Monday marked what would have been the 99th birthday of Julia Child. I told you a while ago that I was reading My Life in France, Child’s semi-autobiography about her time in Paris, Marseilles and various other parts of France. Well, since then I’ve finished the book, developed a not-so-secret obsession with Julia and spent many an afternoon checking ticket prices to Paris.
But what I had yet to do, shockingly enough, was try an actual recipe of Child’s. I (gasp!) don’t own a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volumes one or two, have never boiled bacon for a quiche lorraine or lit a coq au vin aflame (that needs to happen though. soon).
Child’s recipes have a tendency to be on the longer side, which usually doesn’t jive with my “quick and easy” mantra in the kitchen. Take this quiche, for example. Daunted by the prospect of creating, then chilling, then rolling out, then chilling and then filling a whole quiche, I decided to opt for the
lazy crustless method, baking the filling in what could be called a frittata, egg souffle, or as my cousin so kindly said, “I hate to break it to you, but this is just a fancy omelet.”
Still, I tried. This recipe from Food & Wine’s Grace Parisi combines Julia’s recipe for Quiche Lorraine (with ham and Gruyere) with her Quiche aux Poireaux (with leeks). I’ve never had leeks before, but my new roommate, who is famous for not liking vegetables, said that they’re awesome, so I decided to give them a try. They taste exactly how I expected them too — pleasantly onion-y, mild enough not to take away from the real stars of the show, bacon and cheese.
While a flaky, buttery quiche crust might have made this better, we didn’t miss it much, as the filling was delicious on its own. Even with my attempts to lighten it up as much as possible (turkey bacon, skim milk), it was rich and eggy, perfect with a sharply dressed mesclun salad. Pair it with a crisp rosé, then sit back, relax and remember that, in the words of Julia Child herself, “the pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite – toujours bon appétit!”
Bacon and Leek Crustless Quiche
Adapted from Julia Child, by way of Food & Wine
– 6 slices bacon, cut into thin strips
– 1 large leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
– 1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
– 4 ounces cave-aged Gruyere cheese, shredded
– 4 large eggs
– 1-1/4 cups milk
– Salt and pepper, to taste
1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-x-9 inch baking dish.
2) Cook the bacon over moderately high heat until browned and crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove the bacon from the skillet and set on paper towels, then drain all but one tablespoon of the bacon fat in the pan.
3) Add the leeks and thyme, cooking over moderate heat until the leeks are softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the buttered baking dish and let cool. Stir in the bacon and cheese and spread evenly over the bottom of the dish.
4) In a bowl (or in my case, the measuring cup I used for the milk), whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour the custard into the baking dish, covering the leek and bacon mixture.
5) Bake for 40 minutes, until the quiche has puffed up slightly and browned. Use a toothpick to test whether the eggs in the middle of the quiche have cooked through. Serve with a lightly dressed green salad.*
*My absolute favorite dressing for mixed greens is a Dijon mustard vinaigrette that Keith came up with: 2 tablespoons Dijon, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, salt pepper and enough olive oil for it to all come together — whisk, whisk, whisk and then toss over your greens. Delicious every time!