Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nostaglia & Quiche Lorraine

Don't know about you, but I don't remember the last time I made a pie crust from scratch. The ease of the pre-made ones seems worth the trade off in taste to me. But I was never a very good crust maker, so maybe that's why.

Anyway, boxed crusts come in pairs, and I usually need only one, so the extra one hangs around in my refrigerator for a long time. When I realize it has to be used or it will expire, I tend to make a quiche or a bottomless pot pie.

Today it is quiche -- and my go-to recipe is in my oldest, most favorite cookbook which Grandma Hall gave to me in 1970 when I turned 15. I was very interested in French language and culture at the time.
Just seeing the dog-eared book makes me happy. I always look inside the cover to see her handwriting in the gift inscription. I really loved Grandma Hall and thought she was my biggest supporter, even though I only got to see her once a year.

Today, preparing for this blog, I discovered a letter she enclosed! This is why I am a big fan of blogging. It takes me on adventures of many kinds. This one is an adventure of the heart. And I get to eat quiche, too.

The letter is wonderful to me because it shows just how kind she was to me. She acknowledged my lengthy 5-page letter (!!) and unusual gift. (It was the summer-- maybe I was bored? I wonder what I made.)

She didn't say much in her letters (the weather was usually the main topic) but they always meant a lot to me.

Being one of five kids, it was hard to not get lost in the shuffle. Somehow she always made me feel special, by noticing me, and I am grateful.

Quiche Lorraine
adapted from Everyday French Cooking

Plain Pastry Dough for a 9 inch crust
1 T. bacon drippings
1 cup thinly sliced onions
1 1/2 c. Gruyere or Emmenthal cheese (I use good quality grated Gruyere. It's worth it.)
4 slices crisp bacon, crumbled
4 large eggs, beaten slightly
1 cup each heavy cream and milk, or 2 cups light cream
1/4 t. each ground nutmeg and ground white pepper

Line a pie plate with pastry and bake 5 minutes. (I line the pastry with foil and use uncooked beans to weight it down to prevent the crust from sliding in on itself.) I first cook the bacon and drain it on a cooling rack to keep it crisp, then chop it into bite size pieces. Drain off extra grease, then saute the onions in bacon drippings until transparent, and be sure to scrap up the brown bits of flavor from the bacon. Layer the pastry with onions, then the bacon, then the shredded cheese. Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the top. Don't over fill. If you have extra liquid, just make a extra mini-quiche in a ramekin. Bake in a preheated very hot oven (450 degrees) for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean--about 20-25 minutes.

For Sunday brunch today, I served the quiche with yesterday's roasted red pepper soup.

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