Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Return of Old Friends - Bacon and Leek Quiche

     Last Saturday, we spent the day travelling to several monestaries to check out trappist beers.  I have an article due soon and wanted to gather more research.  Needless to say that Dear Daughter wasn't thrilled with the adventure but she handled it well.  Upon our return home, I heard her squeal with delight as she looked across the pasture to see that the cows had returned.
     Our cows disappeared in mid-November.  Several weeks ago, the pasture was mowed and the farmer inspected the fence that separates us from them.  We have been watching daily to welcome their return.  Dear Husband just muttered that once the cows returned, so would the flies.  That did not deter DD.  Now with their return, she is determined that Blackie and Frances are among the group.  This herd consists of only six cows and they have yet to venture over to the fence alongside our backyard.  Seriously, last Fall, Francis would come running when she saw DD in the backyard with apples.  She would eat them out of DD's hand!  So, I am not yet convinced that this group is the same group.  Time will tell…but it is nice to have them back.
     The warmer temperatures have allowed me to get our vegetable garden started.  The French call it a "potager" which means "kitchen garden" and that is what I am determined to have this year.  I have managed to start from seed radishes, lettuce and peas.  Beans, carrots, and cucumbers have also been planted but have yet to break through the dirt.  I bought seedlings of yellow peppers and cherry tomatoes and soon they will join the garden.  In the backyard, there is a small plot built up by bricks which is sure to be a perfect location.  I am giving the seedlings another week or so in their small plants but by Easter, I hope to have all in the ground.  I had some minor success in Germany but am anxious to see how it all comes together in Belgium.  (Last night, there was a terrible wind storm in Belgium and Dear Husband was outside in the middle of the night "rescuing" my small plants.  That is love!)
     On Sunday, we had another old friend over for brunch.  I love Sunday brunch at home.  It is such an easy meal to put together and it is nice to spend a couple of hours together during the middle of the day to spend talking with family and/or friends.   Errands and chores from Saturday have been accomplished and it is still early enough to not remember that the next day will be the start of the workweek.  It is easy to have a spur-of-the-moment meal as most can be prepared earlier.
     I found some tiny melons at the local Intermarche.  I halved them and scooped out the fruit.  I then added it back but this time with some slivers of prosciutto.  I topped them off with a few arugula leaves.  By cutting a small sliver off the bottom, the tiny "bowls" stood perfectly on the plates.  It looked perfect and the sweetness of the melon accompanied by the saltiness of the ham made for a perfect combination.  It is an old, tried and true dish, but the different presentation made it all the more special.

     For the main course, I served a bacon and leek quiche that I had made a week ago and stored in the freezer.  Anytime you make a quiche, it is so easy to make two and freeze one for later. It makes a great brunch, lunch or light dinner meal.  DD has typically only wanted to eat my crab quiche and emphatically has told me that she will have no other type.  I served her a slice at brunch and given that company was in the house, she put up no fuss and ate the entire serving.  Later on, she admitted that it was fantastic and asked if I had any more.  It is the little things in life….

It is Spring Break and the luxuries of going to an International School means that the break is not one but two weeks!  We arrived in Plancoet yesterday and are already enjoying the food, the pace and the beach.  It is a bit chilly but the sun is shining.  It is the end of scallop season and today at the Dinard food market, after searching with every fishmonger in the building, we scored the final seven scallops of the day.  Tonight, we plan to saute them in butter - nothing else.  The official end to the season will be this weekend and there will be a festival at one of the local towns to celebrate Scallops!

Bacon and Crab Quiche
adapted from Martha Stewart
Bacon and Crab Quiche

1 pate brisee or pie crust
3-4 leeks sliced thin, both white and light green parts
3-4 slices of good quality, thick bacon
3 eggs plus one additional egg yolk
1 1/2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream

I never make my own pastry crust.  I can buy really good pate brisee at the local grocery store.  I flatten it out over a tart pan that has a removeable bottom.  In a pinch, I have used frozen pie crust.

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat.  Slice the bacon crossways and fry until crispened.  Take out of the pan and drain on paper towels.  Keep one tablespoon of fat in the pan and saute the leeks until they are softened, about 10 minutes.  Lower the heat if you need to so they do not burn.  Add the bacon back to the mixture.

In a bowl, combine the three eggs plus the additional egg yolk.  Mix in the cream and milk and one half of the cheese.  Season with salt and pepper and whisk.

Place pie weights (or beans) on the pie crust and cook for just five minutes at 375 degrees.  Take the pie out of the oven, cool slightly and add the remaining one half of cheese to the bottom of the pan.  Top with the bacon and leek mixture.  Then pour the egg mixture all around and make sure that it fills in all the little nooks and crannies.  Bake until puffed and golden brown, which should take 30 to 35 minutes.  

Serve warm or at room temperature.  To serve, place a mound of arugula leaves on the bottom of a plate.  Top with a slice of the quiche and then drizzle a bit of balsamic glaze over the top.


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