The Musette: real men do eat quiche

Quiche has an unfashionable reputation, and if it’s badly made or it’s been hanging around for too long then it loses its charm quickly. But if it’s made well and eaten fresh, it’s a dish that defines moreishness and a recipe that’s filled with techniques any cook can be proud to have mastered. It rightly deserves its status as a summer classic.

My beloved husband is fond of quiche and I’ll often whip one up when he’s so inclined. For picnics, I’ll make often individual ones, mouthfull size. Generally, I’ll use whatever’s hanging around in the fridge or cupboard but my beloved’s favourites by far are the classic quiche lorraine or cheese and onion. But whatever the filling, the pastry is always home made.

Ingredients (serves 4 hungry cyclists)

Pastry

  • 175g (1 cup + 1 tbsp) plain (all purpose) flour
  • 100g (3 1/2oz) very cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 large organic egg yolk

Filling

  • 125g (4 1/2oz) lardons, preferably smoked
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 70g (2 1/2 oz) gruyere cheese, finely grated
  • 250g  ( 1 cup) ricotta
  • 150ml  (1/2 cup) double (heavy) cream
  • 3 large organic eggs, and 1 egg yolk, well beaten
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Method

1. For the pastry, put flour, very cold butter, cut into pieces, egg yolk and 4 tsp very cold water into a food processor. Using the pulse button, process until the mix binds. You may need to add more water but do so sparingly.

2. Tip the pastry onto a lightly floured surface, gather into a smooth ball, then cover in cling film (plastic wrap) and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

3. Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll it out as thinly as you can. I generally do this between sheets of grease-proof (parchment) paper to avoid using more flour. Line a 23cm (9″) loose-bottomed, fluted flan tin, carefully easing the pastry into the base and flutes.

4. I generally don’t trim the edges until the pastry is cooked as it may shrink during cooking. Chill pastry case in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.

5. Put a baking sheet in the oven and pre-heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/(390F/fan 350F)/gas. Line pastry case with greaseproof paper, fill with dry beans/coins/whatever and bake on the hot sheet for 15 minutes.

6. Remove paper and filling and bake for further 4-5 minutes until the pastry is pale golden. Remove excess pastry with a rolling pin, going over the fluted edges. Take care not to end up with too many crumbs in the base! If you notice any small holes or cracks, patch up with pastry trimmings. You can make up to this point a day ahead.

7. While the pastry cooks, prepare the filling. Heat a small frying pan (skillet), tip in lardons and onions, fry for a couple of minutes. Drain off any liquid that comes out, then continue cooking until the lardons, but not the onions,  just start to colour, but aren’t crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels before scattering over the bottom of the pastry case.

8. Using a fork, beat the ricotta to slacken it then slowly beat in the double cream and grated gruyere cheese. Mix in the well beaten eggs. Season (you shouldn’t need much salt) and add a pinch of ground nutmeg. Pour three quarters of the filling into the pastry case.

9. Half-pull the oven shelf out and put the flan tin on the baking sheet. Quickly pour the rest of the filling into the pastry case – you get it right to the top this way. Then carefully push the shelf back into the oven.

10. Lower the oven to 190C/fan 170C(375F/fan 340F)/gas 5. Bake for about 25 mins, or until lightly golden and softly set (the centre should not feel too firm). The ricotta gives it an almost souffle appearance.

11. Let the quiche settle for 4-5 minutes, then remove from the tin. Serve freshly baked, although it’s also good cold.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. The great thing about quiches is that you can make a tasty dish with pretty much anything using the quiche template. What about broccoli and blue cheese?

2. Individual mini-quiches are great for picnics and a great way to use up all those odds and ends in the fridge. You’re only limited by your imagination but don’t forget to choose flavourings and pairings that combine well together.

3. You can make a much less rich version of this quicke lorraine using milk rather than cream and ricotta. Or you can substitute creme-fraiche for the ricotta.

Sculpture Saturday #23

This large duck sits in the gardens of a hotel we stayed in a couple of years ago, Château des Tourelles, Pornichet – La Baule. It rather amused me as I have a much smaller rubber version that sits in my guest bathroom.

An extensive internet search sadly does not reveal the duck’s provenance.

This challenge is kindly hosted by Sally Kelly over at Ruined for Life: Phoenix Edition.

Share a photo of a statue or sculpture – go on, give it a go, you know you want to!