A few weeks ago I read a long essay in Elizabeth David’s “Is there a Nutmeg in the House?” (a collection of essays and unpublished works) about early recorded recipes for quiche Lorraine in late nineteenth century France — there are diverse variations, some even including a yeasted dough base, in place of pastry.
The final sentence of that essay left me with a need to cook quiche: “its dressing of curds and cream integrates with its base and appears as inviting as the bronzed and blistered quiche of André Theuriet’s childhood. In Alsace it’s called Flammen Kuchen or tarte à la flamme, it’s eaten bubbling hot, and with it, of course, you drink a cool aromatic local white wine.”
A few weeks later, it was my turn to host “Sitting Room” a poetry night that rotates round houses, each host providing food for those listening to the readers. It has emerged as a tradition to cook quiche — I took the opportunity and made this one — and it went down rather well.
½ pint of double cream
300g, crème fraiche
400g smoked bacon, cubed or lardons
200g Gruyere (or Comté, or Cheddar) cut into small cubes
4 onions, finely sliced
either – 750g of pre-made shortcrust pastry, e.g. jusroll
or, to make yourself:
500g plain flour
250g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
pinch of salt
How to make shortcrust pastry
Rub the butter into the flour in a mixing bowl with the tips of your fingers until it looks like rough breadcrumbs. Mix in cold water, gradually in small amounts, while stirring with a metal spoon. When it begins to form a dough — probably sooner than you think, form into a rough ball with your hands, wrap in cling film, and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.
How to make
Pre-heat the oven to 180 C.
Cook the lardons in ½ spoon oil on the hob until lightly crispy but still tender and set aside. In the same pan, cook the sliced onions on a medium heat with a pinch of salt until soft, around 10 minutes.
Grease a large roasting pan with butter. Roll the pastry out on a flour surgace until a bit thinner than ½ cm — into a large rectangle shape, like that of your roasting tray. Lift into the roasting tray. The pastry should be large enough that it goes over the edges. Make sure it goes into the corners.
If using more than one pack of pre-made pastry, roll each out and press together with your fingers into a rectangle shape.
Blind bake — place a sheet greaseproof paper into the pastry (larger than the pastry), fill with baking beans, or rice, or dried chick peas to stop pastry rising up, and bake for 15 minutes — or until the bottom no longer looks like raw dough, and is pale lightly cooked pastry.
Remove from oven.
Meanwhile: beat the eggs together with salt and pepper, the cream, 2/3 of the creme fraiche, the bacon, the cheese and the onions. Pour into the pastry. Season with black pepper. Dot the remaining creme fraiche on top. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Stick in a knife to check the egg is cooked.
Celeriac remoulade (made by Sam), salad, wine and poetry.