On the fourth evening, I ventured out of the Donna Hay zone and into one called “New Bistro” by Fran Warde (http://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Bistro-Fran-Warde/dp/1845333306). We had some pears in the fruit bowl and I knew the local supermarket had some roquefort so I thought – why not. The recipe was simple except for the making of the pastry that held the quiche (quiche shell). This was made even more difficult by the fact that the place we were staying in didn’t have a pie/tart dish. So I improvised with a frying pan and it worked out to my amazement.
The pear and roquefort quiche had a crispy crust despite me overfilling it. The inside was soft, light, salty because of the cheese and sweet because of the pear. It might sound weird when described, but it was a taste sensation worth experiencing. I thought so despite not being a huge fan of blue-vein cheese. Do try it and tell me what you think!
To finish this meal off, we had some chocolate orange mousse which I will describe in my next recipe.
Ingredients (serves 4 hungry adults):
For the pastry dough
175 gms standard flour
100 gms butter (cold), chopped into little bits
1 egg beaten
For the filling
125ml single cream
150 gms roquefort, crumbled or chopped into small bits
3 pears, cored and sliced (peeling is optional – I think the skin has precious nutrients)
black pepper to suit your taste
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
1. Place the butter and flour in a large bowl and using your fingertips, break the butter into the flour. It is the same action as if you were squishing peas with your fingertips except the peas are blobs of butter (Picture 1). Initially, the blobs of butter will be large but keep at it and the warmth of your fingers will break them down quite nicely.
2. The end result should look like breadcrumbs (Picture 2) with mostly uniform crumbs which are essentially flour stuck to small bits of butter.
3. To the butter-flour breadcrumbs, add the egg and use its moisture to gather the crumbs into a smooth ball. If you find the flour really dry, wet your free hand under the tap and use it to sprinkle water sparingly onto the crumbs to bring them together. Generally, you shouldn’t need the water. Also, at the end of it, your bowl should be clean and the ball of dough should be glossy because of the butter (Picture 3).
4. Wrap the dough in Gladwrap/clingfilm and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes if not longer (picture 4).
5. If you have a quiche dish/tart dish, excellent. If not, you can always improvise like I did (Picture 5).
- Use a shallow frying pan as a mould and place a sheet of silver foil into the pan to sling tightly to its sides.
- Place a second sheet, perpendicularly to the direction of the first sheet and again, mould it to the shape of the pan.
- If you want to be really cautious, place a third layer but I didn’t need to.
- Fold the overhanging silver edges over so that they form a thick rim that you can hold and lift when ready.
- Finally, finish with a layer of non-stick baking paper. Snip the edges of the baking paper so it doesn’t overhang the frying pan too much.
6. Keeping the home-made baking tray in the pan, roll the pastry dough out onto a flat surface and place it into the baking tray. Once again, I didn’t have a rolling pin so I used my fingers and palms to press the dough into the frying pan as evenly as I could (Picture 7). Using a fork, make some light markings on the pastry. Once you’ve flattened the pastry into the makeshift baking tray, pull the baking try out of the frying pan and it should hold shape (Pictures 6 & 7).
7. The pastry needs to be blind baked for 20 minutes. This means that you weigh down the base of the pastry with beans/rice and bake the rest of the shell. If you don’t weigh it down, the base of the pastry will puff up and occupy 30-50% of the space that the filling needs to occupy (Picture 7). After baking the shell blind for 20 minutes, remove the beans/rice and bake for a further 15 minutes. I pour the beans/rice on a bit of baking paper so I can lift the paper, therefore the beans/rice out easily between the blind and non-blind baking steps.
8. Use three firm, medium pears for the filling. Halve them and remove their core and seeds. If you’d like to do so, peel them but I chose not to. Slice them horizontally (pictures 8 & 9).
9. Arrange the sliced pears inside the half-baked quiche shell in any way that suits your fancy. Try and fill in all the space inside the shell (Picture 10).
10. In a large bowl place eggs, pepper, cream and roquefort. Mix all the ingredients together and mash the roquefort into the liquid such that what you have left is a smooth, glossy, greenish looking liquid (Picture 11).
11. Pour the cheese mix over the pears avoiding overfilling the shell. Bake for a further 45 minutes or until the quiche is set and not wobbly.
12. Allow the baked quiche to cool for 10 minutes and slice it into 4 large or 8 medium pieces. Serve while warm with some bread and a simple salad.