France. Is there anything better in the world than eating French food in France? Okay, maybe eating Italian food in Italy, but it’s a close one. I love just about everything the French make, from their impeccable breads to their marvelous desserts. From steak frites (or even better, moules-frites) to boeuf bourguignon, to escargots, to soufflé, most everything French that I have ever put in my mouth has been amazing. (One exception – when I accidentally ate the innards of a crab when I was in France … I was being adventurous. That was gross. To this day, I’m still not sure if you are supposed to eat it. I mean, it was on the plate, but I think it was literally poop.)
People often think of French food as being fussy and elaborate, and it certainly can be. But sometimes it is as simple as a quiche and a salad, which is what I made for dinner tonight. I chose this particularly because my host father often made it for us (in his convection-microwave, no less!) and it was always delicious. When I came home from France, it was this and real French yogurt that I missed the most.
Both recipes are from the cookbook Essentials of French Cooking, which is a Williams-Sonoma cookbook. This is a great book if you want to cook French foods – it offers a variety of recipes from easy to hard and all are authentically French. It also separates the regions, which I find helpful.
Since I lived in Lorraine, I obviously made Quiche Lorraine, which is the quintessential quiche of France. It’s very simple – eggs, cream, bacon (or lardon), gruyere, and a little nutmeg.
This is an easy recipe. From prep to table it took about an hour and a half to make, and probably would have been faster without the demands of my toddler. (Now, for a confession. I don’t make my own crust. I hardly ever make them, even when I make pie. And do you want to know why? Because the store bought Pillsbury crust (specifically this brand) is JUST AS GOOD and about 1,000 times easier. So, don’t feel guilty if you go this route. Also, I don’t have a tart pan. I just used a pie pan which works just as well. Just make sure to trim the crust – the quiche doesn’t need to be overwhelmed.)
The filling goes into the crust in the following order: Bacon on the bottom, egg mixture, remaining cheese on top.
While it bakes, I recommend having a glass of wine.
This is also a good time to go about prepping your salad and dressing. No need to be fussy here. Just:
3 cups mixed greens
2 tsp each white wine/champagne vinegar and olive oil
1 tsp each Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1 shallot, chopped
fresh tarragon, chopped
Mix together dressing ingredients at the bottom of the salad bowl. Place your greens on top. And then, do nothing. Do not mix. Do not toss. Do not do these things until you are about to eat, otherwise things will get soggy.
Have some more wine.
Once the quiche has rested, mix your salad, serve, and eat. Feel full. Feel French.
This meal was perfect. The quiche was creamy and rich, with cheesy goodness in every bite. The salad was nice and crisp, with a hint of licorice flavor from the tarragon (which is honestly the only thing I could do without – I am not a big licorice person). It’s the right combination of heavy, eggy, crusty yumminess and fresh veggie-ness. Even Quinn liked it.
For dessert, I recommend going to your nearest patisserie and picking up something delicious. In our case, macarons. Yum. (We didn’t share with Quinn. We are mean parents.)
This meal was perfect. And after yesterday’s less than satisfying Morocco meal, it was nice to eat simple, delicious food.