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.

The Musette: harissa marinated lamb

Here’s the second recipe from this month’s Great British Chefs Cookbooks Challenge and it’s another one from Michelin starred chef Marcus Waring’s book New Classics. All the recipes are (thankfully) much geared towards the home cook  – you won’t need any Michelin stars to attempt them – while still containing all the incredible flavours and textures that made Marcus such a superstar chef.

This lamb recipe is a stunning main which celebrates Middle Eastern flavours of spicy harissa, crushed pistachios and spiced yoghurt. But what elevates this dish from good to great is the brining of the meat before cooking. This makes it more tender, while the harissa marinade ensures it has bags of flavour.

Ingredients (enough for 4 cyclists)

Marinated lamb

  • 4 pieces of lamb, around 200g (7oz) each
  • 2 tsp harissa
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 30g (1oz) pistachio nuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Lamb  brine

  • 140g (5oz) table salt
  • 1 ltr (4 cups) filtered water
  • 1/2 tsp white peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

Fresh mint chutney

  • 6 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 4 shallots, finely sliced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch mint, leaves separated and finely chopped

Yoghurt dressing

  • 150g (5oz) Greek yoghurt
  • 1/4 cucumber, finely grated and drained
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds , toasted and crushed
  • 1 tsp harissa
  • sea salt to taste

Method

1. For the brine, place all the ingredients in a saucepan with 500ml (2 cups) filtered warm water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 minutes then remove from the heat and add 500ml filtered cold water. Allow to cool completely.

2. Add the lamb to the brine and place in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.

3. Mix the harissa paste with the olive oil. Rinse the brined lamb under cold running water and pat dry with kitchen paper. Rub the harissa mixture over the lamb rumps, cover or place them in a container and chill for at least 6 hours (or overnight).

4. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/(400°F)/gas mark 6.

5.  To make the fresh mint chutney, heat the vinegar in a small saucepan, add the sugar and dissolve over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the shallots. When cool, add the oil and set aside until ready to use.

6. To make the yoghurt dressing, mix all ingredients together in a bowl and season to taste.

7. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot, place the lamb in the pan, if relevant fat-side down first. Cook for 5–8 minutes, until the fat begins to render and turn a lovely golden brown.

8. Turn the lamb over and seal on all the other sides for a further 5 minutes, then place on a foil-lined dish in the oven. Bake for 5–10 minutes, depending on how pink you like your lamb. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and leave somewhere warm to rest for 5 minutes.

 

9.  Finish the mint chutney by adding the chopped fresh mint. Serve the lamb with the mint chutney and yoghurt dressing, sprinkled with the pistachio nuts. Eat with a large green salad, roasted vegetables or couscous.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. Again, I have tweaked the recipe a bit. I used lamb leg steaks rather than rump of lamb, but I think any cut of lamb would work. You just need to adjust the cooking times.

2. Do make the mint chutney and yoghurt dressing, they add a lot to the dish.

3. This is the first time I’ve brined lamb though I’ve previously done so with chicken and pork. It really added something to the dish and while it takes some time, it’s so worth it.

4. If you don’t have any Greek yoghurt, strain natural yoghurt in a sieve lined with kitchen paper.

Header image: Spring Lamb© Alistair Cunningham