Monday, July 23, 2012

Paris + Eiffel Tower + Rue Cler

The BFF-ers and I headed over to the Tour Eiffel on Day 2 of our Paris adventure.  I had managed to snag tickets to the second floor on-line at the last minute, but the catch was we had to be in line by 8:45 am.  Two of my fellow travelers had never been to Paris, much less to the top, so I was really happy to get those tickets.  We had two extras because two of the gals were off doing their own thing (they had already been to the top and had other sights to see).  We looked at the very, very long line of people without tickets
(this is what the line looked like from the top)

and chose a mom and daughter to give our extras to.  And it turned out they were from Norway!  Good karma here (the Ex-Ex and Sister-in-law are of Norwegian descent).
When we got to the second floor, we discovered that we could indeed buy tickets to the third floor so up we went for spectacular views of the entire city.
Invalides (Coucou, Napoléon!)
The Grand Palais (it's still there, Arles Lucy!)
The Pont Alexandre III and la Seine
And Sacré Coeur, the BFF's fav.
After all that time spent in a much higher altitude, we were hungry, of course, so we headed to one of my favorite streets, Rue Cler.  We chose a restaurant I know quite well for our lunch-
Not only is the food good, it's a great place to people watch.  Lots of tourists are there since Rick Steves  writes about this street in his Paris books, but there are also quite a few locals there having lunch and shopping for their daily supplies.  (On Rue Cler, there is a bakery, a cheese shop, and the pâtisserie where the last blog's desserts were purchased and consumed, as well as several restaurants, a post office, a fruit and vegetable seller, a wine shop with lots of rosés in the window, a Florame essential oils shop, etc.)
For lunch, I chose duck confit since it had been quite a while since I had eaten any, but two of the ladies chose the vegetable quiche.

(We also ran into Bruce Springsteen, by the way... at least a huge poster of him.  He was performing in Paris for two nights.  I think that we all would have agreed that he could eat croissants...  Am I right, ladies?)
Pardon... I digress.
Anyway, I miss Paris.  I miss France.  I miss objets d'art underpants.  Couldn't help that one.  I didn't buy any though, but I heard that Ms. Arizona brought some home.  The July sales were on, after all.  Enough poetry.
At the airport on the way home, I picked up a copy of Stephen Clarke's latest book.  I buy just about any and every book about France, so I decided to add this one to my collection.
I've read all of his Merde books and Talk to the Snail and enjoyed them tremendously.  So, I figured that since I was still sorta kinda in Paris, I would buy this one.  I so wish that I had read it before heading to Paris.  It is a great book.  With his English sense of humor, he tells many tales about the city and gives great advice to any one visiting or hoping to live there.  He even mentions a restaurant that was very near the apartment we stayed in close to the Temple métro stop.  This will be required reading before I take the next adult group with me to traipse around the City of Light.  Next, I plan to buy 1000 Years of Annoying the French.  It sounds very educational, although I personally try to never annoy anyone French.
This afternoon, in light of my longing for France, I googled vegetable quiche recipes and came up with a winner.  I discovered Jennifer and her blog, use real butter.   So, here is my latest creation.

I even had enough leftovers to make a second, crustless one.  Miam, miam, as the Frenchies say!

Roasted Vegetable Quiche

1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled (optional) and diced (medium dice)
1 small eggplant, diced (medium dice)
1 medium bell pepper (I used a red one), diced (medium to large dice)
(I added a zucchini, too, diced.)
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt (I used some from France with herbs added)

I bunch kale (about 6-8 stems), washed and torn
1 medium onion, sliced thin
(I added one clove of garlic, minced)
Olive oil

1 pie crust (homemade or store bought)

1 1/2 c. Gruyère cheese, grated
1 Tbsp. flour
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 tsp. salt (once again, I used salt with herbes mixed in)

Pie Crust
from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book

1 1/4 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. shortening or lard
3-4 tsp. cold water

Set the oven to 450˚F.
Mix flour and salt in a mixing bowl.  Cut shortening into flour to form pea-sized pieces.  Sprinkle water over the mixture and toss with fork until all is moistened.  Form dough into a ball and roll out on lightly floured surface to about 12-inches in diameter.  Press and form into a 9-inch pan.  Line the crust with foil and bake for 5 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue baking for another 7 minutes.  Remove from oven.

(I used my go-to pie crust recipe from Even More Special-- it was already made and just needed to thaw.)

Vinegar Pie Crust
makes 4 crusts
4 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 c. shortening (I use butter)
1/2 c. water
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 egg

Preheat oven to 425˚F if pie shells are to be baked.
In large bowl, mix flour, salt, and sugar together.  Cut in shortening or butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Combine water, vinegar, and egg.  Beat mixture with a fork.  Gradually pour egg mixture into dry ingredients.  Mix until pastry holds together; dough will be slightly sticky.
Divide into four flat disks and dust lightly with flour.  Cover with waxed paper.  Chill one hour.
Roll out on floured surface to fit four 9-inch pans.  (Or use as many as you need and freeze the rest.)
Place dough in pan.  For baked shell, prick pie crust and bake for 10 minutes.  Leave unpricked for filled pies and bake as directed in recipes.

Preheat oven to 425˚F.  Toss the diced potato, eggplant, and pepper (and any other vegetable you wish, but not the onion and kale) with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste in a wide baking dish so that the vegetables sit in a single layer.  Roast for 30 minutes, remove from oven and let cool.
In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onions, stirring them to avoid burning.  Cook them for about 20 minutes until caramelized (with a few minutes left, I added the garlic), then remove from pan.  In the same pan, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil on high heat and sauté the kale until cooked.  Remove from pan and roughly chop the kale.

In a large bowl, toss the vegetables together.  In a separate bowl, toss the cheese and flour together and then mix the cheese in with the vegetables.  Fill the pie crust with the vegetable-cheese mix.  Beat the eggs and stir in the milk and salt.  Pour the milk over the vegetables and bake the quiche for 35-40 minutes.  Let the quiche rest out of the oven for 15 minutes before serving.

Crustless Quiche
I had leftover vegetables and milk-egg mixture, so I buttered an extra pan and baked the rest without a crust.  I baked it in the oven at the same time as the other one for the same amount of time.  It was really good, too.

Bon appétit, Paris!

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