Quiche is one of those wonderful dishes that are adored not only in France, but all over the world. I've seen quiche in Canada, Australia, the States - even in airports and tourist traps in China and the Philippines. In France, quiche is everywhere. They're standard in every bakery and are found on countless bistro menus. I've even noticed them in the freezer section (yep, France, like the rest of the developed world, is fast catching on to ready-to-go food options. Le sigh).
Flour, eggs and cream, key ingredients to quiche and readily available all over the world, are perhaps why quiche became so popular in the first place. Hundreds of years ago these ingredients could be found all over northern France, and as these were on the cheap scale of things, quiche could even be made during tougher times (and there were a lot of these).
That aside, today we still eat quiche, but perhaps with more variety as professional and home cooks mix and match various cheeses, vegetables, meats and herbs. What I love about quiche, aside from it being relatively easy to make, is how it remains what it is - a rich blend of eggs and cream and crumbling pastry - but is distinct in how every individual pulls it together.
Here's a recipe for a vegetarian quiche with tomato, courgette and chèvre. If you swap any of these three ingredients for anything else have on hand, such as mushrooms, spinach, ham and cheddar, and stay true to the rest of the recipe, then I'd bet that you'll still end up with a great quiche.
Quantities specified are roughly for a pan with a diameter of 26cm and a depth of 4cm.
Approximately 30 minutes of prep time and 55 minutes in the oven.
Pastry isn't as difficult to make as one might think! It's certainly less convenient than the store-bought variety, but it is so much more rewarding and, unless things go really awry, much more delicious. When I was first experimenting with making my own pastry I would make sure I had some of the store bought stuff on hand, so that I could still go ahead with the dish if something didn't work. I suggest that you do the same. If your pastry works out then you can use the store bought pastry to compare the difference!
- 350g flour
- 140g unsalted butter, chopped
- 5 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 180 celsius (350 fahrenheit).
- In a heat-proof bowl, melt the butter in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until it is bubbling and browning at its edges. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
- Once the butter has slightly cooled, add the rest of the pastry ingredients and, with a wooden spoon, mix it all together. The mixture should begin to curl off the bowl. (You might want to wear a heat-proof mit as you do this as the bowl might still be hot).
- Shape the dough into a ball and place it in your tart pan. With your wooden spatula and fingers, spread the dough across the pan and up its walls. Flatten it to approximately 3mm thin.
- Before you flatten the dough you might want to pinch off a tablespoon or two to fill any cracks that may form after the initial baking. Keep it covered to retain its moisture.
- Place it on the middle rack of your oven and leave it there for 10-15 minutes or until the pastry is slightly golden. Remove and set aside.
- If any cracks formed during the baking process and you set some dough aside, use this dough to fill these cracks now.
- 1 white or brown onion, chopped
- medium sized piece of celery, finely chopped
- medium sized piece of leek, finely chopped
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup crème fraîche
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 1 tomato, sliced into rounds
- 1 courgette (slice 1/4 of it into rounds - this will be for the quiche's surface. Grate the rest - it's for the quiche's body).
- 3/4 cup gruyère or other hard cheese (like emmental or cheddar)
- chèvre, sliced into rounds
- 1 generous tsp nutmeg
- dried or fresh oregano, to garnish
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat a non-stick pan and add a little bit of oil and/or butter as well as the onion and celery.
- Let this cook on a low-medium heat, mixing often, until the mix softens (see "Tips" section).
- Add the leek and courgette to the celery and onion mix and continue to cook until the leek and courgette slightly soften. Take off heat and set aside.
- In a bowl, place the eggs, creme, milk, cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper and gently beat together up until they combine (but no longer).
- Add the pan-cooked vegetable mix and lightly combine again.
- Pour this mixture onto the baked pastry and distribute it evenly across the entire space.
- On the mixture's surface, arrange the rounds of courgette, tomato and chevre however you like, then sprinkle with oregano.
- Place the tart in the oven's middle shelf and bake for about 30-40 minutes. If your quiche hasn't browned into that appealing golden colour, place it on your oven's top shelf for the last few minutes until you like its look.
- You can cook the onion and celery anywhere from 5 minutes, if you're in a rush, to 40 minutes, on a much lower heat, if you're not. I know that 40 minutes sounds crazy, but magical things happen when you cook onion and celery for long enough! Just occupy yourself with other things, check and turn regularly, and the 40 minutes will be up before you know it.
- For a less watery quiche, sprinkle a little salt onto the tomato and courgette rounds and into the grated courgette, too. The salt will draw out the liquid. Leave them for 20 or more minutes. Use a clean tea towel to pat off the excess salt and drawn-out liquid from the rounds, and, after, place the grated courgette into the same cloth and wring all the liquid out.
- For more flavour I like to smear the bottom of the baked pastry tart with a thin coat of mustard.