Today is Food Revolution Day, so named by Jamie Oliver in his crusade to increase awareness about our food systems, globally, and to inspire children (and adults) to take charge of what they eat, starting with a simple revolutionary act: Learning to Cook! In support of this year’s Food Revolution Day theme “Feed the Future”, Jamie has created a set of 10 essential recipes that cover a wide range of cooking techniques to set any cook up for making some delicious meals and then serve as a springboard for variations as the cook’s confidence increases.
My cyber-friends who have been cooking together since 2010, first with French Fridays with Dorie and now under the umbrella of Cook the Book Fridays, are joining forces today to make what we consider to be an essential French recipe from our current project book My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. Can you guess what that recipe might be? Quiche!
I’ve been making quiche since early in my savory cooking career. When I look back in my first recipe card file book (which has served as a chronological history of my favorite things to cook from age 12 through college), it appears that I added quiche to my repertoire in the summer after my freshman year of college. I aimed high. My first favorite version was Julia Child’s Spinach Quiche (Quiche aux Épinards) from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I doubt I made my own crust at the start, but I made spinach quiche over and over again. In fact, I still make this particular recipe from time to time.
Now I think of quiche as more of a formula than a recipe. I mix-and-match crusts, custards, and fillings depending on the season and what’s in the fridge. It’s a wonderful way to use up leftover cooked vegetables and other side dishes. Bind them with a custard and you have a filling lunch or dinner.
In honor of Food Revolution Day, we are making David Lebovitz’s version of quiche from My Paris Kitchen: Tarte Salée au Jambon, au Bleu, et aux Poires (ham, blue cheese, and pear quiche).
The recipe starts with a sturdy crust made with standard ingredients (flour, butter, salt) plus cornmeal and egg. I usually make my pâte brisée in the food processor, but this crust mixed up easily in a stand mixer. I liked that the crust didn’t require pre-baking, though it wasn’t as flaky as the other crusts I use for quiche.
The custard was INCREDIBLY rich. My usual formula combines eggs and milk (sometimes skim). David’s recipe combined cream cheese and heavy cream with a combination of whole eggs and egg yolks. Wow was it decadent! Once baked it had a silky texture and practically melted in your mouth. This rich custard isn’t something I could justify indulging in every week, but I would pull it out for special occasions.
As for the filling, sautéed shallots, diced ham, crumbled blue cheese, diced pear, and a generous amount of minced tarragon (fresh from my garden) added substance to the mix. Any of you familiar with my husband Howard’s rules about when he’ll eat fruit might wonder how I handled this recipe. David said the pear flavor wasn’t strong, but if noticed, I didn’t want Howard to have to come up an alternate meal on the fly. Aren’t I nice? I combined all the ingredients except the pear and added them to the pan. Then I marked halves of the quiche with tarragon leaves and gently stirred the diced pear into one half of the quiche. His and hers!
This deep-dish quiche is a keeper. As I mentioned, the custard isn’t for every day, though I might take inspiration from the ham and cheese combination to add to a lighter custard.
For anyone trying to round out their culinary skills to feed themselves in the future, quiche is a “must know” kind of recipe. This recipe is a really good version to start with. The crust is manageable, even for a beginner, and the end result is a hearty and delicious meal.
I served slices of quiche with a white bean salad on the side. A green salad would also be a good accompaniment. The vinaigrette on the salad will help cut the richness of the quiche.
Today is Food Revolution Day 2014, spearheaded by chef Jamie Oliver. This year’s theme is to “get kids excited about food”. Cooking is a life skill that in a time of many food issues, including obesity, poor nutrition, and eating too much processed food, give people much more control over what they eat. It’s like the old proverb, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”. Cooking follows the same premise.
A person can learn to cook any time, but learning as a kid will get them excited about food for life. Cooking doesn’t have to be hard or elaborate, and there is nothing more satisfying than taking basic ingredients and transforming them into something to eat. It can be as simple as cooking vegetables or only slightly more involved like baking or making pancakes. Cooking teaches kids about the science of cooking, and pleasure of enjoying the fruits of your own labor, and, importantly, the joy of sharing food with others.
For French Fridays with Dorie, our approach to observing Food Revolution Day this year is to choose a recipe from Around My French Table, the book we are working our way through, that we think every kid should know how to cook. The book is filled with a wide assortment of recipes, many of them quite simple for any level of cook. I paged through the book making notes on what I thought a kid should know how to cook and came up with this list.
I’m a childless adult with limited daily interaction with today’ youth, so I wasn’t sure about my judgment. I was guessing about things I would have liked to make when I was young which was very focused on baking. As a sanity check, I asked my almost-13-year-old niece Maggie to give me her list. It wasn’t possible for us to then cook together, but I was interested in what recipes in the book got her excited.
So, no cooking (or pictures) for me this Food Revolution Day, but here are our lists of “must know how to make” recipes from Around My French Table.
- Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux: My #1 favorite recipe in AMFT. EVERYONE should know how to make this one.
- Cheez-it-ish Crackers: Much healthier to make your own snacks.
- Christine’s Simple Party Soups: Almost as easy as opening a can, and much tastier. Also a great template for making your own version with a favorite vegetable and spice.
- Potato-Chip Tortilla: It’s fun to use potato chips in a main dish.
- Cinnamon-Crunch chicken: It’s fun to be able to make a quick dinner with cookies!
- Top-Secret Chocolate Mousse: Again another favorite that’s impressive but not hard to make.
- Celery-celery soup
- Café salle pleyel hamburger
- Boeuf a la ficelle
- Coconut lemongrass braised pork
- Scallops with caramel orange sauce
- Long & slow apples
- Olive oil ice cream
- Bubble top brioches
What a revelation! First of all, our lists had no overlap. Maggie’s palette was much more sophisticated than mine was at her age. I was always an adventurous eater, but the available ingredients back then was much more limited. Also, she didn’t pick any quick-to-satisfy baked goods. None of the cookies or cakes that would have called to me. I was impressed with her choices.
To see what choices the other Doristas made, check out their Food Revolution Day 2014 links here.
Now, go get excited about food!