One of the many reasons for setting up this blog was to throw a few recipes out there to people who are, like me, short on time and juggling many commitments but who don’t want to let that be a cause to compromise on delicious, enjoyable and healthy food.
So, food prep is an important thing in my home. And one of the recipes I keep going back to is, well, not so much a recipe of sorts but a moveable canvas for ideas, leftovers, personal flavour preferences or passing cravings. Why? Because they’re fundamentally incredibly simple, it takes a ridiculously small amount of time to prepare a batch which you can go back to for days on end, and they freeze.
What are these wonders? Mini crustless quiches – they’re rich, delicious, variable and your personal trainer probably won’t beat you up for eating them. And if they do, get a new trainer, because the one you have clearly is not worth the pain.
Honestly, these have so much going for them. They’re an easily transportable snack for work, they’re obviously low carbohydrate and sugars (unless you shove a muffin and some chocolate in there, probably not a flavour combination I’d advise), you can personalise them according to what you like or what you need to use up (always looking for a solution to food waste), they’re filling but light at the same time and the even better thing is that, in the days after cooking, their flavours develop and become even more amazing than when you first take them out of the oven.
I keep referencing that these are easy to personalise, so time to elaborate. This “non-recipe”, as I said, is basically a canvas. It’s a blend of quiche base ingredients which will set when cooked and which will hold together other ingredients and bring together beautiful flavour. It really is very simple, but then some of the best things in life are. There are a million recipes out there for them, but here’s my basic foundation, and a few ideas of how you might go from there.
8 large free range eggs – best quality you can find
150ml double cream
Seasoning – a word on salt in a second
Fillings – of your choice! Let’s talk more about that…but cheese is always a good inclusion, especially a sprinkling of cheddar or similar on top before going in the oven.
Mix eggs and cream in a bowl, season with pepper (and with salt just before pouring into moulds).
Fill 18 silicon cupcake moulds hallway up – first of all, when you add fillings, this will lift the mixture in the mould, secondly they will puff up slightly. But more than both of those things, I find that a half-filled cupcake mould produces a snack which is just right in terms of satiating hunger and not being too rich.
Drop in your fillings of choice – yes they’ll sink, but these are tiny so the more filling you add, the more texture you’re going to have through the height of the finished snack. Top with cheese if using.
Pop in an oven at 180 degrees for about 12 minutes, or until the tops are looking set, cooked and golden if using a cheese topping. Remove and leave to cool. Lovely warm, but left to cool these store well in the fridge for a few days and freeze really well.
So you see what I mean about it being very simple? Because it really is.
Right. First of all, seasoning. Go VERY easy on the salt here – when you have a big bowl of eggs and cream mixed together, it might seem like a lot you need to season quite heavily. But, unless you’re going to stick to very bland additional fillings – yes I am looking at you, bacon – a little salt goes a long way, and I’d only ever use something mild like Maldon sea salt in the first place. Also, salt is going to degrade the eggs when added, so do this at the last minute before filling the moulds.
This can, however, take a good hit of pepper – and those flavours really do develop over time, so always work to what you know you like. So a little Maldon and some freshly ground black pepper always go into my mix for these.
Now to the fillings. I first made these when I had a crazy week at work ahead, and with a hefty commute on top of that, I was conscious that I was going to miss out on a lot of exercise and be in the car a lot. I also knew I had things kicking around in the fridge which needed using up before all hell broke loose, and couldn’t think of a better way to use them. So, trying to keep it light and healthy but using things up basically inspired this method, but here are a few of the fillings I’ve used in these – yet the opportunities for new ideas are endless, so these never, ever get boring.
- First of all I think these always benefit from some inclusion of cheese for extra flavour – another reason to watch the salt when seasoning. A mild feta works particularly well but any cheese is going to work.
- Diced pepper and chopped jalapenos – again personal preference regarding texture in this case as to whether you fry these first to soften them but I quite like the contrast of crunch from the raw pepper against the quiche mix – and of course that makes them quicker to make….these are great with a little crumbled feta and some cheddar topping.
- Crisped bacon – just fry beforehand and leave to cool, then chop so almost crumbled. Ok it makes it more time intensive – but first of all a) you are taking mini breakfast snacks off to work for the next week and b) nobody has ever cooked bacon without sneaking a bit, so stop complaining. This is another time to watch the salt at the seasoning stage, because this strong flavour is going to develop over the coming days.
- Little egg-encased Bloody Mary copycats! Chop some sundried tomatoes, pop in a couple of drops of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, an extra twist of pepper and a little olive oil. Because I think drinking at work is still frowned upon, even if it is Monday at 9.05.
Basically what I’m saying is that anything goes. These are fantastic for using leftovers, inventing new combinations and they carry spice incredibly well.
So there you go. My “non-recipe” go-to for healthy and flavoursome snacks for when you pushed for time or even just when you want a light snack at home on a day off.