V and I have spent so many lazy Saturdays going about our chores with the TV tuned to PBS in the background. We would be putting away the groceries and folding laundry as Julia Child chatted with master chefs in her trilling voice, Lidia Bastianich made gigantic vats of pasta and plumbers dispensed sage advice on This Old House. I love the cooking shows on PBS- they are so authentic and professional and infused with genuine love for cooking.
Last week, I hauled home a mighty tome from the library- Julia Child's The Way To Cook, published in 1989, a cookbook that focuses on techniques. Don't you love illustrated cookbooks from the '80s? There is something utterly charming about the colors on the photos, the over-the-top garnishes and the layout of the food. The pastry and dessert chapters in this book had me completely mesmerized.
The recipe I chose was one that sounds perfect for the season- Provencal Tomato Quiche. It calls for pre-baking a pie shell, then layering it with an anchovy paste, a filling of sauteed onions and tomato blended with eggs, and a topping of parmesan cheese and fresh tomato slices. My two major modifications were- I did not want to use anchovies so I substituted olives instead, and I used a store-bought frozen pie shell. There, I said it. I do have several excuses for not making my own pastry dough! Take your pick: There was a heat advisory that day and I was loathe to spend a minute more in the kitchen than absolutely necessary. I was busy hoisting myself up a wooden ladder to see the roof-top herb garden of a nearby cafe (no joke). My lace scarf won't knit itself. But before you cast your judgement, I'll have you know that this chapter contains a paragraph called "To Prebake Frozen Store-bought Shells". So Julia has actually legitimized such behavior!
Provencal Tomato Quiche
Adapted from Julia Child's The Way To Cook
1. Pre-bake a pie shell. I used a 9-inch whole wheat pastry shell, defrosted it for 5-10 minutes, pricked it all over with a fork and baked it at 450 F for 15 minutes.
2. Base: Blend ½ cup kalamata olives to a coarse paste.
3. Filling: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, then saute
-2 cloves of garlic, minced
-2 medium onions, sliced thinly
until the onions are cooked but not browned.
Add 2 cups tomato puree and cook the mixture until it is very thick and the water has almost evaporated. Season the mixture with cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper, oregano and thyme.
Let the filling cool almost to room temperature, then stir in 1 whole egg, 3 egg yolks and ½ cup minced fresh parsley.
4. Grate some parmesan cheese and slice 1-2 fresh tomatoes.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Assemble the quiche- layer the olive paste at the bottom of the prebaked pie shell, then pour in the filling, scatter the cheese and arrange the tomato slices ("tastefully", Julia instructs. I tried). Drizzle the top with olive oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.
6. Bake the quiche for 30-40 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly.
This quiche would be perfect with a fresh green salad. However, that evening, I had a bunch of vegetables that needed to be urgently dispatched, and as I had fired up the oven already, I simply roasted them and served them on the side. This quiche is divine. It is absolutely hearty and flavorful, a mouthful of summer.
This post goes to Lisa at Champaign Taste, for her fourth annual Julia Child Birthday Celebration.
Coming up next- lentils + butter + cream= ?? Stay tuned!