Saturday, January 19, 2013

Maple Sausage, Apple and Brie Quiche

For one of my significant milestone birthdays I gave myself the present of going out to Boulder, Colorado for a few days of hiking and nurturing my interest in photography. Having not spent any time in the Rocky Mountains, let alone a mountainous region, there is something about Boulder that made it a place I immediately fell in love with.  From the views of the mountains, to the incredible blue of the skies, to the weather, to the food, to the availability of a wide range of microbrewed beverages, it is no wonder this city ranks high on the list of outdoor enthusiasts and foodies.
It was at one of my stays at the Bradley Boulder Inn, more of a boutique little hotel than an inn, where I first tasted the Maple Sausage, Apple and Brie Quiche.

Initially I wasn't certain if my post-hiking state of starvation meant that anything I consumed would have tasted good.  But upon returning back to the midwest and on a less physically exerting, less starving kind of day, I made this quiche.  What I learned was my physical state did not matter at all, as this quiche was as scrumptious the first time as the second, third and fourth times it was eaten. All of the ingredients are each delicious on their own, but the combination of these ingredients results in a quiche tasting so wonderful and so unlike anything you may have ever eaten.

There is one shortcut I take when making quiche, any quiche.  The shortcut of using refrigerated pie crusts.  Okay, I hear the gasps and groans of those of you who would not even consider using a prepared pie crust.  Some of you may now find yourself opting out of reading any more about this recipe.  But try to hang in there for a little longer.  If you have never used the Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust in a recipe, try it just once and tell me if you don't find yourself pleasantly surprised at its taste.

I am not alway able to find freshly made maple flavored sausage in the grocery store but the refrigerated section always seems to be fully stocked with sausages in various flavors.  The subtleness of the maple flavor balances out the other ingredients in the quiche.  When buying links remember to remove them from the casings and cut them into smaller pieces before frying.  You can let them drain on a paper towel while you mix up the rest of the ingredients.

The creaminess of the Brie cheese and tartness of the very thinly sliced granny smith apple is what I think makes this quiche a perfect recipe. The casing of the brie should be removed before slicing.  While leaving the skin on the apples adds color, texture and flavor.

It took me awhile to figure out that if I mixed wet ingredients in a large measuring cup it would be easier to pour into the quiche shell.  Once you begin using a large measuring cup, you will be surprised at how often you use it as it also makes for a great mixing bowl for all sorts of recipes.

I go between using Kosher salt and sea salt in recipes.  In this quiche I like to use sea salt and white pepper. There is something about dark pepper flakes that interfere with the finished look of the quiche.  White pepper is also a little milder than black pepper and it works perfect with the flavor of the brie and the apples.

After you place the dough in the pie plate or quiche pan, you layer the sausage, apples and brie. Placing the apples in a circular pattern ensures you get the taste of apple in every bite.  But then during the baking, the apples rise up making for a great finished look.

Maple Sausage, Apple and Brie Quiche (slightly adapted recipe from the Bradley Inn in Boulder, Colorado)

6 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup thinly sliced apples or 1/2 large apple (preferably granny smiths or any other green skinned apple)
1/4 to 1/3 pound of brie cheese cut into slices
1 piecrust (Pillsbury refrigerated crust recommended if you don't want to make your own)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (if you love nutmeg, you will use the 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
6 to 8 ounces of browned maple sausage (if buying links, remove casings before browning)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lightly spray a ceramic pie or quiche pan and unroll pie crust into, fluting edges with fingers. Place in refrigerator while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
3. Cook sausage until browned.  Cool slightly.  Let drain on a paper towel.
4. Very thinly slice apples and cut Brie cheese (remember remove the casing from the Brie)
5. Whisk the eggs and milk.  Add salt and pepper.
6. Remove pie crust from refrigerator and layer ingredients in the following order: Cooked sausage; apples, and brie. 
7.  Pour egg/milk mixture into the dish.  
8. Sprinkle top with nutmeg.
9. Cook for approximately one hour.  Sides and center of quiche will rise up. Crust will be lightly browned and quiche will feel firm to the touch.
10. Let sit for at least 5 minutes before cutting.

With so many different and great recipes out there for quiches, this is one that remains one of my favorites for so many reasons.  If you are looking a recipe that is simple, this would be the one.  Your effortless work will result in an incredibly flavorful dish.  As an added benefit, your house will smell amazing.

Once you have the experience of having your mind and body positively affected by the energy from seeing and being in the mountains, you are immediately addicted to it.  The only cure for this addiction is going back to the mountains as often as your life allows.  Life and responsibilities do not enable me to get back in Boulder,as often as I would like, so I have to settle for making this quiche.
Recipes you make or foods you eat that can take you back to the places you have been or to the events in your life have sort of a magical quality to them.  The Maple Sausage, Apple and Brie Quiche just happens to be one of those elixirs I make when I long for the feeling of being in Boulder, of being in the mountains.  And let's just say that I have a very active imagination.

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