who's in the kitchen

Making friends (and quiches, too)


As most of you know, I am a pastry chef and party planner. I not only plan the parties, I am in charge of all the food, drinks and setup. As you can guess, there is a lot that has to be planned, usually with the mother of the bride or groom. Every now and then a father might be involved, but usually it’s the women that I deal with. Not only do the men usually not get involved, they usually have no clue whatsoever.

A while back I was planning a shower for a delightful bride-to-be. I had planned her engagement party as well and really liked these clients. My husband Jerry really liked them too. What would Jerry have to do with my clients, you might ask? One Tuesday a few nights before the party, Jerry loaded my and his cars with all of my setup supplies — extremely large and heavy boxes which he insists on loading and then bringing into the homes that I set up. He spends a decent amount of time in the gym and is happy to help and put his strength to good use. Then the bride’s dad and Jerry realized that they both had parents who went through the Holocaust, and a friendship was forged.

I realized that I was in trouble. The week of a party, I work every night except Friday, and I’m usually up into the wee hours of the morning preparing. I can’t afford to lose time. I gently nudged Jerry, reminding him that we had to move along and bring the rest of the boxes inside. 

Alas, it was not to be. Each time Jerry brought in another box, another conversation ensued … and there were eight boxes. They spoke about being children of survivors, and then about sports. Usually children of survivors are not ball players, but they both were. When Jerry heard that his new friend had gone to Ramaz, he was shocked. “Seriously?” Survivors’ kids went to BTA and RJJ; they didn’t go to Ramaz! At that point I dragged him out, promising another play date later.

Sunday came and went, and the party was a success. During the party, the bride’s dad told me to call Jerry so that he could join him for a l’chaim. I told him not to worry; he would see Jerry later when he picked up the boxes to load them back into the cars!

Fast-forward about six months. I got a call from the bride’s mom; she wanted me to do her daughter’s bridal shower. It was my pleasure, as I really liked this family. Once again, I told my husband that I needed him to help me deliver the party setup. After loading everything into the car, he turned and asked for the address. “That sounds familiar,” he said. I told him who it was, and he was so excited to see his friend. But when we got there, the bride’s father had already gone up to bed, not realizing that Jerry was coming. (He was upset when he found out later that Jerry had been there and nobody had called him down.)

Everyone was happy, though, when two nights later I packed up a huge box of unused supplies and had Jerry come pick it up (I couldn’t even lift it). Jerry’s pal was in the kitchen, sitting in a corner near the counter and eating dinner. I had told everyone in the house that come Wednesday, they would not be able to use the kitchen table and counters because the house would be set up for the shower. So there he was tucked into a corner, using the foot of space that was available. Jerry asked if he was all set for the party.

He laughed. “I’m not even going to be at the party. It’s only for women. I was told it would be a small party with my daughter’s friends and a few of my wife’s friends and some relatives. Next thing I know, my wife gave me a list of instructions. I had to order 60 chairs … 60 chairs for a small party? Then I’m told I have to pick up a case of champagne for the mimosa station. I guess that’s standard for a shower these days? Oh, and I had to have a check ready for the balloon wall. What’s a balloon wall? I was told it would be set up right near the backdrop for the photo ops. Photo ops? Yes, the ones the photographer would take as each guest came in…”

Showers have come a long way since mine. The only constant is the ridiculous hat made for the bride out of a piece of wrapping paper from each present.

Truth is, the dad was an amazing sport about everything. And when his younger daughter has her bridal shower, he won’t be in the dark.

Having nothing to do with bridal showers, here’s a delicious rich quiche recipe for Shavuot.

Spinach, Mushroom and Onion Quiche with Swiss Cheese

5 eggs

10 oz. Swiss cheese, cut up, dusted in flour

Half a package onion soup mix

5 heaping Tbsp. caramelized onions

12 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained of water

8 oz. fresh mushrooms sautéed in oil or Pam 

1 cup whole milk (you can substitute 2%)

1 cup French’s fried onion crisps (optional)

Mix all ingredients and place in a ceramic or glass dish of your choice. This recipe works for a round 11-inch dish, 2 inches high. You can use an alternate size that would fit the same amount.

When I make this quiche, I prepare it without pastry dough on the bottom. I think it tastes fine without it and it works for people who are on low-carb diet. If you like, you can absolutely put pastry dough on the bottom — I would just suggest that you bake it halfway before putting the filling in.

Once the dish is filled, you can top with French’s fried crisp onions, or bake without. I find the onions give it a crunchy, yummy topping. People who are watching their carbs can just brush them off the top.

Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the oven and how high your dish is.  Can be made a day or two ahead, but best when fresh out of the oven.

If preparing ahead, warm in a very low oven at 180 to 190 degrees so that it doesn’t get dried out, or use a warming drawer.