Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Roquefort and Leek Quiche

Hopefully this if funny now, because it sure wasn't last week...

I started the quiche the same day I started the chickpea and carrot salad as well as the pear sorbet, so needless to say things were a little hectic. Each of the recipes were multi-day events though, so I didn't think it would be too bad. This was 110% false. So lesson number one today is to never start cooking something at 7PM if it takes over 3.5 hours to finish. It will not work out well.

Day number one was for making the dough for the shell . Keller has a small manifesto on quiche preceding this recipe, and he makes it quite clear that we are all stupid Americans for using pie crusts as quiche shells. I, however, was not about to be a stupid American. I wanted to be a regular American. The shell ingredients looked simple enough:

Flour, salt, butter, water. Pretty simply so far. This just gets mixed up, all the while ensuring that there are no signs of butter anywhere when you're done. If there are, it'll just melt away in the oven and leave you with a 350 degree version of the Titanic. I prepared the dough, formed it into a not-so-nice disk, and put it in the fridge overnight.

Day 2. It's time to bake the shell, cool the shell, make the batter, fill the shell, and bake. The baking of the shell part scared me more than probably anything I've made so far, only because dough is not my favorite thing in the world to work with. The first thing I did was to oil the ring mold. Now I didn't happen to have a 9"x2" ring mold laying around, so I decided to use the side of a 9"x3" springform pan that I have. The recipe calls for rolling the dough to a thickness of 3/16". That would seem pretty thin. It would seem much thinner, however, it you were using a pan with higher sides than you were supposed to. That would mean the dough had to be about 25% thinner than pretty thin. I did it anyway, and thought that I did a pretty reasonable job. After it was all nice and rolled out, I ploppedcarefully centered the dough over the mold (which by now was sitting on a parchment-lined baking sheet) and gently formed it to the sides. This went ok, but there were a bunch of overlapping areas. I didn't think this would be too big of a deal, I was much more worried about holes than anything else.

I baked the shell according to the directions, reinspected it for any holes that may have formed (none did), and then moved on to the batter. This was quiche simple step number 3, but about step number 15 if you put everything together that I was working on that night. The ingredients are again very simple; milk, cream, eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg.

The first sentence of the recipe says, and I quote, "Combine the milk and cream in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat until scalded." I read, well, absolutely none of this. This was probably not good, since the aforementioned manifesto had this to say, "When you're ready to fill the quiche, it's important that all the ingredients be warm. The custard needs to start cooking as soon as it's in the oven. The milk and cream should be scalded." Oops.

I did read, and follow, the rest of the recipe. It's easy, just mix all that stuff together in a blender for quite a while. Quite awhile times two if you're blender is normal sized like mine is. On to the final step...

This quiche was going to contain nothing more than the batter, some leeks, and some roquefort cheese. Roquefort is a blue cheese, which I don't generally like, so that was a bit scary. Carrying on, the leeks get chopped up and boiled for a few minutes, then laid out to dry. The oven was preheating to 325 while all of this going on.

Somewhere in the background I could hear the Jaws theme slowly starting to get louder.

I sprinkled half the cheese and half the leeks across the bottom of the shell. After reblending the batter to ensure it was plenty aerated, half of that joined the leeks and cheese. Now I didn't believe that the batter would hold the remainder of the leeks and cheese without just allowing them to fall to the bottom of the shell. It did, and that was cool. I poured the remainder of the batter over the coolness. It was go time.

Why is the Jaws theme playing so loudly?

Into the oven it went. Very carefully, I might add. There's nothing like walking around with half a gallon of batter suspended only by about 1/32" of quiche shell. Next time I'll probably heed the advice of the recipe and put in the last bit of batter while the shell is sitting on the oven rack, but today was not the day for reading recipes. I gently closed the door and planned to return in about in an hour to check on things.

Five minutes later, and I'm watching TV thinking to myself, "That's weird, it kind of smells like egg in the apartment. That was fast. And why is that freaking Jaws theme absolutely screaming right now?" I decided to go peek in the oven. Things were not good. Egg batter was starting to ooze out of the shell and drip on to the oven coils below. Burning egg is not a great smell. At this point it was just barely oozing, so I decided to wait (and hope really hard) that it would set up pretty quickly. Needless to say, it did not. It got worse, and worse, and worse. Finally, I had to pull the plug. My first major failure. At least some of the pictures are entertaining.

That looks good, right?

Scrambled eggs, anyone?

The oven still smells whenever I use it. Hopefully that goes away in the very near future. Whatever happens, I do not get credit for this quiche, so it will be making another appearance somewhere down the road. Oh well.


Anonymous said...

So, I made a very american cherry pie this weekend. My crust consisted of ... flour, salt, butter and ice water. Have I unknowingly been using quiche crust all these years for my pies? I'm surprised anyone could choke them down. What does your mentor say is in an american pie crust as opposed to a quiche crust? Or is the difference in the accent ... in english it is pronounced crust and in french it is pronounced pate brisee?

mike said...

I think it's definintely an accent thing.

I think he really meant that 'American pie crusts' are typically pre formed graham crackers in an aluminum shell that you keep around in case of nuclear winter, and not anything homemade.

At least they would have held the batter...

Susan said...


Found your blog and love it! Almost as much as I love dinner at Bouchon. :)

Re: this quiche, I have to tell you that I have seen and heard other people having the leakage problem as well, which is primarily why I ended up not trying it for a Mother's Day brunch. If you make it again ad solve the problem, please post about it!

mike said...


Thanks! I'll let you know if I figure it out. Scratch that, when I figure it out.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys,
I've made the quiche a few times, and cook out of the Bouchon book regularly (I actually made the tarte tatin last night). Anyway, I used a springform pan instead of the ring with great success. Because the springform creates a tight seal with the bottom plate you avoid the leakage. I also line the baking sheet with aluminum foil AND wrap the outside/bottom of springform with foil just in case...

Trust me, the results are worth this little bit of extra work. The mushroom quiche is our favorite!