Kick it off right: Crustless mini-quiches.

I came incredibly close to kicking off 2011 with a very large mistake: I very nearly canceled my New Year’s Eve party. Thanks to Snowmageddon 2010, Bench (the world’s best party-prep-partner-in-crime) was stuck in Chicagoland until New Year’s Day, and half my guest list was stranded in similarly snowbound points west. It just didn’t seem worth going all out for only three people, particularly since I didn’t have all that much of an axe to grind with 2010. And so, the unthinkable well and truly almost occurred.

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Fortunately for us all, Biscuit was on hand to remind me that half the fun of a party is getting ready for it. Also that I was being stupid: a party is a party is a party, whether it’s for six or sixteen! And of course, he was right.

Thus fortified we threw ourselves into the business of party, whipping up myriad delights for the masses! On the menu were some old favorites (amaretti cookies, gougeres, thyme and gruyere icebox crackers) and some new experiments. Foremost among these experiments was an amuse bouche that is going to become a permanent part of my party repertoire: the crustless mini quiche.

What makes this wee timorous beastie such a superstar is not that it is perfectly savory and bite-sized (which it is), or that it’s so versatile (which it also is), or even that it’s pretty darn easy to make (ditto) but the fact that it can be made up to a month in advance and then whacked into your freezer until you’re ready to entertain. Reconsitute with 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven, and you’re laughing.

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As any dedicated party-thrower knows, any time you can front-load while prepping for the event is time you can instead spend fixing your hair or bedazzling the walls on the day of. Or, in my case, time you can spend convincing yourself that the party is, in fact, going to be a good idea and you should probably go through with it. Which, in retrospect, it really, really was; a truly glittering and wonderful way to kick off what I hope will be an absolutely excellent year.

I like to think the thirty (!) people who miraculously appeared at the wingding would heartily agree.

Crustless mini quiches

1/4 c cornstarch
1 1/4c whole milk
2 large eggs
2 large egge yolks
1c heavy cream
3/4 c salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 c grated gruyere
oil for pan

3 shallots, finely minced
8 oz mushrooms, stemmed and finely minced

Special equipment: Mini muffin tins

  1. Prepare the filling: saute the shallots over medium heat until just translucent; add the mushrooms and cook 4-5 more minutes–until the mushrooms have released their liquid and then reabsorbed it.
  2. Preheat oven to 450
  3. Prepare batter: whisk together cornstarch and 1/2 c milk in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk in eggs and yolks, and then the remainder of the milk, the cream and some salt and pepper.
  4. Liberally oil your mini-muffin tins. Fill each cup with a pinch or gruyere (enough to cover the bottom completely–this is what forms the “crust”). Then, add a half teaspoon of the filling, followed by a tablespoon of the batter, in that order.
  5. Bake for 15-18 minutes; let cool in tins for 3 or 4 minutes, and then decant to a cooling rack. Try not to eat them all while they cool.
In cheese, eggs, entertaining, new year's eve

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