It is hard to come up with an enticing family meal with a hungry horde clamoring at the kitchen door. Success often lies in a little preplanning. As Joe Frazier once said, “you have to do the roadwork or they’ll find you out under the big bright lights.” And whereas feeding your family shouldn’t feel like heavyweight championship boxing, you can kinda see where he was coming from. Sure, there are those evenings where you pull off an amazing stir-fry at the drop of a hat, but most things need a bit of thought in advance or your little monsters will go for the knock-out.
Before you throw in the towel, this is a simple dish made simpler with just a little bit of pre-planning. It is the pastry that takes time so the crust can either be made in advance or you could use a shop-bought pre-made one.
As long as you have the basic ingredients of eggs, milk and cream you can personalize the quiche to your taste, budget and/or what is left in your fridge. Asparagus, a sure sign that spring is here, makes a great addition to a smoked salmon quiche. But store-cupboard basics such as canned tuna and sweetcorn make a tasty and economical quiche too. See what you have and you too can be a contender.
Pastry for one 8” tart
- 7 oz flour
- 3.5 oz very cold butter
- .25 oz salt
- 60 ml ice cold water (2oz)
For the filling
- 14 oz sliced Spanish onions
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 glug of olive oil
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 125ml milk (that is just over ½ a cup)
- 125 ml heavy cream
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 tbsp of fresh thyme leaves (remove the stem)
- 2oz blue cheese crumbled
- 2 oz cheddar cheese or Gruyère, grated
Making the pastry
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Cut the cold butter into very small pieces. Mix the butter into the dry ingredients by rubbing it into the flour with your fingertips. When the mixture has a sandy texture, and when there are no lumps of butter visible, it is ready for the liquid. Make a well in the center of the mixture and slowly add some of the water. Stir in and gradually add more water if it seems too dry. The mixture should start sticking together the more you stir it. Gather all the pieces in a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. The dough can also be frozen at this point or kept in the fridge for a few days.
To make the quiche
Roll out the pastry with a rolling pan, continuously dusting with flour to prevent sticking. Place in a buttered 8” flan dish. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork. Then chill the pie shell.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet and fry the onions, cook for about 20-30 minutes on a low heat until they are soft and caramelized.
Remove the pastry shell from the fridge. Line with parchment paper and dried beans and bake at 400°F until the pastry is dry and chalky, about 10 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and continue to cook the shell until it is cooked through – about another 5 to 10 minutes, the key is color: the pastry should be golden brown. Here’s a great step-by-step guide to blind baking. AKA soggy bottom prevention.
Turn the oven down to 325 F and prepare the custard. Whisk the egg and egg yolk in a small bowl. Add the milk, cream, salt and pepper and nutmeg and whisk them gently until combined, try not to create excessive froth or bubbles. Spread the onions and cheese in the bottom of the pastry shell. Pour the custard over the onions and cheese, filling the shell completely.
Bake the tart for about 30 minutes until the custard is set. Do not let the custard rise up; this is a sign of overbaking.
Instead of onions, blue cheese and thyme use 4-5 asparagus stalks (lightly steamed and chopped), 2 oz of Parmesan or Cheddar cheese and a pieces of chopped up smoked salmon.
Ding-ding! Seconds out! Round one!