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September 2013

It's pie season! (full quiche ahead)

I'm so sorry about the terrible title.

I don't like the contemporary custom of blathering pages'-worth of how my friend's sister makes this great thing I wanted to try before getting down to the actual thing someone came to the website for. But this isn't really a recipe page. It's always been more just about enjoying food. Still, here are messy phone pictures of quiche-making, and 600 words of blather and general instructions after that. If you want more details about any of it, let me know. 20130924_160717
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Making pie is something that brings me great joy. I'm hoping to perfect a gluten-free one soon; I have rice flour that works just fine for sauces and puddings, but pie crust needs something else added. When my daughter visits, I want to give her things she remembers from childhood but can't enjoy anymore.

I have several regular pastry dough recipes I use depending on my mood or what I'm using it for.  Some of them have an egg or a bit of vinegar or both. Today I made the most basic pie dough that I learned from Julia Child, but since I'm using only a bottom crust, I've set aside the extra for something else.

Instead of using a pie weight, etc., for prebaking the shell a little bit, I just stick an old metal pie tin down over it. Five minutes at 425ยบ, remove the tin, three minutes more. Prick it with a fork again if it tries to swell up.

My Quiche Lorraine filling is adapted from BHG. But I've made it very seldom lately since only one other person still living with me enjoys it. I should rectify that because I'm tired of making foods only for others' tastes. Actually, I've been making quiche since I was about 14, pretty much the same way all along, with only slight modification. I use two cups of half and half, but occasionally heavy cream, and two cups of cheese; a combination of Jarlsberg and Gruyere.

Instead of mixing the cheese into the eggs and cream, I put it over the bacon and onions in the pie pan, set that in the oven, usually on a cookie sheet, and then pour the custardy stuff over it. Slowly.

The basic-basic pie dough is two cups all-purpose flour, a large pinch of sugar, two large pinches of salt, a chopped-up stick of super chilled butter, and three tablespoons of shortening. Also, 3/4 cup of ice water. If you want to mix all-purpose flour with some cake flour, it'll be more tender and you can use all butter. Massage the butter into the flour with your fingers, add the shortening, rub together some more until it's all pea-sized, then toss in the ice water a little at a time, scrambling with a fork. As the dough comes together, pull the larger clumps out onto the counter, add a bit more water to the rest until it's all good clumps. Then knead it on a floured surface for a minute until it's smooth, wrap it in wax paper, and chill it for two hours. You can then roll it out to 1/8 inch for a bottom crust. There will be enough with these proportions for a top crust, as well, but I like to roll it all out together so the pan gets its full due, then cut away the extra.

Never bake a buttery pie crust that is not well-chilled. It will slump and be sad. So if the pie dough has gotten too warm, put the pan in the refrigerator for a few minutes before baking.

Okay, so I cut myself on the grater. I always do. You can use a food processor for both the dough and the cheese, and sometimes I do, but I have a need to always be able to prepare everything without the aid of the jillion electric appliances I own. And I really like chopping and stirring and sprinkling, now that I am not doing it nightly for eight hungry people.

If you make quiche, let it cool for at least half an hour, better an hour, before cutting and serving. It looks a little puffy when you take it out of the oven, but will flatten after a few minutes.