I can see why quiches get such a bad rap. My first encounters with quiches were those dreadful little frozen tidbits popular at so many cocktail and dinner parties. Bland but for the salt, often lukewarm in the center, and with highly questionable ingredients. I mean, how exactly does one get the effect of a flaky rubber crust? Another scientific achievement from the ages of better living through chemistry.
On the subject of the sixties, Julia Child writes of the success of the quiche and opines on its subsequent depopularization in her all-encompassing tome “The Way to Cook”. “The quiche – pronounced keesh - that cheesy, open faced, custard pie much in vogue starting in the mid 1960s, became so ubiquitous and often so badly made, that its popularity waned” (pg 384).
How like the Americans to seize a good European idea, make it their own, and drive it into the ground. The origins of quiche go back several hundred years to the medieval German kingdom of Lothringen, which later became "Lorraine", one of the 26 regions of modern France. The word itself comes from the German word “kuchen” for “cake”.
The quiche came to the centerfold of American popular media again in the 1980s in the form of a satirical work called “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche”, and gave us the term “quiche eater – a man who is effeminate or lacks masculine virtues” (wikipedia.org). The term lives on in computer programming circles as a person who deals only with the academic and theoretical aspects in life, and is unwilling to “get their hands dirty”. Hmm. Perhaps those who used the term have never had a quiche in its true and glorified form. After all, it’s essentially an omelet in a pie crust. What could be more masculine than an omelet, and what less American than a pie? What’s not manly about eggs, butter, cheese, and flour?
If anything, a stereotypical woman would be unlikely to eat quiche simply due to the overwhelming caloric allowance necessary to partake in a slice. However, only a stereotypical woman so completely overwhelmed with cholesterol, waistlines, and fake sugar would be so inclined to not occasionally indulge in something so delicious. How can you go wrong with eggs, cream, bacon, and cheese? SERIOUSLY! A little goes a long way, anyway.
The classic Quiche Lorraine contains only eggs, cream, bacon, and a smattering of spices. Some dairy enthusiasts (including this one) see fit to add cheese as well. However, once you’ve got the egg custard and pie crust down, the possibilities are endless. How about a Quiche Florentine, with tomatoes, spinach, and feta cheese? Or one with chard and shallots? The only conditions seem to be that the ingredients be briefly cooked beforehand, as the baking serves to only solidify the egg custard and brown the top.
Tonight I’m making the Cheese and Bacon Quiche from “The Way to Cook”. If I were making it for anyone other than my father, and were this any occasion other than his birthday, I would probably skip the bacon and add a sautéed leafy green (I guess I am one of those stereotypical chicks after all), but I think a little bacon every now and then is good for the soul anyway. Just ask any vegetarian. Ha ha ha….
Cheese and Bacon Quiche
From Julia Child’s “The Way to Cook” (pg 385)
(This recipe presupposes a pre-baked pie shell. I made one, but the frozen ones should do just fine too.)
For a 9-inch quiche, serving six.
6 crisp strips of cooked bacon
One 9-inch prebaked shell
½ cup coarsely grated Swiss cheese
Salt Pepper, and Nutmeg
The Custard: 3 large eggs blended with enough cream (or milk) to make 1 ½ cups.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Break up the pieces of bacon and strew them in the bottom of the shell. Sprinkle on all but a spoonful of the cheese.
Season the custard with the spices and pour it to within 1/8 inch of the rim; then sprinkle on the rest of the cheese.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until puffed and browned.
My good friend MLE has been on a quiche making kick for the last few weeks, and unless you have a hoard of angry friends or at least cocktail party guests at your beck and call, that can be a lot of quiche to eat! You can freeze quiche beautifully if you cut it into individual pieces and wrap them well. To use, just defrost them and crisp them in a warm oven (maybe 350 or so) for 10-12 minutes.
So here’s my quiche! It turned out quite deliciously. Unfortunately, someone helped themselves to a big bite of it when I wasn’t looking.
Fucking quiche eaters.