Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Mississippi. These are the states I have not visited. (My husband claims credit for just being in an airport, but I say absolutely not.) It’s a random list, but then so much of life is random. For instance, I was only in Iowa because it was part of the route my husband and I took in driving back to New Jersey from Salt Lake City where we were stranded after 9/11.
Until last month, Arizona was also on my never-been-there list. But a couple of years ago, when I started this blog, I mentioned it in a Christmas letter, and my husband’s cousin’s wife (are you following this?), whom I’d never met, read the blog and started an email conversation with me. She lives in Alaska, where I still haven’t been, though now I have hopes. Besides being incredibly friendly, she’s also a fellow foodie and an excellent cook. I know these things because she and her husband invited us to visit them in Scottsdale, where they now – wisely – spend their winters.
We had dinner one night at the excellent Rancho Pinot, where in the spirit of the true Southwest, I had a really yummy grilled quail on polenta. And we drove one day to the breathtaking Upper Salt River Canyon.
The best part for me was getting to know my cousin-in-law, Debby, who loves Penzey’s Spices as much as I do, and served us all sorts of good foods, including her specialty, Quiche Lorraine, which appeared for breakfast one day. Those of you who’ve read this blog before will understand how in awe I am of anyone who can make it to the kitchen in time to whip up a quiche, and this one was well worth the awe. So here it is, courtesy of Debby. Say “Hi,” Deb!
Kitchen Goddess note: I started out giving you TWO versions of the recipe for Pâte Brisée (pronounced “paht bree-ZAY,” also known as Pie Dough), because Deb’s is slightly different from the one I know and love, which I got at the CIA. Then I realized I was injecting unnecessary confusion into the process. Deb’s method involves “using your index finger to stir the liquid quickly into the flour.” Now I can testify that Deb’s crust is excellent – flaky and buttery. So I know her version works. On the other hand, there’s the yuck factor. The only way I’m putting my hands into a flour/water mixture is if I’m wearing rubber gloves, which I think removes much of the cooking romance. So I decided to just give you the method I use, in which you can use your hands or – ta-dah! – your food processor.
Debby’s Quiche Lorraine
For the filling:
¼ pound sliced bacon, sliced in 1-inch lengths
2 cups heavy cream, or milk if you prefer (but what’s the point?)
4 eggs, one of which is separated
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
a grating of fresh nutmeg
1 teaspoon chopped chives
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon Fox Point herbal mix, from Penzey’s Spices [Kitchen Goddess note: Penzey’s Spices is a marvelous resource for fresh herbs and spices, but you can do without the Fox Point in this recipe if you don’t have any. And then you should go get some.]
¾ cup diced Swiss cheese
Prepare a 9-inch pie shell of Pâte Brisée (see below). Brush it with the separated egg white and prick it well with the tines of a fork.
Preheat oven to 375º.
Cook the bacon pieces in a heavy skillet, stirring constantly, until the fat is almost rendered out, but the bacon is not yet crisp. Drain on absorbent toweling. (Debby says she often just cooks 4 pieces of bacon whole in the microwave bacon and breaks them into pieces.)
Bring the cream almost (only almost!) to a boil, then cool it slightly and beat it together with the remaining 3 eggs plus the leftover yolk, the salt and pepper, nutmeg, and herbs. Sprinkle the bacon and the cheese in the bottom of the pie shell and pour the custard mixture over it. Bake 35- 45 minutes or until the top is a golden brown.
Pâte Brisée [from the Culinary Institute of America]
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
¾ stick (6 Tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 Tablespoons cold vegetable shortening, cut into ½-inch cubes
½ teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons ice water, or as needed
Sift together the flour and salt, or stir to blend. Cut the fat into the mixture using a food processor, pastry blender or two knives, leaving some bits of fat the size of small peas. Drizzle a few tablespoons of the water over the mixture and rub it into the flour. Continue to add water a tablespoon at a time, just until it holds together when you squeeze a handful of it.** Turn the dough out onto a work surface, and gather and press it into a ball. Wrap well in plastic wrap (or in a slightly damp dish towel, or dusted with flour and wrapped in wax paper) and chill at least an hour or even overnight.
**Kitchen Goddess note: If using the food processor, blend with short pulses. You can add the water while the flour-butter mix is still in the processor bowl, and continue pulsing – just until the mixture starts to come together in clumps. You’re not looking for it to be a solid ball of dough.