Tag Archives: quiche

A summer lunch for friends

I’m afraid my blog has been somewhat neglected over the past week or two. First it was jam making that took my attention, then a visit from friends over from France, the teens end of term shenanigans and a visit from granny. The week was rounded off with some ‘proper’ work (two days of non-food related teaching to prepare for next week). Wearing so many hats is a tiring business!!

Finally, I have reclaimed my computer (from the teen and my mother) finished my teaching presentation and now I can get back to the thing I do best, talking and cooking food.

Busy or not I gain great pleasure from playing host and sharing good food with good friends. We started the week with a scorching barbecue at another friends house. Bloody Mary burgers (a la Hugh FW) with creamy horseradish, mackerel caught on the Saturday with lime and herbs and chicken and maple kebabs. I made a box of lavish cupcakes for the kids, of which there were many, but they almost had to go to war with the adults to get a look in.

Two days later it was back to mine for lunch. There are times when I really don’t want to slave over a hot stove, especially on a lovely sunny day, so on this occasion I wanted to keep things simple. With a tired 18 month old and a new baby in the house, quick was definitely best. Not just that, but neither did I wish to be chained to the kitchen when I really wanted to spend as much time as possible holding the baby!! In fact the last thing any of us needed was a long drawn out lunch, particularly our friends as they had so many people to catch up with.

I opted for a couple of hearty salads, two tarts and an easy but decadent pudding of chopped strawberries, macerated with a few glugs of home-made loganberry vodka and a tablespoon of caster sugar, which have been left for at least an hour and served with a good dollop of thick double cream.

These offered the perfect solution; filling, yet light; simple, but full of delicious flavour.  I prepared the tarts the night before, which made things even easier.

For the fillings I used ricotta, Isle of Wight tomatoes and fresh basil from my veg box and for the other with smoked bacon, chorizo and Dragon Caerphilly cheese. Both were as good the next day and all I had to do on the day was warm them quickly in the oven. The salads assembled in no time, which left me free to chat and cluck and coo over the beautiful Alexia (even better I could give her back at the end!!)

Alexia and Dad

For two 7 inch tarts I used 150g  plain flour and 50g spelt flour (which I like using because it makes a nice crisp case) sifted with a good pinch of salt. I then rubbed in 100g butter, mixing to a loose dough with some ice-cold water. Wrapping it in cling film, it was then placed in the fridge to rest for half an hour.

I then lined two tart tins with pastry, cut two circles of greaseproof paper just larger than the tins and placed them on top of the pastry and filled the tins with baking beans. It’s not essential to buy packs of special beans, mine are simply a mixture of dried pulses, rice and a lentils, now baked a hundred times!! Bake for about ten minutes on 200 degree, then remove the paper and beans and cook for another 10 minutes until set and beginning to brown slightly. Allow to cool a little while you make or prepare the fillings.

For the bacon and chorizo tart I fried a few rashers of chopped bacon and half a mild chorizo (skin removed) in a little olive oil.  I spread this over the base of the first case then sprinkled over some crumbly Caerphilly cheese. For the other I covered the base of the case with sliced tomatoes, spooned over a few tablespoons of ricotta cheese, then added a layer of roughly torn basil leaves.

My measurements and quantities for the egg and cream mix are always a bit make-it-up-as-you-go-along. I used five large eggs whisked together in a jug and then topped up with enough single cream to make enough filling to fill both tarts. I seasoned this with salt and pepper, gave it a good whisk and then poured it into each case until pretty much full.

Serve with salads of your choice as a lunch or supper dish, or as part of a bigger buffet or summer meal.

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Family al fresco dining and a very full tart

Wales is well known for its high rain fall, so whenever we are blessed with a little window of sunshine we take the opportunity to soak up every last ray. That means we have been eating an awful lot of dinners on the patio (now that it’s finished) and doing much more al fresco entertaining. The experience is even better in the knowledge that much of the food on our plate is there growing around us and all we have to do is nip to the bottom of the garden to pull a few lettuce and rocket leaves for our salad, or to the hen-house to collect a few eggs for a tart. I don’t know about you? but I think free food tastes so much better!

a vegetable, ricotta, feta 'pie', salad and new potatoes

So at the tail end of the half term holidays I ended up with a couple of visiting (vegetarian) teenagers, the little one, and us (and no money left having been eaten out of house and home). I needed to use as many of these free resources as possible.  A Ottolenghi inspired tart / Quiche/ call it what you will (I called it a vegetable ‘pie’ because the teen doesn’t like Quiche!!) with a couple of hearty salads did the trick!

“Did you like it”? I inquired at the end of the meal…I noticed that the teenagers had all pushed their vegetables to the side of the plate, eating just the pastry and filling…

“It was nice, but I’m not keen on vegetables said Erin. I do like the pastry bit of Quiche though” she said with a smile.

“I thought you were vegetarian?” I asked

“I am” she replied bluntly.

My teen glared at me “Was that Quiche then?” she frowned. “You told me it was pie and you know I hate Quiche. Why do you always try to trick me?” .

I looked at her plate, she’d eaten the same amount as her friend. Once again her teenager logic left me lost for words.

A very full, Ottolenghi inspired pie (tart in disguise!!):

serves 6

1 red and 1 yellow pepper, 1 eggplant (aubergine), couple of small courgettes, 2 red onions, 2 bay leaves, a hand full of thyme sprigs, leaves picked from them, a handful of washed shredded spinach, chard or even kale whatever if ready to harvest, 150g ricotta and 120g feta cheese, a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved, 3 medium to large eggs, 200ml double cream, salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 230 degrees (gas mark 8). Chop peppers into 4 removing the stalk and seeds and chop the eggplant into largish chucks. Place in a roasting tin and toss in a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the chopped and washed courgettes to the tin  and toss in the oil and return to the tin to the oven. Cook for a further 10 to 15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked and the peppers are beginning to turn brown/blackish in places. Remove from the oven and allow peppers to cool a little before removing the skin and tearing into strips.

While the vegetables are roasting finely chop the onion and cook with the bay leaves and a pinch of salt on a medium heat, in a couple of tablespoons olive oil for about 20 minutes until turning soft and just golden brown. Set to one side.

Turn the oven down to 180 degress (gas mark 4). Line a 22-24cm loose bottomed greased tart tin with pastry (shortcrust pastry recipe below) so it just hangs over the rim, then line with baking paper / parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 30 minutes after about 20 minutes remove the paper and let it bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes until just turning golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Spread the base with cooked onion, roasted vegetables, herbs, shredded spinach and then scatter the cheeses and tomato halves on top. Whisk the eggs and cream together and add some salt and pepper. Pour carefully into the tart case adding a last sprinkle of thyme and then bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until cooked through and golden on top. Leave it to rest for a 10 minutes before removing from the tart tin and serving. I added a small handful of torn basil leaves to finish.

*Basic shortcrust pastry: The rule of thumb is equal parts flour to fat….so for this I used 200g Shipton Mill plain flour, a good pinch of Halen Mon sea salt, 100g Rachel’s dairy butter, 100g lard and enough cold water to bind into a dough.

Rub the fat into the flour and salt, then gradually add cold water a little at a time until the pastry just comes together into a ball. Do not over work the pastry as it will become dense. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes before using.

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