Take mystery out of Mother's Day quiche

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Quiche has a reputation as a complicated dish. And I'm not sure why.

Home cooks worry about the crust. They angst over the fillings. Do they have the right mix of meats or veggies? Which type of cheese? And then there is striking the balance of egg and dairy, never mind the mixture of seasonings.

Which makes it all sound so very troublesome. And yet quiche really is such a simple dish that is both versatile and forgiving. Not even the least skilled home cook has an excuse for skipping it. Especially come Mother's Day.

So let's demystify it step-by-step, starting with the crust. Homemade is fine, but I just don't bother. Purchased pie dough won't win you any baking competitions, but it's completely respectable for a quiche crust.

Next up, the fillings. I like to keep it simple with ham or sausage. But whatever meat you use, keep the chunks small. Veggies should be at least partially cooked before they go into the crust. Roasting or sautéing the veggies first helps remove excess moisture so you don't end up with a waterlogged quiche. Whatever mix you use, aim for about half a pound.

Cheese should be grated or shredded. Cheddar and gouda are nice, as is Gruyere. Robust cheeses are good, too, such as feta or Parmesan, but in general these work better when combined with a good melting cheese. Aim for a total of about 11/2 cups.

Seasonings? Keep it simple. We don't want to work too hard here, or overshadow our fillings or the eggs. I usually use salt, pepper, dried thyme, maybe some fennel seed, and nothing more

Ham and Cheddar Quiche

Start to finish: 40 minutes; Servings: 8

1 prepared uncooked pie crust, room temperature

8 ounces deli-sliced ham, chopped

6 ounces (1½ cups) grated cheddar cheese

8 eggs

⅓ cup milk

1 teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon fennel seed

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Heat the oven to 425 F. Coat an 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom with cooking spray. Alternatively, use a 9-inch deep dish pie pan. Set the pan on a baking sheet.

Unroll the pie crust and set it into the prepared pan. Gently push the crust into the corners and up the edges of the pan, crimping and trimming as needed.

Scatter the ham and cheese evenly over the crust.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, thyme, fennel, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the ham and cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until puffed and set at the center and lightly browned at the edges. Cool slightly or completely before slicing and serving.

Per serving: 360 calories; 210 calories from fat (58 percent of total calories); 24 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 220 mg cholesterol; 18 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 18 g protein; 840 mg sodium.