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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Vegetable Quiche


I haven’t cooked in a bit. We’ve been having some big nights out, you see, thanks to Su and Gareth. Su, by the way, is my sister-in-law and Gareth, is my brother-in-law. That’s confusing, I get that. But they’re married, not siblings, so figure it out please.

Anyway, thanks to them, the child was shipped off to Cambridge for the weekend, thereby allowing us to have, said big nights out.

And it’s funny, even as I write their names…Su and Gareth…the thought bubble emerging from my head is one with an image of two cherubic angels smiling benevolently, holding hands and watching over my child…

In other words – thanks for taking him. Phew.

Back in the relatively less-green pastures of London, we have been indulging in much booze and barbeque (more about that later…) But this, as you can well imagine, has not been conducive to cooking. In fact, this has not been conducive to much more than sleeping, waking to drink coffee and sleeping again. And realising, at some point during this circular schedule, that Martinis are not my friend.

And so, I haven’t cooked in a bit.

You will, of course, forgive me. I haven’t had such a wild and wonderful night in 18 months.

Anyway, I’m over it. The child has been returned, most cruelly, to its rightful owners and it’s back to school runs and mushed-up apples. Oh Joy.

I’m making quiche this evening. I’m not going to touch the stuff by the way. It is ONLY for you. Because I am all sweetness and grace and kindness personified.

It’s also for the husband. Because the husband as you know is allergic to vegetables of any kind. Such a terrible problem. And so, every once in a while, I need to create an alternate reality.

Here’s what you need:

For the Pastry:
- 150g wholemeal flour
- 75g cool butter, diced
                       
For the Filling:
- 100g mushrooms
- ½ onion

- 250g fresh spinach leaves
- 6 chopped or sliced sun dried tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 3 eggs
- 200 ml creme fraiche
- 200 ml whole milk
- 100 g grated Parmesan
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch nutmeg

Here’s how you do it:

Peel and slice the onion and sauté it gently in a little olive oil.  Wash and slice the mushrooms. When the onions begin to soften add the mushrooms and the spinach and cook for 10 minutes.

Now, for the pastry. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, and rub in the butter using your fingertips, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Sprinkle with about 2 tbsp of cold water and mix with your hands into a firm but pliable dough. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.

Roll out the pastry on a floured work surface and use it to line a greased 25cm/10in tart tin. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, crème fraiche, and salt and pepper to season. Stir in the cheese and sprinkle a dash of nutmeg for flavour.

Spread the cooked vegetables, the sun dried tomatoes and the basil over the pastry, and pour the egg custard over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the filling is lightly set and perfectly golden.

Oh – and in case you’re the suspicious type and wondering why I’m not eating any of this if it’s so good – let me tell you it’s not because I’m on some kind of stupid diet. Instead, its because when I was 7 years old, my mother brought home a 10” Quiche Lorraine from some cooking class at Madras Club. You know those Friday afternoon cooking classes that existed in our mothers’ generation (presupposing you are my generation of course) which you did with a bunch of other enthusiastic ladies? The ones where the chef is up on a stage and he or she cooks and you watch and follow and make your own version along with eighteen other versions made by the other enthusiastic ladies  and then you get to take it all home for your kids?

Yes?

Well, I ate the entire flipping thing. Solo. And then lay rolling on the floor of our dining room, for 8 hours holding my stomach and screaming that I’m going to die from a quiche overdose. Or words to that effect.

Anyhow, the bottom line is that I’m scarred for life. Never since has the stuff touched my lips and I’m not about to begin now.

But that’s no reason for you not to enjoy yourselves.  Just don’t – I beg you – eat the whole thing in one sitting. Because I promise you it will haunt you. Forever. Like a Pastry Possessed…

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