i have a love affair with quiches.
ever since Sam 'wooed' me all those years ago by baking me a quiche, i was hooked.
crispy pastry, soft creamy eggy center and the fillings you can play with are just the perfect combination.
i have absolutely no idea whether our recipe is completely correct, but it works for us, and the pastry is something we even use for sweet tarts too. i recently adapted the pastry recipe just a little. instead of plain cold water, i used carbonated water with just a slightly higher salt content (San Pellegrino), and i believe it makes the pastry just that little bit flakier and crunchier.
for the fillings, as i mentioned earlier, i like to experiment: ham and tomatoes and sweet peas, chicory bacon and onion, vichy carrots and onions and peas, smoked salmon and asparagus... the variations can be endless.
so, this is our recipe for the pastry:
400 gr plain flour
180 gr unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
2 whole eggs, beaten
carbonated water, cold
1. sift the flour into a large mixing bowl
2. add the cubes of butter
3. rub these in loosely, you still need to see bits of butter
4. very quickly add the eggs and mix until the dough just holds together
5. if necessary add some water
6. the most important factor with this pastry is not to over-knead
7. cover in clingfilm and chill for about an hour, or until you are going to use it
8. when using, roll out on a floured surface until quite thin (you should still see the marbling of the butter) and the size you need for the tart tin
9. leftover pastry can be covered again in clingfilm (careful not to scrunch it up too much) and kept in the fridge for another two days or so, or in the freezer.
what i do now is lay the pastry into the tin, prick it all over with a fork, and start playing.
my favorite filling is ham, cheese, tomato and peas merely because this is the one that Sam made me that first dinner date.
i start by brushing a good Dijon mustard over the bottom. then layering with slices of Gruyère, or Emmenthal, or Fontina, then a layer of good cooked ham, slices of tomato, and a handful of fresh sweet peas (or thawed frozen ones). i then mix about 200 ml cream with 2 whole eggs, salt and pepper and cover the filling. this i bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (on a preheated baking tray! for the sole reason that i don t blind bake the pastry first) for about half an hour or until the center puffs up a bit like a soufflé. this will collapse when taken out of the oven, but it s not a soufflé, so no worries.
for some other fillings, i need to do a bit more preparation.
like, for example, the one with smoked salmon and asparagus. when using the green asparagus, i lightly roast these in a griddle pan until slightly charred. when using white asparagus, i peel and steam them until almost soft but with still a slight bite left. the pastry i would layer first with slices of smoked salmon and then with the asparagus in either bite-sized pieces or layered one next to the other. the egg-cream mixture is always the same.
or chicory and bacon: i slice the chicory very finely and sauté this with a very thinly sliced shallot. once softened and lightly browned, i set aside to cool slightly, and in the same pan, i fry off some lardons until nearly crispy. layer this mixture of chicory and lardons and cover with the egg-cream.
serve with a green salad and glass of chilled white, it always works.
note on pastry: this is actually the basis of rough puff pastry. once the butter, flour, eggs and water has been mixed together it can already be rolled out (remember, it should be marbled with the butter, so don t overwork it) until its length is about three times its width. fold one third to the middle and fold the other third over this, make a quart turn, roll again, fold again, and do this about 4 times. then cover loosely in clingfilm and chill. it creates the layers you would get in a puff pastry.
hmm, i think i ll just go and prepare some pastry now, ready for tonight when we get back from our sunday outing to the museum, or to the harbor, or downtown, or...