Monday, December 08, 2003

My two part Julia Child projects are going. The DVD inquiry project is not going as well- I got a form letter response from WGBH saying The French Chef had never been released on VHS or DVD. I wrote back asking if it WOULD be, but no response yet.

Because my first instinct these days is to turn to Julia,I made pan broiled steaks with gratin dauphinois from Mastering for dinner Saturday. The steaks couldn't be easier- heat some butter and oil on high, cook the steaks for a few minutes on each side, and then deglaze the pan, swirl in some butter, and pour the sauce over. My steak was a little thinner than Jeff's, so it came out medium well. I made him trade for half of his medium rare beauty. The gratin dauphinois was a bit over-rich, but there are worse things.

Sunday I started Operation Quiche with the traditional quiche lorraine from Mastering. I sat and compared all of the JC quiche recipes I had, first, because I am a tool, and then decided to cook through them all chronologically. I made the spinach quiche and was disappointed-ish in it. A brief comparison led me to think my crust was way, way too thick. I'd made the full batch described in Mastering and put it in a 10 inch cake pan. The same proportions are everywhere else described as being enough for two 9 inch pans, so I used half the pastry dough I made for a 9 inch pan.

I made the dough by hand. It's not that hard, except when some of your butter is still frozen. Nonetheless, I think once I have a food processor (or as Julia calls it in From Julia Child's Kitchen, the "electric super-blender-food-processor") I will not return to pastry by hand. So it's good to learn now while I can. I was a little worried about the large-ish butter chunks that remained in the dough, but they were delicious. I need pie weights or beans, though- arborio rice is not heavy enough for blind baking. Jeff offered to buy me pie weights- I have no trouble convincing him anything pie related is a worthwhile investment.

The filling, though. I don't know if I used milk instead of cream for the spinach quiche, or if I failed to bake it in the upper third of the oven, or what, but the spinach quiche was much more like a fritatta with a shell. The quiche lorraine- eggs, cream and milk, seasoning, and bacon- was a perfect custard. It puffed and browned so beautifully. I almost teared up a little.

Aesthetically, quiche #1 left a bit to be desired. In every other regard, though, a triumph.