As a wedding favor, Gary and I shared with our guests a small collection of family recipes. We chose recipes that immediately came to mind when we reflected upon our childhood. Dishes that we knew our siblings would also remember, ones that put a smile on our face. We decided upon this token gift because we realized early on in our relationship how important food was in both of our lives–in the past and moving forward.
For us food is a family connection. At a minimum, twice a week my brother, sister, mother and I exchange emails or phone calls looking for a tip, sharing an idea or promoting a new recipe. My brother is a participant in the Cook’s Illustrated Test Kitchen, so sometimes we experiment right alongside him. My sister entertains more than anyone I know, therefore she is often touting the “next best thing.”
But our mothers (DeeDee and Baily) are our original influencers. Gary’s mother, Baily, is the consummate innovator, truly before her culinary time. She was the hostess who prepared exotic, formal dinners before the Internet made recipes for Northern Thai Snapper accessible to all. She and her close friend started an annual tradition of serving a different country’s Christmas Dinner as their joint holiday celebration. This is a tradition that Gary and I carry forth and look forward to each year. Baily taught cooking classes at her children’s school and shared her enthusiasm and creativity with a generation of future home cooks. Gary was her ever-willing guinea pig.
My mother, DeeDee, served a nightly family dinner before there were reams of articles telling parents that this is what should be done–and how it could be accomplished. Like clockwork, every night at 5:30pm we sat down to a meal that was a careful balance between protein, vegetable and starch. All three groups were always represented, we sat, we talked, we cleared the table and were rewarded with dessert if we had at least tried everything on our plate. There were always home-baked cookies in the cookie jar and a cake under the glass dome–always from scratch, never from a mix.
In honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to thank our mothers for instilling a love of food that I hope we are successfully passing on to our children. In my mind, there is no better connector between family, friends and even strangers. Ask a person about their favorite meal or their culture’s cuisine and you will find yourselves fast friends. A lesson in commonality that we all could benefit from remembering.
The following recipe is for Baily’s Vidalia Onion, Apple and Goat Cheese Quiche. It won first place in a contest she entered years ago and I think you will see why. It is original, yet accessible and the first quiche for which I ever asked for seconds. While quiche makes an obvious choice for brunch or lunch, our schedule doesn’t permit us to host too many of these. I often serve this as a light supper, pared with a salad, and appreciate the fact that it can be made in advance and reheated (as a pie or by the slice) when needed. Perfect for those nights when family dinner isn’t feasible and people need to grab and go. For us, just the smell of Baily’s quiche is the “family” in family dinner.
On Monday, I will share the recipe for DeeDee’s Brownies. If you’ve been making brownies from the box, you’re in for a revelation. Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers out there, especially ours.
- 9-inch pie shell, unbaked, pricked with a fork (I use Pillsbury roll-out pie crust)
- 5 oz. creamy goat cheese, at room temperature
- 1 medium Vidalia onion, finely minced
- 1 granny smith apple, thinly sliced
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/4 cup half and half
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp chopped chives
- Preheat oven to 375F. Fit the unbaked pie crust into a 9-inch pie dish. Prick with a fork. Spread the crust with goat cheese and sprinkle with the minced onion. Lay apple slices over the top.
- Meanwhile, bring the half and half to boil in a small saucepan to scald and allow to cool slightly. While beating the eggs in a medium bowl, pour the scalded half and half into bowl (start slowly to temper the eggs and then continue to pour in a steady stream--beating the mixture all the while). Continue beating while adding nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- Pour the egg mixture over the ingredients in the pie shell. Sprinkle with chives. Bake for 40-60 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly, slice and serve. Can be served hot, warm or at room temperature.