A Quiche by any other name

My brother Ben laughed when I told him I was making a Quiche. ‘At least call it a savory tart‘ he scoffed before our conversation was cut short by the kitchen timer and a suspicious curl of dark smoke seeping from the base of the oven. I hung up and retrieved the pastry case, it’s colour, like a rich tea biscuit suggested all was well! So the smell? Closer inspection of our shamefully black and greasy oven, something I usually avoid considering its eminent replacement, revealed a twisted slice of carbon, my forgotten toast.

I’ll resume this conversation with my brother, most probably over a pint or two next time I’m in London, I’m curious to unearth the roots of his aversion of the Q word. I’ve heard that Real men don’t eat Quiche. Maybe they can if they call it something else.

Quiche, savory tart, I’m happy with both titles. Maybe savory tart is safer, I’d hate to ruffle any French feathers, especially considering all the crimes against Quiche the English have committed in the last 50 years. We hijacked the delicate quivering Quiche or galette Lorraine; a bread dough or flaky pastry base filled with diced butter, thick ripe cream and fresh eggs maybe a few pieces of chopped bacon, baked until golden, blistered and alluring, and we bastardized it. We unleashed an epidemic of thick leaden, hefty horrors and we called them Quiches. Each one was stuffed with an unsightly rabble of as many the following as possible; hunks of ham, prawns, mushrooms, crabmeat, cheddar cheese, pineapple, olives, small trinkets, paperclips, more cheese and then more cheese. We suspended these bits in rubbery custard which may or may not have been made with evaporated milk. We re-heated then and served them in heavyweight wedges, thud.

But enough of all that, these savory tarts are delightful things, delicate and simple enough to be called a kind-of-quiche really! But lets call them tarts. As you know, I love a tart or four.

My savory tart phase, which culminated in this quartet for a ‘Kind of English picnic’ at our Friends Pub ( I’ll tell you about that another day), began with Allegra McEvedy’s Quiche from her guardian clickalong a couple of weeks ago. It’s a clickalong cookalong really, a lively, occasionally messy affair which is rather like a sing-a-long. Only instead of the song sheet you have a recipe and instead of doh ray me you chop, sizzle, bake in time with Allegra as she conducts a chorus of other home cooks in a live internet cooking class. You call in your rabble and eat the results. You can of course singalong while you cookalong.

The clickalong was predictably good fun and the Quiche a great success. But the pastry case was the real revelation and one immediately embraced in a mildly obsessive manner. It’s a very buttery pastry, 200g four, 100g of butter, a flick of salt, 2 eggs yolks and 2tbs milk which you bring together into a very easy-going ball which you then squash, squish and ease into a tart tin with your fingertips. No rolling required! Do you know you could do such a thing? I didn’t.

You then bake the tart case blind until the colour of pale biscuits and then spoon in the vegetables softened in butter, cover with a layer of heavy cream and fresh eggs and bake until just set and golden. The filling is delicious, and the pastry a light, flaky buttery delight, We devoured it with slim green beans doused in olive oil.

Two days later – I am a great believer in making things you like again and again, a delicious rash of something nice – I made the tart for the second time. But this time without the new potatoes, This ommison was hotly debated at the dinner table as Vincenzo is a great believer in potatoes whenever possible. We eventually managed to agree their absence, however upsetting, made space for more asparagus and creamy, quivering custard which can only be a good thing.

Later that week, feeling extremely comfortable with my new pastry and rather cocky about the egg and cream custard, I swapped the asparagus for some smoked trout and a handful of finely chopped parsley. The result was, is extremely good.

Both the savory tarts, this, the fish one, and the asparagus and spring onion one that follows – sorry about the terribly long-winded recipes – are best about 15 minutes after they have come out of the oven. The flavours settle and mellow but everything is still just warm. They are still lovely after a few hours, but lose their charm the day after and I don’t think they refrigerate well at all. The pastry however refrigerates brilliantly, so you could make the case in the morning or the night before and tuck it in the fridge. Then all you need to do is saute the vegetables, whisk up the cream and eggs and slide it all into the oven. Warm tart, big green salad, some new potatoes, nice chutney, supper. I for one have found what our table will be wearing this summer.

Last thing, to get a nice golden burnished top, I often put the tart under the grill for a just a few seconds when it comes out of the oven. Just remember to keep an eagle eye on it.

Smoked fish tart

For the pastry

  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g cold butter, cubed
  • 2 free range egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • salt and pepper

For the filling

  • A bunch of spring onions
  • 100g smoked fish (I used trout but salmon or makeral should work well)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 30g butter
  • 150ml double (heavy) cream
  • 4 medium-sized free range eggs
  • salt and freshly grated black pepper.

Set the oven to 180°C.

You need a 24cm fluted tart ring, 3cm deep.

First the pastry: Sift the flour and add seasoning into a large bowl. Add the cold diced butter and then rub it into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine but coarse sand. Add the gently beaten egg yolks and milk. Clench the mixture together lightly – you aren’t looking for a smooth dough ball you are just bringing together the ingredients into a slightly sticky mass.

Now working quickly with your fingertips push the soft pastry into your tart ring. Do the sides first and then the base until you get an even casing with no holes. Keep small ball of pastry over so you can make some repairs after you’ve blind baked it. Don’t worry if the pastry is slightly higher than the tart case, this is actually a good thing, it accounts for any shrinkage.

Put the tart case in the freezer or fridge for 15 minutes.

Get the tart case out of the freezer (the pastry should be hard by now) and Bake the tart case blind for 12 minutes No need for any beans but if you are worried you can always line with greaseproof/foil and fill with baking beans.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and then saute and soften the spring onion over a gentle flame until it is soft and withered. Turn off the flame and add the smoked fish and the parsley, stir, taste, season (the fish will be salty so go easy) taste.

By now the tart case is looking and smelling cooked (you don’t want it to be browning really) take it out and put on a baking tray. Reduce the oven temp to 170°C.

Now is the time to repair any cracks in your tart case with the left over pastry.

Tip the onion and fish mixture into the tart case and spread evenly with a fork

In a bowl beat together the 4 eggs, double cream, a pinch of salt and a twist of pepper.

Season, pour the egg and cream onto the tart and, using a fork if necessary, let it meander its way between onion and fish; the mark of a great Quiche is that the eggy custard fills the case all the way to the very top but is not overflowing at all.

Put the tart on a baking tray in the oven for 30 minutes when the tart should be going golden brown round the edges and just about set in the middle. If your tart is not golden enough put it under a hot grill for a few seconds.

Wait about 15 minutes for the flavours to settle

Asparagus and spring onion tart.

Adapted from Allegra McEvedy’s Quiche

For the pastry

  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g cold butter, cubed
  • 2 free range egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • salt and pepper

For the filling

  • A small bunch of spring onions
  • 3 plump cloves of garlic
  • 300g asparagus (untrimmed weight)
  • 30g butter
  • 150ml double (heavy) cream
  • 4 medium-sized free range eggs
  • 80g freshly grated parmesan
  • salt and freshly grated black pepper.

Set the oven to 180°C.

You need a 24cm fluted tart ring, 3cm deep.

First the pastry: Sift the flour and add seasoning into a large bowl. Add the cold diced butter and then rub it into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine but coarse sand. Add the gently beaten egg yolks and milk. Clench the mixture together lightly – you aren’t looking for a smooth dough ball you are just bringing together the ingredients into a slightly sticky mass.

Now working quickly with your fingertips push the soft pastry into your tart ring. Do the sides first and then the base until you get an even casing with no holes. Keep small ball of pastry over so you can make some repairs after you’ve blind baked it. Don’t worry if the pastry is slightly higher than the tart case, this is actually a good thing, it accounts for any shrinkage.

Put the tart case in the freezer or fridge for 15 minutes.

Get the tart case out of the freezer (the pastry should be hard by now) and Bake the tart case blind for 12 minutes No need for any beans but if you are worried you can always line with greaseproof/foil and fill with baking beans.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and then saute and soften the spring onion and garlic over a gentle flame.

Snap off the woody ends of your asparagus, which can be as much as a third of the length (these can be kept to make a nice stock for a risotto or soup). Give them a wash then slice the stalks into 1 cm pieces but keep the tips whole. Add the asparagus to the pan and cook gently for a couple of minutes. Turn off the flame. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper

By now the tart case is looking and smelling cooked (you don’t want it to be browning really) take it out and put on a baking tray. Reduce the oven temp to 170°C.

Now is the time to repair any cracks in your tart case with the left over pastry. Then spoon the onion and asparagus mixture into the case.

In a bowl beat together the 4 eggs, double cream and two-thirds of the parmesan.

Season, pour the egg and cream onto the tart and, using a fork if necessary, let it meander its way between the vegetables; the mark of a great Quiche is that the eggy custard fills the case all the way to the very top but is not overflowing at all.

Sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan on top, then put the tart on a baking tray in the oven for 25-30 minutes when the tart should be going golden brown round the edges and just about set in the middle. If your tart is not golden enough, put it under the grill for a few seconds

Wait about 15 minutes for the flavours to settle.

Asparagus and spring onion tart with green beans and lemon chutney

It feels like long time. It isn’t really, Well no longer than usual for me. It’s probably because I haven’t been calling by as often as I’d like, I certainly haven’t been keeping up with all your writing. Blame it on the boogie, a translating project which is way beyond me – I was under the influence when I agreed – and the end of term. My big students are all about to embark on exams and my little Italian ones to perform a musical version of ‘Three little pigs in English. I know which one I’m more nervous about. I have lots to tell you about, the ‘Kind of English picnic’ for the coterie of misfits at our friends pub, my latest frenzy of mostly successful pickle and jam making, more jelly, a pork pie, an ugly cake, a good salad, pasta obviously. We have time I know.

44 Comments

Filed under cakes and baking, Eggs, food, pies and tarts, recipes

44 responses to “A Quiche by any other name

  1. Tes

    Those pictures looks so good. I love the recipes especially smoked fish tart. It sounds yummy!

  2. I love a quiche, even the terrible English ones. Looking forward to the jam, pickle, pork pie and especially the ugly cake.

    • rachel

      I’m sure purists would say my savory tarts / quiches are a terrible travesty.
      I can’t wait to write about the ugly cake too, it is really, properly ugly but tasty obviously !

  3. These looks delicious! As a huge fan of quiches/tarts or whatever else they can be called, I’m very intrigued to try the pastry. I’m not sure why but I’ve been struggling a lot with pastry (both sweet and savory) recently… How does this particular one hold up on the shrinkage front??

    • rachel

      hello Rosy
      As a ex pastryphobe I can say this is a great recipe. Also, because you squash the very soft pastry into the tin with your fingertips you can press it higher than the rim of the tin so this accounts for shrinkage (does that make sense)…Shrinkage was pretty minimal anyway.
      I do hope you try and more importantly have success, you can come back and shout at me if you don’t
      Rachel

  4. The squishable squashable pastry sounds like heaven – just the thing to break my silly fear of shrinking and cracking (I think a quiche that exploded all over the oven in Home Economics when I was about 12 has contributed significantly to that fear). Gx

    • rachel

      An exploding quiche – classic. I still have choux pastry anxiety after being shouted at
      for over cooking the roux. The pastry is fab, but then, as we know, so is Allegra ! I bet you would like the smoked trout tart !

      • Yes, I am absolutely certain I would like the smoked trout tart too. Glad to hear I’m not the only one with school cookery class horror stories!

  5. A clickalong cookalong–how cool is that? The quiches look great. Isn’t it funny how we can latch on to one thing and make it over and over only to abandon it for something else? I haven’t made a quiche in quite some time; I must try that pastry.

    • rachel

      it is – even though clicking with sticky fingers is a problem, as are pastry bits on the keyboard !
      Yes do try the pastry, it is a good one as are tart/quiches, especailly the smoked fish!

  6. No rolling required? No, I did not know you could do such a thing. Excellent! Your tarts look exquisite. Good luck with the little pigs. I’ll be here hoping you share your pickle stories with us soon.

    • rachel

      Thank you Denise I need it – we still need to do some work on the uff and puff. Yes pickles soon
      I am quite obsessed with putting food in Jars.

  7. lol ‘potatoes whenever possible’… sounds like my man. I have never made a quiche/savory egg tart before and am psyched to try. I can’t resist anything with asparagus, so I think that will be guinea pig tart #1 for me. Thanks!

    • rachel

      I think this could be a good tart guinea pig. PWP – I think many people suffer, I myself am a CWP – cheese when ever possible !

  8. Edan

    I tried your pastry last night. It was lovely and flakey and delicious, but, it looked nothing like yours when patted into the pan. Yours looks shiny and slick, mine looked dusty and crumbly. Did you just pat in into the pan with more diligence than I did?
    Still tasted fantastic. Just wondering if I should work it a little more next time before I parbake it.
    Thanks again for the yummy supper!

    • rachel

      Hi Edan
      I am ever so glad it tasted nice – as for being dry, well I wonder how big your eggs were, that could make a difference. Mine were medium and the pastry was a bit sticky. Maybe a smidge more milk. Anyway, the pastry should all feel very soft, almost like play dough in your hands but you shouldn’t need to work it too much.
      thank you for letting me (and others) know.
      rachel

  9. It’s so funny how persistent the trashing of quiche has been, post the “Real Men Don’t” book. And it’s truly such a lovely dish, leaden versions notwithstanding.

    Yours look exceptional!

    Intrigued by the pat-it-out dough, and that lemon chutney…

    Had to laugh about the ugly cake–especially since I just posted about my Not Pretty baked radicchio. All the delicious things can’t always be visual works of art!

  10. I love how the grill goldened the top of your tart. Looking forward to more recipes and stories that huff and puff.

    Btw, why did Omar have to get got?

  11. Vyvs dad

    Nowt wrong with a quiche, and I’ll tell Ben next time I see him too. Savoury Tart? Pah! Perhaps he prefers ‘Flan’?

    • Vyvs friend

      come on vyvs dad…… quiche? whatever next? cous cous? !!

      • rachel

        …… galette, open tart, open pie, Fèouse. Vyv’s dad and Vyv’s friend let us meet and trash this one out over a pint of fizzy pop and a large bag of pork scratchings. The winner get to cook the coose coose.

  12. Love the tarts. I’d probably also leave out the potato but smoky fish sounds interesting.

    • rachel

      hello tammy – the smoky fish is really good and in the end I left the potato out of the other tart so it is just
      an asparagus and spring onion tart which is nicer and simpler i think.

  13. I am a lover of quiche, but I must confess, I have probably never made an authentic version of it in my life! I fear I’m one of those people who’ve tarnished its good name with my ‘adaptations’!

    Thanks for making it look so easy to make; I’ve always been intimidated by pastry dough but I’d love to try this recipe, especially the asparagus and spring onion version.

    • rachel

      I am now worried about my quiche rant, I don’t think i have made an authentic quiche either. This is why I am sticking to the name tart.
      the asparagus tart is lovely especially since aspargus is so beautiful now – do hope you try !

  14. my ex-brother-in-law used to include men who sip sherry in the same category as quiche-eaters – whereas I, apparently secure in my masculinity, have often enjoyed them together. I really want to try one of the guardian cookalongs, but the time difference makes it basically impossible unless, like this week, i find myself between jobs and with some flexibility, though knowing my luck there won’t be one this week.
    I hear everything you say about what the English did to the quiche. I can’t remember a picnic during the ’80s when a thoroughly dismaying quiche lorraine served with round lettuce and salad cream (and perhaps a spoonful of revolting over-mayonnaised brown mush, aka “coronation chicken”) wasn’t present. Combine that with the hordes of ants crawling over everything and a wet bum from the grass, and it’s a miracle I still enjoy quiche. Our picnics were far too prosaic to feature smoked trout (kippers were as far into smoked fish as my family ventured), but I love the idea of it in a quiche – all that smokiness imparted into the quivering custard… delicious.

    • rachel

      hahaha, yes sherry, I am planning a quiche cous cous and sherry dinner now for my brother…..that picnic sounds phenomenal, I endured similar occasions. Now funny you should mention kippers, I have been longing for some lately.

  15. suz

    Your post got me craving a quiche (altho I honestly didn’t remember it was your post that did it until later!). Unfortunately, I thoroughly biffed it. I used a frozen pie crust from the store and then decided that since it was just me I would make mini-quiches in a muffin pan so I could freeze the excess.

    They are edible, but they’re definitely Wednesday night meals (i.e. not a meal I would serve to other people).

    First, I don’t think I smushed the dough enough so it’s thin in some places and thick in others. Then, for some reason I par-baked the dough and thought it would be a good idea to put rice on top of the dough to help weigh it down. (I cannot attribute good reasoning skills to this decision, and I didn’t even have a glass of wine so I really have no excuse!)

    I managed to get most of the rice out of the semi-cooked dough, but then it was difficult to fit much asparagus/potato mixture and still fit in the egg/custardy bit.

    I’m not going to give up on quiche though! Clearly, it’s my poor cooking skills and not the fault of the quiche :) (Plus, a girl has to have something to eat on a Wednesday, even if it is an oddly cooked mini-quiche with bits of rice stuck in it!)

    • rachel

      Suz – This it all sounds vaguely comical and I am ever so glad you came back to tell me. I once spant an hour picking little beans out of a tart case with tweezers. I do hope you had a glass of wine after all that. Don’t give up on quiche – oh and try the pastry, as an ex pastry phobe i promise you it is lovely and simple !!

  16. it looks beautiful- and i like the idea of putting it under the broiler just to get that golden crust on top. i also love the idea of smoked trout in a quiche- but the dairy and fish/shellfish combo is verboten in Pakistan (related to health; not a religious issue) and sadly that is smthg i havent been able to get out of my system…but it certainly does sound scrummy.

    • rachel

      The grill is great – you just need to remember you put it there !
      I understand not being able to change deepy ingrained habits, which i think it a good thing, it keeps us tied to our roots in some way.
      the asapargus tart doesn’t break any rules I hope

  17. duonosirzaidimu

    I’ve tried a smoked fish (mackerel) quiche – simply delicious! Just made one change – omitted the spring onions and added fresh fennel – superb!
    Thanks for sharing :)

  18. i’m going to use your pastry recipe today to make my own tart (which will prob. be on the blog soon-ish). i’m sure it’ll be delish! prob. is, it’s too damn hot here in nyc, i don’t know if i can handle using the oven today!

  19. Pingback: Just One | rachel eats

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