foodstuff: quiche de noël

during this week twenty-three years ago, i sat in fourth period french class and learned how to make quiche au jambon.

my teacher, madame shiptenko, was a passionate foodie and a lifelong francophile. she had studied cuisine in paris and absolutely loved to cook...

she regularly taught us cooking lessons in french. i'll never forget her first spectacular display: crêpes suzette. what a brilliant way to capture the attention of high school students - by bringing strong liqueur to class and dramatically setting it on fire.

the week before christmas during my freshman year, madame shiptenko taught us to make a simple but spectacular ham quiche. it was so fantastically delicious that i made it for my family just a few days later on christmas morning. everyone instantly fell in love with it...
thus, a tradition was born. i have made this quiche every year since then. twenty-three quiches to date and hopefully many more to come.

i still have the paper with the original recipe, which is the source of these images. it's withered and worn, yellowing and splattered from year after year of use in the kitchen. this recipe makes a fluffy, rich, golden brown quiche which fills the house with a heavenly smell.

merci beaucoup, madame shiptenko, for the gift of your passion. merci for the food, for the french, for the learning, for the love. i think of you every year when i make the christmas quiche...

a few innkeeper notes:

* i use a combination of emmentaler and gruyère cheese, which was the suggestion of madame.
* use icy cold water when making the pastry.
* if you are short on time, use freezer pie crust. however, if you do, don't tell madame. she will exclaim "mon dieu!" and roll her eyes to the heavens. i know it isn't the same as the buttery handmade pastry, but it's still ridiculously good.
* baking time is always longer than 30 minutes. i usually cook it for approximately 45 minutes. look for a golden brown color over the top.
* it needs time to cool when coming out of the oven. even though you may want to dive in immediately, i highly recommend letting it firm up a little before serving.
* if your pie plate isn't very deep, you risk an overflow of quiche juice. avoid making a mess in your oven by placing a cookie sheet or piece of foil on the rack underneath the quiche.
* vegetarians: skip the ham and substitute veggies. i've used caramelized onions with great success.

bon appetit, mes cheris! joyeux noël!

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