Cultural norms are so unfixed and so relative that I often find myself in inevitably awkward situations, particularly in countries where there are no strict set of social norms (generally in the New World), such as greeting people via kisses on the cheek. I cannot count the times I reached for the second kiss only to be left hanging or alternatively, going in for the other cheek and realizing the receiver has already moved on. When in Canada or in New Zealand I still have not figured out what is the preferred greeting, one kiss on the cheek or two, or none? I miss the clarity of European customs where one knows exactly what to expect in the respective country. No matter, I shall do it my way and stick to two of everything, like it or not.
Where am I going with this you may ask? I am about to talk about quiche and I don’t want to stick to just one kind. I love it far too much and you know if I make two types of quiches for you, I must be fond of you.
As I said, I love quiche, but for years now I had the worst luck trying to find a decent one, let alone an edible one. They often tend to be soggy and tasteless. Why? What’s so hard about making a proper quiche? After years of hesitantly ordering quiche in various cafés and restaurants (the Quiche Lorraine served for brunch at Le Select in Toronto is an exception) I have given up on the hope of finding something I like, so a few years ago I started making my own. The heavenly aroma wafting through your home is worth the small effort, trust me.
I had a blast this fall in Auckland trying to find mushrooms but too nervous to pick them as I am unfamiliar with mushrooms in this part of the world. Luckily, I live near the beautiful Cornwall Park and there is a sweet spot in the olive grove where I find (safe-to-eat and easily-identifiable) Wood Ear mushrooms found growing happily on rotting wood. I made many a dish using the Wood Ear which is mostly valued for its texture and health properties - A. auricula-judae has antitumour, hypoglycemic, anticoagulant and cholesterol-lowering properties. I particularly like using in as part of the mélange of mushrooms in my quiches.
|Wood Ear Mushrooms|
Making the Pastry Base:
· In a food processor pulse: 200g cold butter (cubed), 400g flour, pinch of salt, until the pastry begins to clump together, kind of like loose moist sand
· In a cold bowl: pour in the contents of food processor and form a well, then pour in 100ml of water and mix gradually by hand
· Sprinkle a clean surface with flour and transfer the loose pastry mixture to it for light kneading, ultimately forming a ball.
· Cut ball in half and re-form both halves into balls
· Cover them with plastic wraps and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or store in freezer if not using it immediately. The pastry will make two quiches.
· In a pan, melt 10g of butter then brown about 100g cubed bacon, pancetta or speck
· Once the bacon is fried use some of the remaining fat in the pan to oil the inside of your quiche pan using a paper towel
· Roll out the ball of pastry on a floured surface so that it is about 2.5 inches wider than the diameter of your pan.
· Place the rolled out pastry into the oiled pan pushing securely against the edge of the pan.
· Using a fork, prick holes into the bottom of the pastry.
In a bowl whisk: 3 eggs, 200g crème fraiche (alternatively use table cream), salt and pepper to taste, and a sprinkle of nutmeg
Pour the custard into the pastry-lined form
Grate on a bit of Edam or Gruyere cheese
· Place the pan in a preheated oven at 185 C or 360 F for about 50 minutes (you should check that the top of the quiche does not burn).
· In a pan, melt a tablespoon of butter and add some finely leek or chopped shallot, a bunch of sliced melange of mushrooms (ie. Cremini, Oyster, and Wood Ear), and sauté until all are softened and cooked through. Half way through throw in some chopped herbs like rosemary, thyme or sage, or even better, all three.
· Season well with salt and pepper.
· In a bowl whisk: 3 eggs, 200g crème fraiche (alternatively use table cream), salt and pepper to taste, and a sprinkle of nutmeg
· Pour the custard into the pastry-lined form
· Place the pan in a preheated oven at 185 C or 360 F for about 50 minutes (you should check that the top of the quiche does not burn).Now, take a moment and relish the heavenly aroma that your home has been anointed in, take the quiche out of the oven, and let cool down a bit before slicing.
Mwah, mwah. Enjoy!