Hot or cold, I just love quiches and flans, and the way you can tinker around the edges to make them a little different every time you make one. It was the end of the month, and I was pulling the last of any food out of the fridge to see what I could make. A leek, some Stilton, left over from Christmas and a few eggs – OK, a quiche it is.
The key to a successful quiche is the pastry. Get that sorted and the rest just drops into place. I have until recently had variable success with my quiche pastry. Sometimes good and occasionally not so. So I decided to go back to basics and turned to The Hairy Bikers Perfect Pies to see how to make a mean quiche pastry. Time was when I could make a perfect pastry what ever the requirement but I think that I have lost my ‘cold’ hands. Such are the ravages of time. This pastry really does benefit from eggs kept in the fridge. This pastry really is soft yet firm and a perfect compliment to any filling.
Serves 4-6. Preparation 30 minutes. Cooking time 1 1/4 hours
Ingredients for Pastry (This is for a 23 cm/12 inch diam. loose based tart tin. However I used a ceramic dish and it was just fine)
250 gm/ 8 oz/ 2 cups plain flour
150 gm/ 5 oz/ 1 cup unsalted butter
1 large egg or 2 small eggs beaten
Ingredients for the Filling
40 g/ 1/1/2 oz/1/4 cup butter
2 leeks (about 350 gm/12 oz/3 cups trimmed weight)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
3 large eggs
100 ml/4 fl oz/ 1/2 cup creme fraiche or double cream mixed with 100 ml/4 fl oz/ 1/2 cup milk or just 200 ml/8 fl oz/1 cup of milk
3-4 tbsp grated parmesan (depending on strength)
200 g/ 7 oz/1 cup Stilton or other medium-strong blue cheese, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the flour and butter into a food processor and run at a slow-ish speed until it resembles bread crumbs. With the motor running add the beaten egg until the mixture starts to come together. If you are making by hand rub the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs. Knife in the beaten egg until it starts to come together. By hand shape the dough into a homogeneous ball. You might need to add a little milk to get it to come together.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is big enough and about 3 mm/ 1/8 inch thick. Using your rolling pin lift the dough and transfer it to the tin or dish. Press the dough into the corners, trim any excess dough and prick the base with a fork.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, slice the leeks into a saucepan with the butter and gently fry until the leeks have softened. In a separate basin stir in the creme fraiche, milk, parmesan and thyme. Add the eggs and stir well. Season to taste.
Cut a large piece of baking parchment and screw it up tight, unscrew it and then fit it into the quiche base, easing it into the corners. (screwing it up allows it to fit into the corners)
Add plenty of baking beans.
Bake blind in a pre heated oven set at 180 C/350 F/Gas 4/Moderate, for 25 minutes.
Take pastry from the oven and remove the paper and beans, and bake for a further 7 minutes.
Roughly chop or crumble half the Stilton onto the pie. (if your cheese is a bit sticky and resists crumbling, put it into the freezer for a couple of hours and then it will grate quite nicely).
Add the leeks.
Add the rest of the crumbled Stilton and then pour most of the cream mixture into the pie.
Open the door of the oven and put the pie on the shelf. Pour the rest of the cream mixture in and carefully slide the pie in. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 180 C/350 F/Gas 4/Moderate or until the pie is puffed up and golden brown.
Allow to cool for 20 minutes before serving.