Of all the traditions my husband and I have started since getting married, our annual New Year’s Day brunch is my favorite. It started as an informal thing, just a few friends gathering to eat homemade waffles and watch the television coverage of the Mummers Parade (a beloved Philadelphia institution). However, over the years, it has grown into something of an event.
The festivities start at 11am and run into the late afternoon. Friends bring their kids and something for the table and we eat, watch the parade and share our hopes for the fresh, new year.
Guests show up with sweet rolls, deviled eggs, fruit platters and makings for mimosas. I fill in the gaps with whole-wheat waffles, a big green salad and a few quiches of various types. I particularly like making the quiche, because they can be prepared and baked the night before and then just warmed in the oven a bit before we eat.
Because I’m something of a planner, I start mapping out my menu well before the big day. I’ve already settled on one of the quiches I’ll be making for the party. It comes from recent Food Network Star winner Damaris Phillips: Quiche with Country Ham.
This quiche is spectacular. You layer potatoes, eggs and cheese in a parbaked pie crust (see right) and cook it until the crown puffs and the surface is gorgeously brown. We ate it for dinner recently (with leftovers for lunch the next day) and I can’t wait to share it on New Year’s Day. It also happens to be perfect for The Weekender!
Before you start cooking, read these tips:
— Country ham is what gives this quiche its signature flavor. If you can’t find it in your local grocery store, look for the driest, saltiest ham you can find, as that will give you a similar flavor profile.
— In this recipe, Damaris has you poach thinly sliced potato rounds in vegetable oil in order to soften them for baking. I was running low on oil so I simply simmered the slices in water until tender instead. If you find yourself in similar straits, the water method should be just fine.
— You can buy a premade pie crust for this quiche if you’re short on time. However, I like to make a whole-wheat version that is just 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 stick cold, cubed butter and 2 to 3 tablespoons very cold water. You put the flour, salt and butter in a food processor and pulse to combine. Then stream in the water while the machine runs, just until the dough comes together. Wrap in plastic and chill. It’s easy, dirt cheap and the presence of whole wheat makes you feel slightly more virtuous.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, is now available.