Including a food trend prediction for 2012…
By Alice DeLuca
When first married, I received lots of advice on how to stay married which is of course so much more complicated than “getting” married. For example, Sally told me that both a happy marriage and a career had been possible for her because she created and froze 4 quiches at a time. I immediately pictured 4 quiches in the deepfreeze, carefully labeled for rotation of the stock so as to avoid freezer-burn and waste. The quiches would keep.
Sally said she could just run home, pop a frozen quiche in the oven, and make a salad and – presto – dinner was on the table. That was the clue to a happy marriage for a woman who began her career in the late 1960s and lived through the advent of non-stick cookware and the 1970s food processor revolution. She soldiered on with frozen pie shells to make all things possible.[i] Sally’s husband enjoyed both a fabulous career and his hot meals without ever giving a thought to the benefits of compulsive quiche stockpiling. Sally did remain married and retained her career right through to retirement, so perhaps the quiche did the trick and the best wedding present for the new couple today would be a sturdy porcelain pie plate.
American quiche from the 1980s bears little resemblance to the quiches that graced the window of every charcuterie in Paris in the 1970s. The French Quiche Lorraine was a tart made with poitrine fumée, diced in to tiny delicious fatty cubes, just a hint of smoke barely held in suspension by a creamy egg custard. The total thickness of the quiche was just a matter of a few centimeters. The crust was buttery and flaky.
American artisanal quiche of the 1970s and 80s was really more of a pie, and a close relative of the casserole. Its deep-dish heart and soul was convenient sustenance with no hint of subtlety, yet it was delicious in its own right. Almost anything that could be considered main-course fare was served up in a quiche. It seemed like every restaurant served quiche[ii] and salad, and there were whole restaurants in the West that were entirely devoted to pie of all types and served up quiche in quarters. A quarter of a quiche was a serving. Up until at least the 1990s, it was still possible to waltz in to a Frontier Pies in Wyoming and buy a hearty slab of quiche for a quick dinner. Pioneer Pies was another such restaurant. In the early 2000s these pie-themed restaurants fell on hard times, but now that we are hearing that “pie is the new cupcake” perhaps these wonderful pie restaurants will make a comeback? They have a web presence again, although their menus show pie only as an afterthought, but we can perhaps hope and dream.
If you want to stock-pile frozen American downhome quiches as a hedge against late meetings and bad traffic, there is no better place to start looking for recipes than the cookbooks put out by local women’s groups during the height of the quiche rush[iii]. I use a deep dish 9-inch Pyrex pie plate, recalling however that as a marriage-saving device my friend used frozen pie shells. (Why not compromise and stockpile your own frozen pie shells?) The general rule that I follow is based on the Colorado Cache Cookbook:
For the custard that holds things together in the 9 inch Pyrex plate, beat together:
4 large chicken eggs
1 ½ cups of cream or other milk-based products
Seasoning such as salt and pepper, dried marjoram, fresh parsley, chives, a grating of nutmeg etc.
The flavoring and savory ingredients are up to the artisan. As a thoroughly mundane but delicious example of the filling, you could prepare the following ingredients and sprinkle them evenly in to an unbaked gluten-free pastry shell.
Hickory-smoked bacon fried until crisp (omit for vegetarian)
Spanish onions fried in butter until golden
½ pound of Gruyere or other hard cheese loitering in the refrigerator, coarsely grated to yield 2 cups
Pour the beaten custard over all of these and bake at 400 degrees F for 40 minutes, more or less, until a knife inserted in the center comes out barely clean. Serve warm. Or, freeze for later to save your marriage.
Other savory filling choices might be spinach and feta, ratatouille, wild mushroom with thyme (vegetarian), duck and preserved lemon (for meat-eaters), boneless Buffalo wings and gluten free blue cheese (for meat-eaters), five onion varieties (onion, garlic, shallot, leek, and scallion). The choices for savory fillings are certainly not limited to the tastes of the 1970s. Latin American, Cambodian, Thai, what sorts of quiche innovations await us now?
An American quiche renaissance is predicted – you heard it here first – and this will come as a great relief to the increasing number of people keeping “home flocks” of hens and consequently holding a surplus of eggs. The future of so many fledgling marriages and careers could depend upon a happy wedding of eggs and cheese.
[i] “Food Timeline: History Notes-pie & Pastry.” Food Timeline: Food History & Vintage Recipes. Web. 28 Dec. 2011. <http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodpies.html>.
David, Elizabeth, and Juliet Renny. French Provincial Cooking. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984. Print.
[ii] Kalter, Suzy. “Jaye Tishman’s Business Is Serving Quiche to the Stars, and That’s Not Just Pie in the Sky: People.com.” People.com: The #1 Celebrity Site for Breaking News, Celebrity Pictures and Star Style. 30 Nov. 1981. Web. 28 Dec. 2011. http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20080809,00.html.
“When it comes to quiche, John Travolta prefers chicken-and-corn, Barbra Streisand orders broccoli-and-mushroom and Suzanne Pleshette likes Roquefort. So confides Jaye Tishman, 43, proprietor-chef of Ms. Tish’s Quiche Co. in Los Angeles, whose clientele reads like the Bel Air phone book. Her egg-and-cheese pies, which come in more than 100 varieties (from apple to zucchini), have themselves become celebrities of a sort. “Ms. Tish’s quiche boggles the senses,” raves food critic Merrill Shindler of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. “It’s as close to perfect as I could want.”…”
[iii] Colorado Cache Cookbook. Denver, CO: Junior League of Denver, 1978. Print.
Gillies, Linda, Anita Muller, and Pamela Patterson. A Culinary Collection; Recipes from Members of the Board of Trustees and Staff of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1973. Print. (including a recipe for lettuce and bacon quiche)