"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china."

Charles Dickens

March 31, 2011

Quiche Lorraine

With all of the eggs we are getting now––about 2 dozen a day––I'm really hard-pressed to keep up with them all (and that's after giving many away, too––I haven't really developed an "egg route" yet).

Today I decided to make quiche Lorraine for supper. It's been many years since I've made quiche, so many that the boys really don't remember ever eating it. As I splurged on some extra Gruyére cheese a few weeks ago at Sam's Club, which I'd bought for our French onion soup, I shredded up the rest and had enough for four quiches. As quiche doesn't freeze well because of its custard base, you'll want to eat it up within a few days. Good thing because I like it cold or slightly warmed even more than I like it just out of the oven! We gobbled one up for dinner and will enjoy the other two over the next few days: for breakfasts and lunches most likely. The fourth one will go to our friend Anna Hurst tomorrow––she is always making pies for us and it's the least I can do!


Here is an easy recipe from my well-worn 1970s edition of The Joy of Cooking. Quiche became popular in the 1970s in America and I'll have to check earlier editions of this cookbook to see if it was included. I first had it, in the early 1970s, at our farm in New Hampshire. A friend of the family, who had replaced my grandmother as French teacher at the local high school after her retirement (and was later my French teacher there), was half-French and spent much of her life in France. Anne Hélene Burkhardt was a delight to know. On our visits from Ohio she would bring us over large pitchers of homemade vichyssoise that we'd enjoy cold, as well as her own version of quiche Lorraine: a delightful combination. There were all of those jokes, and even a book, saying that "real men don't eat quiche." Well, this quiche is basically bacon, eggs and cheese in a pie crust. What could be unmanly about that?

I spent many overnights at their old, rambling summer-style house in Fitzwilliam where her daughter Linda and I would camp out on their large sleeping porch and tell ghost stories after sultry days spent swimming and sailing on Laurel Lake. Their home was a warm combination of old antiques, cozy chic, and even a few framed Renoir pastels over the fireplace. In later years, after I moved back to New Hampshire, Hélene held informal salons at her house where she brought together a variety of people. Her Christmas Eve Réveillons were also classic events and for many years we would drop by there before going to the midnight service at our church several towns away.


So this recipe is in honor of Anne Hélene: for having introduced me to two French culinary classics many years ago (and later French bakery treats); for taking us to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts on class trips and introducing me to the wonders of art history; for always praising my French accent (honed from having French in school since kindergarten)**; and for giving me As in class, even when I probably didn't deserve them:

Quiche Lorraine from The Joy of Cooking
[Makes one 9" quiche ~ oven to 375 degrees]

• 1 pie crust (I used store-bought: a paté brisée would be just the thing, if time)
• 3 eggs
• 2 cups milk or cream (I used a combo of the two)
• 1/4 pound bacon, cut into 1-inch strips and fried
• 1/2 cup of grated Swiss cheese (cheaper than the classic Gruyére, which is a specific regional Swiss cheese)
• 1 Tbsps chopped fresh chives or scallions
• sea salt and fresh-ground pepper
• paprika
• freshly-grated nutmeg (or a few pinches of it)

Pierce pie crust with fork (the thicker the better, which is why store-bought pie crusts aren't necessarily the best). Grill the bacon, tossing and stir-frying in a skillet until almost crisp. Drain on paper towel. Meanwhile, heat milk and/or cream until just scalded (but not boiled). [I added salt and pepper to the milk mixture as it was heating to better infuse it.] Cool hot mixture for just a bit after it scalds. Add slightly beaten eggs to the milk mixture and beat fast and well (so eggs don't cook!). Add nutmeg and chives.

Place bacon and cheese at bottom of pie crust and add beaten egg-milk mixture. Sprinkle top with paprika, if desired, and bake for about 35 minutes or until lightly browned (and knife comes out clean from the custardy middle).

Enjoy warm or cold, but let cool a bit before serving as it won't quite be set. Next time I make this I will sauté some shallots and garlic to add to the mixture as I felt it needed a bit of something from the onion family.

You come back when you're ready!

Catherine


**One of my favorite memories in French class was in language lab: we would all wear head sets and had to "répétez" the French that we heard. It was very auditory and fun but sometimes I would say other things, too, or goof around. Of course, the teacher could randomly listen in to our pronunciations. 'Madame' would often say, in a sweet, lilting voice, "Caffee?" (as she didn't pronounce her "th" very well), "That's enough now!"

7 comments:

  1. Catherine, this looks delicious! I love that you can throw just about anything in a quiche and it tastes great. I first had it in the late 70's at the Tao Restaurant in Bloomington, Indiana where Sally Pasley Vargas was the chef. She's over at bakecupcakes.blogspot.com these days. I remember being in the dining room and a gentleman (probably the parent of a university student) looked at the menu and asked what quee-chay was. If it hadn't been for the gentle correction of the waitress, I would not have known how to pronounce it either.

    Tomato, tomahto, it's always delicious and your's looks fabulous. (Have you ever tried to mail one...hint hint?)

    Love, Peaches

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  2. Thanks, Peaches. Yes, I think Sally is a reader here! I haven't checked her blog in a while and will now. You can imagine the fun we had when visiting Queechee, Vermont (home of that great Farmer's Diner, which I hope is still there...and I think they had a Vermont cheddar-local bacon quiche!).

    My favorite quiche addition is actually crabmeat! Yes, so many great combos. As you can see, I'm still a bit pie crust phobic (or is that just LAZY??).

    Soon we will have our own smoked bacon to try out in a zillion different ways. Four hogs have been readied for the freezer and we're picking them up next week.

    Love, Catherine

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  3. One of my students brings me fresh and beautiful pastel colored eggs every week and I've had to find clever ways to use them up from week to week.

    I grew up close enough to Laurel Lake to bike there on warm summer days, usually after picking the obligatory gallon of blueberries on Gap Mountain, under whose shade I grew up. My sweet baby sister, was even named, Laurel, after our favorite, perfectly clear, swimming hole.

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  4. Catherine, what a wonderful recipe. I simply must give it a whirl. You must send me some of your wonderful farm-fresh eggs. Your photography is excellent, too, by the way. So few people know how to do it well and end up making their dishes look inedible.

    I do solemnly request more of your fine food entries on your blog.

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  5. Is that paprika or nutmeg on top of your quiche? I use nutmeg on mine. I got a really simple quiche recipe from a Greek neighbor of mine when I lived in Lexington and she used nutmeg. So do I.

    I actually freeze my quiche when I make more than one. It holds up pretty well in the freezer. Even if it didn't, it beats Cheetos for supper.

    Joberta

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  6. This looks so good! Quiche is one of my very favorite foods. It's one dish I can actually make pretty well. Love that you can put so many different things in it. I made a couple last week with fresh asparagus, turned out very good. Crabmeat sounds wonderful, will have to try it!

    I am totally with you on pie crust...for years I tried to make a good crust, tried it with butter, tried it with shortning, tried it with oil...until I finally quit trying! I am so much happier now - haha. I really like the pie crust in the box (Pillsbury I think) that are near the canned biscuits. So easy and much better than any I ever produced!

    Boy, I sure envy you those fresh eggs! We had chickens many years ago and there was just nothing like those eggs!

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  7. Farm-fresh eggs! I'm getting back into the country life and remembering my grandmother talking about "hens' eggs" as opposed to "store eggs". Yes, all eggs come from hens but that's how she differentiated between the eggs HER hens laid and the ones you had to buy elsewhere.

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