirring her interest in what would become her passion.
But it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that she realized she wanted to make a difference by catering to her community with more healthful food choices.
“No one in my household — my husband, Fred, our five kids and 10 grandchildren — ever had any problems with high blood pressure or diabetes, and I know what you cook with makes a difference,” she says.
So almost all of her recipes, particularly her quiches, have healthy ingredients, such as fish and vegetables, and not a lot of sodium. And everyone loves them, she adds.
But there’s a saying that’s become quite familiar: “Real men don’t eat quiche.”
Not so, Salley says.
“There are a lot of men who love my quiche. They say it’s filling, so they don’t have to eat as much.”
David Walton of Summerville is one example. He’s been eating and enjoying Salley’s quiches for at least a dozen years. “‘Real men don’t eat quiche’ simply isn’t true when you have quiche as good as Bea’s!” he says.
And it’s this time of year that Salley’s kitchen heats up with quiches in her oven. People like to be outside in the warm weather and not inside cooking, so Salley does it for them.
“Quiche is a quick, full meal for friends and family,” she says. Serve a slice of quiche with a salad and a basket of bread, and you have a complete, healthy dinner. Leftovers are even better — if there are any to be had.
Whether you’re baking a brunch-friendly bacon-and-egg-filled treat for Easter or an elegant vegetarian dinner served with a healthy lettuce or fruit salad, quiche is extremely easy to adapt in a number of delicious ways. The recipes that follow are some of Salley’s favorites.
1/4 stick (2 tablespoons) butter
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 10-ounce bag spinach
1 12-ounce container fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium yellow squash, sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (or cheese of your choice), plus more for topping
1/2 cup sour cream
1 9-inch pie crust (store-bought or homemade)
Heat oven to 350°F. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat; add onions and bell pepper; let simmer. Add spinach, mushrooms, zucchini and squash; cover and saute until softened. Stir in salt and pepper; let cool, then pour in bowl and add eggs, flour and cheese, blending mixture together. Last, add sour cream, blending well. Pour into crust, sprinkle with shredded cheese and bake for 40 minutes or until quiche is set around the edges and still slightly loose in the center. Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before cutting.
Salmon and Mushroom Quiche
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup onions, diced
1 16-ounce container fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 large can salmon
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup flour
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 9-inch pie crust
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Heat oven to 400°F. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat; add onions and let simmer for 3 minutes until onions are soft. Add mushrooms, stirring until soft, then add salmon. Blend mixture together, let cool, then add Swiss cheese, eggs, flour, sour cream, salt and pepper. Blend all together, then pour into crust, sprinkle with cheddar cheese and bake for 35 minutes or until quiche is set around the edges and still slightly loose in the center. Remove from oven and let it sit for a few minutes before cutting.
Note: This quiche is also good served “crustless.” Bake in pie pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray using no pie crust. Follow directions as written.
Bea’s Pie Crust
This is the quickest and simplest pastry crust ever, and it tastes great.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening (preferably Crisco)
5 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
3-4 tablespoons ice water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Whisk together flour and salt in medium bowl. Add shortening and butter, tossing with fingers until pieces are well-coated with the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut the shortening and butter into the dry ingredients. Drizzle in 3 tablespoons of the ice water and the lemon juice; mix just until the dough comes together, adding the last tablespoon of water if the dough is too dry. Do not overwork the dough or it will become too tough. Pat the dough into a flat disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling out.
Tips to make the perfect quiche
Quiche is a simple idea for brunch or dinner, but getting it right can be difficult. Here are a few key steps to ensure that your quiche will be creamy and your crust will be flaky.
- The crust: The first step to a good quiche is having a great pastry shell. It will come out better if you parbake (partially bake) it for about 10 minutes so that it’s dry and crisp before adding your filling.
- Seal it: To avoid a soggy pastry, brush the bottom of the crust with an egg wash (a beaten egg white) right after parbaking it. The warmth of the crust when you remove it from the oven is all you need to “cook” the egg white and seal the shell to help keep it crispy.
- Say “no” to low-fat: There’s nothing worse than wimpy flavor when you bite into a quiche, so make sure to avoid using low-fat or nonfat ingredients. Their high water content prevents the quiche from setting properly, resulting in a watery finish.
- Protect the edges: Once in the oven, keep an eye on the shell, and if the edges of the pastry start browning too quickly, wrap them in a little aluminum foil.
- Loose is a good rule of thumb: Take the quiche out of the oven when the center is still slightly wobbly. This will ensure that it doesn’t over-cook and will still have its creamy custard texture when you cut into it.