The English Student Cooks: Roquefort Quiche

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.

Roquefort Quiche

Method: Shortcrust pastry, as usual: I rubbed 2oz butter into 125g plain flour, added some water and stirred with a knife until it bound together in a dough. That went into the fridge to chill for half an hour.

Then: I rolled it out on a floured surface, lined my special quiche tin with the pastry, put some baking beans in and managed to get it safely into the oven (on 220 degrees Celsius) on the second attempt. (I had a slight mishap with the quiche tin’s loose bottom.*)

While that blind-baked, I made the filling: I mixed 90g crumbled Gorgonzola (so technically this is Gorgonzola quiche not Roquefort quiche) with 180g (a whole tub!) of Philadelphia Light, and then mixed in two beaten eggs and 150ml crème fraiche.

Once the pastry had finished its first bake (I took the baking beans out after ten minutes and let it cook empty for another ten minutes), I put the filling in – once again I had a little too much – and put the whole thing back in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius to bake for half an hour. Et voila.

Substitutions/alterations: I actually forgot to put any chives in the custard, which was annoying as I actually have a live chive plant which I never use. And, as noted above, I couldn’t find any Roquefort in Asda (funnily enough) so I used Gorgonzola instead.

Verdict: Another lovely Mary Berry recipe: creamy and cheesy and not too strong, with these amazing occasional veins of salty blue cheese running through the custard. I might well make it again, but not for myself on my own: it’s a bit too much of a faff for that.

*Ooo-er. That’s what she said. I’m sorry, I just watched Russell T. Davies’ Midsummer Night’s Dream on iPlayer and am having difficulty curbing my emotions.

The English Student Cooks: Salmon and Asparagus Quiche

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.

The English Student Cooks: Quiche Lorraine

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.

Quiche Lorraine

Method: First, I made pastry (I know, right? Advanced cooking!): I rubbed about 2oz of butter into about 125g of flour (I say “about” because it transpired that the weighing scales I thought we had actually belonged to a former housemate who moved out and took them with him, and also I know you are not supposed to mix imperial and metric measures but I did, OK, because I know roughly what 2oz of butter looks like but I have no idea what 60g looks like) until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs. Then I added 1tbsp of water. And then another, because the mixture wasn’t binding properly, but then it was too wet so I added a bit of flour…and so on. Eventually, when I had something that looked about right (a “soft-but-not-sticky dough” according to Mary), I wrapped it in cling film and put it in the fridge for half an hour.

Thirty minutes of Internetting later, I rolled out the dough and put it into the special quiche tin I bought for the purpose (this whole exercise has been scarily adult), which has lots of tiny holes in to help the dough crisp up and also a fantastic loose base. (It was well worth buying this quiche tin, as I am planning to use it lots.) I also pierced the bottom with a fork to let the air out from under the pastry (although given the air-holes in the quiche tin I’m not sure how necessary this was), tried unsuccessfully to brush it with egg with a whisk (because we didn’t have a pastry brush, and Delia Smith Online said that I could do this instead of baking blind) and put it in the oven for twenty minutes.

Meanwhile, I started on the filling: I fried onions and Speck, an Italian cured ham I bought at Borough Market the other week, in butter. I also mixed two beaten eggs with a truly enormous amount of single cream (250ml!).

At this point, I got the pastry case out of the oven, where it had been for 40 minutes instead of 20 because nothing seemed to be happening. (It actually transpired later – much to the hilarity of my housemates – that the oven had been set to defrost instead of fan, which meant it was at a temperature of about 50 Celsius instead of 220.) Undeterred, I put the ham and onions into the case, poured over the egg and cream mixture, and grated Gruyere cheese on top. Then I put it back into the oven for half an hour, and then another half an hour once the mistake with the oven setting had been rectified.

Substitutions/alterations: I made the whole recipe rather than halving quantities as I usually do, because I know with baking things can get messy if you start fiddling around with sizes and quantities. I also used Speck instead of bacon, because I had half a block in the fridge that needed using.

Verdict: Despite the faff with the oven and the fact that the pastry wasn’t cooked properly before the filling went in and my lack of weighing scales, this was hands-down the best thing I have ever cooked. Granted, it did have a bit of a soggy bottom, but other than that it was cheesy and eggy and bacony and warm and rich, the pastry around the edges was delicious, it looked great, and I still have half left in the fridge for today’s dinner.

Having said that, if I make it again (which I will, although probably not just for myself as it’s quite fiddly and time-consuming), I’ll use bacon instead of Speck, as the ham went quite hard in the quiche and didn’t quite work.

The English Student Cooks: Courgette Frittata

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.

Also, happy Fall of Sauron Day!

Courgette Frittata

Method: I fried one and a half courgettes and a handful of bacon lardons in olive oil for about ten minutes or so. I added three eggs to the pan, lifting the egg up as it cooked and letting the uncooked egg run underneath as you’d do with an omelette. When the egg was just about set, I stuck the pan under the grill for a few minutes until the frittata was brown on the top.

Substitutions/alterations: I used bacon instead of prosciutto, as I already had some in the freezer, and I left out the basil garnish because who can be bothered with basil garnish? Also, I halved all the quantities in the book, as there is only one of me.

Verdict: I was really pleased with how this turned out: it looked like the photo in the book (always a good sign), and there was just enough bacon to give the courgette some interest.

The English Student Cooks: Spinach and Mushroom Frittata

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.

Spinach and Mushroom Frittata

Method (roughly):

I fried about 100g of mushrooms, quartered, and about 30g of bacon lardons (the weights are guesswork based on the weight of whatever packaging the ingredients came in) on a high heat in some olive oil till the bacon looked appropriately brown-ish. Then I poured 3 medium beaten eggs over the mushrooms and bacon and cooked it in the pan for 10 minutes, doing the swirly spatula thing you do with omelettes where you let the uncooked egg run underneath the cooked egg. Finally, I sprinkled some Parmesan on the top and stuck the whole caboodle under the grill for a couple of minutes.

Substitutions/alterations:

I was supposed to put some spinach in after the bacon and mushrooms were cooked, but I actually forgot until I poured the egg in, by which point it was too late. So this is, in fact, more like a Mushroom Frittata.

What it looked like (I am a terrible photographer with only a phone camera to my name):

Frittata crop

Verdict:

It was OK. To be honest, anything with bacon and cheese already has a fair chance of succeeding. I’d like to try it again with the spinach, though.