Thankfully I’ve always been able to grow where I’m planted. Iowa. Florida. Georgia. Nevada. California. Stick me in soil and I’ll sprout. What is true, however, is that I seem to grow best in Colorado’s High Country.
There is something profoundly solid about mountains. While that may seem a silly thing to say, these are the Rockies after all, it’s my truth. The mountains have healed me. Even now, when I need to dig deeper, solve a problem or just pull myself together, they offer a path.
Although the mountains offer the solace, these food posts have become my most effective tool. This blog has been the surprising vehicle (I choose a Tesla) around which I recreated a lifestyle worth living.
I’m celebrating the relevance of that because today, May 20th, is FOOD REVOLUTION DAY. For the fourth year in a row, our virtual cooking group is joining the phenomenal chef Jamie Oliver in the revolt. Armed with whisks and spatulas this is a day of global action to engage and inspire people of all ages, especially kids, to learn about food and how to cook it.
My young FRD partner in cooking has always been Cav O’Leary, our young Aspen neighbor. He is now a student at Cal Poly. It’s Finals Week. His mother says he can’t play. So I’ll leave the kids’ duty to my colleagues, Mardi Michels, Eat.Live.Travel.Write., and Andrea Mohr, TheKitchenLioness, who are Food Revolution Ambassadors in Canada and Germany.
Our recipe this week is Tarte Salée au Jambon (ham), au Bleu (blue cheese), et aux Poires pears). It’s quiche. It’s delicious. Real men will eat it. This is something that should be in everyone’s repertoire because you can change it up and utilize various fillings. As David Lebovitz writes, “It’s infinitely adaptable to all sorts of vegetables and herbs,” and, I will add, rich, creamy and cheesy.
Since returning to Aspen two weeks ago I’ve relied on this food thing to catch up with friends, celebrate birthdays and reward helpers.The Bad News: I’ve already used up all the recipes I tested in Cambria to dazzle my guests this summer. I’ve got nothing left to pull out of my back pocket. The Good News: My revolving entertaining door encouraged me to unpack, organize and restock my pantry in record time. Readers, there’s always a silver lining.
Besides this very tasty quiche recipe, I’m also sharing photos of nature’s largesse in our Valley now. The bears are back. The rivers, overwhelmed with snow melt, are running high. Birds are pairing up, staking out territory and building nests. Flowers are popping up. Trees are leafing out. The beavers are busy but no moose sightings yet. It’s Springtime in the Rockies. It’s gorgeous. Come see us.
Cook-the-Book Fridays is a virtual international group making their way through David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen cookbook. This week we’re all saluting Chef Jamie Oliver and his worldwide FOOD REVOLUTION DAY. To see what others have dished up this week or to join our group (it’s fun), go here.
TARTE SALÉE au JAMBON, au BLEU et aux POIRES (Ham, Blue Cheese and Pear Quiche) by David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen.
INGREDIENTS for CRUST
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 large egg, room temperature
INGREDIENTS for FILLING
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large, firm, ripe pear, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes (Use a firm pear, such as Bosc or Anjou.)
1 cup diced cooked (boiled) ham (TIP: I used common sandwich meat.)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half
8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
Freshly grated nutmeg
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 egg yolks, room temperature
1 1/2 cups crumbled blue cheese or Roquefort
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. THE CRUST: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl, by hand with a pastry blender), combine the flour, cornmeal, and salt. Add the butter and beat on low speed until the butter is broken up and the mixture is sandy. Add the egg and mix until the dough begins to clump and come together.
2. Use your hands to gather the dough and shape it into a disk. Wrap it in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes. (The dough can be made up to 2 days in advance.)
3. Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s 14 inches across. Wrap aluminum foil around the outside of a 9- to 10-inch springform pan to catch any leaks, and then transfer the dough to the pan.
4. Press the dough against the side, allowing it to come a bit more than halfway up the sides of the pan. If there are any cracks, patch them with a bit of dough from the edges—you don’t want the filling to leak out during baking.
5. While making the filling, chill the dough in the springform in the fridge and preheat the oven to 375°F.
6. THE FILLING: Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the shallots with some salt and pepper until soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the diced pear and ham.
7. In a large bowl, blend together the cream, cream cheese, a few gratings of nutmeg, the eggs, and the yolks until smooth. (TIP: I used a stand mixer with whisk attachment for this.) Stir in the blue cheese, the pear and ham mixture, and the parsley.
8. Set the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet and pour in the filling, using a spoon to make sure the ingredients in the filling are evenly distributed.
9. Bake the tart for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top is lightly browned, the filling still jiggles, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. NOTE: You may need at least 60 minutes to bake this quiche. After 60 minutes,check quiche frequently.
10. Let cool until firm enough to slice, then serve warm or at room temperature.
Serve with a green leafy salad.
Directions for VARIATIONS
For bacon-lovers, substitute 1 cup cooked diced bacon for the ham. For a vegetarian version, leave out the ham. You can also add to taste whatever fresh herbs appeal to you, such as chervil, thyme, tarragon, dill, or marjoram.