Whee! The quiche worked out great! It could definitely use some tweaking, but I am pretty happy with the result. I made it this morning, had a piece for breakfast, and ate another for lunch. I don’t even want to know how many points it has. Points are not relevant when you’re discussing French food, anyway.
First, before I get all hypercritical about the results, let me just say it’s very, very edible.
Now. Down to business.
The short crust technique that Child (et al) calls for in this recipe is a bit different from how I make pie crust. And my pie crust is all kinds of awesome. Just ask my husband, who complains regularly and loudly about the complete dearth of pie crust in our house. But, hey, I can’t just have all that butter and lard hanging around. Bad things would happen.
So, back to quiche. Which is like pie, but not pie, and not enough like pie for me to have spent all this time talking about pie. And, damnit, now I want pie. I will have to stick with quiche.
I promised myself I would be true and faithful to the Book and not make any changes to the recipe, like subbing something I thought would taste better (even though I didn’t even know what the original recipe tasted like yet) or leaving out a step that seemed annoying or redundant. And I did pretty well with that. There was a slight alteration with equipment, which one can hopefully forgive since I wasn’t about to go out and buy a quiche pan just to make a quiche. Not when I have forty seven pie plates and cake pans and tart pans and who knows what else hanging around this kitchen. So I made do with a 9″ springform cake pan. It’s not ideal, but it worked well enough that I’ll use it again next time. I also fudged one little ingredient. See, the spinach quiche recipe refers to the Leek quiche recipe for the proportions of egg and cream. And the Leek recipe refers to the Quiche Lorraine recipe. And the Quiche Lorraine recipe has a baconless variation that says you can either use part cream and part milk, or all milk. So even though the Spinach quiche via the Leek quiche called for all cream, I didn’t have any cream and didn’t want to waste half-and-half on a quiche, so I used all milk. Ahem.
So, first, there was a partially baked shell.
Actually, first there was defrosting and de-liquiding of the frozen spinach. Then there was dough. Then there was refrigeration.
And THEN there was a partially baked shell.
It came together like this:
2 cups of sifted AP flour, 1/2 tsp of table salt, and two pinches of sugar, mixed together in a bowl.
Then there is a large quantity of butter that shows up, cut into small bits. The butter should probably be chilled for a couple of minutes after cutting it up into bits. Oh– and here was my only “I thumb my nose at you, Julia Child!” moment. She says to use 1/4 pound (1 stick, or 8 TBS) of butter and 3 TBS of VEGETABLE SHORTENING. Ack. Vegetable shortening does not exist in my world. So I used all butter. (Perhaps I could have used some lard, but I did not.) Anyway.
Now you gently and quickly rub the butter bits with the flour between your fingertips. The idea is to encase the butter in a sheath of flour so that, when it bakes, it makes lovely flaky crust. That’s a lame explanation but I’m ready to move on with this blog post.
Please do not look at these photos as a definitive example of how to do this. This is the first time I’ve used my fingers to make crust. And while the crust was good, it was not perfect (though I think the problem was with the pre-baking, not the rubbing). Still, let me just disclaim right here that I have no idea what I’m doing rubbing butter and flour between my fingers. The Book said to do it. And I quote:
Il faut mettre la main à la pâte!
See? So we Rub.
Eventually (it took me about 10 minutes), we have this:
a blurry picture of flaky, shaggy dough bits.
Next, you add 5 T of ice water. It’s best to sprinkle it over the dough as you gather it with your hand shaped like a backhoe.
If you just pour the water in, the dough on top will be puddly and sticky and you’ll have to work the bowl too much to get the bottom dough incorporated. Sprinkle. I don’t know how to say “sprinkle” in French, but do that anyway.
Gather the dough on a board and make it into a ball.
Then you fraisage.
Fraisage is a French word that means “a firm, quick smear of about 6 inches.” Basically.
This was very hard for me, because while I like to make bread and have done the fraisage thing many times (on BREAD DOUGH), I have never, never, never EVER ever never fraisaged (is that even a word?!) a crust. That goes against everything I have ever learned or heard or known about crust-making. It was hard to trust the Book. But I did it.
Finally, you pretty up the dough ball and smooth it out with just a couple of quick kneading-like movements. And then you pose for the camera.
Wrap and chill. The Book says 2 hours or overnight. I was exhausted already, so I opted for overnight.
This morning, fresh and full of coffee, I took my little ball of dough out of the fridge and rolled it out. I made it big enough to fit my [very nonstandard springform] quiche pan.
And then other things were happening in the kitchen, like kids wanting breakfast and telephones ringing and all sorts of chaos, so I do not have photos of my very clever weight-system for baking the unfilled crust. I used a slightly smaller cake pan (8″) on top of the crust, which everybody does, but since I do not have any dried beans in my house, I put two water-filled ramekins in it to hold the whole shebang together. And then I dutifully baked it at 400F for 8 minutes.
After 8 minutes, I took the weights out, pricked the bottom of the crust a few times with a fork, and let it bake about 2 minutes more.
While that was happening, I assembled the filling ingredients.
A shallot, diced fine and sauteed in 2T of butter:
Not pictured are 2 cups of milk, a defrosted and drained package of frozen spinach, some nutmeg, salt and pepper, and 2 oz of Gruyère cheese. Well, they are pictured here, just already mixed with the other ingredients.
Except the cheese. It goes on top. Like this:
Back to the shell, though. When the shell was partially baked, I removed it from the oven and took off the springform ring. It seemed unnecessarily precarious to try to get the shell off the pan bottom, so I put the shell still on the metal bottom right into a 10″ pie plate. If you look closely, you can see the metal under the shell in the previous picture. This arrangement held everything together nicely and -bonus- the pie plate also caught a tiny bit of filling that overflowed when I put this contraption back in the oven. I will use that technique again.
And then I baked it for about 30 minutes at 375F, and life was mostly good.
The filling was set perfectly, but the all-milk was a little… milky. It was kind of bland, especially when you had a bite of all filling and no crust. Next time I will either use half and half or suck it up and go buy cream. It’s good- don’t get me wrong, but it could be so much good-er. It also needed a bit more salt. Again, that could be due to the lower fat content.
The side of the crust was fabuloso. (Sorry, I think that might be Italian.) The bottom, however, was a little underdone. Next time, I will bake the shell longer before adding the filling.
What a shame that I will have to make this recipe again.