In the summertime I love to cook quiches and tarts – although I do have to admit that I often cheat and use ready-made frozen pastry. When I’ve time to actually make the pastry as well as the quiche (all too often it becomes a trade-off), I use Susan Loomis‘ short, sumptuous and food processor-friendly recipe but, last Friday, with our Scottish ex-NZ Housemates coming round for dinner, there simply wasn’t time. I ditched the idea of making the pastry but, while talking to our guests from the kitchen and getting some salad together, I did manage to give the onions enough cooking time so that they were meltingly sweet and a really good base for the rest of the flavours – pungent smoked bacon and sharp mature cheddar cheese.
There are undoubtedly thousands of recipes and interpretations for Quiche Lorraine but my recipe always has plenty of cream and the minimum of eggs. That means that the sweet, slow cooked onions, smoked bacon and cheese are nestled in a rich, voluptuous custard which wobbles slightly when cut. This is not necessarily a slimmer’s choice for supper but it always seems to be an appreciated one. If you were being very frugal you could probably use less cream and more eggs – but then it wouldn’t have that glorious custard which, after all, is the main point of a quiche.
A word about baking blind: there are many recipes that don’t bother to pre-bake the pastry case before adding the filling – known as baking blind – but, all too often, I’ve found that it means the base is disappointingly soggy and undercooked. When you’re making a quiche or tart, just roll out the pastry first and use it to line the quiche tin. Use tinfoil or greaseproof paper to line the pastry-lined tin and weigh it down with – if you’re hyper-organised – ceramic baking beans or, if you’re me, some dried beans, chickpeas or uncooked rice. (I store these and just reuse them when ever I’m baking blind. I’ve currently got a jar of very well cooked barley that I use.) Bake the pasty shell in your preheated oven at 190°C for about 10 minutes, take out the tinfoil/greaseproof paper and baking beans, and give it another 5 minutes in the oven. It is now ready for filling and baking immediately or you can set it aside and use it the next day. As well as baking blind, cooking your quiche on a preheated baking sheet (just put it into the oven when you’re turning it on) will also help to avoid soggy bottom situations.
Shortcrust pastry case – 23cm, baked blind (see above)
Olive oil – 1 tablespoon
Onions – 2 medium, sliced thinly
Smoked streaky bacon – 200g, cut into 1cm dice
Mature cheddar cheese – 175g, grated
Cream – 300ml
Eggs – 2, beaten
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 190°C and place a baking sheet on the middle shelf.
Heat the olive oil in a deep frying or sauté pan over a medium heat and cook the thinly sliced onions for 15-20 minutes until soft and golden. Scatter over the pre-baked pastry case, wipe out the pan and return to the heat. Add the smoked streaky bacon dice and fry briskly until nicely coloured and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove from the pan and sprinkle evenly over the onions in the pastry case.
Mix the cream and eggs together, season well with pepper and a little salt, depending on how salty your bacon is. Mix in half the grated cheese, pour over the filled pastry and scatter the rest of the cheese on top.
Place on the hot baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until the centre is just set and the surface has turned a light golden brown colour. Remove the quiche from the oven and let it settle for about 10 minutes before serving. It always tastes best warm, rather than hot. Serve with a simple dressed salad of rocket and butterhead lettuce.