Sunday, 26 February 2006

IMBB 23: Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine
The 23rd monthly edition (hosted by Cucina Testa Rossa) of the premier food blogging event Is My Blog Burning? requires us to create something staunchly French. I was planning on taking on the formidable task of cooking bouillabaisse or cassoulet but the sheer scale of the mammoth undertaking made me chicken out. Just the number of ingredients plus the length of time it will take to cook it completely intimidated me. I could easily have opted for the more easy or shorter versions of it but for me that would be cheating. So in came this idea of doing my son's request of a Quiche Lorraine.

A quiche is also known as a flan or tart. This version, as you might have guessed, originated in a north-eastern region of France called Lorraine. A once independent and properous region, it was only assimilated to what we know now as France as late as 300 hundred years ago. Due to its position by the German border, it saw its owners changing hands several times during World War I and II. More of its history can be seen here.

The first time I made this is via a BBC Good Food magazines 'ultimate' recipe. In there, it instructed to add Gruyere cheese. I did, but my son would not even touch it. He objected to the smell of the cheese. So I researched on what constitute a traditional quiche Lorraine. According to Elizabeth David in her book, French Provincial Cooking, the Quiche Lorraine that the natives of that region regard as such is simply a savoury custard pie with eggs, cream, smoked bacon and *no* cheese. That was a revelation to me, since everywhere I went whether here in UK or in Paris, these tarts almost always have some cheese in them. But I have to agree with Ms. David because when we passed by the area of Nancy in Lorraine last year, all the Quiche Lorraines we ate had no smidgen of cheese.

That settled it, I have to do this first without the cheese then with it (just to make the comparison). I have to admit I liked it regardless if it has cheese or not. Surprisingly, my son favoured the one with cheese. Could it be because I used the less smelly mature cheddar? The dominant flavour of the smoked bacon in the custard was simply divine whether served hot or cold. Although I have to remember next time to make the crust thicker. I like it thick as a foil to the richness of the filling. This is best served with a big salad and a chilled Sauvignon Blanc. (sorry no pictures of the wine) Recipe was adapted from the September 2005 issue of the BBC Good Food Magazine.

making Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine

175 g  [1 1/3 cups] plain flour
100 g  chilled butter
1 egg yolk
3-4 Tbsp cold water

400 ml  [1 2/3 cups] double cream (or half creme fraiche, half double cream)
50 g  Gruyere or mature cheddar (optional)
150 g  smoked/unsmoked bacon lardons or streaky bacon slices
3 eggs - beaten
pinch ground nutmeg
  • Take 2/3 of the cheese and cut it into small dice. Grate the remaining 1/3 of the cheese.
  • Dice the bacon finely.

  • For the pastry:
    1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and process until it forms into a ball.
    2. Or if you don't have a food processor: cut the butter into the flour in a bowl until it has the consistency of coarse crumbs.
    3. Add in the egg yolks and toss with fork.
    4. Sprinkle the water little by little until you can gather the mixture into a ball.
    5. Press and knead between your hands until it just about holds together.
    6. Roll out with a rolling pin into a circle 11 inches (28 cm) wide.
    7. Carefully put on a fluted tart pan.
    8. Trim the pastry edges about 1/4 inch higher than the pan edge.
    9. Press the pastry into the flutes and prick the base with a fork.
    10. Chill for 10 minutes in the fridge.
    11. Preheat oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/400°F.
    12. Bake blind: put a piece of aluminum foil (shiny side down) on the pastry-lined pan. Fill it up with dry or ceramic beans and place on a baking sheet before putting in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes.
    13. Remove foil and beans. Bake for another 4-5 minutes.

  • For the filling:
    1. Reduce oven temperature to 190°C/fan 170°C/375°F.
    2. Fry the bacon (without oil) in a small frying pan.
      Remove any liquid that comes out and cook until bacon changes color. Drain on paper towels.
    3. Mix the double cream, eggs, and nutmeg in a container.
    4. Scatter the fried bacon and diced cheese on the bottom of the pastry case.
    5. Pull out half of the oven shelf and place the pastry case/tart pan on the baking sheet.
    6. Pour the double cream mixture in the pastry case. Scatter the grated cheese on top.
    7. Carefully push the oven shelf back in. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
    8. Remove from oven and cool for about 5 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

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