Thursday, October 06, 2005

Pizza Marseillaise

This is going to be something of a guerilla-recipe for my favorite quiche, since I never measure anything...

Ingredients needed:
--flour (margin: at least four cups)
--margarine (margin: two sticks)
--mustard, preferably whole-grain
--sharp white cheese, preferably gruyere or conte but you can substitute emmanthal
--tomatoes (margin: two)
--eggs (margin: five)
--creme fraiche (margin: 3-4 tablespoons)
--fines herbes

Time needed:
About an hour and a half, two if you allow for screw-ups.


Click through for how-to.

Step Zero.
Pre-Heat Oven to, oh, say, 350 or 400 degrees F.

Step One: Making the Pastry.
If you're confident in the store-bought versions, cool; skip this step. I don't understand pre-made food, get confused by their instructions, and am generally too disorganized to buy pastry-shells ahead of time.

To make your own, you need room temperature margarine, flour, water, and a little salt.

Put like two cups of flour in a mixing bowl. Add like 3/4 a stick of margarine. Dribble in like two tablespoons of water. Squish it all together with your hands.

Adjust ingredients as needed. You are aiming for a consistency that will be soft but neither too sticky nor too wet. If the pastry is too wet, add more flour. If it's too dry, add more margarine first and then more water. The final color should be more of a pale yellow than an off-white: don't be afraid of the margarine-y goodness.

Once you're satisfied with the pastry, cover it and chill it for a bit.

Take out a nine-by-nine pan (square, circular, it matters nought). Grease the pan.

Then roll that dough out to a nice, thin quarter-centimeter. Quiche crust is supposed to be thin, baby. If you ended up with extra pastry, say "hooray!" and put it away for another project some day soon.* Manoeuvre your pastry into your pan, pat it into place, and prick it all over with a fork.

Step Two: Assembling The Goodness
This is the step the makes your Pizza Marseillaise different from all those other quiches, the step with all the specific ingredients.

Take a giant tablespoon of mustard, and spread it directly onto the pastry shell. Then take more mustard, and more, and more, and create a layer of more mustard than you could ever imagine a human mouth biting into. It will be okay, I promise.

Grate a bunch of your sharp white cheese onto the mustard layer. French folks will kvetch if you put too much cheese into a quiche; Americans will not mind.

Slice very thin one of your tomatoes. Lay the slices atop the cheese. You want a authoritative (although thin!) tomato coverage, so if you need to use the second tomato, go for it.

Step Three: Eggs!
Beat up four eggs and three tablespoons of creme fraiche. Add distinct amounts of salt and black pepper. Pour into the pan. Make sure you get the egg mixture into all the nooks and crannies.

Do you have enough egg mixture? No? Then take another egg, beat it with some more creme fraiche, and see how you're doing. It's important that when you add another egg you mix it with a proportional amount of creme fraiche because otherwise, you'll have an uneven consistency.

Step Four: Final Touches
Before you put your Pizza Marseillaise into the oven, cover the top of the uncooked egg mixture with more fines herbes than seems decent--at least three teaspoons' worth.

Cook for like forty minutes. Check on it obsessively after then. You want it to have 1)risen significantly, 2) started to brown, and 3) "gelled" sufficiently for a fork to come out clean and dry.

Serve almost immediately. I always serve this quiche with a green salade and a dry red wine--think a Medoc or a Saumur.

*You want to use your leftover pastry before it goes all dry and nasty. I shamelessly use the exact same "recipe" for quiches and tartes.

Here is the quick and dirty recipe for Tarte aux pommes: roll out pastry, put it into a pan, spread a bunch of organic applesauce on top, cutely arrange thin apple slices on top, sprinkle with lotsa sugar and some cinnamon, bake at like 350-400 until golden and soft.


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