Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Queen of Culture... Queen of Quiche

The age of the quiche seems long gone. It has been replaced by frittatas, stratas, tarts, and other Italianate interpretations of something that is painfully French. But I - as amoro-Italian as I am - will never give up the peaceful balancing of textures and flowering couplings of flavors brought to us by the crusty and savory pie.

Thick and thin quiche has been with me through thick and thin. Not those measly, frozen Costco hors d'oeuvres that likely contain narcotic ingredients, that hold their place next to Little Smokies - no, not those, but the ones forged by loving and calloused hands of the old world. My memories are often blurred by foggy Parisian atmospheres and billowing cigarette smoke - but I can distinctly remember this eggy beacon, yelling to me among chevre chaud and soup a l'oignon in crowded lunch hours at French cafes.

One instance in particular summarizes all my quiche memories. I had climbed the steps of Montmartre and, like a Bohemian mecca, artists easles, cobblestones and berets jutted from the horizon as I took the last few steps. It was December. It was cold. Artists heckled me, asking to draw my picture, and I politely declined, for not even flattery is a match for the search for an espresso and a lunch.

My family and I padded across the square, over each rough stone in a number of alleyways, in order to avoid a tourist-heavy cafe. We stumbled into what looked like an old auberge, and our stomachs worked in tandem with our noses, telling us to stop the search.

And there the flowery prose ends. I had a cappucino. Frothy and strong. And a piece of quiche lorraine. Bacony, eggy, salty, crusty, smooth, spongy. In my mouth.

This is no quiche lorraine, but its my own mustering of simple ingredients - and thats really what a quiche is all about. Something that will dance nicely in your mouth and fill you up, recalling a memory or two while it does its job. Use whatever you'd like in this recipe, but try not to stray from these ideas: only 1 cheese, egg, vegetable, herb, dairy. Replace the vegetable with meat if wanting to make it non-vegetarian. The key is not to overdo it - 2 or 3 flavors at once is the goal. And, much to many people's surprise, the filling of a quiche should be primarily milk or cream - not egg. It's not a crusted omelette, people! Its a custard tart.

Have fun!

Quiche au chevre, oignons, et herbes de provence
Quiche with goat cheese, carmelized onions, and herbs de provence

1 9 inch pie crust (you could buy one, or, better yet, make one)

1 small sweet onion

2 teaspoons herbes de provence (more or less if you'd like)

4 organic eggs

¾ cup low-fat milk

¼ cup Greek style plain yogurt

¼ log soft goat cheese

¼ cup (or to taste) grated parmesan cheese

olive oil, salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Roll out pie crust and fit into deep 9-inch pie dish. Prick the bottom all over with a fork.

Slice the onion thinly, in long strips. Heat a little bit of olive oil (just a little!) in a sauté-pan over very high heat and add the sliced onions. Season with salt and pepper. Stir occasionally to make sure they do not brown too much. When they are very soft, sweet, and brown yet still firm, turn off the heat and pour them into the pie crust. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, whisk the milk, yogurt, eggs, and herbs together until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Crumble the goat cheese over the cooled onions in the tart shell, then sprinkle on the Parmesan (you may want to add more or less – too much will interfere with the goat cheese; its primary purpose is for a slight nuttiness and saltiness). Pour the egg mixture into the shell. Bake for exactly 30 minutes (it should be mostly set and lightly browned on the edges). Let cool slightly and serve warm with roasted vegetables or a simple green salad.


Janet said...

I can verify that the quiche is excellent.

Whoa! I remember that lunch that cold day but I do not remember what I had. What did I have?

Carroll said...

"Spicy Truffle"! A most excellent nom du blog :-)

I am reeling with astonishment at this post -- when I was in Paris last April, the only place I had quiche was near the steps of Montmartre! Expecting a more eggy creation, I was initially disappointed to be handed what was clearly a "custard tart". But oh my goodness, was it ever good!

Sorry for the overload of exclamation points here (!) but have such a very similar memory? Amazing! (!!)

I adore food blogs, and this is a very promising start for a new one. Consider yourself bookmarked, and please enroll me in your First Week Readers fan club :-)

brother terry said...

Coming from a part of the country where little smokies, in barbeque sauce no less, rule; I can't wait for the recipes!