The French gastronomy is an essential part of the culture and though it is dominated by meat, there are some delights that can be adapted for a vegetarian palate as well.
Have you noticed? When people speak about French culture, they often quote names such as ‘Molière’, ‘Baudelaire’, ‘Maupassant’, ‘Sartre’ or ‘Victor Hugo’. And rightly so! These names are huge references for the avid readers amongst us all. But let us put the record straight over here, French culture is much more than just literature, history or architecture. Food is a lifestyle in France and there is no doubt that its cuisine belongs to the French heritage as much as those writers, painters or politicians.
People in France are very passionate about their food, they breathe food. It would be a good advice to never tell a French person that his/her food is bland and tasteless. We may have mastered the art of spices and use the fire of the chillies in perfect balance in India. But in France, they have mastered the art of making sauces, using herbs in dishes, and they have thought the world how to cook ingredients to perfection, they have studied for centuries how to balance a dish and its flavours. It wouldn’t be a lie to say that France basically started the food fashion all over the world. And not just over this decade, it started centuries ago.
Today I would like you to discover a very simple dish to make. In fact, it is so simple and so tasty that you may be cooking it more often than you think in your Indian kitchen. Kids absolutely love it and I have no doubt that you may add your own Indian touch to it. The dish we are discovering today is called “Quiche Lorraine”. Although ‘quiche’ is now a classic dish of the French cuisine, the ‘quiche’ actually originated in Germany, in the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, under German rule. The region was later renamed “la Lorraine” by the French after its conquest. So the origin of the word ‘quiche’ is from the German word ‘Kuchen’. The latter means cake.
The original ‘quiche Lorraine’ was an open pie with a filling consisting of an egg and cream custard with smoked bacon. It was only later that cheese was added to the quiche Lorraine. The bottom crust was originally made from bread dough, but that has long since evolved into a short-crust or puff pastry crust. Of course, with time and regional influences many variation of the dish were created. Add onions and you have quiche Alsacienne. Add tomatoes and you have a quiche Provençale, add spinach for a ‘quiche florentine’.
The good part of a quiche is that it can be eaten warm, or cold (after cooking, of course). It can be served as a starter or main course. You have the freedom to do what you want with it. You want to serve it as a main dish, go ahead. You want to make mini versions for starters? Your guests will likely devour them at the first sight of it. Making a quiche, is easy and you can add your own touch or favourite ingredients.
We understand that some of you may not want to use bacon bits because of religious beliefs or because of vegetarianism. No problem at all, ‘Quiche’ can please just anybody and it can be cooked as you see fit. Working mothers will particularly appreciate how easy and fast a quiche is cooked. In order to please anybody, I’ll share the quiche recipe we often cook at home.
Let’s discover what the needed ingredients are:
- 3 eggs
- 200 ml fresh cream
- Nutmeg to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Pinch of salt
- One clove of garlic
- 500 grams of your chosen vegetable (goes best with broccoli or spinach or even mushrooms)
- A sheet of puff pastry / shortcrust pastry
- A splash of oil
- 200 grams of cheese (emmental/gruyere/ cheddar)
- One chopped onion
- Line your puff pastry into a shallow tart pan/tray and shape it around it. With a fork, poke some holes in the base in order to avoid sogginess. Put aside in the fridge whilst you make the rest of the preparation.
- In a pan, heat some oil. Add a chopped onion and cook till translucent. Cook your spinach/ broccoli till all the water has evaporated. Add grated garlic and cook till fragrant. Keep aside until cool.
- In the meanwhile, beat your eggs* properly and add 200 ml fresh cream. Add Nutmeg, pepper and salt to taste. Put aside. *If you are vegetarian, you can substitute the egg mixture as follows. Use half a cup full-fat milk, half a cup fresh cream and one cup crumbled paneer. Then add nutmeg pepper and salt to taste.
- Grate your cheese if you haven’t bought it already grated and keep aside.
- Take your Tart tray out of the fridge, add your cold wilted spinach/ or broccoli, spread your cheese evenly around your quiche and lastly pour your egg mixture into it. Simply bake this for 20 to 25 minutes in a preheated oven at 200 degrees.