There is nothing like a wet and windy Saturday for making me keen to get cooking. I’d seen a recipe in last week’s Sunday Telegraph that I thought might make a good lunch dish and as it had few ingredients (I don’t like recipes with pinches of this or dollops of that, things you don’t usually stock in fridge, freezer or store cupboard and then, if you do buy them specially, they moulder away there, never to be used again) I thought I’d make it for our lunch today.
But more of this recipe later, along with the recipe for Quiche Lorraine which I’ve been promising to post for weeks.
So, yesterday first, and the arrival not only of one of my favourite monthly magazines …
… but also a keepsake following the death of a much loved family friend last year (we were asked to choose something from her effects as a keepsake and we chose this little set of silver tea spoons, although being from the 1930s, they are much smaller than teaspoons today and would be more suitable as formal coffee spoons; coffee spoons are always smaller, for use with elegant coffee cans.)
I have photographed both the magazine and the spoons on my latest purchase, another table cloth for the kitchen table which also arrived in the post yesterday. I also bought the matching napkins and I’ve pushed two of them through silver napkin rings, also from the 1930s. Perhaps you can just see the initial H on them? According to my (late) mother, these were a set of four napkin rings awarded to her youngest brother for playing cricket in the 1930s, and the H was the initial letter of her family name.
But now the Quiche Lorraine recipe.
You need plain flour, margarine, onions, bacon, cheese, cream or milk, and eggs, and a little oil for sauteeing the onions and bacon.
I first make shortcrust pastry but you could buy some ready made if you wish (although I prefer to make my own.) For two quiches (as above) I make 8oz (or 224grms) of pastry, which means I use 8oz of plain flour and 4oz (112grms) margarine (or you could use a mixture margarine and lard, or butter and lard.) You know how to make pastry? Of course you do! Rub the fat into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs and them use enough cold water to draw it all together into a paste, i.e. pastry.
Now wrap in cling film or foil and rest in the fridge for half an hour. No, not you. You don’t rest in the fridge. The pastry does.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling ingredients.
I know that onions aren’t used in a traditional Quiche Lorraine, but they do add flavour. So use a couple of large onions, peel and chop finely, and saute in a little oil. Set them aside so that they cool, preferably on kitchen paper to absorb extra grease.
Now fry some chopped bacon in the same pan, perhaps four rashers, and similarly allow to cool on kitchen paper.
Grate cheese, I won’t give a specific amount, but you need quite a decent amount for two quiches. I use a mixture of mature Cheddar, Gruyere and Parmesan, indeed, use whatever you have to hand. Gruyere is the traditional cheese for this dish.
Whisk six large eggs with some milk and/or cream (again, using whatever you have. If you don’t have cream, use crème fraiche.) Use your discretion as to how much you need for two quiches, err on the side of caution otherwise the mixture will boil over and ruin the pastry and burn on the bottom of your oven, too.
Put the oven on and set it at a high temperature, around 190C – 200C.
Remove the pastry from the fridge, and divide it in two, and then roll out and line two prepared loose bottomed (if you have them) flan tins. The better the quality of the tin, the better the pastry will cook. Don’t be tempted to use a porcelain flan dish, these are pretty but hopeless for baking in as porcelain isn’t as good at transferring the heat as well as metal. Grease the tin, regardless of it perhaps being non-stick, and then line with pastry.
Now, assemble the ingredients in the raw quiches. This is contrary to what most TV cooks/chefs will tell you. They say you must ‘blind-bake’ the pastry cases and only then put in the ingredients. But I’ve found that if you have a very hot oven and use good metal tins and if the pastry is very thinly rolled out, you can cut out the ‘blind-bake’ procedure.
So, once you have the thinly rolled pastry in the tins, spread the onions over the bottom of the quiches, then spread the bacon, and finally the grated cheese. Now add the egg/milk/cream mixture. I don’t tend to add salt and pepper as the cheese and bacon are salty enough for me, but you might like to add some, it’s just a case of personal preference.
Now put the quiches in the oven for about 1/2 hr or until golden and the egg mixture is set and browned slightly on top.
Really, it’s all very simple. You don’t really need an exact recipe if you are a fairly proficient cook. If you can read this, you can make a quiche, it’s that simple.
And so to today’s cooking. I decided to make Asparagus and Potato Tartlets according to the Sunday Telegraph recipe. The recipe makes 6 tartlets but I have only small individual patty tins, so I made four.
You need shortcrust pastry using 100g marg or butter, 200g plain flour, and a splash of milk to mix. This will line 6 patty tins.
The other ingredients:
150g of boiled new potatoes
150g of asparagus, blanched (i.e. put into boiling water for about a minute and then drained and put into cold water)
150 ml of milk or cream
100g crème fraiche
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
20g of parmesan, grated.
Again, make shortcrust pastry, allow it to rest for 1/2 hr in the fridge and line the prepared tins (by prepared, I mean greased) and then allow the pastry in the tins to rest again in the fridge for 20 minutes. This isn’t fast food!
Heat your oven to 200C
Chop up the cooked potatoes into small chunks, slice the asparagus into 2cm lengths (no you don’t need a rule, just chop them up, not too small, not too large).
In a bowl whisk the eggs and milk/cream together.
Remove the patty tins from the fridge and fill the raw pastry cases with the potatoes and asparagus, sprinkle on the cheese and parsley, and then pour on the egg/milk mixture.
Now bake in the oven for around 25 minutes until golden brown. I served (one each) with a salad and coleslaw. These little tartlets can be served hot or cold. I’ve popped the remaining two into the freezer for another day.
They were very good, but I would say they have a delicate flavour. Next time I think I will add some leeks or onions (sautéed) for extra flavour. I served them with salad and coleslaw.
Yesterday I made a cheese loaf and a fruit loaf (below). I’d never made a cheese loaf before, it was a recipe from a cousin and she said how good it was. Once I’d made it I realized it was really a cheese scone mixture but baked in a loaf tin. It is lovely, but next time I think I will bake it in a round Victoria sandwich tin and then score the mixture so that you end up with 8 almost-triangular portions. The photo makes the cheese loaf look paler than it is.
The fruit loaf is the all-in-one method I’ve used many time before and very tasty it is, too.
And as well as the baking, I made a sausage casserole today as the weather has been so rainy and cold, and it was the kind of food ideal for supper on such an evening.
When cooking or baking, I like to assemble all the ingredients before I start. Here I have all the ingredients for the casserole – good quality sausages (only use good quality sausages in such a casserole otherwise it will be greasy.) The other ingredients I use are onions, leeks, celery, a little green pepper, a couple of bay leaves, two dessert apples (cored but not peeled), a bottle of medium cider, veggie stock cubes (I use three for a casserole which has 5 large sausages – yes, there are only 5 in the packs I use but they are large and well packed with pork sausage meat, and this casserole will make two meals for the two of us.)
On the hob in a flame-proof casserole saute the sausages, onions, leeks, celery peppers, and then add the cider, stock, apples, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, and then pop on the casserole lid and cook in the oven for about an hour and a quarter. This casserole can be served unthickened, but if you prefer the sauce to be thickened, slake some cornflower and water in a cup and then stir in to the casserole about 1/2 hr before you wish to serve it. I served this with a baked potato each (i.e. baked in their skins.)
This has been more food than books, has it not? And so to two books which arrived this morning. I have rather over-indulged on books this week, but in mitigation none has been expensive. These are my most recent ones, they arrived this morning …
I love these kinds of books. I have started reading How England Made the English and am really enjoying it. It’s strange, isn’t it, but some things are obvious but they are only obvious when someone points them out to you!
On that thought I will leave you for now. Wherever you are, I hope you have had a good Saturday and will have a lovely Sunday.
Until next time.