Tag Archives: creme fraiche

Of Quiche and Crème Fraîche

23 Jun
In Which I am a Helper and answer readers' questions.

In Which I am a Helper and answer readers' questions.

Well, hi there, and Happy Tuesday.  You guys are Awesome; I threw open the floor to questions, and you came through!  Now, I will do my best to be all Expert-y and stuff and answer said questions.

First, from An_Other_Jenn:  “…do you have a favorite quiche recipe? My husband has never had one, but he’s a fan of eggs & cheese & savory things blended together, so I thought I’d make one for him. What are your thoughts on home-made vs. store-bought crusts?”

Ahem.  First of all, Props to the Husband for not buying into the whole Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche thing.  Quiche is a wonderful thing.  For those of you who might be a wee bit intimidated by Quiche, just think of it as a bunch of Items in a partially baked crust covered with rich custard and then baked.  It is cheesy, eggy goodness.  Since quiche is a custard, you could consider baking it in a low oven with a water bath, but I wouldn’t recommend it for two reasons.  1) Part of the yumminess of quiche is the browned goodness on top, and you need higher heat to make that happen, and b) the crust acts as an insulator, so you shouldn’t have issues with curdling, regardless.

Since quiche is really more of a technique than a recipe, I don’t really have a favorite, although there are some classic combinations such as the bacon-y, Swiss Cheese-y goodness of Quiche Lorraine.  I do, however, have a favorite custard mix and technique for putting it together.  I cannot take credit for this; it comes from Thomas Keller, the culinary master behind The French Laundry and Bouchon.

This custard makes enough to fill one 9″ quiche.  It doubles or even triples or quadruples very well, so if you’re feeling Crazy, go for it.

Look--it's Thoma Keller's Quiche Lorraine!  Isn't it lovely?

Look--it's Thomas Keller's Quiche Lorraine! Isn't it lovely?

Thomas Keller’s Amazing Savory Custard Filling for Quiche

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream (you can sub. 1 quart of half and half, if you want)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt (see all that salt?  Use it all–do not skimp on the salt)
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper (freshly ground is best)
  • just a few gratings of fresh nutmeg

Scald dairy, then cool for 10-15 minutes.

Use half of everything and blend in your blender on low then on high for about 30 seconds.

Pour that half in your partially baked quiche shell, add your fillings, then repeat blending with the other half of the custard ingredients.  Pour over fillings.

At the restaurant I used to work at, I was In Charge of Quiche Crusts.  We served quiche on Saturday at lunch, and we always hoped that we wouldn’t sell out so that we could eat some.  It is Very Very Good.  Here’s how I dealt with the crust:

Make some pâte brisée.  Roll it into a circle-esque shape big enough to line and go up the sides and hang over the edge of a 9″ springform pan.  This means you need a Big Big Circle, probably about 16″-17″.  Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Use a piece of dough to help push the crust into the corners.  Fold the dough over the edges of the pan all around.  Some parts will hang down more than other parts.  Don’t worry about it–this dough flap is an anchor to keep your dough from sliding down the vertical surface of the pan.  That Thomas Keller is Smart.

Once your dough is All In, make sure there are no cracks.  Cracks equal Leaking equal Did-You-Know-That-Glue-Is-Made-From-Protein?  Patch them with some extra dough.  Freeze the shell for about half an hour, then line the tart shell with some crumpled-then-uncrumpled parchment paper or an extra large coffee filter and fill with some dried beans or pie weights.  Bake at 375F until the edges are browned–about 35 minutes or so.

Remove the pie weights and parchment and check for cracks again.  Patch as necessary, and continue baking for another 20 minutes or so, or until the bottom is light golden.  If the outside edges are getting too brown, don’t worry–you’ll be cutting those off anyway.

Then, add 1/2 blended custard, filling stuff and the other 1/2 of the custard.  Bake at 375F for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the top of the custard is deep golden brown and it doesn’t jiggle.  Cool for 30 minutes or so, then get rid of the outer part of the dough by scraping along the top of the pan with a bench scraper.  Run a knife around the inside of the springform, let cool some more, then remove the sides of the pan.  Slice and serve and smile.

Oh, and store-bought crust?  I guess it’s okay in a pinch, but if you have the time, make your own.  Here’s what’s in store bought crust (from our friends at Wegman’s):

Enriched Bleached Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Wheat Starch, Lard and Hydrogenated Lard with BHT Added to Protect Flavor, Water, Sugar, Contains 2% or Less of Each of The Following: Salt, Xanthan Gum, Colored With (Yellow 5, Red 40), Citric Acid and Sodium Propionate and Potassium Sorbate Added to Retard Spoilage, Soy Flour

I”m just saying that you might not want Red 40 in your crust, is all.

And now, on to the crème fraîche.  Here’s the question from Tangled Noodle:  “I made a crème fraîche for my most recent post but as I noted, I didn’t use any recommended ingredients (ultrapasteurized whipping cream rather than not-UP heavy cream, and NF yogurt instead of buttermilk). I though it came out perfectly fine but it was more of a ‘pourable’ texture rather than sour cream consistency. Assuming I make it with appropriate elements next time, what kind of texture should I look for? And how do you make crème fraîche?”

Happily for Tangled Noodle, much like I was In Charge of quiche crusts, I was also In Charge of making crème fraîche.  I made 8-12 quarts every week or so.  Sometimes it would be a little thinnish; sometimes it would be as thick as mascarpone.  It depended on the temperature in the kitchen and how long we left it out on the counter.

If it’s cool in the kitchen, you might have to leave it out for as many as 72 hours.  I don’t think that the use of yogurt and ultra-pasteurized cream hurts anything–you’re just trying to introduce tasty cultures and make them flourish in your cream.

See--someone on Flickr has made some lovely creme fraiche!

See--someone on Flickr has made some lovely creme fraiche!

Here’s how I made it.  Honestly–step by step.

For every cup of cream, you’ll need 2 TBSP buttermilk.  For each pint, you need 1/4 cup.  For each quart, you need 1/2 cup.  Et cetera.

  1. Pour heavy cream into a large container.
  2. Add buttermilk and whisk together very well.
  3. Cover, and leave in a warm place–we often just put it on top of the ovens on a half hotel pan.  The pan acted as a diffuser to keep the cream from overheating.
  4. Check every day until it’s thick.  I checked by jiggling the container.  If it didn’t make waves and Slosh About, it was thick enough.
  5. Refrigerate.

I didn’t heat the cream up before hand–I just let the Warm happen naturally.  Putting it in the oven with the light on might be a happy place for it to live, if you can spare the oven for a couple of days.

The biggest pain about making crème fraîche at home is having to wait up to two or three days to use it.  At the restaurant, we almost never ran out, but I doubt that at home you’ll be using so much crème fraîche that you’ll have to go into constant production.  So, either plan Way Ahead (and isn’t that funny, my telling you to do such a thing?!) or just know that your crème fraîche will be tangy but might not be thick.  Also, you can whip cold crème fraîche, whether it is thick or thin.  Whisk and whisk.  It will thin out some, and you will be sad, but carry on.  Eventually, it will whip up just like whipped cream.

And there you have it.  Oh, guess what?  If you have some crème fraîche lying about, or if you get excited and make a bunch, you can use it in place of the heavy cream in your quiche.  Hooray!

I Hate Cool Whip

21 Nov
It's time for a Cool Whip Intervention

It's time for a Cool Whip Intervention

I’m sorry, but I do. No, wait a minute.  I un-apologetically hate Cool Whip.  I wince when I see folks put Cool Whip on foods–and don’t get me started on recipes that actually say “Fold in a tub of Cool Whip!”  Ack!  Do you know what is in this stuff?  Allow me to elucidate you, if you are unaware:  water, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated coconut and palm kernel oils, sodium caseinate, vanilla extract, xanthan gum, guar gum, polysorbate 60 and beta carotene.  For “color.”  It might as well be called “Non-Edible”, let alone “Non-Dairy.”  And then they went and made the chocolate kind and–ugh–French vanilla.  Sign of the end times, my friends, sign of the end times.

If I sound harsh, it’s partly because my spell-checker recognizes those words and partly because I’m a believer in real food, not Frankenfood.  So, for those of you who need your Cool Whip–or those of you who have friends that need their CW, please allow me to offer you some natural and yummy alternatives to top this year’s holiday desserts.

Whipped creme fraiche.  Creme fraiche is easy to make, so make some.  Once you have it and it’s chilled, you can whip it like cream.  Use brown or white sugar, or even some maple syrup or honey as your sweetener.  You can also add ground spices or extracts.  Don’t forget your pinch of salt, people.  When you whip creme fraiche, it will thin out initially.  Fear not, keep whipping and it will thicken up nicely, even to the point where you can form an elegant quenelle to perch atop your dessert.  And no, there is no real recipe–just do this to taste, and use flavors that will be complementary to your dish.

Another alternative is whipped cream.  You can treat this the same way as the creme fraiche.  The only difference will be that your creme fraiche toppings will whip up a little firmer and have a bit more of a tang to them.  You might consider saving the creme fraiche for the grown ups and pass whipped cream at the children’s table.

And if for one minute you try and tell me that you don’t want all those calories from heavy cream, I ask you “You’d rather have high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils mixing with your lovely homemade creation?”  Please.  It’s the holidays.  Eat a tablespoon or two of the real stuff.

And that is what I have to say about that.  Feel free to weigh in with your comments.  I’d love to hear from you!  You can also check out my site for some more Thanksgiving dessert ideas.

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