Monday, 25 January 2010

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche is a dish that I have a particular fondness for. And, as it turned out, Greta quite likes it too, which is, as I continue my quest to find things that she will tolerate being put into her mouth, is helpful.

Peter, however, never seems particularly enthused. I usually either end up throwing the last quarter out, or eating far more quiche than I want to, as it's been sitting long enough for the pastry to not be particularly crisp any more.

The latter, however, is a problem.

I always make my pastry "by eye"- by which I mean that I dump what looks like enough flour into the bowl, then add enough butter for it to make fine breadcrumbs (with a few clumps, which, I am assured by the best cooks, are necessary), and then add cold water to bring it together. Not too much, of course, as it allows for shrinkage, but just about enough. I hope. When making something like quiche lorraine, I like to put grated parmesan in the mix as well. And black pepper.

I then shape my pastry into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and put it in the refrigerator for at least half an hour. After which I take it out, dust my marble counter-top with flour, and roll it out. For some reason, I always have to roll it out twice, as the first time it invariably sticks, no matter how much flour I've put down. I then fold my pastry into four, place it in the baking dish, and unfold it before pressing it into place very gently. Having had a few too many cases where my pastry shrank right down to the edge of the filling, leaving very little crust, I now then just cut off whatever would hang right down and drape over the oven tray, but leave plenty of pastry hanging down the sides of the dish.

The problem, to be succinct, is that although the sides are fine, the base of my pastry is often not soggy, but not crisp either. I'm wondering if I need to pre-bake, or maybe instead of putting the dish on the grille, put it on a pre-heated oven tray, to give it that blast of heat... or whether I need to turn my oven up above 180C to maybe 200. Or I could try turning it to 220 for the first 20 mns or so, before turning it back down.

I must do more work on this. Especially as I know that this is a damn fine crust- so fine that I find myself eating the edges that I cut off, even though I always mean not to!

For the rest of my quiche, I chopped smoked bacon into quite thick lardons, and fried them with some finely chopped onion. I then whisked eggs together with some cream, added black pepper and some more parmesan (I know, Elizabeth David would be most unimpressed with me, saying that it's not a quiche Lorraine at all, as the strict interpretation has just bacon and eggs in it), drained the fat off my bacon and onion and spread it on the pastry, poured the eggs over, and baked it for about an hour at 180 C.

Result- well, it always tastes fine. But it's not satisfactory. I really need to get this problem with my pastry sorted out. Which means more baking, oh dear...

Greta, however, as I've said, loved it. She ate it for a meal every day for three days, and was very happy about it- even leaning forward towards the fork!

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