Saturday, February 18, 2012

Secrets of the Gourmet Grocer: our first review

January, 1982

Now that I have hired Scott, my baker, I can concentrate on working more closely with Valerie on the entrees, soups, and salads.  We still don't have the grand selection that I have in mind.  Valerie comes in every day in these extravagant high heels.  I don't know how she can stand, much less work, but she plows ahead each day.  She chatters incessantly while she is cooking and I learn lots about her life.  She has truly had many experiences.  I worry that all of this conversation about things other than what we are cooking will take away from what she is making, and I often catch her leaving out ingredients.  When you are cooking, it is essential that you focus on what you are making, not on your problems.  Use what you are making to undo any stress.  Gradually we ramp up our production, adding things like quiches, keeping them in the case daily.  Additionally, we are not only getting customers stopping by for lunch, but they are also taking something home or stopping by in the afternoon for an entree for dinner.  I add a hot entree for lunch each day in addition to the soups and sandwiches we make.  Salads are another area in the case that is sadly lacking.  I consult some cookbooks since we didn't make "to go" salads at Henny's in Spokane.  We do a nice tossed salad daily and I add a couple of potato salads-new potatoes with the skin on-something not in the deli cases in the local grocery stores.  I come up with a great Julia Child recipe called "Rosie's great potato salad".  I also consult my James Beard cookbooks.  He has lots of good ideas.

In the midst of all this work, I get a call from the Kansas City Star.  They want to feature us in their "Getting Started" section.  The reporter stops by, gathers some facts, and takes a picture.  The article comes out the next week with a clever  headline: "Your place or dine".  She is very positive and mentions several of the dishes we make.  She loves the service she gets and I realize that business is going to break open.  Sure enough, there is a line at the door the next morning when we open.  I quickly run out of everything in the case that day.  Later that afternoon I get a call from my attractive health inspector Gwen.  She had given me an opening inspection that was good, but after reading the article she wanted to come back and get me to tighten up my standards. Great, too much to do and now I have to take time to meet with Gwen and spend even more time cleaning.

Quiche Lorraine

While I am waiting for Gwen, I get back to production, making quiches. People are always telling me that quiches are no longer something worth cooking since they were so popular in the 70s and are now dated.  My response is that a properly made quiche is one of my favorite breakfast or luncheon foods.  Really, I could eat quiche at any time of day.  I started making this same recipe in 1972 or so and have done many variations on it, but the standard Quiche Lorraine is my favorite. 

This quiche will be best if you go to the trouble and expense to get the two types of Swiss.  It can be made with a standard Swiss but won't have quite the pungency.  Don't use skim milk to save calories.  Walk an extra mile or just have a small piece.

Quiche pie crust
4 ounces Gruyere, grated
4 ounces Emmental, grated
3 eggs
1 1/4 C. light cream
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. each pepper, white pepper, mace, grated nutmeg, dry mustard powder
3-4 strips bacon, lightly fried and crumbled
1 green onion, diced

Roll out the pie crust in a standard 9 inch fluted quiche pan.  Cover with foil and baking marbles and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and remove the foil and marbles.  Spread the grated cheeses over the crust.  Add the crumbled bacon and the diced green onion.  Whisk together the eggs, cream, and spices and pour over the cheese mixture.  Return to the oven and reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake another 20-30 minutes until the custard mixture is set and the quiche is slightly golden.

Cool and slice. This serves 5 for lunch or 6 for brunch.

Variations:  Substitute freshly chopped spinach, grilled salmon, crab meat, or grilled vegetables for the bacon.

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