Food for Thought


Early in my tenure at Lerner, I oversaw the revision and expansion of the Easy Menu Ethnic Cookbook series in the Lerner Publications imprint. These books are a great introduction to world culture through food.

In TFCB, we include recipes in the Cultural Life chapter of all the VGS titles. It’s always interesting to see the ways in which a country’s geography impacts its cuisine. Coconuts tend to pop up in the recipes of equatorial regions, for example, and fish is common in coastal regions.

I love dairy products and am drawn to the cuisine of northern France for that reason. All those cows and goats in Normandy producing milk for all those lovely cheeses and butters. Yum!

Speaking of cheese and butter, we’ve been making quiches at my home this summer to take advantage of all the greens and vegetables that are in season. Here’s my recipe for a simple asparagus quiche (pictured above with a green salad topped with sliced strawberries and goat cheese). If the day is hot, I make the quiche in the morning and serve it at room temperature, or reheated in the microwave, for dinner in the evening.

Asparagus Quiche

1 partially baked savory crust, using this recipe from David Lebovitz’s blog (you can use a pre-made crust instead)

3 large sweet onions, sliced and caramelized (or sauteed for about 5 minutes, until translucent, whichever method you have time for)

2 tablespoons olive oil (for caramelizing/sauteeing the onions)

1 bunch fresh asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces and steamed for 8 minutes (from a cold-water start); you can also substitute frozen asparagus, cooked as per package instructions

6 thick slices bacon (optional), cut into bite-sized pieces and fried until done

1 generous piece of creamy Italian gorgonzola (about 1/2 pound), cut into small pieces; goat cheese or swiss are lower-fat alternatives that also go well with asparagus

6 eggs

1 cup half-and-half (or 1/2 cup half-and-half + 1/2 cup milk)

salt and pepper to taste

1. Start by caramelizing (or sauteeing) the onions in olive oil. Salt to taste. Caramelizing takes about 30 minutes over low heat on top of the stove. Sauteeing takes only about 5 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the crust, cook the asparagus, and fry the bacon.

2. After the crust is partially baked, you can leave the oven on at 375 degrees while you’re assembling other ingredients.

3. Cut the gorgonzola (or goat cheese) into small pieces. Grate the swiss cheese, if you’ve decided to use that instead.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and cream with a fork. Add about 1/4 teaspoon salt and the cheese to the mixture.

To assemble the quiche:

1. Spread the caramelized/sauteed onions over the bottom of the partially baked quiche crust. Add the steamed asparagus and a layer of bacon on top of that.

2. Pour the egg-cheese mixture over the quiche. Grate a little pepper over the top.

3. Place the quiche in the oven and bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until the quiche is set, a bit browned on top, and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Serves 4-8 depending on portion size. This makes a nice dinner meal when paired with a green salad. Bon appetit! (And check in next week for more from TFCB.)