Oh man, I think I’m foiled on this one. I’m just adding the finishing touches to this article (whilst waiting for the sun to arrive so I can take photos of this) and, by my watch, it’s 7pm PST – seven hours past the deadline for paper chef. Personally, I’m quite angry with myself and am currently debating whether to attempt to enter this into the competition of not. The thing’s been open for more than a week, dammit. I don’t want to look like a lazy idiot – especially a lazy idiot who thinks he can stroll in six hours late and expect to be taken seriously.
My only defence is that it’s been a real jam packed week. I spent the beginnings of it trapped at my girlfriend’s ball, then I spent most of the early week buried alive underneath a administrative hell ensemble of end-of-academic-year forms alongside start-of-new-term-forms and being forced to make a start on my new coursework pieces. Then, at the weekend, I was being jetted off to a wedding, where drinks were a mere pound and I ended up consuming, in basic mathematical figures, a cubic megaton of beverages and regretting it until now. With Monday soon approaching, I decide that maybe that getting an entry into shape for this month is out of the question. I tried to make something with a tapenade, but I couldn’t work out the specifics. The whole idea seemed dull and flat. Besides, I puggin’ hate olives anyway.
On Monday afternoon I’m walking around town, and the thought hits me; I haven’t had any quiche in a while. I make a mental note to bake a Quiche Lorraine at some point this week. Then I started rolling the idea around in my mind, incorporating the ingredients required for paper chef into my quiche. After all, a quiche can be made of damn near anything. That’s the beauty. And, the secret ingredient (either cream or potato) is required to make the eggy sauce that any quiche that knows his (or her) stuff requires.
And I’ve got about – ooh – four hours to get this together before the deadline. It’ll be a cinch, right? No problem. Of course, as soon as I get home in the evening I’m absolutely zonked – the sleepless weekend is catching up with me – and I only manage to roast the peppers before moving over to the chair, thinking “sure, I’ll just rest my eyes for five minutes” and falling straight asleep, only to awaken at about 2:30am.
Mad panic ensues.
Result of this is that, well, I have the ingredients for the quiche and I’ve made the quiche so I’m going to make a post for my quiche and if it’s too late to enter then that's the price I’ll have to pay for abusing alcohol. There’s always next month!
Quiche, as a dish, is one of those classics that you can always turn to when you’re in a pickle and need to fix up something tasty that looks reasonably glamorous on a plate. If we’re going to be honest, I will put good money on their being a lot of quiche in this month’s paper chef. Why? Well, it’s just a good fit for the ingredients. Plus, like I said earlier, it’s easy glamour.
Etymologically speaking, the original quiche, quiche lorraine, originated in Germany (“quiche” derives from the German “kuche”, meaning cake. The town that invented quiche would later be renamed Lorraine by the French) and it consisted of a basic egg and cream custard and bacon. As the dish shot down the slide of history, cheese has sneaked its way into the dish and its crust – originally bread dough - is now almost always short-crust pastry.
Quiche became popular after World War II in England, eventually enjoying a flutter with mega stardom in the 1970’s. Thanks to overexposure, it was largely held in contempt in the 1980’s; as it was often seen as a vegetarian dish, macho dudes were heavily against it – leading to the publication of books such as “Real Men Don’t Each Quiche”, a satire on the stereotypical man in the 80s – and, like so many celebrities after their career starts to slip, Quiche got depressed. It started hanging about in a bad crowd. It slept with cheap floozies, smoked forty a day, was usually either high on coke or drunk on gin and, in a last ditch effort to make a bit of extra cash to fuel it’s ever increasing addictions, signed a deal to be the face of a dodgy company that launched a terrible series of adverts, proving to be the last nail in the coffin of Quiche’s miserable demise.
Snapshot to 2005, and Quiche has made a bit of a comeback. Sure, it’s not the be all and end all of savoury pies, but it’s quite comfortable where it is. Plus, we all – even tough macho men - know that there’s no such thing as a good picnic basket without at least one quiche involved.
Paper Chef #8: Belated Roasted Pepper, Spinach and Olive Quiche
- 175g Short-crust Pastry. I listen to Delia (but make up about 1/3 more than her recipe, I like to have some more to be on the safe side) on this one, but you can do whatever you want or buy one of those nice ready made pie (7 to 9 inches) dishes. If you make your own, you need to line a 7-9 inch flan ring with your creation. You can do this by:
- Rolling the pastry out to about 1 and a half times the size of your dish
- Pressing the pastry around the flan ring and trimming the excess
- Prick the base with a fork and brush the whole thing with some beaten egg. This will ‘waterproof’ the quiche and stop everything from sogging together in one giant lump.
* If you're in the US, then you're fortunate because you can just use half-and-half. If you're in the UK (or somewhere without half-and-half on the store shelves), just use 1/2 cup of double cream and 1/2 cup milk.
- A jug of Royale (1 cup of cream* that has been beaten with two large eggs, with a pinch of salt and nutmeg)
- A roasted red and yellow pepper
- Cooked spinach
- Black olives, sliced in half
- Red Chilli (optional)
- Cheddar Cheese – use your favourite.
- Bake the pastry, by itself, in a oven pre-heated to Gas 5/190/375 for 20-25 minutes, until nice and golden.
- Heat your oven to 180° C/Gas Mark 4/350° F.
- Fill your quiche up to about two thirds with an assortment of your fillings; roasted pepper, cheddar, spinach, black olives and - if you want a bit of a kick - the red chilli.
- Slowly pour your royale over the filling, stopping once it reaches about three quarters of the way up the crust.
- Bake for about 40-50 minutes, checking on the quiche after about 30. You know it’s done when a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for at least half an hour before slicing, to let the egg set.
Naturally, the quiche is a versatile monster that can be experimented with, even down to the kind of flan ring you use; the ones that are just a plain circle or the ones with the itty squiggles that go round the edge. In the same vein, they're good for trying things out; I wouldn’t normally dream of using olives, because they make me want to cry. They didn’t taste too bad in this quiche though, which was a pleasant surprise. One of the upsides of being forced to use ingredients, I suppose. In fact, i'll probably try putting them in some other things.
I think if you haven't made quiche in a while then you should give it a go, for a number of reasons; it's summer, and summer means quiche; they're tasty little custard things; they're a good way of trying out some combinations of this and that. In fact, make a quiche, but take away one thing from the recipe you're following and add something you think will work with the other flavours.