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A heirloom tomato and squash blossom quiche inspired by Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project.

I think the greatest power of a book is the ability to incite empathy in the reader. How amazing to find yourself caring for and sympathizing with someone with a different mind set or background than you, who lived long ago and far away, or, actually, never lived at all. The beauty of Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project is that you find yourself experiencing great empathy for a character who finds emotion illogical and a petty waste of time. That and it has a feel-good sense of acceptance and a great dance scene.

Spoiler-Free Summary:

Don Tillman is a successful professor of genetics who falls (it is safe to assume, although none of the tests in his youth were conclusive) somewhere on the aspergers spectrum. Don, who is edging up on forty, takes a look at his life and decides that his quality of life would be vastly improved by the presence of a mate. Of course she will have to fit in with his strict regimen of pre-planned meals, exercise, and extremely important research. So he devises “The Wife Project,” a sixteen-point questionnaire designed to weed out the bad seeds and produce only the most viable candidates for cohabitation.

Enter Rosie. She smokes and does things in whatever manner she pleases, even if it is the least efficient. She utterly fails the questionnaire. And yet Don knows he can use his expertise as a geneticist to help her find her real father, thus begins, “The Father Project.”

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Notes From The Piebrary:

When I was a kid I used to curl up in my dad’s home office – floor to ceiling bookshelves, a roll top desk, and a leather couch – and read all day and well into the night. If it was a book with good pacing and easily digestible prose I would be done in a matter of twenty-four hours. Between work and pretending to be an adult, it’s very rare that I’m able to do this anymore. That being said, I made the time for The Rosie Project. For two days I only appeared to be sitting at my desk and was, in fact, very far away in Australia with an idiosyncratic geneticist and a spontaneous woman named Rosie.

Simsion has a gift for portraying very dramatic, emotional scenarios through the lens of Don’s highly Spock-like logic. They are ostensibly devoid of emotion and yet still some of the most intensely touching scenes you can imagine. Add to this all of the color, humor, and tension you want out of a good romantic comedy and a world view that accepts people regardless of gender, color, sexual orientation or experience, creed, and culture and you have a satisfying beach read that manages to humbly transcend into something much more heartfelt and profound.

Parsing This Pie:

This is one of those pies that just kind of felt right when I was making it, an impulse I am sure Professor Tillman would frown upon. By all accounts a pie should be savory as to maximize the nutritional value and provide a diversity of flavors, all while packaging it within the convenience of a crust. I thought Don would approve of a quiche: breakfast is important insofar as it jumpstarts the metabolism and protein (eggs) is highly important for optimal brain function. About halfway into the planning I realized that the fillings were more of a hallmark of Rosie’s personality. Colorful cherry heirloom tomatoes, a nice crisp gouda, and squash blossoms. Beautiful and practical, just like our heroine.

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Recipe:

Crust:
-1 cup flour
-1/3 cup butter
-4 tbs water

Filling:
-1 cup whole milk
-9 eggs
-5 cloves garlic
-12 squash blossoms
-1 1/2 cup cherry heirloom tomatoes
-1/2 cup hard gouda cheese*

*Not smoked! I like the sharp bite and rennet crystals of a hard aged gouda, or in this case Roomano, which is similar. I go to a specialty cheese store because I’m a hipster asshole, but if you have a whole foods in your neighborhood ask the folks at the cheese counter.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.

For instructions on how to prepare the crust, please see our crust tutorial. This is a single crust, so you’re going to roll it out and line the bottom of the pie tin with it.

Line the crust with the squash blossoms, trying for as little overlap as possible. Layer the tomatoes on top and sprinkle on the cheese. Beat the eggs and milk together and pour it over the other filling ingredients. You don’t want too much of the cheese to be on top because it will brown and burn faster than the rest of the filling can cook.

My filling came out a bit runny on this one, so I’ve reduced the amount of milk that I used by half a cup and if I had to give it another go I’d probably add more cheese for a bit more bite and cohesion.

Bake for approximately 50 minutes. Enjoy at breakfast with your approved daily dose of caffeine.

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