Sunday, December 20, 2009

UGLY, But Delicious, and the BEST Darn Quiche EVER

I always thought that I would have officially reached adulthood when I owned a proper trifle bowl. That day happened two days ago, but I don't feel any different... Something I've always meant to purchase, but between "couldn't find one when I wanted to" and "not needing it when I saw one" I just never bought one until now.

I decided to host a small Christmas party for my friends and co-workers, a little wine and cheese gathering, to celebrate the holiday that is now bearing down on us. On the menu:

Baked Brie with Cranberry Compote (see horrific photo below)
Cheese and Bacon Quiche (recipe below)
Assorted Meats and Cheeses
Roasted Garlic
Fruit Platter
Banana Pudding (recipe below)

While keeping track of my favorite radio host, Mario Bosquez on Martha Stewart (of course) Radio Sirius 112, I discovered what is sure to become a staple in my household! Magnolia Bakery's Banana Pudding. Simple and elegant, and downright perfect, this dessert is well worth the extra steps in preparation.

I had trouble finding "instant" pudding mix at all three of the stores I went to, it was all marked "cooked", so I thought that possibly it was being called something different now. I brought the box home and followed the first "night before" steps of mixing the pudding mix with condensed milk and water. This of course did not look promising still after a few hours in the fridge. I was lucky enough to email and get a quick response back from Mario, who had just changed his facebook status to "Making Magnolia's EVIL Banana Pudding...", so perfect timing. He got back to me right away with the advice that he, too had challenges finding the instant pudding, but that it was pretty much necessary to get the proper consistency. I was gutted that I would potentially be dumping all my ingredients down the drain, so I took a chance and added the liquid to a medium-sized pot and cooked it. Worked perfectly! The pudding thickened almost immediately by following the original cooking instructions off the Jell-O box. I love it when a plan comes together...

Also, I used bananas that were not yet too ripe, and am I ever glad I did! There is quite a bit left over from last night, and I just had another serving and the bananas held up overnight in the fridge great. Not too soggy, just starting to get really sweet and ripe, and of course everything is better the next day - flavors merged. Yum!

Magnolia's Famous Banana Pudding

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups ice cold water
1 3.4-ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix (preferable Jell-O brand)
3 cups heavy cream
1 12-ounce box Nabisco Nilla Wafers
4 cups sliced ripe bananas

In a small bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the sweetened condensed milk and water until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the pudding mix and beat well, about 2 minutes more. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight, before continuing. It is very important to allow the proper amount of time for the pudding mixture to set.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the pudding mixture into the whipped cream until well blended and no streaks of pudding remain.

To assemble the dessert, select a large, wide bowl (preferably glass) with a 4-5-quart capacity. Arrange one-third of the wafers to cover the bottom of the bowl, overlapping if necessary, then one-third of the bananas, and one-third of the pudding. Repeat the layering twice more. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours, or up to 8 hours, but no longer before serving.

*Note: I did not cover with plastic wrap because it would have squished the top and it set just fine, no drying out, it was flawless.

See how pretty it is before serving??

I LOVE this quiche recipe. It's my old stand-by from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

Cheese and Bacon Quiche

10 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
1 partially baked Tart Pastry, without sugar (recipe below)
4 eggs
2 cups light cream (half and half)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/4 cups grated Swiss cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle bacon over the bottom of the tart shell. Combine eggs, cream, salt, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper in a bowl and beat to mix thoroughly. Sprinkle the cheese over the bacon and ladle the custard over all. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve hot or cold.

Tart Pastry

You may sweeten this recipe if you wish, by adding 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar to the flour. This pastry will not get tough if you have to handle it a lot and you can mix it in a food processor.

1 cup AP flour
1/4 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. cold butter, in small pieces
1 egg yolk

Mix the flour and salt in the bowl of food processor until it resembles coarse meal or tiny peas. Whisk together the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons water together in another bowl, add to flour mixture, and pulse until the pastry is smooth and will hold together in a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Roll out and place in whatever type of pan you wish, prick the bottom with a fork and pre-bake at 425 degrees, unfilled, for about 12 minutes.

And P.S., I'm eating my second helping of pudding today. Mario was right. EVIL.

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