A couple of weeks ago I finally saw Julie and Julia. While the movie didn't blow me away, it was a fun movie about food. And let's be honest I love watching things involving food or cooking or baking. (Also, Meryl Streep is amazing in this movie! She totally captures the essence of Julia Child.)
For those of you who saw Julie and Juila, didn't it make you feel like making something a little challenging? I woke up the next morning with the intention of hunkering over the stove for a couple hours, perhaps even getting down and dirty with some dough. Luckily it was a Sunday, the perfect day to spend some serious hours in the kitchen. I know I am talking up the amount of work, but I was actually looking forward to spending my day cooking, a Sunday tradition that has been lost in the wake of prepackaged meals and the tendency to eat out. While Julia inspired us to cook, food television of late has had the opposite effect, so it seems. (Check out this article if you're interested in learning about how time spent in the kitchen has decreased considerable since the 1960s).
Alright, off of the soapbox and back to the kitchen. Julia inspired me to try out some french cooking. I had some beautiful vidalia onions that I needed to use, and decided they would be a lovely french onion soup. I got the most recent issue of Gourmet magazine celebrating seasonal recipes using produce from the lovely intersection of late summer and early fall harvest. I decided to try my hand at my first quiche - a broccoli cheddar recipe. Two simple yet classic french recipes - would I manage to cook both of these up in one day?
I began with the soup - slicing onions incredibly thin and then sauteeing them with butter and sugar to the point of caramelization. I continued to add wine, mushroom broth, a little balsamic vinegar, and thyme. The room filled with a wonderful aroma - there is something so comforting about making soup.
With the soup simmering on the stove, I began working on the pie crust for the quiche. Gourmet magazine features a rather traditional pie crust using butter. I love butter pie crusts -the flavor is so much better than one made with shortening.
The idea of making a pie crust can be quite daunting, but I think most people find it rather easy to pull together once they get started. A couple of tips: 1) Make sure your butter is very cold - this makes for a nice flaky crust and 2) don't use too much water - you want to use just enough to pull the dough together (too much yields a tough pie crust).
After making the dough you want to let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so (Gourmet says 1 hour, but 30 minutes works just fine). Once you roll the dough out, place it in a pie plate and prick the dough with a fork (to allow steam to escape during baking). At this stage, you will chill the dough again for 30 minutes. Take the pie crust out and bake for 20-25 minutes.
While the pie crust was bakin, I began to make the filling for the Broccoli Cheddar quiche. The filling is rather simple as well - a mixture of eggs, broccoli, half-and-half, cheese, garlic, and nutmeg. When the pie crust has cooled, pour the filling into the shell and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. My quiche came out wonderfully -AJ loved it. The eggy custard was light yet creamy. The combination of broccoli, cheddar, and garlic was classic.
The soup was lighter with the use of mushroom broth, but still wonderful with the carmelized onions and salty swiss melted on top. Give French cooking a try, I do think you'll like it!