Okay, we admit it. French cookbooks are glaringly absent from our cooking library, the efforts of Julia Child notwithstanding. But let's face it. French cuisine in America has always been associated with the upper crust. The most expensive, most exclusive restaurants have usually been French. [Like the one in Philly where Ira Einhorn used to hang out before they discovered Holly in a trunk in his apartment, and like the country where he turned up decades later and which tried to save him from his just reward at the hands of the barbaric American justice system.] And the low end? A cheap French restaurant in the USA seems like a contradiction of terms. Unlike Italian which cuts across all economic classes from terrible takeout pizza joints through family style pasta with "gravy" places to the snooty elite ristorante, with everything in between, good and bad.
Still almost everybody here knows that quiche is French, and although we seem to have adopted it on a scale clearly falling short of the universal appeal of pizza (how many takeout quiche businesses have you seen recently?), nonetheless it has a significant following, supposedly avoided only by the stereotypical "real (American) man". After eating a leek tartlet in a rare expensive French restaurant visit, ms_ani was inspired to try this leek tart recipe from our only French cookbook, stretching it a bit more in the quiche direction, though we make no claim to know the difference, if there is one. The original only has egg yolks, naturally the part of the egg with all the cholesterol, so she used the whites too, bypassing the separation step and the wasted whites, and she doubled the liquid dairy component when only one cup seemed a bit inadequate. Once she even made the homemade crust, but it was clearly not worth the effort, since frozen crusts seem to do the job just as well with no fuss, making it possible to do this in much less time.
This basic recipe is easily varied with ingredients on hand. We list three variations created in the dr bob kitchen to give you the general idea. ms_ani gets all the credit, but is disinclined to write up the details.
|original||variation 1||variation 2||variation 3||variation 4|
|butter||1/4 c||2-3 T||2-3 T||2-3 T||2-3 T|
|etc¹||4 white mushrooms||1 shallot||1/4 red pepper||1 8.5oz can artichoke hearts|
|2 scallions||1/4 yellow pepper|
|1lb fresh asparagus²||1 small turnip|
|liquid||1 c milk or half&half||1 c milk||1 c milk||2 c heavy cream||2c light cream|
|1 c half&half||1 c half&half|
|eggs||4 yolks||3 eggs||3 eggs||3 eggs||3 eggs|
|parmesan cheese||3 T||3T||3T||3T||3T|
|salt and pepper³||to taste||to taste||to taste||to taste||to taste|
|fresh tarragon¹||4 sprigs||4 sprigs||4 sprigs||4 sprigs||4 sprigs|
|pastry||9 in frozen pie crust||9 in frozen pie crust||9 in frozen pie crust||9 in frozen pie crust|
|tart/quiche pan||8 in||9 in (24cm)||9 in (24cm)||9 in (24cm)||9 in (24cm)|
|² cooked, chopped, tips reserved and arranged on top at end|
|³ freshly ground pepper, of course|