Friday, May 20, 2011

Francais night at Book Club

My book club met last night to discuss Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. Conclusion: recommended.

We meet at a member's house to discuss the book and have a pot luck dinner. We try to match our menu to the setting in the book so our theme was France. There are some amazing cooks in our group and last night was a foodies dream. We had wonderful cheeses, pate, bread, an onion tart, fresh fruit, roasted vegetables and delightful fruit tarts plus, I'm reluctant to say, much more. I made 2 quiches which even got a thumb's up from our resident French femme, Adeline. We met at her house and were treated to her delightful style and many creative and beautiful touches including an enchanting dinner table.

Though I usually use recipes I really didn't for the quiches and was happy they turned out so well. I made one with bacon and one with asparagus for my vegetarian friends.

Sarah's Key quiche

for the crusts:

1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 stick (8 tablespoons) COLD unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 - 4 tablespoons ice cold water (I put ice and water in measuring cup and used tablespoon to add water to flour mixture.)

Note: the ingredients above make 1 crust. Repeat for a second crust.

Add flour and butter to food processor and pulse until it resembles bread crumbs. Pulse in cold water 1 tablespoon at a time. After 3 tablespoons see if dough holds together. If not add another 1/2 - 1 tablespoon water. Do not overmix. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and mush it together into a rough ball. Divide into several pieces and knead a couple of times. Form it into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Flatten into a disk and chill. If you're like me and in a hurry place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove it from the freezer and place in the refrigerator so that it will not be too hard to work with.

Bacon, Onion and Garlic Quiche

3-4 strips uncured or nitrate free bacon
1/2 large red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled, cored and pressed
~1 1/2 - 2 cups sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup 1/2 and 1/2 or milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
~1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
9" pie pan, greased with butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook bacon until crisp in non-stick pan. Drain bacon on paper towels. Pour out the bacon fat until there is only a thin film left in the pan. Add the chopped onions and saute about 20 minutes until very soft and translucent. Add the garlic and saute a few minutes until it is fragrant and starting to sweeten. Put aside.

Add the 1/2 and 1/2 or milk to the eggs and blend. Add the cheese, salt and pepper and nutmeg. Mix in the onion mixture. Chop the bacon and mix in with the other ingredients.

Take your crust out of the refrigerator and put on lightly floured surface. Roll out the crust thinly until you have a piece larger than your pie pan. Fold in 1/2 or 1/4 to transfer to pan. Open it up and let some hang over the edges. Press it down into pan and using a knife trim off the excess at edge. With your fingers crimp the edges. Poke holes into the bottom of the crust. Pour your filling into the crust.

If making two quiches you can put the 1st one aside to pour the filling into the second one and bake together. Make sure you have both crusts ready before you pour in the filling of the 1st one. Bake for about 25 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling is set. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Asparagus, Green Onion Quiche

~1 pound slender spears asparagus, ends trimmed
4 green onions, thinly sliced
~2 cups Gruyere, grated
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup 1/2 and 1/2 or milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon thyme
9" pie pan, greased with butter

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Blanche the asparagus for about 3 minutes. Drain thoroughly and let cool. Chop asparagus into small pieces.

Add the 1/2 and 1/2 or milk to the eggs and blend. Add the cheese, salt and pepper and thyme. Mix in the asparagus and green onions.

Use the method above for the crust, adding the filling and baking.

The nice thing about quiche like fritatta is that you can use any vegetable like spinach or artichokes even leftovers. I like the veggies cooked even though you cook the quiche. Just make sure the vegetables are cut into bite size pieces. You can also experiment with different cheeses. Half of the cheddar I used was lite. I wasn't crazy about the texture so I added 1/2 regular cheddar. You can even make them crustless to save on calories or carbs.

With all the spring and summer vegetables coming make quiche.,, and the New Basics cookbook,, have good ideas for fillings if you're stumped. Or leave me a comment and I'll answer you back. Enjoy!

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