A quiche hot out of the oven, a salad, and a cool bottle of white wine–there’s the perfect light meal.
— Julia Child, The French Chef Cookbook
It seemed only natural that our group of foodies would come together around Julia Child’s birthday once again (which is actually August 15). She would’ve been 98 this year. Vacation and work schedules have imposed limitations for attendance, but like Julia, we all felt the need to march on or, in my case, tumble in.
Last year I posted the happenings of the $200 Coq au Vin. This year, we decided to do lunch from Julia Child’s kitchen. I thought, why not make the first Julia Child recipe I ever attempted – quiche! I’ve done this before with some variation. I’ve got all the ingredients. The heat wave has let up. This should be a piece of quiche. No problem right?
The recipe I’m using is from Julia’s The French Chef cookbook. I still have my sister’s paperback version she bought in the 70s. The cover has fallen off. The pages are sepia colored and break off when you bend them. And the book is now divided in two as the binding has dissolved from years as well as the heat in the kitchen. Handle with care. Over the years, Julia’s varied the fillings but pretty much stuck to the foundation of quiche – the pastry dough.
Julia’s Pate Brisee Fine (French pastry dough) has been my standard pie crust for years. Yes, I even use it for apple pie. I like my crusts buttery and my apple filling slightly tart which gives me the excuse to enjoy pie for breakfast with a wedge of cheese on the side. It was Julia who introduced me to the technique of blending the flour, butter, and vegetable shortening using the tips of my fingers until it becomes course meal. What! No spoon. This is actually my favorite part of making the crust.
For this pastry, I’m not using the recipe with the egg. Where I slip is –according to Julia, a quiche must be prepared in a pre-baked crust meaning one free-standing crust on a baking sheet. The crusts are for 8″ – 10″ quiches. My pie pans are 9 1/2″ with no false bottom for me to pop out. Off to mall again (just like the $200 coq au vin – is this going to be a repeat). Apparently, your regular home store doesn’t sell 8″ pie pans anymore; and the tart or quiche pan with the false bottom only comes in 11″.
Has everything been super-sized over the last 20 years?!?! I have located one on Amazon.com. But since I have a time crunch, that’s not going to work out, so it looks like I’m going to have to pre-bake as if I was making a regular ol’ pie. Do I like the bottom slightly doughy?
When I was baking quiche more regularly, I always loaded it up with Swiss cheese which made them a huge success with the family. Julia’s quiche Lorraine only has the bacon. For the sake of authenticity, do I do it her way, or mine? This is posing a dilemma. I bought extra cheese, just in case I cave into my basic instincts.
But my instincts on adding Swiss cheese to the quiche Lorraine are no different than Julia’s assessment of McDonald’s french fries when they went “nutritional.”
And I have to admit, the best french fries I’ve ever had were cooked in beef fat; and yes, I was in a bistro in Paris at the time.
Here’s how our Julia Child Birthday menu’s shaping up:
Ratatouille and green beans
Plate of French cheese
Roasted chicken with watercress
Quiche Lorraine (2nd quiche TBD)
Baguettes and dessert (TBD)
Lemonade, Iced Herb Tea
Time hasn’t been on my side this summer or for Julia’s birthday. To be honest, the minute I click on the “publish” button for this post, it’s off to the kitchen.
Update: D-Day (8/1/10). Lesson #1. Have the right tools. The regular pie pan just doesn’t work. Great for the double crust pies, but not quiche. The crust shrunk during the pre-baking. Almost had too much filling. The deeper clear Pyrex pie plate wasn’t as bad. Will I get a C- or a D for presentation? The priority of the pot luck group is flavor.
Lesson #2. Start working on the dough the minute you take it out of the frig. It’s summer afterall. Doesn’t take long for it to get doughy outside the frig. Beat it with that rolling pin a few times just as Julia said.