When I first returned from France in 1978 I was 18 years old and cooking up a storm for friends and family. Intricate five and six course French meals. Amuse-bouches, appetizers, main course, salad course, cheese course, and dessert course. One of my favorite things to make was a dish I discovered while living in Alsace – la tarte a l’oignon, or onion tart. It was simple, delicious and very satisfying.
The recipe in French that I used to make the dish listed pâte brisée for the crust. A pâte brisée is translated as ‘short paste,’ ‘pastry dough, or ‘pie crust’ in ‘Mastering The Art of French Cooking.’ All good except for some unknown reason I found a whole wheat pie crust in the vegetarian cookbook ‘Laurel’s Kitchen’ that I started using. It’s not because I am vegetarian. My reasons for this decision are now lost to time. It is simply an amazing piecrust. One I have made often.
When Robert and I decided to stay in this past New Year’s Eve and make a quiche I knew I’d be making that whole wheat piecrust. It had been a long time since I’d made a quiche, or even an onion tart, and I was excited to do so. We had even purchased a beautiful ceramic quiche pan from Sur La Table just for the occasion. I hauled ‘Mastering The Art’ out so Julia could give me guidance, and in reading the recipe I was reminded of what a quiche really is.
Her translation of quiche is ‘open-faced tart.’ Her translation of quiche Lorraine is ‘Cream and Bacon Quiche’. Heavy cream, eggs and bacon. That simple. A lot of French cooking is fairly uncomplicated with a minimum of ingredients and for good reason. By keeping the ingredient list to the few the flavors of those included stand out. I think we tend to want to add a lot of ingredients to a dish like quiche and that often takes away from the simplicity of flavors that could be there. Julia does go on to allow for other types of quiches in the book; cheese, Roquefort, tomato, and so on. The only alteration to her recipe we made was to add a little gruyere cheese.
Final note (before recipes): a friend recently pointed out that The B-52’s recorded a song called ‘Quiche Lorraine.’ If you are so inclined to play it while cooking, please feel free. Forthwith my version of Quiche Lorraine. Add a green salad and you have a meal.
Adapted from ‘Mastering The Art of French Cooking’ by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck
Serves 4 to 6
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
3-4 ounces lean bacon (6-8 slices, medium thickness)
1 quart water
An 8-inch partially cooked pastry shell placed on a baking sheet; see below for a whole wheat piecrust recipe
1 ½ - 2 cups whipping cream, or half and half
½ cup grated gruyere cheese
½ tsp salt
Pinch of pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
1-2 Tb butter cut into pea-sized dots
Cut bacon into pieces about an inch long and ¼ inch wide. Simmer for 5 minutes in the water. Rinse in cold water. Dry on paper towels. Brown lightly in a skillet. Press bacon pieces into bottom of unbaked pastry shell.
Beat the eggs, cream or half and half, and seasonings in a mixing bowl until blended. Stir in cheese. Pour into pastry shell and distribute the butter pieces on top.
Set in upper third of preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until quiche has puffed and browned. Slide quiche onto a hot platter and serve.
Adapted from ‘Laurel’s Kitchen’ by Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, and Bronwen Godfrey
My one change to this recipe is to replace margarine with butter. And I always opt for the combination of whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour. I have included the recipe pretty much as the book lays it out so it can be used for other purposes. For the above quiche recipe do not make a lattice.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, or combination of whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
10 tablespoons of butter
1 tsp salt
4-6 tablespoons cold water
Stir together the flour, wheat germ, and salt. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with two knives or a pastry cutter. When dough is the consistency of rolled oats, sprinkle with the water, using just enough to hold the dough together. Using cupped fingers, work the dough together quickly and gently. As soon as it will hold together, form into a ball. For best results, refrigerate for at least a half-hour, or even overnight, but be sure to remove from the refrigerator and hour before rolling it out.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Press the dough out into a thick disc. Roll to size on a lightly floured surface, or between sheets of waxed paper, or on a pastry cloth. Gently roll the dough over the rolling pin and onto a pie plate, easing it loosely into the plate. If it should stick to the table, slide a long sharp knife underneath, and if it should tear, patch with extra dough once it is in place. Gently press the dough into the plate so there are no air pockets. Cut off the excess with a sharp knife, but be sure to make the rim extra thick so it won’t burn. If you are going to fill the pie before baking, you may use the extra dough for lattice.
Form a rim, and prick pie shell all over with a fork.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, cool, and fill. Bake for just 7 minutes if your recipe calls for a partially baked crust.
Makes one 10-inch crust, or crust and lattice for one 8-inch pie.