August 23, 2012

The Best Apologies Come with Bacon
(+ Quiche Lorraine)

Mr. Bear is basically a saint.  Especially in bed.

Wait, wait.  Don’t go.  This isn’t about to get inappropriate or weird.  Well, inappropriate anyway.  It’s pretty weird.  But just quirky-weird.  Not “I want to curl up like an armadillo and un-know all that stuff about your toe fetish” weird.  This isn’t about our attempt to act out 50 Shades of Grey with lunchmeat hand puppets, or anything.*  It’s about how I’m wired wrong.  I panic at bedtime.

The night always starts off perfectly normally: some halfhearted debate over what time to go to bed, then teethbrushing.  Jammers.  Pills taken.  Face washed - because, let’s face it, the days when I could expect to sleep in my makeup without waking up looking more or less like a moray eel are over.  Thermostat adjusted.  Doors and windows checked.  Decorative bed pillows banished.  I swear there was a time when I just went to bed when I was tired.  Now it seems like preparation for some Olympic sport.  Which is probably an apt comparison, because what's about to happen is like a triathlon of crazy.

*If someone were to do this and put it up on YouTube, I’m pretty sure we’d all become famous.  Just something to think about.

Up until this point, everyone concerned (you know, all two of us.) has been sleepy, listless and complacent.  Mr. Bear, unburdened by the demands of eel-face, reaches bed first and quietly reads; by all outward appearances, he seems unaware that the Bothering Hour is nigh. 

That's our name for it: “Bothering.”  As in: “I’m going to head to bed at 10:30.  Ten minutes to change and brush my teeth, 20 minutes of Bothering…I should be able to get to sleep by 11.”  It’s factored into the equation.

I don’t mean to bother.  I swear.  I think my unconscious is just unclear on the mechanics of sleep.  So it has a nightly existential crisis, thinking that I’m going to close my eyes, the world will go dark, and we’ll never wake up again.  It starts to panic; it flails; and when it realizes there’s no cheating death, it decides to go out with a bang, with the closest thing to Mardi Gras that the human mind can manufacture: a full-on adrenaline jamboree.

Thankfully, my brain’s interpretation of Mardi Gras leans toward bed-jumping and puns rather than to beads, alcohol and gratuitous nudity.  Well, thankfully for me, anyway.  Mr. Bear might disagree.  Whoops.  Approaching lunchmeat territory there.  Sorry.

Five minutes ago I was slouching towards unconsciousness.  Now I’m gloriously, manically, vividly awake.  I test the bedsprings’ bounce.  I flail around under the covers.  I decide to paint the bedroom and run a marathon.  There’s an excited grin on my face that even I can tell looks straight off a Batman villain.  I can’t just go read quietly in the living room until this passes.  For god's sake, it’s Mardi Gras!  I need to move, to talk, to play.  I need attention.  Somehow the simple act of climbing into bed has turned me into a border collie.   

I wonder if fish are curious about dry land.  I ask questions. “If an evil wizard turned me into a sheep, would you still let me sleep in the bed?”*  “Do you think a robot chicken could defeat a real chicken in a fight?  What about tigers?  But what if the robot tiger had an assault rifle?” There are hand gestures illustrating what I would look like with tentacles coming out of my head.  There are overzealous offers of neck massages.  There are four different puns about porcupines.  Mr. Bear checks my cuffs and pockets for contraband candy wrappers.  No mere brain chemical should be able to cause this.

* Actual answer: "Would you still be taking baths as often as you do now?"

My husband has many fine qualities, and patience ranks very high among them.  He can ignore the Bothering for an impressively long time.  As I’m bouncing away and tossing pillows, he’ll quietly read his book.  Then, as I notice him and sinisterly drift in his direction, he’ll continue to quietly read his book.  Experience shows that this behavior can survive at least six insistent prods to the ribs.  But no one wants this to devolve into tickling, so at this point he usually agrees to discuss the complexities of robot chicken fights.

But only for a few minutes, and then he Insists.On.Bed. with a firm glare that’s the human  equivalent of a rolled-up newspaper.  So I capitulate, flopping petulantly onto my pillows – only to fall instantly into blissful sleep, drifting away on rose-colored clouds with dreams of dancing lobstermuffins.  Leaving Mr. Bear, I’m sure, to stare wide-eyed at the ceiling - suspecting that this, like so many others, is just a ploy to lower his defenses.

His discomfort belongs to the night, and mine to the day.  Each morning, I wake with the groggy suspicion of a hangover.  The dread of things done and half-remembered.  Returned to my senses, I prepare for the usual long, apologetic morning in the kitchen.  I drag out the frying pan.  Because the best apologies are the ones made with bacon. 

I've submitted this post to August's Kitchen Bootcamp challenge over at My Kitchen Addiction.  
This month's challenge is to cook something from the Breakfast chapter of The New Best Recipe
a brilliant, if distressingly enormous, cookbook.  Check out the Bootcamp link above in 
September for links to lots of fabulous breakfast recipes from all over the web.

Quiche Lorraine
adapted from The New Best Recipe
by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated

Have you ever eaten good quiche?  No?  Okay, imagine a pudding.  A thick, creamy, robe-your-mouth-in-flavor pudding.  Now imagine that it tastes like bacon and Gruyere.  Now add a warm, flaky, buttery pie crust to that for textural contrast.  Now bake it until it has a blistery golden top.  Okay, fine.  It’s not like pudding at all.  But you want it now, don’t you?  Mission accomplished.

All-Purpose Flour  [ 1 ¼ cups ]
Salt  [ ½ teaspoon ]
Sugar  [ 1 tablespoon ]
Vegetable Shortening  [ 3 tablespoons, chilled ]
Unsalted Butter  [ 4 tablespoons, cold, cut into ¼-inch pieces ]
Ice Water  [ 4-5 tablespoons ]

Bacon  [ 8 ounces, cut into ½-inch pieces ]
Whole Eggs  [ 2 ]
Egg Yolks  [ 2 ]
Whole Milk  [ 1 cup ]
Heavy Cream  [ 1 cup ]
Salt  [ ½ teaspoon ]
White Pepper  [ ½ teaspoon ]
Freshly Grated Nutmeg  [ 1 pinch ]
Gruyere Cheese  [ 4 ounces, grated – about 1 cup ]

Prepare Pie Dough:
 1.   In a food processor, mix Flour, Salt, and Sugar.  Process until well-mixed.

2.   Add Shortening to mixture and process again.  Mixture should seem sandy - this will take about 10 seconds.

3.   Add Butter to mixture and pulse 10 times to cut it in.  Mixture should look like crumbs - some bigger pieces of butter will remain, but shouldn’t be any larger than small peas.

4.   Place mixture in a bowl.  Sprinkle with 4 tablespoons of Ice Water.

5.   With a rubber spatula, fold mixture together until it forms a dough, pressing down on it with the wide side of the spatula.    If necessary, add 1 additional tablespoon Ice Water.

6.   Shape dough into a 4-inch disc; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Dough will keep in refrigerator for 2 days.

Make Pie Crust:
1.   Take Pie Dough out of the refrigerator.  If very hard, let sit on the counter until workable. 

2.   Roll dough into a 12-inch circle.  I like to do this between two sheets of plastic wrap, regularly flipping the dough over and periodically pulling off the top sheet of plastic wrap and re-applying it smoothly.

3.   Transfer dough to a 9-inch pie plate.  If you’ve rolled out the dough between plastic wrap, you can simply remove the top layer, use the bottom layer to carry the dough to the pan, and then upend the dough into the pan.  If you’ve rolled it out on a floured counter, loosely roll the dough up around your rolling pin and then gently unroll into the pan.

4.   Gently press dough so that it lies flat against all surfaces of the pie pan.  Tuck any overhanging dough under itself and then flute the rim or press down all around it with the tines of a fork.

5.   Place pie plate in refrigerator and chill for 40 minutes – dough should feel firm.

6.   Move pie plate to freezer for 20 minutes – dough should be very cold.

Make Quiche:
1.   Heat oven to 375 degrees.

2.   Remove pie plate from freezer.  Double a 12-inch length of heavy-duty aluminum foil and lay it into pan, covering dough.  Crimp edges gently over pan rim to protect crust. 

3.   Fill foil with 2 cups of pie weights, uncooked rice or beans, or coins.  Metal and ceramic weights are the most effective because they’re heavier.

4.   Place pie plate in oven (I found this step absolutely terrifying, but my ceramic Wilton pie plate made it from freezer straight to oven without shattering into 1000 pieces.  I’ve heard that Pyrex is safe for this as well, but can’t vouch for it personally).  Cook for about 25 minutes, until dough under foil looks dry and light-colored.

5.   Meanwhile, in a pan, cook Bacon over Medium Heat until crisp, about 5 minutes.  Drain and set on paper towels to cool.

6.   Whisk together Eggs, Egg Yolks, Milk, Cream, Salt, Pepper and Nutmeg.

7.   When pie crust is done, remove from oven.  Carefully lift foil and pie weights out of crust.  Return crust to oven for about 5 minutes, until light golden brown.

8.   Remove pie crust from oven.  Sprinkle Cheese and Bacon evenly into crust.  Carefully add Egg Mixture.  Liquids should reach to about ½ inch from top of crust.

9.   Place quiche in oven.  Bake for about 35 minutes – top should be light golden brown, center should be set but jiggly (it’ll set up more as it cools), and a knife inserted about 1 inch from the edge of the quiche will come out clean.

10.  Cool on a rack to desired temperature – quiche can be eaten warm or at room temperature.

[ Notes:  (1) As you can see from the pictures, I let the edges of my pie crust get a little…Cajun-style.   
 You probably don’t want them that dark.  If they seem to be approaching it, mold a little strip of 
foil to cover the browned sections.    (2) I’m not going to deny that this recipe has a lot of steps.    
You can certainly cook your bacon ahead of time.  And if you want to use a purchased pie crust, 
you’ll be eliminating about 2/3 of the work.  It won’t be quite as wonderful, but we can’t always 
be perfect, can we?  I’m the last person in the world to snitch on you for taking a shortcut. ]


  1. Ha! I absolutely loved this post... Probably because I have similar bedtime tendencies. Perhaps I should make this quiche for my hubby over the weekend. Yum! Thanks for submitting it for this month's Kitchen Bootcamp challenge!

  2. Well, thanks for hosting! I think it's such a fantastic idea, and such a fun way to mix things up a bit beyond the regular post-a-week schedule. Glad you liked this essay - I promise you won't get any complaints if you make the quiche. :)

  3. You are weird. I think I like you lol. And I like that damn quiche of yours lol.

    1. Christine, the weirdness was never in doubt. ;) Glad you like the quiche - the hubs is already asking to have it again. I don't think I'd mind....

  4. I have been looking for a recipes for about two years now that turned out how my grandma used to make. and this isn't quiet it but its really really close! I think I will stop looking now cuz I'm satisfied with this one!

    1. I'm so glad I could help you find a good substitute!