Category Archives: Things I Make

Oeufs en Meurette

The following post ran in the February-March issue of my Column The Sense of Taste. Readers coming to this site from the link in the column, please see the post before this one for many additional poaching tips.

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Although we’ve spent many hours together in the kitchen, the humble little egg still hasn’t given up all of its secrets. This isn’t to say that eggs are difficult to cook. They’re challenging only in that they provide an entire curriculum of cooking techniques. Eggs are both casual and refined. You can have them with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. They take you to France, Italy, Spain, Asia, and a diner in a small American town. They satisfy your teeth both savory and sweet. With minimal cost, they elevate other ingredients or take up a starring role in breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With a little dedication, cooking with eggs can become one of the most important techniques in your kitchen.

With Valentine’s Day upon us, I’d like to suggest a romantic morning recipe from classic French cooking repertoire, Oeufs en Meurette, or poached eggs in red wine sauce. If you make eggs for someone for breakfast, it means you care about them. If you make this egg dish for someone, your hearts might permanently join together right there at the table. With the first bite, the egg yolk oozes into the rich red wine sauce and the crevices of the crisp, garlic-laced bread. By serving it, you’re tapping into a vault of sensual French cooking and saying that you want to experience more of the world together. Poached eggs with red wine sauce is a sensual and beguiling gift of your affection.

It helps to view this recipe as the glorious sum of its parts: 1) red wine reduction, 2) sautéed bacon and mushrooms, 3) poached eggs, and 4) slices of toast rubbed with garlic—cooked in that order, but assembled in reverse. I wish you a most wonderful and romantic meal.

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Oeufs en Meurette

Serves 2

For the sauce:

  • 2 cups stock (beef is preferred, but chicken or onion will do)
  • 2 cups red wine (go for an inexpensive pinot noir)
  • 1 thinly sliced small onion
  • 1 peeled and coarsely diced carrot
  • 1 coarsely diced celery stalk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 10 peppercorns
  • dash of cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the rest:

  • 6 slices bacon cut into lardons (or tempeh bacon)
  • 12 to 15 crimini or button mushrooms
  • 2 to 4 very fresh eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 2 to 4 slices dense white bread (I prefer sourdough)
  • 1 clove of garlic, halved
  • fresh thyme for garnish

Put all ingredients for the stock in a saucepan except for the flour and butter. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced by half. Drain the mixture through a colander and into a bowl, discarding the vegetables. On your chopping block, work the flour and butter together and then add it to the sauce, whisking with a fork until thoroughly mixed. Return it to the saucepan and bring to a light boil for 30 seconds. Turn the heat off, cover, and set aside.

Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a deep saucepan for poaching the eggs. In a separate skillet, fry the bacon until crisp and set aside. Without cleaning out the pan, add the mushrooms and fry until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside with the bacon.

To poach the eggs, make sure the poaching water is at a gentle simmer, bubbling as lightly as possible. Add the vinegar. Crack one of the eggs into a small bowl. Place the lip of the bowl in the water and gently tip the egg into the pan. Repeat this process for all the eggs. Use a small spoon to fold the white back over each egg. Cook until the whites are set and the yolk still moves slightly inside the egg, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel. Trim off ragged eggs with a butter knife if you’d like. (If you aren’t serving the eggs right away, you can keep them ready in a bowl of warm water, or return them to the warm water in the saucepan for 30 seconds just before serving.)

Just before serving, re-heat the sauce as needed and toast the bread. Rub the toasted bread slices with the open the half of the garlic clove, putting one slice on each plate. Place a poached egg on the bread (I did this carefully with my bare hands). Pile the mushrooms and bacon on top of the egg and bread. Pour just enough red wine sauce on top, sprinkle with fresh thyme, and serve immediately with a fork and knife.


How to Poach an Egg

“One of the most private things in the world is an egg until it is broken.”

— M.F.K. Fischer

If I’ve ever been ambivalent about eggs, it was due to the immaturity of youth. I used to think they were too weird for me, and too . . . well, intimate, in an animal kind of way. But I’m past that now.

Eggs have become one of the most important ingredients in my kitchen. Like a dog that will do any trick to make you happy, eggs can be your best friend. They’re a wonder ingredient. I would put a little cape on these things if I could. If I haven’t yet convinced you, here’s a survey of wisdom from my cookbook shelf.

Auguste Escoffier, French chef born in 1846 and author of The Escoffier Cookbook (complete with 2,973 recipes!), says, “Of all the products put to use by the art of cookery, not one is so fruitful of variety, so universally liked, and so complete in itself as the egg.”

Doyenne of domesticity Martha Stewart says, “The egg is a food that lets us perform magic in the kitchen.”

Mark Bittman, everyone’s favorite minimalist, says, “No other ingredient has the power to transform itself or other dishes as does the egg, perhaps the most important food in our kitchen.”

Deborah Madison, famed vegetable enthusiast, says, “Eggs are often described as the perfect food. Simply put, eggs do things in the kitchen that other foods just can’t do.”

Curious as I am, I decided to commit myself to the curriculum of eggs. Scrambled, turned into an omelette, boiled, half-boiled, fried, or baked, I look up information about every preparation whenever I make it. One technique I’ve learned tons about is poaching, which can seem intimidating even to the surest hand.

A few things about poaching eggs make the heart race a little bit, but don’t let any of it get to you. Nothing messes up a poached egg more than your own fear of it, so relax and have fun. Once you have a bit of confidence, get out a saucepan and poach 4 of them all at once. That’s how to really show ’em who’s boss.

To poach an egg, crack a very fresh raw egg into a bowl (or many raw eggs into individual bowls), dip about a half inch of the bowl into a simmering saucepan of 3 inches of water, tip the egg out, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the white becomes a firm pillow to carry the still-soft yolk to the plate.

One of the challenges of poaching a raw egg is that the whites fly around the yolk like the arms of a simmering octopus. To help fix that, add a tablespoon of vinegar (“acidulate” the water, says Alton), which keeps things together. Lots of people also suggest creating a whirlpool (Martha says, “technically a vortex”) in the water before sliding the egg in, as the momentum traps the whites close to the yolk. This is a cool trick, but for a long time it led me to think you can only poach one egg at a time — and that’s just not true. If you’re poaching an egg for yourself, go for the vortex. If poaching for a group of people, you can cook up to 4 eggs in the same pan. In this case, skip the vortex. To avoid the octopus effect, after you tip the eggs in, simply push the whites back over the yolk with a wooden spoon and hold there for about 3 seconds.

The most useful thing I’ve learned about poaching eggs is their durability. You can put them on a plate covered with a paper towel and trim off the messy edges. If you’re using them in a dish that’s still cooking, put the poached eggs in a bath of hot water until you’re ready to use them. If you really like planning ahead, Alton Brown says poached eggs can be refrigerated in ice water for up to 8 hours and reheated in hot water.

In Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child offers lots of tips of perfect poached eggs. Especially if your eggs aren’t fresh, cook the shelled egg for half a minute to firm the white slightly, then crack it into the water to finish poaching. Alternately, Child and Bittman agree — a good substitute are medium-boiled eggs. Child says to boil an egg for 6 minutes, peel it, and use it in place of poached eggs. Bittman says, with a safety pin, poke a hole in the top and bottom end of a raw egg. Boil gently for 4 minutes, cool under cold water, and peel. (Beware: I personally find it more challenging to peel a medium-boiled egg than to poach a raw one, so experiment and find what works for you.)

I can’t begin to tell you how many things are improved by a poached egg. Maybe that’s what the Internet is for. But in my humble opinion, the crowning glory, the poached egg pièce de résistance, is Oeufs en Meurette, a sensual French dish I stumbled on and fell in love with immediately.

I wrote about this dish for my column with Valley Natural Foods. As soon as it’s in circulation, I will share the full recipe here. For now, here’s a hint of all its glory. If you’re lucky enough to wake up next to someone you love on Valentine’s Day, make this for both of you. You’ll be happy you did.

A Beet Lover’s Confessional

I must admit, I rang in 2010 tucked away in the outer boroughs of New York City with R and a large tub of fresh artichokes, which he taught me how to cook based on his grandfather’s old recipe.

R adores artichokes. He lights up every time he talks about them. When he was a kid, he wouldn’t let anyone talk to him if he was eating one of the artichoke dishes his large Italian family would put in front of his face. Given how full of life he is, I think they started to use it as a strategy.

You can see why I was surprised when R claimed I have an equally passionate relationship with beets.

“Your beet is my artichoke, Obry,” he said, going so far as to claim I have a fetish for them. It’s hard to describe just what it is about them. Beets make me sigh. Of all the stuff in the produce section, they’re the most fun to bring home. They’re so awkward, with their and crazy tall greens and peculiar long tails so animated it looks like they could scamper away.

I roast beets at least once a week and eat them with any combination of greens, grains, and cheese — or just straight on their own. I rarely buy bare beets, as the greens are delicious to eat with nothing but sea salt, shaved raw garlic, and a swing of olive oil.

And what else can you do with that beet meat? I had a loaf of Rustica’s whole grain bread and homemade hummus in the fridge, which led to this lovely combination — a roasted beet and hummus sandwich.

R, just so you know, the beet lover in me honors the artichoke lover in you. 😉

Eat, Pray, Poach

What with one thing or another, this weekend went by without a moment to spare. My column for the co-op was due, which in itself is enough to keep me blissfully engaged for 72 hours. For every column, I develop a new recipe, test it 2 or 3 times, write my heart out, and take a bunch of pictures. In this case, I made a wonderful French dish, which I won’t say more about until the article is out in February. However, the detail crucial to the arc of my weekend is that I must have poached, medium-boiled, and soft-boiled about 82 eggs.

Food photography is not yet my strong suit. I went to Ace to get a flood light, hoping it would help me take salacious pictures, but it only threw a red-orange light on everything, and it certainly didn’t get better when I knocked it off its makeshift ledge and broke the bulb on the floor. C’est la vie! Julia Child, if you were born in the digital age, what would yooooouu have done? After you mastered the art of French cooking, would you have mastered the art of blogging about it? In the end, I scored best with those pictures taken in natural sunlight. (Click on it. You know you want to.)


In addition to making a infernal mess in the kitchen, I also met my favorite gals for our short fiction discussion, attended back-to-back holiday parties, and went on not one, but two dates. Remember those?

I ended up at a strip-mall cafe in a suburb I don’t recall sipping Ethiopian coffee with a computer systems analyst. My philosophical disposition was already understood, so he asked me a ton of questions about my understanding of relationships. I responded with even more questions, deconstructed the whole yin/yang affair, and felt like I applied the Socratic method to dating as we reached the limits of our provisional knowledge. I suspect I wasn’t so graceful, though, when I stepped out of the cafe, looked around, and asked, almost incredulously, “Now… where are we?”

Better yet, I also ended up drinking tea at cozy and dimly lit Uncommon Grounds with an intelligent, curious, and curly-haired psychologist with a PhD. He had read my blog before we met, and one of the first things he said after we sat down with our tea went like this. “I told my friend I was meeting Carrie…” (pause, given that this is my name), “like Carrie from Sex & the City. She might write about me!” It was clear he was being playful, although I also decided then and there that his statement would be a self-fulfilling prophecy. (wink)

We had a nice, slow volley of a conversation and I liked his habit of alternately looking at me or staring pensively out the window at Hennepin Avenue while he spoke. Before I knew it, we were done talking and he was kicking my butt in a board game I had never played before. If dating isn’t enough to keep you on your toes, trying playing a breakneck game of Bananagrams while you do.

I suppose there are some things in life, like poaching eggs, snapping pictures, or playing board games while dating, that a girl’s just gotta learn how to do.

Happy Birthday Boho

Living in the bohemian woodworker’s house has been a mysterious and wonderful experience. Last week, a woman stopped by to discuss the ins and outs of rentals and leasing — and just when I needed the advice. Before long, she invited me over to see her home and left a lovely orange persimmon on my counter.

A few days later, another woman came over with pumpkin cupcakes and buttermilk scones from May Day, a bottle of red wine, and a gift… for me. The jacket of a vintage paperback edition of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. She knows how much I love Mrs D, so when the jacket fell off of her own book, she put it in an antique gold frame and gave it to me. I was disarmed by her thoughtfulness.

Tonight, I went to a movie and dinner at Salut with friends. On my way home, jostling my things on the front walk while looking for my keys, I heard a woman shout “Excuse me! Excuse me! Don’t you just love Nathan’s house?”

I turned around and saw a lovely woman approaching me. She introduced herself as P from the salon down the street and told me how much she appreciates Nathan and his artistry. She was elegantly dressed and carrying wrapped packages as though she could be Mrs. Dalloway lost in thought walking home by herself from a party.

“Are you a teacher,” she said? No, but perhaps I have a way about me. I don’t remember how, but the conversation turned to food right away. She was happy to say she recently won a guacamole contest hosted my some official circles in town. She told me about chefs she knows, the restaurants she loves, and that she prefers Chilean and Spanish wines. We said we’d probably see each other again and I went inside to check out some of the things she had told me about.

Appropriately enough, this weekend marks the 50th birthday of this charming guy Nathan who brings so many people together. A party was being held and I was eager to see who would be attending. Since I had so little extra time to cook anything, I made one of my favorite no-cook appetizers.

  • cucumbers
  • mixed pitted olives
  • feta cheese
  • fresh mint
  • lemon zest garlic, oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes


Cube the feta and mix it carefully with the olives, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, sea salt, pepper, crushed garlic, and olive oil. (Mix the oil and garlic separately so the garlic will be evenly distributed.)


Soak toothpicks in water to take the edge off. In the meantime, peel the cucumbers, slice them in quarters horizontally, and draw the seeds out with a spoon. Chop the cucumbers into pieces roughly a centimeter thick. They’ll be a squat U shape, which is the perfect resting spot for  the plump end of an olive. Push a toothpick through a cucumber, mint, and olive, being sure to leave just about a half centimeter of space at the end of the toothpick. The feta needs to hang on, but just barely. If you push the toothpick in too far, the feta will crumble.

Pardon me and my silly iPhone picture. I was in a hurry!


Rather than placing all the spears in an organized and circular fashion on a platter, I haphazardly placed them in an old enamel bowl I got from Savers.


And that was it. I brought it over to the party with a card, a bundle of flowers, and three beautiful peacock feathers.

Life on My Own Terms

Lately, I haven’t been writing as much as I want to. Since I moved, I’ve been spending my time unpacking, painting, and finding all the right things I need for my new/old home. I also go to the gym, hang out with my friends, work from 9 to 5, freelance after hours, and try to follow my favorite blogs, catch the news, and read at least a few pages of good fiction before bed.

It feels like I’m always busy. To maximize my time, I haven’t been cooking in my usual style. I buy the same few things from Seward co-op and cook simply, almost sparely, with no fanfare and rarely a picture taken. No dinnertime Tweets. No facebook updates again declaring my love for beets. Just the simple act of making myself something to eat.

The other thing I haven’t been doing lately is dating, which puts a cramp in my favorite habit — going to restaurants. As I describe in my tagline, I love writing about how the city, dating, and food come together in amusing ways. For the last two years, I filled many posts with my renderings of boy meets girl and they go out to eat. But somewhere in the middle of my extended experiment with sociability, something inside me shifted and I pretty much lost all interest.

Do I want to find someone to spend my time with? Of course I do. In so many ways, I think I’m meant to be in a relationship. But at this point, the possibility feels so remote, I can only look at other people’s relationships and marriages with “bemused incomprehension,” to use a phrase from Tim Kreider’s wonderful post at the New York Times. He calls marriage and parenthood “an entire dimension of human experience undetectable to [his] senses.” When I think about relationships, and dare I say marriage, I imagine a vast foreign country I may never get to visit, usually somewhere near Morocco, with beautiful, distant horizons, rare luxuries, exotic spices, roasted flatbreads, and a mutual love so sweet even the hardships are painfully romantic. But if I close my eyes, I can almost feel it.

In some ways, I’m not concerned about the sizing-up, reckoning-day thing Kreider calls “the referendum,” where the personal choices we make in life are discreetly judged by the people we know. If I were, I’d be actively hunting for my perfect partner and trying to build four happy walls around us both. I’d also be checking the dial on my biological clock and wondering why I seem to be immune to its ticking.

In other ways, the referendum has come to visit. Hell, it’s set up shop in my heart and I rarely think about anything else. For me, the referendum is about personal fulfillment and finding the resolve to confront a bewildering abstraction that lives right in the middle of my life. Some people find themselves through marriage and children. Some through buying a house or a condo. Some through making a dent in the corporate world. I’ve learned that I will fully become myself through the act of creativity. For me, before anything else, I’ll be satisfied once I find my personal expression and get it out there in the world.

I just need to figure out what that is. I see a manuscript, a menu, and some old table linens. Flowers flirt together in a small glass vase on the table. I’m writing and editing at my own desk and cooking in a big kitchen. There’s open windows and exposed brick. There’s also an exhilarating sense of freedom because I know that the life I’m jealously peering into is my own.

This House Still Needs a Name

I’d rather be writing about the wine shop I discovered in my new neighborhood today, curated carefully by a guy who calls himself the Cork Dork. Or about the perfect grocery shopping route that occurs between my house and the Seward co-op. Or about my new proximity to the May Day Cafe and their trays full of pastries, foccacia, and scones. Or about the delightful exchange that transpired over an empty box of All Clad cookware in the alley behind my house. But that’s not how it is tonight. As my friend Stefanie would say, I’ve had wine, and who wants to concentrate when they’d rather unwind?

Since I last wrote, I moved to Minneapolis, resolved a terribly frustrating housing situation, competed in a cooking contest, and took a trip to the Badlands of South Dakota. I also made an appearance on the Fox 9 morning news (of all things). I was invited to walk through “my” quiche recipe to promote Julie and Julia--you know, the quiche recipe I toiled over for years and faithfully submitted to the cooking contest to finally reap my well-deserved rewards. Truth be told, I never even MADE a quiche before I was asked to do it on the morning news.

Before getting to that, let’s take a photo tour of the last few weeks. I said goodbye to my lovely old flat in St Paul.


The apartment feels such another world now, like a different version of me must have once lived there.


I did that whole Fox 9 news thing. If I could figure out how to stream a video, I would. Please go here _ to watch me pretend like I knew what I was doing.


I practiced the two dishes I cooked at the Mall of America’s Julie and Julia contest.



Here’s the view from my cooking station at the mall. Those are my fabulous friends in the front row cheering me on. Everyone thought I was going to win–and so did I. Despite all my wittiness, stylish sauteing, and waxing poetic about local food (I bought all of my secret ingredients at Cossetta’s and Caspian Deli), I ended up in second place. Given that the event was about promotion and not about food, however, I’m not going to think about it too deeply. Besides, I was sent home with a 5-piece set of All Clad cookware and had a wonderful time.


So as I unpack, explore, and generally try to land squarely on my two feet again, I hope to be writing again very soon, but only after I furnish my new kitchen with a stainless steel island and a hanging pot rack. I think those things will make this house a home.

In Case Anyone Asks

Although I can see how the conclusion might be drawn, I certainly didn’t grow up in the kitchen. I didn’t eat long, lavishly home-cooked meals at the table with my family. We ate things like meat, potatoes, corn, and peas and seasoned our meals with salt, pepper, mustard, and ketchup. The division of labor in the kitchen was just as simple as our food. My mom cooked every one of our meals. My dad’s only job was to show up, mash the potatoes, and eat.

It wasn’t until I was in my first relationship that food naturally became a major part of my life. Unlike my parents, my partner and I built a strong bond through food. We subscribed to a CSA and experimented with cooking based on whatever vegetables the farm sent our way. We ‘d bring backpacks from our apartment in Bed-Sty on the train into Manhattan to load up on groceries from Murray’s Cheese, the Chelsea Market, and other specialty stores. We’d reference our favorite cookbooks (primarily Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone), write down our original recipes, and play Beatles records while we perfected the sauté.

One day, his mom asked me where I learned how to cook so well. I was so surprised she asked this question that I didn’t know how to answer. Somewhere along the line, I had learned how to cook.

I often ask myself why I like cooking so much–and every time I come up with at least 12 answers. Here’s one of them. Cooking is something I can commit myself to.


I think about that fantastic scene in Julie and Julia when Julia Child, played so joyfully by Meryl Streep, and her husband Paul first arrive in Paris. Over an impossibly charming dinner, she emphatically poses a question to her diplomat husband about how she will spend her time in France: “But what will I doooo?” she implores. All she knew was that she loved to eat.

The rest is history, I suppose. Child committed herself to cooking, transformed her life, and fundamentally changed American kitchens.

So in case anyone asks, that’s why I love cooking. Creativity, passion, and determination all come together when you set out to cook a wonderful meal. It’s also something wonderful to doooo.

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.


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


  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.


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.


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!