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Eat Like a Freshman: Swiss Cheese Pie

Like the offspring of a quiche and a soufflé, this pie packs a half-pound of cheese into its eggy filling.

Esther Seidlitz
October 04, 2022
Swiss Cheese Pie

Ingredients:

  • 9” pie shell
  • 1/4–1/2 lb. Swiss cheese
  • 1–2 eggs separated
  • 1 t cornstarch
  • 1 c milk

Procedure:

Mix egg yolks, cheese, milk, cornstarch, and seasoning. Add stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake until brown. About 1/2 an hour. 

Variations:

  1. An onion sautéed in fat may be added to the cheese mixture. 
  2. Pie shell may be lined with sliced tomatoes.

Cheese pie! Those very words drew me away from the outrageous and unthinkable recipes I normally opt for in these UW-food reviews. For once, I was intrigued by a potentially delicious combination rather than a scary one, in my foray through campus cookbooks.

So, did this recipe from the Friendship Club’s 1951 cookbook live up to my expectations? For the most part, yes. Swiss cheese pie was friendlier to my tastebuds than previous recipes featured in this column. (Regular readers may guess that this doesn’t mean much, knowing some of the other foods I’ve tested.)

The process was easy enough, especially with a premade pie shell. Most of my effort went into grating half a pound of cheese, which I happily managed to accomplish without losing any fingerprints. And an electric mixer took care of beating the egg whites. I chose to include sautéed onions because they’re always delicious, but I didn’t line the pie shell with tomatoes because I thought the crust would get too soggy. I opted for two eggs because one didn’t seem like enough. The instructions mention adding seasoning to the mix without any specifications, so I added a healthy dose of salt and pepper. Finally, because the recipe failed to include an oven temp, I went with the tried-and-true 350° F. (Perhaps it should have been higher — it took 40 minutes to cook rather than the suggested half an hour.)

I now know that the aroma of pie dough baking in the oven with undercurrents of cooked onion and eggs is one of the best smells out there. Unfortunately, the delicious smell didn’t quite translate to the most wonderful taste. As it turns out, when you put a half pound of swiss cheese into a nine-inch pie, its flavor becomes pervasive. I might as well have just taken a bite out of the block of cheese before hitting the grater and saved some dishes. And the cheese didn’t melt at all, so the stringy chunks mixed with wet egg made for a disconcerting bite.

But I still have hope for this recipe. Aside from the swiss cheese, it was similar to Panera’s breakfast soufflés. The egg, onion, and pie crust all made valiant efforts, but even their combined force wasn’t enough to contend with the overwhelmingly powerful swiss cheese. I will make this again, but the recipe will have to go through a bit of a change in identity. The cheese pie will shed its Swiss heritage and — I can’t believe I’m writing this — involve less cheese. A half a pound is too much, even in Wisconsin.

In short, say “yes, please” to a pie made of egg, onion, and (cheddar) cheese.

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