Note: I updated this post in the a.m. as a reader wrote asking what I meant regarding putting “dried beans in the crust” during initial baking. I’ve explained below. Thanks, Reader!

I’m making a quiche lorraine tonight. Madeleine Peyroux, Carla Bruni (French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s soon-to-be wife) and the divine Django on the iPod.

I’ve got to say, if anyone out there shops at the Silverlake Vons…tell me if you find it as bizarre as I do. Every time. The employees are so friendly to a fault, it’s unnerving. Though I do appreciate the help. And I applaud the chain for its dictum to make sure no patron has an iota of trouble finding anything, but there is just something off there.

At least seven people asked whether I was “finding what I need.” I responded to a nice, young man “I would like to find the whipping cream, please.” And he just wandered off. About four steps away he realized that I actually wanted something and came running back and showed me the Reddi-Whip. I felt badly for him. I bet most folks he deals with are as terrified as I am at times of interaction with strangers. And turn away in shame and embarrassment.

The cashier was really outgoing, too. Loudly announcing the names of each of us as he read our receipts. Then handing the receipt to its owner with a flourish. People in the line were laughing nervously, bracing themselves to have their names exposed before their fellow shoppers. But now I just want to shop at Vons!

It worked.

I’m using Anne Willan’s quiche recipe (from “French Country Cooking“), because traditional quiche lorraine is flavored by bacon, with no cheese. But hers includes gruyère for fun.

Anne isn’t afraid to make it even more delicious, that’s what I say.

The crust is baking and smells fantastic. I confess to not letting the pate brisée sit for 15 minutes in the fridge before lining the tart pan. I don’t know whether it will affect the texture or not.

Ok, I just ladled the custard mixture into the crust and I see there is a small hole in the crust. This may mean complete disaster. I saw the custard was leaking into the area between the crust and the tart pan. This cannot be good.

I’ve just peeked into the oven and the custard has seeped out of the bottom of the tart pan because, of course, it’s a tart pan and has a removable bottom. So I’ve definitely screwed this one up.

I need a drink.

>>>

After a stiff glass of côtes du rhône, I’ve chalked this one up to just another bump in the road of learning to be a better cook.

Lesson learned: check carefully for any tiny lack of integrity in the crust before spooning liquid into said crust. My hope now is, albeit alloyed with regret, that my quiche is delicious. I mean, cheese, bacon, eggs and heavy cream? Should still taste good, right?

OMG. The quiche is totally swoony. I made a quick garlic vinaigrette and Mark busted out a nicer bottle of côtes du rhône.

The things I didn’t do correctly in preparing the quiche were:

1. forgetting to allow the crust bottom to brown a few extra minutes after removal of the dry beans I used to weigh the crust down during cooking.

When your pâte brisée crust is browned before adding the filling, you must weight it down with dried beans, rice, etc to keep the crust’s shape during cooking. I removed the beans, but didn’t stick the crust back in the oven with the bottom uncovered.

and

2. not plugging up the hole in the crust

Correctly dealing with both of these issues would have really improved the texture of the crust floor, which was just still too buttery and moist.

Surprisingly, though, the dish was beyond servable. I think the custard cooked up quickly enough on the side without the hole to stem the flow, as it were.

But, as I mentioned, the combo of ingredients is hard to beat. I’m going to do another quiche or torte soon, to right the wrongs.

Photos by Mark Palmer

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