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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Vegetarians, look away now!

We spent last week in the beautiful sitio real of La Granja de San Ildefonso near Segovia, a small but amazingly beautiful city around 100km from Madrid. Not only was the weather perfect but the speciality of the region is roast suckling pig. One restaurant even had a whole one sitting, a la Japanese restaurants except not made of plastic, in its window. Splatted piglet just doesn't entice. Unless you've eaten it before, when you know it is one of the most delicious meat dishes there is - moist, savoury, covered in flavourful crackling. But there's no denying it is not the most attractive-looking beast ever to arrive on my plate.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Is he a Real Man?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Real Men Don't Eat Quiche. This is going to lead to disappointment tonight one way or another, because this is what we're having for supper:
It's my very first attempt at quiche and either the Man is going to be disappointed because he's Real and will have to go supperless, or (far worse) I will be disappointed because he's not a Real Man!
Anyway, I'm very proud of my first attempt at 'savoury flan', which I based roughly on a recipe given to me more than ten years ago by my friend Jo.
I tweaked the pastry a little by swapping some of the butter for something with the sinister name 'Cookeen', which is made of something unspeakable but does make your pastry flaky.

5oz flour
scant 1/2 tsp salt
big pinch sugar
4oz chilled butter (or near relation) cut into small pieces
4-4 1/2 tbsp ice water
  • Sift flour (oops, forgot to do that, never mind) and cut fat into flour.
  • Rub in lightly with fingertips until crumbly.
  • Sprinkle on water, one tablespoon at a time (use only as much as necessary) and bring together with a knife.
  • As soon as it will form a ball, cover with clingfilm and allow to rest in the fridge for half an hour before baking blind for 20-25 minutes at 190 0C.

The filling I changed almost entirely from Jo's original. I added courgettes and red pepper to the original mushrooms and scallions, and beat goats curd instead of cream with the eggs. This meant it didn't have the heavenly custardy wobbliness of the best quiches, but it was slightly less hideously unhealthy and did have a pleasing tanginess.

Dash of olive oil, dab of butter
1lb sliced mushrooms (courgettes, red pepper, whatever)
1tsp salt, 1 tsp lemon juice (two ingredients I entirely failed to notice when cooking)
3 eggs
1/2 pint cream (or a random amount of goats curd - probably not far off half a pint)
1 oz butter (also forgotten in my version - surely goats curd is an adequate substitute?)
Pinch of nutmeg, 1/8tsp pepper, 2 tsp Madeira (hello - who puts Madeira in quiche?)
  • Cook onions in heavy-bottomed saucepan with butter and olive oil, then stir in vegetables, salt, lemon juice and wine.
  • Cover and cook over lowish heat for 8 minutes.
  • Raise heat and boil until liquid evaporates.
  • Beat eggs and cream (or curd) with seasoning, then carefully stir the vegetables in.
  • Pour into the pastry, sprinkle with cheese (where did the cheese come from? I never saw anything about the cheese in the ingredients list!) and dot with butter.
  • Bake for 25-30 mins at 190 0C until golden on top and faintly wobbly.