I am sadly old enough to remember the book, big in the 80s, called Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche. Throughout my childhood I never knew what quiche was, always regarding it as ‘otherworldly’, ‘foreign’, ‘not for the likes of us’. I lived in St Helens; seriously, it was not a very outward-looking place at that time.
However, I knew on a Sunday that my Mum very often threw some pastry together and made us egg and bacon pie which I did like. Looking back, of course, it was actually a traditional quiche Lorraine, but I am suspecting the name was changed to protect the sensibilities of children who regarded Uncle Ben’s Boil in the Bag rice as strange and foreign.
Quiche is a brilliant recipe to have up your sleeve for parties, picnics or to use up a couple of eggs and a pile of vegetables. It’s like a summer stew, in that you can make a perfectly adequate one with whatever you have, as long as you have the eggs. I love cheese on mine, so I always make sure that whatever recipe I ‘follow’, I put extra cheese on part way through the cooking process. Is there any food more divinely inspired than toasted cheese? I can’t think of any.
For the shortcrust pastry
220g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
110g chilled butter or spread
2-3 tbsp water
For the filling
1/2 tbsp mustard. I like grainy Dijon, but smooth is just as good.
Chopped up bacon, approx. 2 rashers per person or salmon steaks, approx. half per person
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp italian herbs (optional)
325ml light single cream or milk
3 medium eggs
170g cheese (gruyere, cheddar, red Leicester: whatever you have) plus extra for mid cooking topping
freshly ground black pepper
Other options: cherry tomatoes, cooked broccoli, asparagus stalks, peas or any vegetable that suits the meat or fish content.
- Mix flour and salt together. Rub in the fat until it resembles bread crumbs. Stir in the water using a knife to form a dough. Do this 30 min before assembling and leave in a covered bowl in the fridge to chill.
- Pre heat the oven to GM6 or equivalent. Roll out pastry and line a 9 inch dish. This is much easier if the dish is a loose bottomed tart or flan dish. Bake blind for 12 minutes.
- Fry the bacon in a little oil until crisp, add the onions to the pan and fry gently until soft but not brown, about 8-10mins. Add the herbs and stir through, drain off the fat and set aside using a little kitchen paper to soak up any more excess fat.
- Remove pastry case from the oven and cool slightly for 5 mins, pierce the base all over with a fork and brush with the mustard. Bake for a further 6 mins. Remove the case from the oven and turn the oven down to 180C/gas 4. When cool enough, trim the edges with a knife or leave for a rustic finish.
- Beat the cream with the eggs and season with plenty of pepper. Sprinkle the onions and bacon onto the pastry case, then the cheese and pour over the cream and egg mixture. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 mins.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle over a handful of cheese. Put back and bake for a further 10 minutes or until cooked through and brown.
- For other versions, use cooked vegetables or meat and fish, and replace the bacon with your preferred option.
- Serve with a green salad and chilled Prosecco for a great lunch dish, or chill, slice, wrap and take along for a posh picnic.
The problem I have with quiche is that it divides my family. I love it, daughter loves it and Husband loves it. One son puts up with it and the other hates it. Sometimes finding a meal that all of us can enjoy is the hardest job I have as a mother.
Picnics, on the other hand, we enjoy, especially on our holidays. But that deserves a blog post of its very own.
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