As we have for several years now, Shane and I hosted a Mother's Day brunch yesterday for our families. It's one of the few times each year that we entertain and it gives us a chance to celebrate our moms and thank them for all that they do. I've heard so many people say that it's smart to have tried and true recipes you can turn to when entertaining, but I can never resist the urge to attempt something new. And by something, I mean the entire menu. I'm a pretty high-stress person by nature so there's a fair amount of anxiety involved in not knowing whether the dishes are going to turn out until about 5 minutes before company arrives, but in the end, it usually works out. So far, anyway.
(I'd convinced myself there was no need to iron the tablecloth, but I'm ready to admit I was wrong after seeing this photo.)
I resolved to choose recipes that could be prepped ahead of time for this year's brunch so that was the first selling point for these bacon, leek and cheddar mini quiches. They're perfect for entertaining because they can be completely assembled and frozen for up to a month, then baked directly from the freezer when you need them. The second selling point? Bacon. Our Mother's Day brunch is one of the two times a year we eat bacon (Thanksgiving morning being the other) so I'm happy to include it in a few dishes if possible. It's really easy to leave the bacon out of some of the quiches too, if you happen to be serving vegetarians. Simply mix up the filling, adding only the leeks and cheese and reserving the bacon until you've assembled as many non-bacon quiches as you intend to make. Then you can add it and fill the remaining quiches. I also reserved a few pieces of bacon to sprinkle on the tops of those with bacon in the filling so there wouldn't be any doubts about which were vegetarian and which weren't.
Instead of pie crust, which I think is more traditional for quiche, these minis are wrapped in puff pastry. The assembly is a bit tedious, but goes pretty quickly once you get in the groove. Also worth noting: there's no need to make the edges look pretty when you line the muffin tins with the puff pastry. As long as the pastry extends to the top of the well, you'll be fine. I snapped a quick shot to show you how messy mine were, and honestly, I don't think you could tell at all once the quiches were baked.
The mini quiches were a hit at brunch; even Shane enjoyed them, which is saying something since I didn't omit the leeks from his. I loved the way they baked up - both the pastry and the filling puff in the oven and turn golden in color. Everything is cuter in mini form in my book, and I think their size makes these quiches perfect finger food. They'd be great appetizers for any party, not just brunch.
Bacon, Leek and Cheddar Mini Quiches
from Fine Cooking
3/4 lb bacon, cut into medium dice
3 cups medium-diced leeks, washed and drained (about 3 leeks, white and light green parts only)
1 1/4 cups half and half
1 cup (4 oz) grated extra-sharp Cheddar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 1.1-lb packages frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed (homemade puff pastry would work too)
Set a skillet over medium to medium-high heat and cook the bacon until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Drain the bacon fat from the pan, reserving about 1 tablespoon in the skillet. Return the pan to medium heat and add the leeks. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally, then set aside to allow the leeks to cool a bit.
Meanwhile, add the half and half, cheese, eggs, egg yolks, thyme, salt, pepper and nutmeg to a medium bowl. Use a fork to break up the eggs and yolks and mix the ingredients. Add the bacon and leeks (both of which should be cooled) and toss to distribute evenly. Set the filling aside.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray your mini muffin pans with cooking spray.
Unfold one sheet of puff pastry and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll the sheet into a rectangle approximately 10x18 inches big. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut 12 circles from the sheet of puff pastry. Fit each round into one well of the prepared mini muffin pan, making sure that the dough extends to the top of well. Fill each well with about 1 tablespoon of filling (it's fine to fill it just about to the top). Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the filling puffs and the crust is golden brown. Remove the quiches from the pans and serve.
Alternatively, you can prep the quiches ahead of time and freeze them (for up to a month). After assembling them, pop the mini muffin pans in your freezer for a few hours, until the quiches are set, then transfer them to resealable freezer bags. When you are ready to bake, transfer the frozen quiches from the bags to the mini muffin pans and bake for about 30-35 minutes.
Makes approximately 4 dozen mini quiches