Mrs Julien’s Quiche Lorraine – Two Recipes and A Story

Growing up, I spent the majority of my school holidays in a small village in the French Southern Alps called Seyne Les Alpes. Nestled at the heart of a valley and surrounded by three ski resorts, the village looks just as beautiful under three feet of snow as it does in the warm summer sun.

Seyne Les Alpes, France

The village center on a quiet, summer morning.

My great-grandma bought a house there in the 80s, so that’s where my parents took us skiing in the winter, and raspberry-picking in the summer. (Truth: I ate more raspberries than I picked.)

The last house on the road leading out of the village and into the northern mountains (no White Walkers in sight, thank you very much), it has a huge front yard and a gorgeous view onto the village and the surrounding valley.

Villa Marie-Ange, Seyne Les Alpes,

The house called Villa Marie-Ange 

Back then, a pathway used to lead from the southwest corner of the yard down to the house of our next door neighbor, a elderly lady called Mrs Julien.

Seyne Les Alpes

The view on the village and the surrounding valley from the living room – and Mrs Julien’s house.

Here’s what you should know about Mrs Julien: she made the best goddamn Quiche Lorraine in the whole wide world. I’m serious. I’ve had my fair share of quiches in a lot of different countries. Hers was absolutely jaw-dropping, mouth-watering, out-of-this-world delicious.

Every couple of weeks, she would walk up the pathway between our houses to bring us a warm quiche straight out of her oven. My siblings and I always jumped for joy and thanked her profusely (okay, my parents did the thanking – we were probably much too entitled and rude about it) before devouring it whole. It never lasted long.

My mom repeatedly asked Mrs Julien if she would share her recipe, but instead of giving it to my mom, she would show up on our doorsteps with a warm quiche a few hours later. Every single time.

Mrs Julien passed away a few years ago, and she took her recipe to the grave. She was a lovely and generous lady, but I don’t think she wanted anyone else to know the magic behind her perfect dish. It makes me sad. Everyone remembers what an amazing quiche she made, but we wouldn’t have forgotten about her if she’d shared the recipe with us. On the contrary.

Having lived abroad for most of my adult life, I’ve cooked my fair share of quiches over time, but none of them ever lived up to Mrs Julien’s. Then a few months ago, I accidentally bought smoked bacon instead of regular bacon at the grocery store, and something magical happened: I took a bite out of the quiche, and the memory of Mrs Julien’s rushed back to me, like Proust biting into his madeleine and stumbling upon lost memories.

I’ve made a few adjustments to the recipe since, and I think I’ve come up with the perfect Quiche Lorraine recipe. It will never measure up to Mrs Julien’s, but it’s as close as it’s ever going to get.

So, without any further ado…

Quiche Lorraine

quiche lorraine

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4-6 (1 nine-inch quiche)

Ingredients:
1 pie crust (recipe below)
250ml (8oz.) of crème fraiche OR double cream OR sour cream (in order of preference)
2 eggs
1 small onion
2 tbsps of olive oil
150g of smoked lardons or bacon
50g of grated parmesan or gruyere cheese (medium white cheddar cheese is fine)

Steps

  • Chop the onion into small chunks.
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan, and slow cook the onions until they go soft and translucent. It might help to throw a bit of water in the pan to keep them from drying out and burning. (My frying pans are practically antiques so water is a must. But if you’ve got a fancy cast iron pan, this is probably a foreign concept to you. And I hate you and your fancy cookware.)

quiche - onions

  • Cook the bacon or pancetta in a separate pan. It should be just cooked through but not crispy. If using bacon: chop the strips into small chunks once they’ve cooled down.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the cream and the eggs.
  • Set the pie crust in your nine-inch pie dish. Prick the crust with a fork to make sure it cooks evenly. Press the tines of the fork against the sides of the crust to create ridges.

quiche - fork

  • Sprinkle the onions over the crust, then the bacon or pancetta. Pour the cream and eggs mixture over the onions and bacon. Sprinkle the cheese over the quiche.

quiche - bacon

quiche parmesan

  • Cook for 30 minutes at 200C (390F). It might take a bit longer depending on your oven, but you’ll be able to tell the quiche is done when it goes golden on top.

Pie Crust

Prep time: 15 minutes + 30mins resting time
Servings: 1 nine-inch pie crust

Ingredients:
200g of flour + extra for rolling
100g of softened butter
1/4 tsp of salt
6cl of lukewarm milk or water (I prefer milk)

Steps

  • Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl.
  • Throw the chunks of softened butter into the flour mixture and mix using your fingertips. You should get a crumble-like mixture in about 2-3 minutes.

quiche - dough

  • Add in the milk or water until you can form a smooth dough ball. You might not need all 6cl. Keep kneading the dough until it stops breaking apart.
  • If you have time, let the dough rest for 30-1h at a room temperature (covered with a tea towel).
  • Sprinkle flour on a clean, flat surface. Use a rolling pin to spread the dough into a 10-inch circle. The dough should be 3-4 millimeters thick.
  • The dough will be crumbly so be careful when spreading it and moving it to your pie dish.
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