I’m currently cooking my way through Mary Berry’s Complete Cook Book, which the Pragmatist gave/lent to me when I moved out for my first full-time job. I wanted to document the experience as a kind of cooking diary, and so “The English Student Cooks” was born. This will be an irregular feature, as I only cook when I’m home on my days off, which is Not That Often.
Salmon and Asparagus Quiche
Method: First, the pastry: I rubbed about three ounces of butter into 175g of plain flour until the mixture looked like breadcrumbs, and added about four tablespoons of water to bind it into a dough (I haven’t quite got the hang of getting the dough to bind without being sticky). This went into the fridge, wrapped in cling film, for half an hour.
After 30 minutes of surfing the internet, I rolled out the dough and lined my special quiche tin with the holes with it. I then blind baked the pastry: we didn’t have any foil or baking parchment, so I just put the baking beans straight into the tin. (This seemed to work fine, apart from there being a number of little dents in the bottom of the pastry after it was cooked.) That went into the oven at 220 Celsius for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, I made the filling for the quiche: I boiled a 125g pack of asparagus for 3 minutes, snipped 100g of smoked salmon into strips and stirred together 3oog of Greek yoghurt, two beaten eggs, some fresh dill and some pepper to make the custard. (I had to stir for a couple of minutes to get the yoghurt and eggs to combine properly.) Once the pastry had finished blind baking, I took it out of the oven, arranged the asparagus and half of the salmon on the bottom, poured the yoghurt custard on the top and arranged the rest of the salmon on the top. (Mary had a picture featuring a nice criss-cross lattice of salmon on the top; mine was more like an abstract modern art creation which probably would have won me zero marks on Masterchef.) The whole thing went back into the oven at 180 Celsius for 35 minutes, at which point I ate it.
Substitutions/alterations: The tin I used was slightly smaller than Mary specified – 20 centimetres instead of 23 – which meant I didn’t need quite as much of the yoghurt custard filling.
Verdict: This actually felt scarily grown-up. The Greek yoghurt gives it this almost lemony flavour which sets off the salmon really well, and it tastes a lot lighter than traditional quiche Lorraine. Additionally, I really noticed a difference using the baking beans to blind bake the pastry: it was as crispy as anything, even on the bottom – definitely my best effort yet. I had some sweetcorn on the side, which, entirely serendipitously, worked quite well.
This probably won’t become a go-to dish, though; I’d probably cook it if I wanted to show off, for a light summer lunch or something like that. It tastes great, but I didn’t want too much of it, and its grown-up-ness means it’s not really comfort food.