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Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

In praise of the humble quiche

In Recipes on July 27, 2012 at 5:32 am

In the 1970’s there was a catchphrase that did the quiche’s reputation quite a bit of harm.  ‘Real men don’t eat quiche’ some wag said and the phrase quickly became a cliche.   I’m not quite sure what the saying was meant to imply but it certainly does pose many questions the most obvious one being what is a ‘real’ man?    Quiches may have suffered some bad public relations in the last couple of decades and this could simply be attributed to the fact that many people did not know how to make a good quiche.  Recipes vary but they are all quite simple and you can use frozen pastry if you don’t feel like making your own.   The hardest parts are cooking the pastry and making sure the filling is set – I would also recommend layering ingredients with the egg mixture as this ensures a more even distribution in the finished quiche.

The classic quiche is of course, Quiche Lorraine.  This is a rich, creamy quiche with bacon being the main flavour.  The one in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking uses a ridiculous amount of cream so I have lightened it up over the years by using more eggs and milk to replace some of the cream.  You don’t have to use bacon, the one I have made here is a cheese and leek quiche but you can use any ingredients you like as long as you follow the same basic method.

Cheese and leek quiche

Quiche is the ideal picnic food

Cheese and Leek Quiche

Ingredients

2 sheets frozen pastry or make your own*

8 large free range eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup cream

1 large leek

1 large onion

1 cup grated tasty cheese

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 tbs chopped flat leaved parsley

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Method

Line a greased flan or quiche dish with pastry.  Blind bake on the middle shelf in a 200°c oven for 10-15 mins.  Meanwhile, place eggs in a bowl with the milk, cream, nutmeg, parsley and seasonings, whisk together lightly and set aside.  Finely slice the well washed leek and the peeled onion.  Saute in a preheated pan until translucent.  Set aside.  Remove pastry shell from oven and allow to cool slightly.  When cool, pour a little of the egg mixture in the bottom.  Put a layer of the leek and onion mixture on next and sprinkle with some of the cheeses.  Pour over more egg mixture and repeat.  Finish by pouring over the remaining egg mixture and sprinkling with the remaining cheese.  Bake on the middle shelf in a 180°c oven for 30-40 mins or until the filling has set (be careful not to burn the pastry).  Serve warm or cold.

* For pastry recipe see May 2011 “Easy Chicken and Leek Pie’

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Fabulous finocchio

In Recipes on July 2, 2012 at 5:49 am

Fennel and orange salad

Finocchio or Florence fennel is a different variety to the fennel plants we see growing around railway sidings and creeks.  While this wild fennel still yields seeds, fronds and flowers that are edible, Florence fennel forms a bulb-like growth at the bottom and this is the part that is eaten.  Here in Australia fennel is in season in winter so look for cheap, fresh fennel bulbs then.  Fennel is surprisingly versatile though some people find the anise flavour to be a bit of an acquired taste.  It works well roasted or fried and it is good finely diced and fried along with celery, carrot and onion at the beginning of a ragu or bolgnese sauce.  It can also be eaten raw with a citrus dressing.  Served in this way, it is a fresh accompaniment to all those heavy winter dishes.

Fennel Salad

Ingredients

2 small or 1 large bulb fennel

1 Spanish onion

2-3 oranges

8-10 kalamata olives

3 tbs olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Method

Using a sharp knife, halve the fennel bulb and remove the core.  Finely slice the fennel and place in a large bowl.  Pour over the lemon juice and gently toss.  Segment the oranges and place them in the bowl with the fennel.  Add the Spanish onion, finely sliced and the olives, pitted and halved.  Pour over the olive oil, season and toss.  Reserve the fronds from the fennel bulb to garnish.

It’s the crunch that is so good