Dis-donc, où est la bibliothèque?
My sister and I have slightly different versions of this intro, it could have happened to both of us a year apart or maybe we were all in the same story together but anyway this is how I remember it:
Eighth Grade at Romig. Mrs Wiltrout taught French. Like Mrs Stanfill she was a wonderful teacher and very chic. A cool controlled manner, chignon, pencil skirts and cardigans. She was also Coach Wiltrout’s wife, something I couldn’t fathom in those days. We had a language lab and started the course with the phrase above. It was all very modern.
Mrs Wiltrout decided to have a French Café and asked us to bring in French food. What was that? Well, my grandmother made chocolate éclairs, they were French. But she had returned to England.
“I know, I’ll make an egg and bacon pie”
“But that’s not French” we said, never even having eaten one before. You didn’t mess with Mother though, and soon enough I found myself back at school, hideously embarrassed and handing over the pie. Mrs Wiltrout opened the bag.
“Oo, your mother has made a quiche lorraine! merveilleux!” or words to that effect. Mother was full of surprises.
This quiche has cheese in it, and dark red onions.
- Ingredients to fill a 30cm tart dish: 275g shortcrust pastry, 400g red onions, 150g good cheese (I used Quicke’s cheddar) 5 medium eggs, 200g bacon, 140ml milk, herbs, salt and pepper. A little olive oil, baking paper and beans
- For the pastry: 175g plain flour, 90g butter, a few leaves of fresh sage, a little cold water.
- Method: Make the pastry by cubing cold butter and rubbing it into the sifted flour until it resembles bread crumbs. Sprinkle in some very finely chopped sage. Then bind it all together with a very small amount of water, turn out onto a floured cold surface and roll out very thinly. Use it to line a greased and lightly floured tart dish. Then place over a piece of baking paper, fill with dry baking beans and cook for about 20 minutes at 170°C. Remove the paper and beans and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, sauté diced and or sliced onions with a small amount of olive oil in a largish pan or wok. When the onions begin to grow translucent, add the bacon – chopped or diced. Continue cooking on a medium heat until the bacon is almost done.
Using the pastry bowl, separate 5 eggs and whisk the yolks. Add the milk and stir again. Add the cheese, either grated or cubed. Add in the cooled onion and bacon and finally the egg whites, whisked as much as you can – anywhere between bubbly and soft peaks. Tip the bowl over the pastry case and spoon in most of the solid lumps followed by the liquid. Bake for about 30 minutes (until solid but only just) at approximately 180°C . Watch it for the last 10 minutes and make adjustments as necessary. Serve warm.
And the answer to the question? ‘C’est tout droit, j’y vais aussi, il faut que j’aille chercher un livre’. I got an ‘A’ but it was my sister who became the French Guide.