Quiche, Kapiche?

When I was twelve years old my parents ran a pub in the neighbourhood I still live in today.

In those days it was common for the landlord, landlady and their children to live in the same building, usually upstairs. As did we.

My clever mother over the period of a few years had built up quite a reputation for food in our pub, we were the first in the wider area to serve Sunday roasts, And on her menu you’d find exotic delights such as moussaka or chicken ala king to a crowd who were only ever used to being served a sandwich and a pickled egg at your local, at a push scampi in a basket!

To keep me from yapping at her ankles mum would occasionally let me cook something simple…usually a quiche of some sort, actually usually quiche Lorraine. That 70’s delight with smoked bacon, cheddar and fresh tomatoes.

I’d make it terribly, with disastrous results, but with such enthusiasm that if mum rejected it, I’d happily eat most of it! (The dog would usually snaffle the rest)

When I began cooking professionally in london in the 90’s I discovered a more refined quiche equivalent;

Kind of a large vol au vent, baked and pushed down in the middle and then filled with a warm wild mushroom, thyme, cream and egg mixture. I think they called it ‘a pillow’ (whatever! With a flock of chives no doubt, or whichever elaborate fashion of words was a’la mode back then)

At the first Michelin starred restaurant I worked in they would painstakingly fold the edges of a short pastry disc 1cm at a time a 1/2 cm to the middle creating a ‘rope’ edge effect, that would be blind baked and then filled with quails eggs and spinach then topped with shaved truffles, hollandaise sauce would then be spooned over and yes those chives! ..and I remember lots of chervil!

Oh the quiche I’ve known! The Italians have several kinds, from pizza dough to gnocchi based variations with every top you could put on a pizza. In the Alsace they took this and ran and skied with it, to create Tarte flambee’ a delicious bacon and cheese, creme fraiche ‘quiche’ on a pizza base. Another way the French have managed to morph the humble quiche into a posh tart is the classic French onion tart, where  masses of onions are slowly caramelised and mixed with royale (the egg, milk and cream combo used in nearly all of these recipes) great with olives and

Fresh tomatoes. Is spanish tortilla really a quiche? Is a lemon tart a sweet quiche? Cheesecake? Hmm..This really is a can o worms!

Originating in medieval Germany, quiche has been poshed and tarted up in countless ways over the years. These days I like to go classic, a good, shortcrust base, blindbaked crisp, a creamy savoury custard, a seasonal flavour (at the Garden Kitchen Cafe we generally keep it vegetarian) maybe a herb, and a fitting cheese. Baked fresh and eaten on the same day, with a few well dressed salad leaves. Keep your gastro tartes. gimmie the original anyday.

For the pastry;

  • 125g Salted Butter
  • 250g Plain flour
  • Pinch salt
  • Cold water to bind

Grate butter into flour with salt and rub with your fingertips until mix resembles breadcrumbs, add a little water to create your dough.

Chill in the fridge for 20 mins.

Roll out to 1/2cm thick round to fit a 10in quiche tin on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll up around your pin, unroll carefully over your tin and press into the edges, leave a little pastry hanging over the edge. Line with greaseproof paper, and fill with dried beans or rice. Chill your lined tin in the fridge for 20 mins.

Bake in a preheated oven on 160oc for around 25 minutes or until golden brown, check the base is cooked properly.

Turn down oven to 150oc

For the royale;

Mix 4 eggs with 1/4 pint milk and 1/4 pint cream, whisk with a pinch of salt and pepper

For the filling;

  • 50g cooked and squeezed out spinach.
  • 150g wild mushrooms, sautéed in butter with thyme and a little garlic.
  • 100g goats cheese crumbled.

Place spinach and mushrooms in quiche tin, pour over egg mix to 1cm from top, sprinkle over cheese. Place in oven, pour in rest of egg mix to very top of tart.

Bake until set, (about 30 mins) trim off pastry overhang.

Remove from tin, let it settle.. eat!