Enjoy this mini quiche-fritatta-dressing-pie hybrid recipe.
RECIPE There are times that I go all day without eating. Not that I advise it, but it happens. In fact, nutritionists recommend eating five small meals a day to lose weight. Nevertheless, eight then nine A.M. comes and goes with no breakfast. Around 11 o'clock I think, "I should have brunch." Still in the "zone." Past lunch I began to plan my "Brenner!"
This bite-size snack is great to warm up in the morning to prevent going all day without eating. The only problems are, 1. Making enough to last a few days without munching them throughout the day is a challenge, and 2. Being watchful of the amount of eggs consumed. My doctor advises just three per week to keep cholesterol levels in check. Each egg pie contains about a half egg. When I first hatched this recipe, the pies contained a full egg. Through several iterations, more ingredients have been added to reduce egg content. I also imagine you can use egg whites (egg substitutes), but I haven't tried them. This recipe is a great alternative to discarding eggs that may be accumulating in the refrigerator — like when you buy a fresh dozen, only to discover you had 10 left that may be expiring in a week.
Let's aim for 24 mini pies (because 12 never seems like enough). Though I have two cupcake pans for a dozen each, I found it best to bake them separately for better heat distribution in the oven. Combined baking time is less than 25 minutes per pan, with food prep, allocate about an hour.
- 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
- 24 tsp shredded cheese
- 2 Tbsp olive oil (or cooking spray)
- 1 Tbsp flax seed meal (optional)
- Salt, pepper, paprika, oregano
- 3 cups shredded veggies
- 2 potatoes (1 included above)
- 10 eggs (or egg whites)
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 1/2 tsp corn starch
Step 1. This is a good time to break out the food processor that slices and dices and everything else. Since I don't have one, I just use a coarse cheese grater. We want to shred about three cups of veggies. They can vary but I have had success with potato, zucchini, carrots, broccolini stalks, onion. You can roast potato slices and use the broccolini florets to offset the amount egg required. My wife suggested green peas, so I added some frozen peas — not shredded of course. Add crushed cashews and flax seed if you like; it doesn't enhance the flavor much but it adds more nutrition. I have also included crasins (dried cranberries) for a crazy flavor.
Step 2. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Mix the shredded vegetables in a large bowl. Drain off most of the moisture. Season with salt, a dash of cayenne pepper, and other spices you have available in your cabinet. At this point, before any egg is added, you can taste it to make certain it is too your liking. I have used fresh cilantro or dried oregano but dried herbs usually must be cooked to release full flavor so sometimes this pretest can be a bit deceiving. If you have those potato slices, blend them with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper before placing on a flat pan one layer deep in the oven.
Step 3. Now mix in one tablespoon of flour, one half teaspoon of cornstarch, and one half cup of finely crushed breadcrumbs. The first time I used Panko successfully. For subsequent batches, seasoned dressing became the norm. If you go this route, taste again. The breadcrumbs should absorb most of the moisture from the veggies.
Step 4. Whisk 10 large eggs. (This may be cutting it thin but you can always add a couple more later if needed.) Personally, I don't think eggs require seasoning. Add a dash of paprika and, if you wish, a dash of salt and pepper too. Pour the equivalent of one egg into the dressing. The texture should be somewhat clay-like.
Step 5. Spray each (non-stick) cupcake pan with oil or lightly wipe with oil-moistened paper towel. Evenly apportion dressing mixture in each of the 24 cupcake pans (about two tablespoons each) and press to form a thin crust. Be sure to tamp down in the corners. Remove the potatoes from the oven. Place the pan of dressing cups in the oven to bake for 10 to 12 minutes until crust dry but not completely brown.
Step 6. While crust is baking, grate or slice enough cheese to drop in each cup. That's about 48 teaspoons or 48 small round slices for 2 dozen pies. You can use a small cookie cutter if you want but shredding is likely easier. Pre-shredded cheese is fine but packages usually limit options to cheddar and Jack blend. For a gooey center to contrast the crisp crust, I recommend a combination of medium cheddar and mozzarella. (I haven't tried mascarpone but it sound like a good option.) No hard-and-fast rule here though.
Step 7. When the crust is done, add cheese to the bottom of each cup. Drop in that roasted potato slice and add your broccolini florets. There's room for creativity here. You can try adding other things like chopped spinach or even roasted turkey if you're not a vegetarian. Now pour in the egg and top with more cheese before baking. It takes about 10-12 minutes for the crust to brown crispy and eggs to cook through. (Oven temperatures vary according to altitude and calibration.) Check on them at 9 minutes. eggs should not jiggle. They will crown very high when the eggs get hot. As they cool their heights will level off. Overdone eggs with hard cheese are tough to swallow.
Step 8. Allow to cool for about a minute. That veggie dressing cup should hold together while you remove one from the pan. You may need to run a butter knife around the perimeter before carefully lifting out with a tablespoon. Check to make certain the bottom is done. Cut into one to be sure the egg is cooked before removing the rest. After you are satisfied with the timing and flavor, bake the second batch.
You may sprinkle each one with (imitation) bacon bits, dill or other garnish. Refrigerate or freeze unused pies in sandwich bags of three to warm up at work or have for breakfast later on in the week. Over the past few months, I've eaten close to four dozen. They're quite addicting.