Now that you have some culinary inspiration of your own, I’d like to introduce you to someone who’s given me my own culinary inspiration: Chef Jacques Pepin. He is a man who radiates craftsmanship, technique, a dreamy French accent and talent any chef would be jealous of. In my opinion, he is the godfather of cooking.
Chef Jacques has been in the kitchen for more than 60 years. That’s a long time, if you ask me. He is not only a master chef but an elite teacher, from his multiple television shows teaching people at home to becoming a master chef and dean of the International Culinary Center in New York, NY since 1988.
I couldn’t tell you exactly when Chef Jacques came into my life but as a youngster I was surrounded by his
cookbooks and the sound of his voice streaming from the television and surely didn’t even know it. As I got older and started to discover my own inner culinary existence, I began to enjoy hearing Chef Jacques and Chef Julia Child giggling from the other room. Thanks to my father I was slowly being introduced to Chef Jacques Pepin and honestly enjoying everything about him.
Chef Jacques has a way of moving in the kitchen. With his knife in hand, his voice would become a tune that went along with the sizzles from the pan and his whimsical way of making such fantastic dishes. Chef Jacques has such an elegant way of making things look so easy. The flip of his pan would show you his perfectly caramelized Tarte Tatin, (/ˈtärt taˈtaN/) a type of upside-down apple tart with a pastry crust that is baked with fruit arranged in caramelized sugar and served fruit-side-up after baking. This may sound like some sort of complex French dessert but in fact it is something that anybody anywhere could make in their very own kitchen. Okay, maybe all of our Tarte Tatins won’t look exactly like Chef Jacques’, but by carefully listening to his explanations, tips and tricks there is no way even a beginner chef couldn’t prepare at least an edible Tarte Tatin. It is practice of course that can only lead to perfection.
Chef Jacques has become an integral part of the culinary world, writing an array of cookbooks that have become bestsellers to winning a daytime Emmy award for co-hosting a show with Chef Julia Child. I find myself wrapped up in the essence of his presence on the screen of my computer watching videos of him cooking everything from pastries (which I’m going to admit I find myself to occasionally fear) to omlettes. Chef Jacques has such a graceful way of cooking only making him more intriguing to watch. He has given me insight into my own culinary desires, unknowingly encouraging me to make a dish better or to not be fearful to take a dish to another level.
Ever try to make a quiche? If not, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you’re missing out. This is a dish
I’ve watched Chef Jacques make over and over again. Did I mention I LOVE quiche? Not just for the taste, but the look of a just-baked open-faced pastry filled with an egg custard and anything else you desire, along with the extreme creativity that this dish allows you to have. In this video, Episode 123: Egg-quisite of Essential Pepin, you can watch Chef Jacques create three fantastic egg dishes, one of which is a fantastic and simple classic Quiche Lorraine. He keeps it pretty simple by just using cheese and bacon in his classic style quiche, making it just the way his aunt used to make.
Now, remember, you can take something and make it yours by changing little things. Instead of bacon, maybe go for a simple veggie like broccoli or spinach, or perhaps even switch up the cheese to sharp cheddar. You can take any array of ingredients and make a quiche.
Oh, and don’t tell Chef Jacques I’m telling you this but you could even use pre made pie crust. Yes, you can! (I do, but you didn’t hear that from me)
I’ve been making quiches since I’ve had the freedom of having my own kitchen. I took it upon myself to make an asparagus and mushroom quiche with Swiss and parmesan cheese this week. It’s a great way to get fancy, creative or even simply clean out the fridge. So this is me telling you to watch the previously mentioned video of Chef Jacques preparing a classic Quiche Lorraine (hopefully this will help explain why I think Chef Jacques is so dreamy), head over to your fridge and start to let those creative juices flow!
As a side note to go along with Chef Jacques’ Quiche recipe, don’t be afraid to experiment or substitute in this recipe. A quiche is meant to be different every time. Included are pictures of my Asparagus and Mushroom quiche to give you an insight on how to be creative with your quiche. I like to pack mine full of veggies that I’ve previously sautéed, switch up my cheeses and include fresh herbs. Oh and might I recommend if you’re looking for a new cookbook or even a great memorable gift go out and pick yourself up a copy of Essential Pepin by Jacques Pepin which comes with a DVD demonstrating Chef Jacques’ techniques!
Here is Chef Jacques Pepin’s Recipe from his book Essential Pepin:
Quiche with Bacon
Serves 6 to 8
The dough for this quiche is made with butter and lard (or vegetable shortening). The result is very flaky, with the taste of the lard complementing the bacon in the filling. The dough is not precooked but is prepared in the home style, by baking it filled, as my mother and aunt used to do. The quiche may not be as elegant as one made in a precooked shell, as chefs do in fancy restaurants, but it’s faster and easier to make it this way – and it’s very good too.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening
¼ cup ice cold water
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
5 slices bacon, cooked in a microwave oven or skillet until crisp and broken into pieces
1 ½ cups diced (½-inch) Gruyere or Emmenthaler cheese (5 ounces)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
For the dough: Combine the flour, salt, butter, and lard or shortening together in a food processor and process until you have a coarse mixture, about 10 seconds. Add the water and process for 5 seconds. Turn the dough out and gather together into a ball.
Roll the dough out with a rolling pin into an 11- or 12-inch circle and use it to line a 9- to 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom or a pie pan. Refrigerate until you are ready to fill the quiche shell.
For the filling: Beat the eggs in a bowl only until well mixed. Stir in the milk, cream, salt, and white pepper.
Scatter the bacon and cheese over the dough. Place the pan on a cookie sheet and pour in the egg mixture. Bake for 1 hour, or until the filling is set and browned on top. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly; the quiche is best after it has rested for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
Cut into slices and serve lukewarm.
Copyright 2011 by Jacques Pepin. All rights reserved.