Quiche Lorraine

Back in the days before we “got into” cooking, my token lazy dinner was to buy a supermarket ready made quiche and serve it up with a jacket potato. I decided to revisit this staple, but this time I’d do it from scratch.

For the pastry, I just made a simple shortcrust using the technique I’d been taught at John Whaite’s Kitchen. For the recipe, I turned to The French Chef Cookbook, written by the master herself… Julia Child. Her recipe for Quiche Lorraine is incredibly simple and well worth trying.

Ingredients

  • Shortcrust pastry
  • 6 rashers of bacon (we used smoked)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150ml double cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

Method

  1. Put the pastry in a tin (we just used a small round cake tin) and blind bake it.
  2. Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry.
  3. Beat the eggs and double cream in a bowl, then season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  4. Put the pieces of bacon onto the base of the pastry case.
  5. Pour the egg and cream mixture over the bacon.
  6. Bake in the oven at 190℃ for 25 – 30 minutes until golden.

(Julia also suggest dotting the top with pieces of butter, but we didn’t find this necessary)

We had a minor disaster when the filling leaked out through a crack in the pastry, but it was only a washing up incident and not enough to spoil the flavour! End result was a beautifully light and delicious quiche far better than any I’d get in the supermarket!

Strawberry Tart

Is this really a recipe? I’m not sure it is, but the end result is delicious. You can easily make it from scratch, or get a similar result with ready made ingredients.

Firstly, you need a shortcrust pastry base. Put it into a flan tin, and prick the base then blind bake it until it just starts to colour.

Next, you need a custardy filling. We made creme patissiere but I don’t see why you can’t just use shop bought custard (ready made or from powder). Pour it into your pasty base.

Third, you need fruit. Strawberries go nicely here… slice in half and lay them on top. You can then glaze them with some apricot jam mixed with hot water.

If you fully bake the base up front then you could just chill it at this point. We hadn’t, so we baked a bit more (but watch out for the fruit catching). End result is a fresh and tasty treat – who doesn’t love strawberries, custard and pastry?

Chicken, Leek and Pancetta Pie

For the bank holiday weekend, I made some Portuguese Custard Tarts – I learnt to make these during a “Perfect Your Pastry” class at John Whaite’s Kitchen, and it involves making a batch of rough puff pastry. I deliberately made a bit extra so that I could make a pie, and this recipe is the resulting dish. It was made up on the fly, so don’t worry too much about getting the quantities exactly right! You could make any kind of white sauce for the “juice”, but I followed my gran’s recipe which includes a bit of lemon juice.

Ingredients

  • 80g smoked pancetta (cubed)
  • 450g skinless and boneless chicken thighs (diced)
  • 1 large leek (sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Approximately 250ml milk
  • Juice of  ½ lemon
  • Puff pastry (I used home made, but ready made is fine)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200℃ (180℃ fan).
  • Fry the pieces of pancetta in a large frying pan.
  • Once they’re starting to cook, add the diced chicken thigh.
  • Once the chicken thigh is looking cooked, add the leek.
  • When all the ingredients in the pan are cooked through, transfer them to a pie dish.
  • Turn down the heat on the hob and add the butter to the frying pan so it melts.
  • Add the flour to the melted butter and mix well to form a paste.
  • Slowly add milk, a little at a time, mixing well to avoid lumps forming. You’re looking to make a creamy sauce which is thick but just pourable.
  • When the mixture is almost at the consistency you want, add the juice of half a lemon and mix in well. You can also taste the sauce at this point and season with salt and pepper if you think it needs it – but remember that the pie will be salty from the pancetta.
  • Pour the sauce into the pie tin so that it covers the other ingredients.
  • Roll out the puff pastry and lay over the pie tin. You can use a bit of the sauce to help seal it around the edges. Crimping the edges with your fingers helps too.
  • Bake the pie in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the pastry looks golden and the filling is piping hot.

We served this up with some petit pois – no need for carb to accompany this because there was so much pastry on top. It’s a proper, home cooked piece of comfort food and was the perfect ending to our August Bank Holiday weekend.