Monthly Archives: July 2009

Heirloom Tomato and Goat Cheese Quiche

Check it out — my quiche recipe is done! I’ve been cooking all weekend to prepare for the Julie and Julia contest and for my appearance tomorrow on Fox news. I stopped by my local cooking store, too. Cook’s of Crocus Hill is getting on the Julie and Julia bandwagon with a display of everything you might need to cook like a grand dame. I took this as an opportunity to pick up a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

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I have to say, it’s a weird (although charming) world in there. You don’t come to this book to eat. You come to it to learn. Food in MAFC isn’t distilled down to a sexy recipe and full-color photo on glossy paper. It is, to quote T. S. Eliot, pinned and wriggling on the wall. It’s dissected and explained. Given all the time Child spends discussing her mentors in the intro, I’m not surprised. She makes you feel like you’re right there with her when she first moves to France and begins learning from the masters.

Here is my rendition of a classic French quiche. I used Child’s pastry recipe and adapted it to how it worked for me. The rest of the recipe, inspired by goat cheese, is mine.

Heirloom tomato and goat cheese quiche
Carrie Obry’s entry for MOA’s Julia and Julia contest

In this recipe, the wonderful flavors of a classic quiche complement tangy goat cheese and meaty heirloom tomatoes.

Pastry pans come in all sizes – from 3-inch party-sized shells to 11-inch entrée shells. If you are making quiche for the first time, consider using a modest 8-inch pan. It’s a little easier to handle the dough for a smaller pan.

Don’t be turned off by the list of instructions. Making quiche isn’t difficult, but it takes many words to describe few steps. Before you start, I recommend watching instructional videos at YouTube.

Pastry Crust (Pâte brisée)
Adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Makes enough dough for an 8- to 10-inch crust. See MAFC for additional ratio instructions.

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into smallish cubes
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, and salt and pulse. Add butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

  1. With the machine running, add the ice water in a slow stream. You will know when it’s done because the dough pulls together to form ball in a corner of the bowl. The dough will take shape and be slightly sticky.
  2. For the fraisage (or “final blending”) stage, flour your clean counter. Put the dough on the counter and dust with additional flour. With the heel of your hand, press down on all areas of the dough until the dusting flour is incorporated and the dough forms a silky ball that doesn’t stick to your hands. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  3. When ready, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Melt a few tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and brush the inside of the tart pan.
  5. Quickly roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 2 inches larger than the pie pan. To lift the dough, fold it in half and then in half again, transfer to pie pan, and unfold inside the pan.
  6. Being careful not to stretch the dough, pick up the edges and drop the dough deeper into the corners of the pan’s perimeter. Gently press the dough into the pan in all areas. Trim excess dough by rolling the pin over the top of the mold.
  7. Line the pastry with a generous amount of foil and fill with pie weights, uncooked rice, or beans and bake for 8 to 9 minutes. Remove the foil, poke the base of the crust 2 or 3 times with a fork (or else it will balloon up), and bake the shell again for 2 to 3 minutes.

Carrie’s Goat Cheese and Heirloom Tomato Quiche

  • 2 medium (or 1 large) round red heirloom tomatoes
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 plump cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons basil chiffonade
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8-inch pastry shell

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  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cut tomatoes into slices about 3 millimeters thick and remove the seeds.
  3. Line the bottom of the pastry shell with tomatoes in a pinwheel shape. Save the top of the tomato for the middle of the circle. If the top isn’t good to use, cut a tomato slice into the proper shape to fill the hole.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the milk and cream. Add the goat cheese in small pieces and whisk until incorporated. After a few minutes, the cheese will get smooth.
  5. Add the eggs, herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper to the mixture and whisk until incorporated. Et viola! You have custard.
  6. Pour the custard over the tomatoes, being careful to leave about a half centimeter of room. (Do not use all of the custard if you have extra.)
  7. Slide pastry into the oven and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown on the top. (Feel free to place it on a cookie sheet for easy transferring.)
  8. Keeping the quiche in the pastry tin, let it sit for 10 minutes on a cooling rack.
  9. Slice the quiche and serve with salad greens and a glass of cold Lillet.

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Me, a Quiche, and Julia Child

Before I get to the quiche, let me set the scene.

If you’ll remember from a few posts down, I’m in the middle of packing up to move to Minneapolis. My landlord has been showing my place and it made me realize that I never imagined anyone else moving in. I kind of hate to say it, but I secretly resent every flip-flopped young thang who has walked through the door. Maybe I’m just getting old. I guess I was thinking that once I moved out, Apartment Z would just evaporate and all of my wonderful memories of living here would fly up like confetti and fall back down to the ground to fertilize some flowers or something. Ah, no such luck.

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Given that this is my last weekend here (sniff), I was just going to mind my own business and enjoy two days of meticulous packing before I move on Thursday.

Then, as luck would have it, a quiche entered the scene.

This week, I entered the Mall of America’s Julie and Julia cooking contest. I had to submit an original quiche recipe and a witty little form about why I like to cook. And egads, I was selected as one of the 5 finalists. So Tuesday, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Best Buy Rotunda, we 5 finalists get two recipes and one hour to chop, prep, and cook — and also put our own “twist” on the recipes. Whoever impresses the judges enough gets to enjoy a lot of cool prizes. And yes, I have been daydreaming about that afternoon with Eli Wollenzien creating a 5-course menu. How much fun would that be?!

If that’s not enough, Bridget Jewell, the public events coordinator for MOA, asked me if I’d like to cook my quiche recipe on the Fox 9 morning news. Of course, I accepted. So Monday morning at 8:30, I’ll be doing a little mise-en-place quiche lesson on Minneapolis-St Paul local TV. How grand. Check out this clip of Scott Pampuch and Asher Miller promoting Tour de Farm. I can do that. I love being newsworthy!

In the meantime, my adorable mom is getting star struck and calling me to ask which famous chefs will be there. She’s on a campaign to set me up with Alton Brown (she thinks I would fall for his geeky food knowledge, and she’s right) and keeps coaching me by saying this over and over, emphatically: “Tell them you want a show.” If only it were as simple as that. Then she sent me a text message that looks like this:

how about      apples or cheese

pecans pimentos or cayenne

peppe apples     cheese

I told her what the two recipes in the competition are, so she has been feeding me ideas for the unique twist I’ll put on them. I wonder she meant by “peppe” — or why she repeated those few ingredients, but in any case, it’s clear that next time I am home, I need to teach her how to punctuate on her cellphone.

So rather than packing, which I desperately need to do, I have to prepare a final quiche and one quiche en medias res, we shall say, to take to the studio — and also personalize and master two new recipes for the contest. Wish me luck!

Pizza the Way Nature Intended

The last time I wrote, I was busy recovering from my apartment farewell party. While doing dishes, scrubbing the grill pan, drying stemware, and generally putting my place back to its original position, I also had to drink the remaining Chardonnay and do something about all those leftover Banh Mi. I had so many of them! Over the past three years of cooking for big groups of people, I’ve learned that the hardest part isn’t cooking, cleaning, or hostessing. It’s knowing how much food to buy.

I bought 25 baguettes from Jasmine Deli. They were relatively short, so cut in half, I had 50 small sandwiches for 20 people. I thought that everyone would have two with a few people having a few more — but somehow this math didn’t work. Even after eating them myself all weekend, there were so many leftover I had to bring a bunch to work. Most people put bagels, donuts, and cookies in the spare cube. I put roasted beet and tomato salad, minted watermelon with pineapple, and lemongrass pork and tofu Banh Mi. I suppose every office has someone like me, right? (Don’t answer that.)

Thankfully, I had an opportunity the following week to share the leftover beer and baked chickpeas with my friends at the Pizza Farm in Stockholm, Wisconsin. Yes, it’s true. If you don’t know it already, there is a fantastic gem of a farm an hour and a half out of the Cities that serves hands-down the best pizza around.

The couple Ted Fisher and Robbi Bannen along with their kids open up their own farm to pizza lovers every Tuesday night throughout the year. They grow all the ingredients to put on the whole wheat crust, which is made from their own home-grown, hand-ground wheat. The crust is thin, the ingredients fresh, and the pizza kissed by the flames of their wood-burning oven.

There are no signs leading to the farm. In fact, there is only a series of dirt roads that make you wonder why you are driving a hour and a half to what feels like the middle of nowhere just to order a pizza.

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Once you get there, it becomes exceedingly clear. The farm is beautiful and so are the people. Everyone brings what they need to create a night of fine-dining under the stars. It’s not uncommon to see a full setting with a tablecloth, chairs, wine, and a candleabra.

I had a bit of a geek out moment when I was standing in line to order. Brenda Langton, the chef behind Cafe Brenda and Spoonriver, walked by, which of course I had to declare to anyone within earshot of where I was standing. The girl taking our order said she heard the rumor earlier and asked me to point out Brenda. For better or worse, she disappeared into the crowd as Aaron and I made up things we could have said to start a conversation.

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The chalkboard menu has quite a few pizzas and unique ingredients.

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Orders are taken and you’re given a number. My car arrived at 5:30 and we had to wait an hour for our order. The last car in our party arrived around 6:30 or so and had to wait an hour and a half. You’re given a number as they are ticked off one by one.

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In the meantime, you can drink wine and order a loaf of the farm’s own bread. You can wander around and pet the goats, cats, and cows, strum a guitar, lay around in the grass with someone you fancy, and catch up with your friends.

Angela and Courtney

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Stefanie and Sarah’s daughter Elizabeth

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Lisa

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Aaron and his paddle. If you bring your own pizza conveyance device, I think you save a buck. Aaron brings his paddle and asks people who are done eating if he can re-use their box.

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I wonder how many pizzas can fit in the infero at a time.

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When your number is up, the beautiful lady in the flowered apron cuts it up and takes your cash.

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And you’re left to sit in the grass and enjoy the food.

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I’d love to hear more people’s opinions about the Pizza Farm. If you haven’t gone, check out this article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for more details, or send me an email if you want tips on the best way to enjoy the farm.