As I patiently fill the cup-cakeless hours, it occurred to me that it was not at all necessary to rob my beloved baking utensils of a meaningful existence. There was no need to abandon the kitchen just because I decided to give up sugar for a week. Besides, if I was to get through the week, I was going to need something tasty to munch on in-between my impending sugar withdrawal fits.
I thought long and hard and decided to make something I had never made before: quiche. “I used to make quiche every week when you were a little girl…” my mother recalled as I told her about my latest under taking. Apparently quiche was one of my father’s favorite dishes – how 70’s of him. “ After baking, the quiche needs to cools entirely in order for the custard to set. I used to have to guard it from your father to prevent him from eating it straight out of the oven,” something I foresaw myself doing to prevent my roommate from doing the same.
For the project, I consulted my 1973 version of the Joy of Cooking. The use of cookbooks is a novelty to me. In fact I have always prided myself on coming up with my own recipes using my very own blend of cautious competence and fearless intuition - or beginners luck, as some would call it. There was something adventurous and exciting about coming up with an idea, and with little training and no background, trying to approximate my desired result. Sometimes, by some unknown miracle, my inventions would come out just as I had imagined them, but a majority of the time they would end up in the trashcan. It was a precarious and thrilling, not to mention wasteful, way to learn how to cook, but over the years that is what I did, learn.
Currently, it is not the adventure that attracts me to the kitchen, rather the satisfaction that comes along with executing an idea with ease and grace. For this, a cookbook comes in handy. Though I do use recipes, an adventurous streak still runs through my cooking. You see, to me, recipes are nothing more than a set of guidelines, guidelines that I will eventually bend to my own tastes, preferences, and even fetishes. Printed below are the Joy Of Cooking’s guidelines for making quiche, laced with Gourmet Peasant specifications.
Fennel, Asparagus, and Leek Quiche with Artisan Manchego Cheese
one 9-inch pie crust
1/2 cup – butter
2 tbsp – lard (I used extra butter)
2 cups – sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp – salt
5-6 tbsp – water
1.) Blend until mixed, butter, flour, and salt using a pastry cutter or a Cuisinart.
2.) Sprinkle mixture with water a little at a time, incorporating it into the mixture until you can gather dough into a ball (it should not stick to your fingers.)
3.) Squeeze into a disk and let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 2-36 hours.
4.) Remove from refrigerator and let stand one hour.
5.) Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Between two pieces of wax paper, or on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to fit a 9-inch baking pan. It should be one inch larger all around than the baking pan. Always roll from the center out to create an even crust.
6.) Roll crust onto the rolling pin then unroll it over the pie pan. Ease the dough into the pan and pinch around the edge of the pan.
7.) Poke bottom of crust with a fork, or cover with wax paper and fill with dry beans. This prevents bubbling of the crust. Bake in oven for 12 minutes or until golden brown.
2 cups – milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
a fresh grating of nutmeg
1/2 cup of grated cheese
Fennel sliced thin and lightly blanched
1 small yellow onion caramelized
One leek cooked with onion
A sprinkling of chopped dill
1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place veggie mixture inside the precooked pie crust.
2.) Mix eggs, salt, milk, pepper and nutmeg well and pour over the top of veggies.
3.) Sprinkle with cheese before placing in oven. Bake for 35- 40 minutes or until top is golden Brown.
4.) Guard your pie well as it cools otherwise you roommate might get to it before it has a chance to set.