When all else fails, I turn to eggs for a quick supper. While a tart, quiche or frittata might not work that well for a big family or for one with picky eaters, I think they’re the perfect meal to serve one or two busy/desperate cooks. These easy dishes all use eggs, cheese and milk (or cream), with the main difference being the amount of egg mixture that’s poured into the pastry base: by definition, a quiche uses more eggs, while a tart and a frittata use fewer eggs and generally more filling — spinach, broccoli, mushrooms or onions, to name a few. For a really quick meal, use a prepared piecrust or, my preference, bake with no crust at all. Most of these recipes, which I think are worth repeating, have appeared in in previous articles here or in one or more of my cookbooks (to order signed copies visit www.irishcook.com).
GOAT CHEESE AND VEGETABLE QUICHE
SERVES 6 TO 8
This crustless quiche is packed with fresh vegetables and herbs — perfect with a salad, some crusty bread, and a glass of wine.
4 tablespoons olive oil
10 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
5 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 scallions, sliced
4 large eggs
1/2 cup half and half
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
5 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, thyme and flatleaf parsley
1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Butter a 9-inch glass pie plate.
2. In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoon oil. Cook mushrooms for 2 to 5 minutes, or until soft but not browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl; set aside.
3. Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet. Add spinach, scallions and tomatoes and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until spinach is wilted; stir into mushrooms. Let vegetables cool for about 5 minutes.
4. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, half and half and mustard; stir in cheese. Season with salt and pepper; stir in herbs. Spoon over vegetables in prepared dish to evenly distribute cheese.
5. Put quiche in center of a baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, or until lightly browned and firm to touch. Remove from oven; let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into slices.
CARAMELIZED ONION-SPINACH-BLUE CHEESE TART
This tart might require some advance preparation, so check your ingredients before beginning.
1 prepared pie crust, such as Pillsbury brand
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup crumbled Kerrygold Cashel Blue cheese
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
2 large eggs
Pinch of nutmeg
Ground black pepper
Thyme sprigs, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Slowly unroll crust. Press into an ungreased 9-inch glass pie place. Press crust firmly against side and bottom. Bake for 10 minutes.
2. Remove from oven; let cool for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F.
3. Make filling. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onions, thyme, and spinach; cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until onions are soft but not browned. Add sugar; cook for 5 minutes. Strain off excess liquid. Stir in vinegar. Spread mixture evenly over crust; sprinkle with cheese.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together cream, sour cream, eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Pour over onion-spinach mixture.
5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until top is golden and filling is set. Remove from oven; let cool for 15 minutes before cutting into slices. Garnish with thyme sprigs.
MIXED MUSHROOM FRITTATA
SERVES 4 TO 6
The Italian word “frittata” was originally a general term for cooking eggs in a skillet, anywhere from fried eggs to a conventional omelette. Unlike an omelette though, a frittata finishes cooking in the oven.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ounce butter
8 to 10 large mushrooms, such as portobello, white, and cremini, chopped
Ground black pepper
8 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Dash of Tabasco sauce
1 cup grated Dubliner cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat oil and butter. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until tender. Season with salt and pepper.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, mustard and Tabasco. Stir in cheese and parsley. Pour mixture over mushroom mixture; stir gently to mix. Cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, or until bottom is set.
3. Transfer skillet to oven; cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, or until frittata is puffed and golden.
4. Remove from oven. Loosen sides with a spatula; cut into slices. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page occasionally incudes “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, or to order a signed cookbook, visit www.irishcook.com