Quiche Lorraine

While we were in Corsica we rented an apartment and, with a kitchen available, did most of our own cooking. Maurice’s son and his family were with us and Mary, the girlfriend of Maurice’s son, did a lot of the cooking. She has the French flair, throwing things together and coming up with great meals. On the last night she decided to make a quiche Lorraine and I made a video of her as she put it together. I had to cut out quite a bit as the baby started crying, Maurice came into the kitchen talking and his son came in whistling but I got most of it. One thing I couldn’t use because of the noise was the fact that she used store bought crust instead of making her own. It’s really good in France and it comes with the paper that you put under the crust. You can use it to lift the quiche out of the pan if you wish when it has cooled down. It was quickly gone. Very tasty.
I read this about the history of Quiche Lorraine: It is a classic dish from the French cuisine which originally was an open pie with a filling consisting of an egg and cream custard with smoked bacon. Quiche actually originated in Germany in the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, under German rule, and which the French later renamed Lorraine. The word quiche is from the German Kuchen which means cake. At one time no cheese was added. If you add onions, as I do, it becomes a quiche Alsacienne.

Favorite French Recipes

It seems that you keep running across the same dishes as you go to meals. I don’t know if it’s because of magazines, TV cooking shows or the Internet but I recently have had the same dish, a sort of terrine, also called a verrine, at three different places.

Isn’t it a pretty dish? I had it served as a starter twice and as an hors d’ouvres once, plus I have made it twice. Everyone loves it.

The base in the dish above which, by the way, is a plastic glass, is chopped tomatoes with a little olive oil and salt and pepper added.
Next is Crème fraîche, a type of sour cream. Add chopped chives to this and make it the next layer.
Then put chopped avocado mixed with smoked salt and lemon juice on top.
Slices of smoked salmon go next.
Stick a little shoot of chive into each dish, chill for at least one hour, and you look like a cooking star.

I also had it with just crème fraîche mixed with chopped cucumbers, chives and salmon all together seen above, served with tiny little spoons.

Another time, it was guacamole on the bottom, crème fraîche, then smoked trout and a little bit of caviar which gave a nice, salty little crunch with each bite. I was thinking maybe a little chopped, crisp bacon might add a nice touch or even-I just read about this-bacon salt, if the salmon isn’t too salty itself.

Favorite French Recipes

I was looking for a nice dessert to serve some friends after dinner. One of the friends is a real gourmet cook always whipping up fabulous meals from whatever she has on hand, and I had three Frenchmen to please, so I wanted something special , not just my usual easy desserts. I found it on the blog called
A Foodie Froggy in Paris
She has some really good recipes, some too complex for my simple way of cooking, but all delicious looking. The dessert tasted like it took me hours but it was very easy. I can’t tell you how fabulous this was. Every one was moaning with pleasure as they ate it. It turned out to be the highlight of the dinner.

Praliné glacé, Sauce Caramel au Beurre Salé or
Frozen Praliné Parfait, Salted butter Caramel Sauce
To be made a day ahead
For a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan, or a 6-medium muffin mold 7” x 11-3/4”, or a 10 cannelé mold (Sheet 11-7/8″L x 6-7/8″W; Molds 2″Diam x 2″H)

Praline parfait
4 egg yolks
30g brown sugar, packed
100g ready made praline powder (you can make your own by combining 1/2 cup blanched whole almonds with 1/2 cup melted sugar, letting it harden and then putting in a blender but I don’t have a blender here. I found the praline powder near the nuts in a grocery store.)
25cl heavy whipping cream

Start by chilling a clean stainless steel bowl, a whisk, and the cream in the freezer for 15 minutes (but don’t freeze the cream).
Make frozen praliné parfait : remove bowl, whisk and cream from the freezer. Pour chilled cream into the bowl, and whisk using an electric mixer.Beat slowly at first then faster until stiff. Beat longer until cream holds peaks.
In another bowl, assemble egg yolks and brown sugar. Beat well. Add praline powder and mix well. Stir in whipped cream, little by little, lifting carefully the mixture with a spatula. Pour the mixture into the pan of your choice (loaf cake, muffin or cannelé). If you choose the loaf pan, line it with plastic wrap, leaving generous overhang then fold film over top of mixture.
Freeze overnight.
The day after, remove from the freezer, dip bottom of loaf pan into warm water or into cold water for the other pans.

Salted Caramel butter sauce2.5 oz granulated sugar
2 oz salted butter, diced
2/3 cup liquid whipping cream, heated (30 seconds in microwave, medium power)
Some coarse salt (optional)

To make the caramel sauce : in a heavy-bottom skillet or sauce pan over medium heat, melt sugar until goden brown. Do not mix the sugar, just shake the skillet by the handle. Watch it carefully so you don’t overcook or burn it.
Add the salted butter, mix, then the heated whipping cream. Mix well and reserve at room temperature. If you happen to have small caramel bits, drain the sauce through a sieve. This can be made hours ahead of time-it doesn’t hurt it to sit.

To serve, cut slices of frozen parfait (for the loaf version) and arrange nicely in each plate (2 slices per person). For the other pans, arrange the unmold individual parfaits. For all versions, pour some salted caramel sauce on top. Serves 8 people, or 6 if they really like it.

Favorite French Recipes

This isn’t really a recipe, not the usual kind, but it is a good, especially on a cold, snowy day like this one which greeting us this morning:

The recipe is made with cheese that can only be found at this time of year and, usually, only in France. It called Mont d’Or.

A blurry look at the label. As you might be able to see, it says raw milk. It is a very pungent cheese and the refrigerator reeked each time it was opened. My apples and bottled water even tasted like the odor. I should have put it in a sealed container. It tasted fabulous though.

As the days get shorter in late autumn, Mont d’Or with its typical wood box can be found at cheese counters and especially in December. It is made in Franche-Comté at the border with Switzerland. It is only produced between the middle of August and end of March. This cheese is made of raw cow milk from just two breeds of cattle. It is shaped into its round shape with a rind of spruce bark and then placed in a round box made of pine or spruce. It’s good stuff.

Here it is all melted and delicious. You cut a hole in the middle and pour in some white wine and insert garlic slices throughout. I saw a recipe where the cheese is marinated in the wine for a day but I didn’t plan that far ahead. Anyway, because it is such a soft cheese, it has to be kept in its wooden round box because you have to put it in a hot oven for 30 munutes until the cheese is all hot and runny, so you have to wrap the box in foil. It is then put over boiled potatoes and ham or sausage. Easy and good. I think it is similar to raclette, just a different flavor.

Favorite French Recipes

When we were in Brittany earlier this year we ate a lot of seafood. One of the meals that stayed in my mind was fish with some sort of simple but fabulous sauce. It took me a little research before I discovered it was the justly famous beurre blanc, a very simple sauce made with a lot of butter.

The French are famous for their sauces and if you take a look at the ingredients you will often find butter as a main ingredient, much as Julie of the Julie/Julia Project blog and book fame found out when she worked her way through Julia Child’s book, Mastering The Art of French Cooking and gained a lot of weight. The movie based on the book is coming out in August, by the way. I can’t wait to see it with Amy Adams playing Julie and Meryl Streep playing Julia Child.

Ever since I’ve lived in France I’ve been trying to learn to cook a few of the famous French dishes. I think this is the first sauce I’ve tried. I may have done hollandaise a long time ago. I found it to be very simple when I finally tried it. I first looked at the recipe in a cookbook of French recipes by two American women. I’ve liked just about every recipe of their’s that I’ve tried but then I thought that I should take a look at Julia’s recipe. I think she would be the expert. Here are both recipes:

Beurre Blanc (Butter Sauce) from The French Recipe Cookbook, now no longer published.

2 shallots, finely chopped
6 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp light cream
3/4 cup unsalted butter cut into 12 pieces
salt and white pepper

Put the shallots and vinegar in a small heavy saucepan. Boil over high heat until the liquid has almost evaporated, leaving only about 1 Tbsp. Stir in the cream. Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter, one piece at a time, whisking constantly until it melts before adding the next. Strain and adjust the seasoning before serving.

Julia’s recipe:
She says it can be used with boiled, baked or broiled fish, shellfish, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower or poached eggs.
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp finely minced shallots
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
12 ounces chilled butter (3 sticks) cute into 24 pieces.
Use same procedure as with the above recipe.

Be sure to remove the pan from the heat once the butter is all beaten in. Use right away or put pan over barely tepid water so it won’t congeal. I didn’t really measure my butter. I just kept adding pieces and beating it until it was thick and yellow. I also didn’t strain it to get out the shallot pieces. My this stuff was good. I even dumped some on my rice something I’m sure no self respecting French woman would do.

I put my sauce on lightly fried fish.

Favorite French Recipes

It’s time in Provence for that popular soup full of fresh garden vegetables with the addition of a dollop of a garlic/basil sauce on top. I would say that it is easy to make but time consuming. I needed a sous chef to chop up everything but didn’t have one.

Provencal Vegetable Soup (Soupe au Pistou)

1 1/2 cups fresh fava beans or 3/4 cup dried navy beans
1/2 tsp herbes de Provence
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
2 small leeks finely sliced
1 clerey stalk finely sliced
2 carrots finely diced
2 small potatoes finely diced
4 ounces green beans
5 cups water
2 small zucchini finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes chopped
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
handful of spinach leaves cut into ribbons
For the Pistou:
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1/2 cup basil leaves
4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
4 tbsp olive oil.

Cook the beans in just enough water to cover adding herbes de provence. If fresh about 10 minutes, if hard probably about one hour. Set aside.
In large saucepan heat the oil, add onions and leeks and cook until soft. Add the celery, carrots and other garlic clove. Cook covered for 10 minutes, stirring.
Add the potatoes, green beans, water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 mintues. Add the zucchini, tomatoes and peas together with the beans and their liquid. Simmer for 30 minutes. Keep checking the vegetables as it is easy to overcook. Add the spinach and simmer for 5 minutes. Season the soup and top with a spoonful of pistou into each bowl.