Eleanor Braddock (in Tamera Alexander's A Beauty So Rare) loves cooking more than just about anything. Her savory custard (an old name for a quiche) is one of her specialties.
Tamera has graciously shared Eleanor's recipe with us readers. Doesn't it look yummy?
While your savory custard is in the oven, why not enjoy a few pages of A Beauty So Rare. I'm about halfway through the story and can definitely recommend it as a great read!
Eleanor Braddock’s Savory Custard
(or Ham and Cheddar
From the novel A
Beauty So Rare
by Tamera Alexander
Most people think quiche originated in France. Not so.
It’s originally a
German dish and people referred to them as "savory custards" in the
19th century. Which is accurate since the egg-based mixture forms a
luscious-like custard as it bakes.
In my novel, A Beauty So Rare, the second standalone novel in the Belmont Mansion series, the
heroine, Eleanor Braddock, is "a cook with a dream." But her dreams
don’t quite turn
out like she thinks they will. However, her savories always do!
I hope you enjoy this recipe (or "receipt" as recipes
were called in the 1800s) from A Beauty So Rare. For more about A
Beauty So Rare and for recipes from all my novels, visit
old-fashioned unbaked pie crust (recipe below)
large onion, diced (or sliced if you like larger pieces of onion in your
pound cooked ham diced into cubes (if using bacon, use 8 slices, fried chewy,
not too crisp)
cups heavy cream or half-and-half
teaspoon salt and pepper, or to taste (I always go heavier on the pepper,
3/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Sautéonion in the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat for about
10 to 15
minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is
golden brown. Set aside to cool.
Chop the ham into bite-sized pieces (or fry your bacon until
chewy, then chop). Set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out
pie crust and press into a deep dish pie plate. A medium-sized iron skillet
works wonderfully for making a savory custard (and is what Eleanor used). The
crust comes out divine. I just happened to use a pie plate this time.
Whip the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a large bowl, then mix
in the onions, ham (or bacon), and cheese. Pour the mixture into the pie crust.
Cover the pie plate (or skillet) lightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 to
45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until
the quiche is set and the crust is golden brown. QUICK BAKING TIPS: The quiche
may still seem a little loose when you first remove it from the oven, but it
will firm up nicely once removed from the heat. Also, watch that lovely crust
so the edges
don’t get overly
brown. I use a silicone pie crust shield if that starts to happen. Those are a
fabulous invention (but foil crimped around the edges works just as well).
Remove from the oven and allow the savory custard to rest for 10
to 15 minutes before diving in. It’s so good, and just like Eleanor Braddock would make. It’s also delicious left
over and warmed up the next day.
Eleanor Braddock’s Old-Fashioned Pie
(makes two large
From the novel A
Beauty So Rare
by Tamera Alexander
This is a wonderful crust that I’ve been using for years. Eleanor would likely have used lard in
place of Crisco (since lard was cheaper than butter in her day), and you may
too, if you prefer. Yes, lard is still available on most grocery shelves,
although I’m pretty sure I
just felt you shudder!
This pie crust "freezes beautifully " as they say in
Steel Magnolias (instructions on freezing below), so even though I may need
only one pie crust at the moment, I always use this recipe and make a second,
and freeze it for later. Makes that next pie (or savory custard) go twice as
1 ½cups Crisco (or lard)
3 cups all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, using a pastry cutter (or two knives will do
the job), gradually work the Crisco into the flour for 3 to 4 minutes until it
resembles coarse meal. In a smaller bowl, whip the egg and then pour it into
the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of ice-cold water, 1 tablespoon
of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir gently until all ingredients are
Halve the dough. Form the 2 evenly-sized balls of dough and
place each into large sealable plastic bags. Using a
rolling pin, slightly flatten each to about 1/2 inch thickness to make rolling
easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them.
(If you’re using the
crusts immediately, it’s
still a good idea to let them chill in the freezer for about 15- 20 minutes.
They’ll be much easier
to work with.)
ready to roll the dough for your crust, remove from the freezer and allow to
thaw for 15 minutes (if it’s frozen). On a well-floured surface, roll the dough, starting
at the center and working your way out. Sprinkle flour over the top of the
dough if it’s too moist. If the dough starts to stick to the countertop, use
a metal spatula and gently scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling
until it’s about ½inch larger in diameter than your pie plate (or iron skillet).
Using a spatula, carefully lift the dough from the surface of
the counter into the pie pan. (I sometimes fold my well-floured dough in half
and then "unfold" it onto iron skillet. Or you can lop it over your
rolling pin. That works well, too.) Gently press the dough against the sides of
the pan or skillet, getting it all tucked in. Then crimp the edges in whatever
way you prefer. And now, you’re ready for that yummy savory custard filling above, or maybe
for a fruit pie.
If you make this recipe (or if you’ve read A Beauty So Rare), I’d love to hear from
you. You can write me through my website at http://www.tameraalexander.com/contact.html.