Monday, June 22, 2009

French cooking: Quiche Lorraine

The quiche was a success! A couple issues: I didn’t have any salt (I recently moved and salt is one of those items I didn’t remember to buy) so I think a pinch of salt would help with the flavor. I left out the onion because the yellow onions at the store didn’t look right. Some recipes called for onion and others didn’t so I figured I was safe.

Crumbled bacon. I used 8 slices of turkey bacon.

Place bacon in bottom of prepared pie shell (I used frozen).

Mixing the 3 eggs, 1.5 c of half and half and shredded swiss cheese (gruyere and swiss mix)

Everything in the pan ready to go!

Oops! The filling spilled out as soon as I moved it. May be I will only use 1c of half and half next time. . .

All done! I was SO scared to eat it. . .

I had about 2 slices (bad girl, I know).

And the rest is going in the freezer! I am NOT gonna sit around and eat this by myself. It’s too rich. But I will say it was VERY filling. You really only need one small slice of this with a nice salad.

Not bad! I’m on my way! I’m thinking I want to try tartiflette or cassoulet next. Or perhaps mousse au chocolat! I’d love to hear any suggestions. I need fairly simple dishes since I’m a novice cook.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

French Cooking

I'm starting a new series where I attempt to make French dishes. I've been foricng myself to cook more instead rely on frozen dinners. I feel so much better. For the past several months (really) I've been wanting quiche lorraine, but I couldn't bring myself to buy the frozen quiche sold in grocery stores. So, last night, I googled for recipes for this delicious dish. I found a simple Betty Crocker version, and a Williams Sonoma version that is quite similar. I'm going with the W-S version:

The northeastern French province of Lorraine gave us this traditional savory tart of eggs, bacon and cheese that seemed to be on every weekend brunch table and ladies' luncheon menu by the mid-1960s. The classic filling ingredients are included here. Some versions add chopped onion or leek that has been sautéed in butter, a nod to the cooking traditions of neighboring Alsace.

For the pastry:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

8 Tbs. (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into
small cubes

1 to 2 Tbs. ice water

For the filling:

6 lean bacon slices

3/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

3/4 cup milk, at room temperature

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

To make the pastry, in a bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work the ingredients together quickly until crumbly and the mixture resembles oatmeal. Then, while quickly stirring and tossing with a fork, add the ice water a little at a time just until the dough begins to hold together. Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 425ºF.

On a lightly floured work surface, using your hands, flatten the ball of dough into a disk. Dust it with flour and roll out into an 11-inch round. Fit carefully into a 9 or 10-inch tart pan, or a 9-inch glass pie dish. If using a tart pan, trim the dough even with the pan rim. If using a pie dish, trim the dough to allow a 1-inch overhang, then fold under the overhang and flute the edges. Prick the dough in several places with fork tines and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Partially bake the pastry shell until it just begins to color, 10 to 12 minutes. If the pastry puffs up during baking, prick again with a fork to release the steam. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 375ºF.

To make the filling, in a fry pan over medium-high heat, fry the bacon until crisp and golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. When cool enough to handle, crumble into small bits. Scatter the crumbled bacon over the bottom of the pastry shell.

In a bowl, combine the cream, milk, eggs and melted butter. Using a whisk or fork, beat until well blended. Stir in the cheese and season with salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Pour into the prepared pastry shell and sprinkle the top lightly with nutmeg.

Bake until the custard is set and the tip of a knife inserted into the center of the custard comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for several minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

I will be using a ready made pie-crust and I may have to sub the heavy cream with half and half. We shall see. I'll be back!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Men Run the World. . .

But Women run men.

First Ladies Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy meet again in Paris. I've been a longtime fan of Carla's music. I love Michelle Obama. They are so cool together!

Pleasant Surprise

A little sparkling wine and sweet strawberries were a wonderful treat yesterday after a busy busy couple of days. I'm always sampling new wines and came across a recommendation online for Ballatore Gran Spumante. At only $6.99, it was too cheap to not try. I was very pleasantly surprised! It's sweet, smooth, and fruity. For the price, it can't be beat. The packaging makes it look more expensive than it is. My ONLY critique is the wine is a touch too sweet.

I will always keep a few bottles of this on hand, as this will be my staple for small gatherings (unless the occasion calls for something a bit more high-end). Check out the reviews on

Monday, June 1, 2009

Missing Air France Flight

From the Associated Press:

SAO PAULO – A missing Air France jet carrying 228 people from Rio de Janeiro to Paris ran into lightning and strong thunderstorms over the Atlantic Ocean, officials said Monday. Brazil began a search mission off its northeastern coast.

Chief Air France spokesman Francois Brousse said "it is possible" that the plane was hit by lightning.

Air France Flight 447, an Airbus A330, left Rio on Sunday at 7 p.m. local time (2200 GMT, 6 p.m. EDT) with 216 passengers and 12 crew members on board, company spokeswoman Brigitte Barrand.

About four hours later, the plane sent an automatic signal indicating electrical problems while going through strong turbulence, Air France said.

The plane "crossed through a thunderous zone with strong turbulence" at 0200 GMT Monday (10 p.m. EDT Sunday). An automatic message was received fourteen minutes later "signaling electrical circuit malfunction."

Brazil's Air Force said the last contact it had with the Air France jet was at 0136 GMT (9:30 p.m. EDT Sunday), but did not say where the plane was at that time.

Brazil's air force was searching near the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, about 300 kilometers (180 miles) northeast of the coastal city of Natal, a spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy.

The region is about 1,500 miles northeast of Rio.

The head of investigation and accident prevention for Brazil's Civil Aeronautics Agency, Douglas Ferreira Machado, told Brazil's Globo TV that he believes the plane must have left Brazilian waters and could have been near the coast of Africa by the time contact was lost, based on the speed it was traveling.

"It's going to take a long time to carry out this search," he said. "It could be a long, sad story. The black box will be at the bottom of the sea."

Air France-KLM CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, at a news conference at Charles de Gaulle Airport north of Paris, said the pilot had 11,000 hours of flying experience, including 1,700 hours flying this aircraft. No name was released.

Aviation experts said the risk the plane was brought down by lightning was slim.

"Lightning issues have been considered since the beginning of aviation. They were far more prevalent when aircraft operated at low altitudes. They are less common now since it's easier to avoid thunderstorms," said Bill Voss, president and CEO of Flight Safety Foundation, Alexandria, Va.

He said planes have specific measures built in to help dissipate electricity along the aircraft's skin.

"I cannot recall in recent history any examples of aircraft being brought down by lightning," he told The Associated Press.

Experts said it was clear the plane was not in the air any longer, due to the amount of fuel it would have been carrying.

"The conclusion to be drawn is that something catastrophic happened on board that has caused this airplane to ditch in a controlled or an uncontrolled fashion," Jane's Aviation analyst Chris Yates told The Associated Press.

"I would suggest that potentially it went down very quickly and so quickly that the pilot on board didn't have a chance to make that emergency call," Yates said, adding that the possibilities ranged from mechanical failure to terrorism.

Families who arrived to meet passengers on board were cordoned off, away from reporters, at a special Air France information center at the Charles de Gaulle airport. That center said 60 French citizens were on the plane. Italy said at least three passengers were Italian.

"Air France shares the emotion and worry of the families concerned," Barrand said.

The flight was supposed to arrive in Paris at 0915 GMT (5:15 a.m. EDT), according to the airport.

Airbus said it was cooperating with transport authorities and Air France, but would not further comment until more details emerged.

"Our thoughts are with the passengers and with the families of the passengers," said Airbus spokeswoman Maggie Bergsma.

The Airbus A330-200 is a twin-engine, long-haul, medium-capacity passenger jet that is 58.8 meters (190 feet) long. It is a shortened version of the standard A330, and can hold up to 253 passengers. It first went into service in 1998 and there are 341 in use worldwide today. It can fly up to 7,760 miles (12,500 kilometers).

French President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed his "extreme worry" and planned to visit the Charles de Gaulle airport later Monday.


Let us pray that this turns out positively for the 228 souls on board, and for the families and loved ones waiting for them back home.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Big "H"

I'm a recent connoisseur of the venerable Hermes brand. If you love Hermes silks and leathers and one day plan to own the grand-mere of purses (Mlle Birkin or Mlle Kelly), I highly recommend that you visit my two new guilty internet pleasures:

The Purse Blog Hermes Forum and fellow blogger Mai Tai. The ladies on the forum have THE scoop about all things Hermes. And they are generous with there photos. Through the forum, I came across the lovely MaiTai's blog. She is the embodiment of what women envision when they hear the term "french chic." If there was anyone who ever actually lives it, it's Mai Tai.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Chic Style

I'm a HUGE fan of Victoria Beckham. I think her style is over the top and fabulous. I love that she absolutely takes her style so seriously. Sure, she has some misses but they are few and far between. Fur was on my radar this winter as I spent a lot of time on the East Coast. If you didn't know, East Coast ladies don't play when it comes to their fur! It's practical and stylish. I found faux mink jacket for formal events for under $50, but I'm probably going to purchase a full length fur by next winter. I'm totally coveting this Antonio Berardi fur that Victoria is wearing.