Wednesday 19 March 2014

Alfred Hitchcock's Quiche Lorraine

I remember as a child watching the introduction to "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" on T.V., the famous movie director's silhouette enlarged on the screen.  The content of the show was too scary for me so I didn't watch.  It wasn't until I hit 30 that I started watching classic movies and that's when I discovered Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, Vertigo, Psycho and The Birds.  Hitchcock was known for thrillers, often in which a fugitive was on the run with an icy blond character.  The director made a cameo appearance in all of his movies.  In Rear Window, he was a passenger getting on a bus.  He is a student in a class reunion photo in Dial M for Murder.  In Vertigo he wears a grey suit and carries a trumpet case as he walks down the street.  He is seen through an office window wearing a stetson cowboy hat in Psycho.  In The Birds he is spotted leaving a pet shop with his real life terriers.  His movies spanned almost 50 years.

Dial M for Murder courtesy

While Hitchcock lived in Hollywood for decades, he came from humble roots in Leytonstone, Essex (now part of London, England).  His father was a greengrocer, his mother, a housewife.  His father believed in harsh discipline, sending him to the police station once for a minor infraction.  Hitchcock developped a lifelong fear of the police after the incident.

As a young adult, Hitchcock submitted articles to the Henley Telegraph.  Early on he acquired an interest in photography and was hired at a London film production company as a title car designer.  He climbed the ladder quickly:  it only took him five years to become a director.  The company would later be called Paramount Pictures.

North by Northwest courtesy

For Hitchcock's first turn in the director's chair, he directed the film "The Lodger:  A Story of the London Fog".  The movie, a thriller, was based on a Jack the Ripper character.  By 1939, Hitchcock made the trip across the Atlantic to set up shop in Hollywood.  After several hits at the box office, Hitchcock officially became an American citizen in 1955.

Hitchcock was rejected by the British military during the First World War due to his obesity.  While others thought he was a heavy eater, he said "I'm just heavy and I like to eat."  Hitchcock grew up on typically British food like Dover sole and meat pies.  Once he moved to Hollywood, the director liked to dine at Chasen's and Romanoff's.  But at home, one of his favourite meals was Quiche Lorraine.  His recipe was published in The Dead Celebrity Cookbook (Frank Decaro).

Alfred Hitchcock


2 cups pastry flour
1/2 cup butter
1 egg yolk
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup cold water

2 or 3 slices ham, diced
2 onions, chopped
4 eggs
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne
pinch of nutmeg
2 cups hot milk

To make crust, work together first five ingredients.  Chill dough one hour.  Roll out half dough to line 10 inch pie pan.  Primp edges and prick crust with fork.  Reserve rest of dough for another use.  For filling, scatter diced ham on the crust.  Saute onions in butter til soft.  Spread over ham.  In saucepan, beat four eggs with spices and salt.  Add two cups hot milk, beating with wire whisk.  Continue to beat over low heat until the custard thickens.  Pour into pastry shell and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until custard is set and top is golden.

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