What We Spent and What We Ate: If You’re Afraid of Butter, Use Cream

Saturday was my grandfather’s funeral, so we had lots of company and lots of food at my parents’ and grandparents’ house.  It was good to have the whole family gathered at the reception to celebrate the life of such a good man.  Looking at his children, grand children, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren talking, playing and telling stories together was a testament to his legacy.  My boys were lucky they got to know him and know that he adored them.  I’ve never seen anybody dote on a baby like my grandfather doted on our Baby Walter, his namesake.  The day before Grandpa died, Baby Walter climbed up on his bed and hugged and kissed him.  He said, “Gampa dyin.”  Hearing it in that way, in that sweet little voice, made it all seem okay.  And I know my grandpa heard us all telling him how much we love him.

This week was Julia Child’s hundredth birthday, so I was feeling thoughtful about food.  I come from a family in which food is love.  Literally.  We select food with love, prepare it with love, serve it with love and eat it with love.  This wasn’t some abstract, unspoken value– it was what we were taught and expected to believe.  It wasn’t until I was in grade school and started watching Julia Child on weekends—at first out of boredom and then out of fascination—that I learned that food was more than love.  It was pleasure, joy, art.  It was fun!

She was tall, loud, passionate, animated and not particularly pretty.  She was like me.  She initiated my love affair with everything French.  I took French in high school, I traveled France several times in my teens and twenties and I developed a love of French wine and cheese bordering on obsession–all because of her.  To celebrate this special anniversary, I made my husband a quiche.  It was she who said, “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”  I certainly have no fear of butter, but I used extra cream for good measure.

English: Julia Child, Miami Book Fair Internat...

Easy Quiche
Quiche is a great way to show off your farmers’ market eggs and some really good butter and cream. It’s also easy and quick. You can make it several hours ahead and just leave it on the counter covered with a towel.

For the dough (I double this dough recipe because I make a huge quiche.  Then I give the leftovers to my son to make tarts with):
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons very cold Irish Gold butter
ice water

Mix the flour and salt in a medium bowl or food processor. Add cold butter and cut in using a pastry blender, a fork, or a food processor. Add 2-3 tablespoons of ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture starts forming pea sized balls. Don’t break down your butter too much–you should still see little pieces of butter.  You should be able to form it into a big ball at this point and then pat into a disc.

Chill the dough for a ½ hour before you roll it out. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface (I like doing it on a silpat so I don’t have to use much flour, which will toughen your dough), fold it into quarters (use a little flour to keep from sticking) and put it in a very large pie plate. Carefully unfold it and press it into the plate. Cut the excess from the edges and crimp.

Heavenly Homemakers has great pictures that accurately depict what your dough should look like, but don’t use palm oil. Good grass fed butter is healthier and will taste much better.  If you prefer a white crust, try SmittenKitchen’s crust recipe.

Stick the crust a few times and put it in the freezer for twenty minutes. Then you can blind bake it at 400°F for about 12 minutes.  I don’t use pie weights or anything, I just poke the crust again if it bubbles up.  Let it cool for at least 10 minutes before adding the egg filling.

If you’re in a hurry, just use frozen pie crust. Thaw it just enough so you can prick it, then blind bake it, cool, and add your filling.

If you’re in a really big hurry, skip the crust altogether. This is also good for low-carb dieting. Just lower the baking temperature to 325-350°.

My very ugly (but tasty) crustless quiche.

I tried Karen LeBillon’s kid-friendly crustless quiche recipe from her book, French Kids Eat Everything, and it came out ugly. It called for whole wheat flour, which I won’t use again. It was still very light and creamy, though.

The beauty of quiche is you can do whatever the hell you want with it and it will still taste good. Just don’t use low fat milk. You can add a little more cream or crème fraiche if you want it creamier or a little less if you don’t. If you are silly enough to care about lowering the fat content of your quiche, just use milk instead of cream (Julia Child would scorn you). If your eggs are especially small, reduce the milk and/or cream a little (or just leave it and have a very rich, creamy, less eggy quiche).

8 farmer’s market eggs
4 egg yolks
2 cups cream (you can use crème fraiche in place of some or all of the cream)
1.5 cups milk
ground nutmeg to taste

You can add whatever you want: gruyere, cheddar, crisp bacon, cubed ham, sautèed onion, sautèed greens, zucchini slices or other vegetables—just don’t add anything too watery.

My favorite quiche is zucchini, onion, bacon and gruyere.

Bake at 425°F for 10 minutes then down to 325° for 30 minutes.

You can bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes if you want. It doesn’t matter that much, but if your crust gets brown before the filling sets (it probably will), you’ll have to put a crust shield (I don’t have one either) or strips of tin foil around the edges to keep it from burning.

Pat’s first try at quiche. He used Wholly Wholesome frozen crust. It was delicious, but not as good as mine.

The filling is set when it’s lightly browned, it puffs up, and it’s only very slightly jiggly in the middle. You just have to keep checking it without opening the oven. Try a few different temperatures (350-450) and times to see what you like the best.

Bon Appetite!

No receipts this week.  We spent just over $100 on food–mostly on lunches.  Nobody much wanted to eat dinner alone.  We had several  good meals with extended family and we’re meeting my parents for dinner tonight.  We’ll be back next week with the $200 a week challenge.  


2 Comments on “What We Spent and What We Ate: If You’re Afraid of Butter, Use Cream”

  1. Margot Mason says:

    Great to read the update, Kristen! I remember spotting Juilia in a bright red Volvo sedan when I was in Boston in the early ’90s –You couldn’t miss her–not for anything! Looking forward to more food posts–Anthony and I had tacos tonight–and they were quite tasty. We had friends over last night–Sue and Max and their girls–Ellie (8) brought over hand-made peppermint chocolate candies–and they left two extra for our din this eve–Very nice!

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