When I was pregnant with my first son Robert I went to antinatal classes run by the NCT. The National Childbirth Trust, an excellent organization, was all about natural childbirth and using cabbage leaves stuffed down your bra during breastfeeding. The real benefit of the classes however was meeting nine other mothers who lived locally and had similar due dates. Those wonderful woman were my lifeline in my first year of motherhood. We met weekly to drink coffee, eat cake and share stories of sleepless nights and crying babies. We watched our babies grow into toddlers and learn how to play together. When the first birthdays came around we held a joint party in our garden There are some wonderful photographs of us all holding our children, which unfortunately are in the attic in America ( the photos not the children). It was a very special day.
One of the mothers was vegetarian and she brought a quiche with lattice work making the word ‘one’. It was decorated with red currents and was stunning. That was almost twenty three years ago and our children are babies no longer. I am still best friends with one of the mothers. Sadly one died shortly after that party. I gradually lost touch with the others. We had more children, many went back to work or, like me, moved away.
This is my version of that very special quiche. Every time I make it I am transported back to that party so many years ago.
Notes on the recipe.
I have now bought some fantastic 10 inch quiche tins, they are from Fat Daddio and are quite deep. This produces a lovely filling to pastry ratio and allows you to load the quiche with all sorts of yummy things. The amount of custard required will depend on the depth of your tins.
I use a basic shortcrust recipe works for all sorts of sweet and savory recipes. Freezing the butter briefly allows it to form small pockets of air during the cooking process which results in a light, flakey pastry. The recipe makes enough for one quiche however I often make a few more batches as the pastry freezes well.
I also make the filling for this quiche ahead of time as everything should be cold or at room temperature when it is being assembled.
Celery. walnut and Danish Blue Cheese quiche with foraged red currents
Quiche Pastry or Basic Shortcrust Pastry
1lb all purpose flour plus more for rolling out
1/2 lb. or two sticks of butter or mix of vegetable shortening and butter with butter being at least half of the mix, cut into small dice
ice cold water
1 egg, beaten
Basic savory custard
1 pint or two cups of heavy or whipping cream
salt and pepper
one head of celery, trimmed and cut into thin slices
4oz/125grammes Danish Blue Cheese or similar
handful of walnuts
small container of red currents
Take the tiny cubes of butter or butter and shortening mix and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Tip all the flour into a mixing bowl. Now I use a kitchen aid to make my pastry but it could also be done by the rubbing in method.
Add the very cold butter to the flour and, with the mixer on slow, combine until fully incorporated.
Start to slowly add ice cold water until the mixture starts to come together and leaves the sides of the bowl clean.
Turn the pastry onto a floured surface and quickly work into a smooth dough. I divide the dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other and wrap in clingfilm.
Leave the dough to rest for at least half an hour in the fridge.
To make the quiche roll out the larger disk of pastry. Dust your surface and rolling pin with flour. With a constant pressure roll the pastry in one direction, make a quarter turn and again roll the pastry out in one direction.
Repeat until the pastry is large enough to cover your quiche tin with a small overhang. Do not stretch the pastry as it will only shrink during the cooking process.
Make sure the pastry in pushed firmly into the quiche tin and the overhang is turned back into the tin to form a slight double layer at the top of the tin. Prick pastry all over then line the pastry with foil or parchment paper.
Use either baking beans or regular dry beans, such as kidney or white beans, to weigh down the foil or parchment, bake the pastry until the top is just starting to color (this is called baking the pastry blind).
Depending on the size of quiche tin this may take 15-20 minutes. Brush the inside of the pastry with the beaten egg and return to the oven for a further five minutes.
Pre-cooking the pastry and sealing with egg mixture prevents the pastry becoming soggy when the filling is added.
In a large frying pan gently sauté the celery in a little butter.
Add celery, walnuts and crumbles blue cheese to the cooked quiche base.
Carefully pour the custard into the quiche tin until it almost reaches the top of the pastry.
Be careful not to overfill.
With a little of the trimmings roll out the smaller disk of pastry into a circle slightly smaller than before and cut into 3/4 inch strips.
Starting from the center place strips across the top of the pie in both directions to create a lattice effect.The strips should alternate above and below the strips which are going in the other direction. Brush pastry with a little of the egg mixture.
Gently return to the oven and bake until the filling is set and slightly risen, 40-50 minutes. Allow to cool for ten minutes before decorating with the redcurrents.
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I grew up with good old fashioned ounces and to be honest cannot get my head around grams, they will forever be a mystery to me. Having spent 15 years in America I can see the attraction of cups. Certain recipes just work in their original system of measurement, I would not dream of making scones in anything but cups, the beauty being that being a recipe based totally on cups it works with any cup. A basic cake on the other hand should be made with imperial measures. The Victoria sandwich is based on the measurement of an egg, which just happens to be around 2 ounces, and for every egg you add the same amount of butter, sugar and self raising flour. Any self respecting eight year old can remember that recipe! As grams and ounces are both weight measurements they can be interchanged, up to a point. Cups are a volume measurement and are less consistent. My advice to any bakers would be to invest in a set of scales which converts from ounces to grams and have a set of cups handy as well. I will star* the original measurements but try and give conversions where possible. Remember only use one set of measurements for each recipe. For further info click here