Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Lorraine Pascale's Quiche Lorraine

This wonderful hot weather just screams out for summer food.  I'm struggling to get my head round the fact that it's too warm to still be wearing opaque tights and that my feet are in desperate need of a pedicure so I can wear flip-flops.  I planned my recipes last week without much consideration for the weather forecast and so have been faffing around trying to switch to recipes more suited to the heat.

Egg Cracker in Chief, whisking the filling.
At about 10am this morning, I suddenly started craving quiche.  Most specifically, my grandma's quiche Lorraine.  She'd always make it for dinner in this weather with a nice crunchy salad.  Except I never learned her recipe from her and it's another thing that makes me more than a little bit sad that I didn't pay more attention when I was younger.

I remember the look - deep filled with chunks of rose-pink ham or bacon and mottled with golden brown toasted cheese on the top; the taste - salty with the sweet taste of soft onions; the texture - firm with the right amount of wobble and melt in the mouth pastry.  But I wouldn't know how to recreate it if my life depended on it.

The only time I've tried to make a quiche before, I proudly stepped back from the oven, baking tray in hand; tripped over one of the dogs and before I knew it, my beautiful leek and feta quiche had been inhaled by my spaniel.  I swear he put the dachshund up to it!

As Lorraine Pascale was sat on my desk (not literally - I was working from home and I'd been leafing through Baking Made Easy at my computer last night), I decided to give her quiche Lorraine a go.  She uses creme fraiche rather than milk and cream for the filling so this gave me the opportunity to eliminate a few calories by going for the half fat version.  She also doesn't use cheese, which is interesting.  A little research revealed that despite all of the BBC Good Food recipes using cheese, the original quiche Lorraine didn't have cheese in it.

Badly patched pastry. I need more practice.
I made my own pastry using Lorraine's recipe.  I've still not cracked pastry making as it was too crumbly. My mum tells me that I make really good shortcrust pastry and it's always nice and short; but I never manage to get that beautiful perfect edge to it as it always breaks off round the edges when I try to put it in the tin.  Maybe I just needed a smidgen of water?

Pascale also uses two egg yolks in the pastry.  And if I'm honest, I didn't like the eggy taste to the pastry when it was cooked on its own in isolation (I rescued a couple of broken edge pieces from the oven).  But it tasted good once assembled.  Likewise, the egg mixture tasted really bland on its own but it worked with the salt-sweet bacon and onion filling.  Because I didn't have quite enough creme fraiche (the recipe uses 430g, I had 300g) I used some Greek yogurt which seemed to make no difference. This had the added benefit of further reducing the calories. Something I cancelled out when I wimped out and added 50g of cheese - half parmesan, half double Gloucester - to the mix.  My flan tin is probably only 2cm deep so I didn't end up using all the egg mixture to fill the case.

I was a little worried that I'd end up with an eggy mess because not only did my pastry start cracking once it was baked blind, I'd also pricked the bottom of the case.  My mum has always instilled the need to do this in me to stop the pastry from puffing up.  I didn't think until after I'd merrily pricked a pretty pattern into the base of the case that the egg might run out everywhere.  Thankfully, with the creme fraiche and yogurt, it was a pretty thick mixture so it stayed put.  And my bottom wasn't soggy.

Rustic looking quiche - is quiche peasant food?
The final result was a really pale looking pie and if I'm honest it looked really unappealing.  After then going out for a run, it looked even less appetising when I came home.  Which is a shame as the flavours are beautiful.  It would look great on a plate with a vibrant coloured salad, but just as a quiche on its own, it's really pale and sad looking.  Of course, that's the traditional look, but if I was really going for my grandmother's style, I'd sprinkle cheese over the top next time.

Definitely one that will evolve to become my own recipe over time.  I just need to remember to be a bit more vigilant checking for bits of shell when my helper is doing egg cracking :)

You can find the original recipe here.  This is my adaptation of it.

Serves 8–10

For the pastry

  • 250g plain flour
  • 125g cold butter, cubed
  • 2 egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  1. Rub the butter into the flour in a large bowl until it resembles bread crumbs.  Add the salt.
  2. Add the two egg yolks and bring the mixture together to form a firm dough.  Add a tiny splash of chilled water if it seems too dry.
  3. Pat to a flat circle about 2cm thick and place in the fridge for thirty minutes.
  4. Remove from the fridge for five minutes and use for the recipe below.
For the Quiche
  • 1 quantity of pastry using the above recipe or 500g of shop bought short crust pastry
  • 1–2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion peeled and finely diced
  • 4 rashers of thick cut smoked back bacon diced
  • 300ml half fat crème fraîche
  • 150ml Greek yogurt (I used full fat in mine as it was all I had but I'd try with low fat next time)
  • 25g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 25g Double Gloucester cheese, grated
  • 4 eggs lightly beaten
  • Freshly ground black pepper
23cm fluted flan dish or tin about 3.5cm deep

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170C fan gas 5.
  2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to just under the thickness of a £1 coin. Lower the pastry into the tin or dish and ease down into the sides and corners.
  3. Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes, or until firm. (oops, I forgot this bit!)
  4. Once the pastry is firm, remove it from the fridge and trim the edges: using a sharp knife, cut off the excess pastry around the top of the tin then run a small sharp knife around the edge between the pastry and the tin to loosen slightly.
  5. Take a piece of baking paper slightly larger than the tart and scrunch it up, then unscrunch it and line the tart with it, taking it right up the sides. Fill it with baking beans or dried beans and ‘blind bake’ in the oven for 20 minutes, until the edges are light brown and the base is dry to the touch. Remove the baking beans and paper from the pastry case, then return to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Turn the oven down to 150°C /130C fan/gas mark 2.
  6. The filling can be prepared while the pastry is baking. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a low heat, add the onion and fry until soft and translucent with no colour. This can take a good 15 minutes. If the onion looks as if it is drying out, just add a splash of water water.
  7. Add the bacon to the pan, turn up the heat slightly and cook for 5–6 minutes. Remove from the heat and add to the base of the flan dish.  Sprinkle the cheese over.
  8. Place the flan dish on a flat baking tray. Whisk the crème fraîche and the eggs together gently in a large bowl, then season with pepper. You will not need any salt as the bacon and chese is already very salty.  Pour the mixture into a jug.
  9. Slide the baking tray into the oven, pull the oven shelf the tray is on out slightly and pour the egg mixture into the case.  This stops you spilling it trying to get a full flan case into the oven.
  10. Bake in the oven for 30–40 minutes, or until the filling no longer wobbles.
  11. Good to eat hot but best eaten cold, giving the mixture a chance to settle. Kept in the fridge it tastes even better the next day (apparently - I'll find out at tomorrow teatime).

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