Category Archives: Tart

Vegetarian, make-amends, kitchen-sink quiche


Sunday was one of those impossibly bleak hellish days where you think it’s only 7 am when it’s already 9 cos the sun aint there, and you know with a sinking heart that it just isn’t going to show its face the whole day. Maussade is what they call it here; might as well draw the blinds cos it won’t make a difference is what I call it.

I just felt like some colour and cheer and NON-stews and NON-soups and NON-winter roots, so I made us a quiche. I even *gasp* indulged in some out-of-season red peppers but drew the line at tomatoes.

I’m loathe to tell anyone how to make a quiche seeing how i’ve never made the same quiche twice nor planned ahead, but my point is quiches needn’t be rich, cheesy affairs. This one was sort of making amends for all that indulging over the festive season (that is cheese you see on top, but it was reduced-fat cheese, BUT I’ll be honest and take no credit for that, I only bought it by accident). Anyway, if anyone feels nervous about making quiche, there’s no need for that.

230g      wholewheat flour
60g        water
50g        olive oil
1            egg
a pinch of salt

Combine, chill for at least half an hour for dough to relax, roll out, fit into tin (this one fitted a deep-ish, 9″ quiche tin), patch where you have to patch, then back into fridge while you go do something else.

The Solids, kitchen-sink bit: Two red peppers grilled, skinned and sliced; a head of broccoli and one leek (meant for soup but happily hijacked from its purpose) chopped up and tossed with olive oil and thyme and thrown into oven to take on some flavour while peppers were grilling.

The Liquid, ‘healthy’ bit: one block of firm tofu (the soft wobbly sort would be too wet) which when I remember to, and do try to remember, it helps, I drain by placing in a strainer with a weight on top + 3 eggs + light cream/milk/sour cream/fromage frais/yoghurt/any combination of these + seasoning.

Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Remove chilled dough in tin. Scatter solids over base. Pour in liquid almost to the top. Toppings of your choice. Into oven and out in about 40 mins.

As far as I’m concerned, quiches are all about having fun and experimenting. Take the crust: you can use butter or oil; you can vary your choice of oils; you can vary your flours (wheat, non-wheat, oat flour, millet flour, throw in some cornmeal for crunch, etc.) Just bear in mind the mouthfeel—do you mind something wetter/denser than the usual? If in doubt, just do a half-wheat, half-something else crust—or just go for it and you’ll know better the next time round. Make it plain, or throw in spices, dried herbs, sesame seeds, whatever. Using oil, you’ll find it’s slightly greasier to the touch but it’s a such a cinch throwing together and rolling out couldn’t be easier. It makes for a slightly harder crust and you won’t have the smell and flakiness of a butter crust, but we like it fine.

As for the filling, it’s a good way to use up leftovers, the odds-and-ends. Just beware of vegetables that could leak too much moisture, cook these through first. Ditto with the liquid bit: I’ve used ricotta, goat’s cheese, parmesan, yoghurt, milk, etc., whatever was lurking in the fridge. You can dial up the fat (and flavour) as you wish. Just aim for something medium-wet. I often end up improvising and adding on depending on the ‘depth’ of the solids. Grating some cheese on top just before it goes into the oven never hurts.

Which brings me to the goat’s cheese on top. You see how it stayed mostly intact? I was wondering why this weird cheese didn’t melt into gooeyness when it was pointed out to me that I had bought a low-fat version. Blerk. No wonder that plasticky taste and texture.

For tofu-haters/lovers: can you taste the tofu in it? Yes, very vaguely. But I’ve noticed that different brands of tofu vary in taste so it’s hard to say. Besides, you’ll notice I went very light on the cheese or rich dairy, which would have masked the taste. I don’t think the tofu-hater would notice if you didn’t put them on a tofu-alert. So don’t, it’s more fun that way, you can watch their face change:))

I also discover quinces

pears and quinces

Seasonal fruit—pears and quinces. I’m constantly amazed by how beautiful fruits are. Back from the market, I kept picking up the apples, pears and quinces and admiring their forms.

It was another happy error. In the quasi-dark at the market, I asked the vendor for what I thought were pears, but once home uncovered these huge, hard and downy quinces. I was told they couldn’t be eaten raw but that of course was the best way to make me bite into one immediately. Boy did it make the mouth pucker but unexpectedly, out of nowhere, I tasted guava!! I swear, there was an unmistakable note of guava in this little quince. I never got such nice quinces again. These were so fragrant you could smell them from the next room, a beautiful dusky pink and lusciously ripe.

I’ve since had quinces raw, made a chutney and a compote, and roasted them with brussel sprouts. I imagine they would be delicious with pork too. Actually one of the first things that came to mind was and apple and quince pie; however, as with the parsnips, I have been begged to give it a rest :)) Also quince harvest seems to be over. At least for my quince supplier at the market. Just like the parsnips, i’m befuddled by its neglected status. They’re not widely available (are they hard to grow?) and my usual pear and apple lady had to dig them out from under the table, like an ugly cousin hidden from view.

apple galetteVery delicious half-wholewheat flour apple (and quince/prune jam) galette. Used my usual galette/tart/pie formula: Flour:butter in a 2:1 ratio (in this case, 250g half-wholewheat flour, 125g butter), throw in 1 TBS of sugar (more if you like a sweeter pastry/omit if you are doing savoury) and a pinch of salt. Rub diced fridge-cold butter into flour with fingers until you get crumbs, then add enough water until you get something resembling pastry dough (not so dry that it cracks, but not too wet either), just something that feels like it could be rolled out. The usual: don’t overwork the dough, don’t look to get a homogenous dough (butter flecks and crumbs are all good), and keep everything cold. Chill in fridge for at least half an hr then roll out as thin as you dare—this gives a very generous galette.

I like galettes with a thin ‘base coat’, and I don’t think I’ve ever made a simple galette without throwing in a little something else, so I first thought of using the quince compote I had made. However, as it was sugar-free, and seeing as how not everyone appreciates quince (ahem), I mashed up the compote with the prune-armagnac jam we happened to have, and spread it on the pastry before layering the apples. A little something else that left people guessing; overall the tart went down swell. And I really do love the extra flavour of a wholewheat crust.

pear galette

A simple pear rosemary galette with elderflower jelly (another serendipitous discovery, this) under and on top. Made this lickety-split for a friend’s birthday. Dashed home from the station, baked and delivered in under two hours. It was a surprise. Hope they liked it!