Real men eat quiche and like it

Bruce Feirstein’s book* came out while I was at university. It was a something of a shock, really – I quite liked quiche, so was a bit disappointed to discover that it made me an unreal man. I shrugged off the pain and the hurt eventually, though, and have been making and eating quiche ever since.

It’s originally German – ‘Quiche’ comes from the German word ‘Kuchen’ or cake – but from the part of Germany which is now French and called Lorraine, hence Quiche Lorraine, an open flan with smoked bacon. Add onions and it’s Quiche Alsacienne, also a now-French part of Germany.

Whatever; it’s really easy to make, especially if, like me, you cannot be faffed to mix flour and water and some fat together to make pastry. Frankly, a euro buys very nice pastry of many kinds here so I’m right out of faff when it comes to pastry.

I usually make two at a time, because. Well, because everyone in the family loves it basically and if I only make one there’s none left for me by the time I get out of the kitchen to the dining table.

I unroll the bought puff pastry into a round baking tin, using the paper it’s wrapped in to line the tin, then ensure the side bits are well formed up the sides of the tin.

Next, I fill it with my baking beans (some old white beans from somewhere, no idea how long I’ve had them now.) Ensure that you put a circle of greaseproof or silicone paper in the base of the quiche first or the beans will stick into the pastry. Ask me how I know. OK, I know because last time I forgot the lining.

Bake it for 10-15 minutes – this, you can tell your less professional friends, is ‘Blind baking’.  I also pierce the pastry many times with a fork to allow the steam to escape – it’s this expanding steam inside puff pastry which makes it rise.

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My baking beans about to stick to the pastry because I forgot to line the inside of the pastry with greaseproof paper.

Once that’s done, I take out the beans and allow it to cool while mixing the filling, and despite what traditionalists will try to insist you can add more or less anything you like. I’ve even made chocolate and marshmallow quiches which went down very well.

This time I made an Alsacienne, with bacon and onions, and a tuna and sun-dried tomato quiche which my wife Delphine and I loved and which the girls Scarlett and Roxanne would not touch because it looks suspiciously as though it contains vegetables (6 and 8 year olds are, as every parent knows, allergic to vegetables).

200g of lardons and 200g – approximately – of onions does the job.

The ‘appareil’, the mixture I make up in a jug, contains 200ml of cream (I use 30% fat content just because that’s what’s most widely sold in France, I’d use double/40% if I could find it), a healthy pinch of salt, some ground pepper and three whole eggs which all get whizzed up using my faithful stick mixer.

I  add 100-200g of grated cheese to the base of the tart, then spread the bacon lardons (or tuna and chopped sun-dried tomatoes or the grated chocolate and chopped marshmallows) on top of that, then finish by pouring the appareil over that. My wife’s family has a tradition of spreading a thick layer of mustard onto the base of the tart whenever they make tuna quiche. Tastes quite nice, but you need a LOT of mustard to be able to taste it at all. Into the oven for 15 minutes at 180°C, turn it round 180° and give it another 5-10 minutes. Until, basically, it doesn’t wobble any more in the middle when you shake it gently.

It rises somewhat when you take it out of the oven and, if you can, serve it right now. Otherwise it will fall but still taste delicious.

* Yes, I am aware that it was a satirical book. No, I do not think that I am unreal. Or undead. I may be unlikely, however.

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