pâte brisée

Pâte brisée is the name of the crust generally used for quiches and pies. There are countless recipes out there for the stuff, some involving things like shortening or even vodka, but it really comes down to a very simple list of ingredients: flour, water, butter, salt, sometimes a bit of sugar. Making a pie crust from scratch may seem like a time-consuming pain, but the results will be so vastly superior to any pre-made crust you can buy (plus it won’t be filled with any weird extra stuff that you wouldn’t normally stock in your own pantry). The process is broken up into several steps with some down time in between, and the more you make it, the faster you will become at the process.

Since I’m adding this crust recipe to complement yesterday’s mushroom quiche recipe, I’m including parbaking instructions at the end. Crusts for quiches are, as far as I am aware, always parbaked. For some cold custard dessert tarts, the crust is baked all the way before any filling is added, while for warm fruit pies, the whole pie is assembled first, before baking. This crust can be used in any of those preparations, in any recipe that calls for a pie or quiche crust – just make the dough, and then follow the instructions in your recipe for baking the crust.  Read the rest of this entry »


mushroom quiche

This quiche aux champignons of Julia Child’s is delicious and decadent. Mushrooms are sauteed with shallots and port, enfolded in a custard-y mixture of eggs and cream, sprinkled with Gruyère, and finally encased in a buttery, flaky crust. With a simple green salad, glass of white wine, and some fruit, it is an exquisite dinner.

This was one of the first recipes I attempted after buying Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In its original form, with the crust and quiche recipe, it goes on for several pages, thanks to Julia’s always helpful specificity in her instructions. In that format, it looks quite intimidating, but it really is not all that much work, especially if you make the dough for the crust ahead of time (perhaps in the morning, before going to work, or the night before you plan to make the quiche). You can buy pre-made crusts, but the most flaky and tender crust is the one you make yourself. It’s not difficult, and once you’ve done it a few times, just like pizza dough, you won’t even have to think about it anymore. If you’re only making the quiche for yourself or perhaps one other person, you’ll also get several days of delicious leftovers for your efforts. I’m posting the crust recipe separately, probably tomorrow, in the interest of not making this recipe insanely long. If you break up the cooking process as well, it won’t seem like that much work, and I promise the results are well worth it!  Read the rest of this entry »

classic caesar salad

Well, I am following up on my determination to make more interesting salads than usual. I had other ideas for things to post this week, but I ended up with a pasta sauce that wasn’t that great, and an ice cream that was downright disappointing. I have another ice cream recipe planned for the near future that should be much better, and a recipe for one of my very favorite meals for the next post, but in the meantime here we are with another salad recipe.

I’ve had bottled Caesar salad dressing before, and plenty of Caesar salads at certain “Italian” chain restaurants, but I’m not sure I’d ever had a super authentic version. When I bit into my first piece of dressing-coated lettuce, though, I knew that this stuff was the real deal – all the watered down Caesars I’d had before pointed in this direction, but here the flavors are much louder and punchier. My first thought on tasting was “Whoa, anchovies,” but it soon became quite addicting, and, for once, salad was the most looked forward to part of my meals for the next few days as I finished off the dressing.  Read the rest of this entry »

arugula salad with goat cheese and pine nuts

When I was in GA a few weeks ago, my parents and I went to a charming little Italian restaurant in Midtown Atlanta, called Pasta da Pulcinella, which I highly recommend to anyone in the area. Lots of tasty food was consumed that evening, including some of the best bread I have had at a restaurant, and ravioli stuffed with sausage and apples in a brown butter sage sauce with an apple cider reduction (yum), but the part I knew I’d be trying to recreate was the arugula salad my mother ordered, which I kept picking from until she let me have the rest of it. When I saw bunches of arugula at the farmer’s market a few days ago, I knew the time had come to try my hand at it.

This salad is nutty from the arugula and pine nuts, tangy from the goat cheese, and is brought together with a creamy lemon vinaigrette. I’m usually not that creative with salads, and eat them more out of a sense of duty than anything else. This salad, though, I have been craving ever since having it back in July, and I am pleased that I managed to make it taste exactly like I remember it the first time around. There are all sorts of creative ways to dress up salad greens, so I’ll be endeavoring to make my salad eating more enjoyable in the future. Read the rest of this entry »