Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Quiche Lorraine

It's winter. What a nice time to have a warming quiche.

Quiche Lorraine

(from Heston Blumenthal at Home)

Quiches are quite popular in our house, given a general love of eggs and bacon. Add cream and cheese and it isn't hard to see why this dish is a classic for many a home. So, can Heston improve on a great dish? 
So the recipe has the following steps:
  1. Make your pastry in a mixer. 
  2. Chill
  3. Cook onions
  4. Cook the bacon
  5. Prep your pastry base
  6. Make the filling
  7. Bake the filling in the prepared case
Superficially, apart from the making your own pastry from scratch, this seems like the quiche I'm commonly known to make. But... it's Heston, so no. Not the same except at a superficial level.

Make your pastry in the mixer

This is one of my new favourite ways of making shortcrust pastry. Flour, salty and butter go into a mixer.

Then get processed until they look like breadcrumbs.

Then, switching to a dough hook, gets added some cold water and some egg.

Yup, dough. Very short shortcrust. Feel amazing at how easier that was than using your hands. How old-school you once were.

The lump like this one below (nicely shaped into a flat disc) goes into the fridge to rest, giving the gluten a chance to chill out. (sorry... couldn't help myself).

Cook some onions

Time to get started on the filling. Slice up a lot of onion. Realise you used some of your brown onions on stir-fry earlier in the week and substitute in some red onions.

Into the nice heavy cast iron fry pan with oil...

Now, you should sauté them until soft and golden. Hmmm.. nope, still pale pastel insipid white-yellow.

But here's the thing. Onions, especially slow cooked ones are sneaky sods. The minute, nay the instant you turn your back to finish dicing bacon they will immediately go from  pale pastel insipid yellow to dark golden caramel. Sneaky. You are appropriately forewarned.

Cook the bacon

Take your lovely, from-the-butcher chunk of bacon. Do not buy the rubbish vacuum sealed stuff, you want good quality and thick. About a centimetre, or just under.

This makes for nice chunks. Sorry, I mean lardons.

Cook them in a your frying pan. Smelled so delicious.

Put them aside while you do the next bit of pastry wrangling.

Prep your pasty base

Roll it out to nice and thin.

Line a tart tin with the pastry. Put in some baking paper, and then fill with beans. Or barley, if that is what your pantry seems to have more than you need of.

After cooking for 20 minutes, it looks pretty good.

Unfortunately, then I had to trim off the excess pastry. Doing this does not tend to end well for me.This time was not exception. As for previous attempts, it cracked pretty badly when I did this. It was also not very deep. I am now wondering if extra deep pie tins are a thing for quiche, and perhaps my tart tin is on the shallow end of the tart tin gene pool.

I did fix this with Heston's neat 'liquid pastry' trick. It's kind of pastry spakfilla. Mix an egg and some raw pastry with a stab blender. Use this the cement any cracks, bits back together and so on. It works pretty well. Worth saving a chunk of excess pasty for at any rate.

Make the filling

This is the bit that is really quite different to other quiches I've made, and I strongly suspect ever eaten. You cook the filling on the stove before baking it in the case.

Eggs and cream...

Add the bacon, onion and some Emmental and Gruyere cheeses, plus salt, pepper and nutmeg.

This gets warmed up until it hits 63 degrees.

Yes, it's a savoury, very rich custard. With not as much egg as I would have expected from a quiche.(Only 3 eggs!)

Bake in the prepared case 

You might notice there are two dishes in there. As for my lemon tart, there was twice as much mixture as filled my tart tin. The tin is the correct size, it's got to be a depth problem. Or, perhaps, that Heston-over-zealous-quantities problem again.

Forty minutes later, or more like thirty something, once the inter filling hits 70 degrees, they're done. Here they are cooling off slightly.

And now it's ready to... put in the fridge for 24 hours.  This is apparently to ensure the filling sets properly.


Here it is, nicely golden. Okay not quite that golden, I was having photo issues again. I invited over a friend, warmed up the quiche and we were good to go.



I'm truly left wondering if I've been eating bacon and egg pie all these years, and not quiche at all, because flavours aside, this is quite a different beast. It was very, very rich - something that doesn't always agree with me. I liked the flavours overall but the texture was too squishy for me - I would have preferred it more eggy and solid. Also, super rich foods don't agree with me terribly well and this definitely qualified. I thought was richer than the Chicken in cream and sherry.. which says a lot really.

Guest verdict

Dinner guest was polite and said it was tasty. Husband is more familiar with this analyse-the-dish game and had a somewhat more specific and critical opinion. Namely:

  • There's too much onion. It tastes more like onion than just about anything else. 
  • He liked the bacon but thought the pieces were too big. 
  • He didn't like the custard texture at all - "if I wanted custard, I'd be eating custard. And it would be sweet. And not have onions in it."
  • And finally... "I like your normal one better."
Not exactly a resounding success, was it? Too rich, too much onion...

On the good points, I liked the pastry and would do that again. I'd certainly consider adjusting my usual egg/bacon/milk recipe by adding some cream. And a little onion. But I think I'll stick with cheddar. Very boorish of me, I know.

Next: I'm not sure... but I have Historic Heston now... so... ?