The Language of Food and A Not So Ordinary Quiche

By , Contributor

I love finding ways to make the not so ordinary out of the ordinary — the once chic French quiche, like pesto and hummus, has now become somewhat ordinary. I guess it's a good thing. Around the world, we may not speak the same verbal language, but we can communicate by food. But because we are now all food literate it becomes more difficult to impress others with our culinary prowess.

It used to be if you were in the US and made a quiche it was considered a gourmet dish; but now we all speak the same food language. An invite to an informal cocktail party in the center of Rome had me baffled as to what to bring. Maybe a hostess gift, a bottle of wine, a cake or an appetizer tray ... I didn’t want to be so ordinary. After all, this is the center of Rome where people make chic out of simple. Finally it came to me — make a quiche using rice for the crust, instead of a pastry crust.

But how to make rice compact and form into a crust was a bit of a dilemma. After a few experiments I did it! And a rice-crusted quiche was born, probably not for the first time. The finished quiche, placed on a pretty dish and wrapped in transparent cellophane gathered in the center and tied with a ribbon, makes a perfect hostess gift. Don't forget to bring a bottle of dry white wine for the perfect pairing, a dry Chianti or Verdicchio or maybe even Est!Est!Est!

Heat the quiche and chill the wine whenever you get to your destination, before serving.

Rice Crusted Quiche

1 1/2 cups rice
1/4 lb Emmenthal cheese, grated
2 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons butter, plus more to butter pie pan
1/2 lb leeks, finely chopped
1/2 lb ricotta
2 ounces Swiss cheese, grated
Parmigiano-Reggiano to taste
Salt and pepper

Boil rice for 15 minutes, drain into a colander and rinse under cold water. Mix grated Emmenthal and two egg whites into the rice, blend, and set aside.

Butter the sides of a pie pan. Cut a circle of parchment paper sized to cover the bottom and sides of the pan and dampen it. Wring out all the excess moisture and place into the buttered pie pan. Brush paper with 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Pat the rice mixture onto the bottom and sides of the pan, patting firmly into place with the back of a spoon. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 375.

Blend egg yolks with ricotta and grated Swiss cheese in separate bowl. Saute chopped leeks with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter till leeks are transparent. Lower the heat and saute for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool. Place into the egg/cheese mixture. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Blend well. Pour mixture into rice crust and bake for 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove from oven and let cool.

When cooled, remove quiche from pie pan by picking up the parchment paper and place on a serving plate. Best served on same day as made; reheat in oven before serving.

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Celebrity chef and award-winning author Maria Liberati is considered one of the foremost experts on Italian cuisine and culture in the United States. Winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for her best-selling recipe novel series The Basic Art of Italian Cooking and her blog. Maria divides her…

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