Sunday, January 13, 2008

Julia Child's Cheese Quiche, Almost

I have tackled the master, and the master has won.

At least at first.

A week or so ago I scored this great used copy of Julia Child's French Chef Cookbook. It was a lesser-known edition but the same recipes. I didn't have a Julia Child cookbook, so this was a nice edition to my library. Child, of course, needs no introduction. Born and raised in Pasadena - California, not Maryland, of course - and introduced to French cuisine by her husband, she eventually mastered French cookin', popularizing French cuisine and fine dining in mainstream America. She also was a pioneer in instructional cooking television. She is, of course, the Goddess. How many chefs could say their entire kitchen was transported and replicated in the National Museum of American History? In the Smithsonian for Heaven's sake? Bobby Flay brags about many things, but I doubt he will ever brag about that one. Same for Rachael Ray or Paula Deen or Anthony Bourdain. I'm going on a ridiculous tangent so I'll just go on.

We should demand a Food Network Classic for Julia Child. Her, Jeff Smith and the Galloping Gourmet. Anyway...

I had some eggs burning a hole in my fridge (strange picture in my mind), and a bag of mozzarella ready to turn. I needed to use them. So I found a few quiche recipes in the cookbook and settled on her quiche au fromage (Cheese Quiche, p. 257 in this edition - but aw hell, there are so many editions you should just look it up in the index). My first thought was: aren't all quiches "cheese quiches"? But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.

As always I cannot reprint the recipe. Just know that I needed to layer the bottom with 2/3 of a cup of Swiss. Only problem: no Swiss in my fridge! But like I said, I had that mozzarella to get rid of, so I used that. Then I needed to mix egg, nutmeg, salt, pepper and milk. Whoa, hold on. I have no milk either. Yes, that's right, no milk. I did have some buttermilk to use up though. After mixing in the buttermilk, I poured it all into the pie shell, sprinkled on the rest of the cheese and dots of butter (my arteries are hardening already) and, just for some pizazz, a chopped-up shallot. Next I bake it for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

I occasionally do some dumb things, and after half an hour the quiche was about half-baked. Perhaps the buttermilk meant that I needed to cook it longer. Perhaps - I had to bake it almost twice as long to get it to resemble anything more than runny scrambled eggs.

After a night in the fridge it felt and looked much more like a real quiche. This is probably much closer to what Julia Child had in mind in the first place. And it tastes lovely. So next time I will adjust the cooking time if I use buttermilk. Though I'm curious to see what it'll be like if I actually follow the directions, which I'll do next time. Never mess with the master, at least not the first time around.


Child, Julia. The French Chef Cookbook (1971, 1968: Bantam Books, New York, NY)