Tag Archives: Quiches

Silverbeet & feta quiche

It’s that weird inbetween season where the winter vegetables are coming to the tail end of their season, but the summer vegetables haven’t yet made an appearance.  Well, that’s not quite true – I saw courgettes at Nosh yesterday… priced at a casual $19 a kg.  I love courgettes, but not quite that much.  Silverbeet, however, seems to be in season all year round here.  From what I understand it grows wonderfully in the climate here, well, here in northern NZ anyway.  I think it’s called different things in different places, so this is what I mean by silverbeet:

Silverbeet

This whole always-in-season thing is rather marvellous because I love silverbeet.  Well, specifically the stems, which I will post about later.  I’m sort of doing this backwards, I should really post about the stalks first and why I love them so much (clue: there’s cheese involved).  But instead, I’m going to talk about the leaves.  They’re super bitter, so I wouldn’t eat them raw, but when it comes to cooking them, you can generally use them interchangeably with spinach.

Silverbeet leaves

I had a bunch of silverbeet leaves to use up, so I decided to throw them into a quiche with some feta.  Quiches are the best way to use up leftovers or ingredients loitering in the fridge.  Throw some ingredients together, beat together a couple of eggs and some crème fraîche, throw them all together in a pastry-lined tart tin, and boom, a fancy-pants vehicle for leftovers that’s actually insanely easy to prepare.

Silverbeet & feta quiche 1

AlphaBakesBonus: any leftover quiche can be eaten cold for lunch (or warm for lunch, that works, too).  Basically, quiche is a winner.  This silverbeet and feta quiche is definitely a winner.  It’s pretty light, perfect for lunch or a starter.  Since it’s not totally filled with eggy mixture, the silverbeet leaves on the top go all crispy in the oven.  Scrumptious!  I’m submitting this quiche to September’s AlphaBakes, where the special letter is “Q.”  The challenge is being hosted by Caroline Makes this month.

Silverbeet & feta quiche 2

Silverbeet & feta quiche

Serves 4-6 as a starter, 3 as a main course
Recipe by Sharky Oven Gloves

This would work equally well with spinach leaves, and feel free to throw in some toasted pine nuts if you have some (unfortunately I didn’t).  This quiche is delicious either warm out of the oven, or cooled down to room temperature and makes an excellent light meal or starter.  If you want a more filling quiche, add more feta and silverbeet leaves, or add another egg and some more crème fraîche.  This recipe is pretty flexible, so knock yourself out (not literally, please).

Ingredients

1 quantity of quiche pastry of your choice (I used this recipe)
200g silverbeet leaves
3 cloves garlic
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
250g feta
3 eggs
175g crème fraîche
Salt and pepper

Directions

1.  Butter and flour a 24cm fluted tart tin.  Make your pastry, roll it out and line the tart tin with it.  Prick the pastry with a fork.  Refrigerate for at least 30 mins.

2.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C.

3.  Wash the silverbeet leaves, pat them dry and slice them widthways in about 1cm strips (it doesn’t have to be perfect, we’re making quiche here).  Peel and finely mince the garlic cloves.

4.  Heat a drizzle of oil in large frying pan over a medium heat.  Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 mins.  Then add the silverbeet leaves.  I generally add half the leaves and allow them to wilt for a couple of minutes before adding the remaining leaves to the pan.  This helps to prevent silverbeet overflow.  Cook until thoroughly wilted and reduced.  Set aside to cool a little.

5.  Remove the pastry from the fridge.  Spread the mustard thinly over the base, then evenly crumble the feta over the top.  Evenly spread the garlicky spinach over the top of the feta.  In a medium bowl, lightly beat together the eggs, then whisk in the crème fraîche and season with salt and pepper (you won’t need much salt since feta is usually quite salty).  Pour over the top of the spinach.

6.  Bake for 50 mins to 1h, until golden and cooked through.  Allow to cool in the tin for about ten mins before serving or transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Recipes, Savoury Foods

Pumpkin, caramelised onion, black olive & feta tart

I’m still a little seasonally-confused.  I thought that by now I’d have settled into the whole winter-in-June/July/August thing, but I guess not.  I think part of the problem is that for a fairly large proportion of the winter so far, we’ve actually had better weather and similar temperatures (at least during the day) to the summers that I’ve spent in Scotland.  A bit depressing for anybody in Scotland, but also not very helpful for my poor little brain.  My flat is on a street lined with deciduous trees, so seeing their bare branches helps to remind me that it’s winter, but there are also plenty of evergreen trees around, NZ species that aren’t fir trees.  I’m not familiar with them and their greenness sometimes throws me.  At least it’s pretty difficult not to notice the fairly short winter days with night falling at around 17:30, since it means that I walk home in the dark every day.  That’s my failsafe reminder that it’s winter.  That and the fact that our lab is significantly colder than it was during the tail-end of summer when I arrived, and I’m starting to seriously consider having a “lab blanket.”

Another great way of telling the season is by what fruit and vegetables are available.  Thank goodness for the Farmers’ Market because at first glance, supermarkets aren’t particularly helpful when it comes to seasonal food.  I saw cherries the other day and got all excited that cherry season had started because I temporarily forgot I’m in the Southern hemisphere and it’s most definitely not cherry season.  Then I saw that they were imported from the US.  Oh yeah, it’s winter here.  No cherries for me.  For the most part, they’re very good here at labelling where fruit and veg are from (which is great!), so I’ve been working on the assumption that if it’s from NZ, it’s most probably in season.  So if there’s an overabundance of NZ-grown apples, it must be autumn, even though it’s April.  NZ apricots?  It must be summer, even though it’s February.  NZ pumpkins?  It must be autumn or winter, even though it’s June.  You get the idea.  Obviously this only works for fruit and vegetables that I’m familiar with, but I think it works pretty well.

Since it’s winter, there are plenty of pumpkins and squashes around at the moment.  I love pumpkin and I’ve got plenty of bookmarked pumpkin recipes, but I often get put off because I don’t like to waste the seeds but separating them out and cleaning them can be a really time drain.  Plus pumpkins tend to be quite big, and as much as I love them, I try to vary my diet and not eat the same thing for a whole week.  Luckily I discovered that you can buy half pumpkins that are already de-seeded, which solves both problems.  Genius!  So I dug out a recipe that I’ve had my eye on for a while: pumpkin, caramelised onion, olive & feta tart.  It turned out to be quite a time-consuming recipe, but luckily I’d anticipated this and prepared the caramelised onions the evening before whilst I was cooking something else.  It might be time-consuming, but it’s not a work-heavy recipe (as long as you don’t have to de-seed the pumpkin) since the caramelised onions more or less do their own thing, as does the pumpkin and then you mix it all together, pop it into the pastry case (ok, so you have to make the pastry, but it’s not particularly difficult) and it bakes away by itself.  So you can get other things done whilst the oven/frying pan takes care of the rest.  And the end result is definitely worth it.  The sweetness of the roasted pumpkin and caramelised onions balances out the sharpness of the feta and the flavour of the olives.  Actually, I don’t think that this recipe really helped my seasonal-confusion because the olives and feta make me think of the Mediterranean, which I associate with warmth and sunshine and summer.  Despite that, since pumpkin is in season (and delicious), I’m submitting it to Simple and in Season, a blog event started by Ren at Fabulicious Food and guest hosted by Laura at How to Cook Good Food this month.

Pumpkin, caramelised onion, black olive & feta tart

Serves 6-8 as a starter, 3-4 as a main course
Adapted from Two Spoons

The caramelised onions take quite a while as it’s important to cook them over a low heat (resist the temptation to turn the heat up!), so if you’re a little tight on time, you can make them in advance (such as the night before) and store them in the fridge for a couple of days until required.  You could substitute sweet potato instead of pumpkin.  If you’d rather make a more quiche-like version of this, just add an extra egg and 3-4 extra tbsp of crème fraîche.  This tart is delicious both warm and cold, served with a dressed green salad on the side.

Ingredients

For the caramelised onions:
3 medium onions
Drizzle tsp rapeseed oil (canola oil)
1½ tbsp light brown sugar
1½-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp chopped dried thyme

For the rest of the tart:
Quiche/tart pastry (click for recipe or use your favourite)
400g pumpkin (weight with seeds removed)
Drizzle of rapeseed oil (canola oil)
100g pitted black olives
150g feta cheese
1 egg
3 heaped tbsp crème fraîche
½ tsp chopped dried thyme
1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional, but brings out the flavours)

Directions

For the caramelised onions:
1.  Finely slice the onions.  Add to a large lidded frying pan or saucepan, along with a drizzle of oil and the brown sugar and melt over a low heat, covered, stirring every 5 mins or so.

2.  Once the onions are golden brown (don’t worry if they’re sticking a little to the pan), add the balsamic vinegar and thyme, stir and cover, once again stirring until every 5 mins or so.  Once they are dark brown (but not burnt!), remove from the heat and let sit in their pan, uncovered.  If making in advance, allow to cool, then store in the fridge in an airtight container until required.

To assemble the tart:
3.  Butter a 24cm fluted tart tin and dust with flour.  Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C.

4.  Prepare your pastry, roll out to a 3 or 4 mm thickness and line the prepared tart tin.  Trim the edges and prick with a fork.  Refrigerate for 30 mins.

5.  Meanwhile, prepare the pumpkin.  Remove the skin, dice into about 1.5 cm cubes, and place in a roasting tin.  Drizzle with oil and toss to coat.  Bake for about 20 mins on the top rack of the oven, until softened and the edges are slightly browned.  Remove from the oven and switch the rack to the centre of the oven.

6.  Line the tart pastry with baking paper and cover with baking beans.  Blind-bake for 15 mins, remove the baking paper and beans and return to the oven for a further 5 mins.  Once removed, lower the oven’s heat to 190°C/170°C.

7.  Meanwhile, prepare the filling.  Halve the pitted olives and dice the feta into about 1cm cubes.  In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg with a fork.  Add the crème fraîche and mix together.  Add the caramelised onions, roasted pumpkin, olives, feta thyme and season with some salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Stir together.

8.  Spread the mustard over the blind-baked tart pastry (optional, but it helps to enhance the flavours in the tart) then add the filling and evenly spread around the tart.  Bake for about 30 mins until the tart is golden and the eggs and cream are cooked.  Allow to cool on a wire rack for a couple of minutes before serving (or allow to cool fully) with a dressed green salad.

Enjoy!

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Butternut squash, gorgonzola & sage tart

I’ve had my eye on a squash, gorgonzola and sage tart recipe for quite a while (since butternut squash came into season nearly two months ago actually) but kept running into two minor issues.  Firstly, I couldn’t find any gorgonzola, and secondly, I couldn’t find any sage.  With two of the three main ingredients eluding me, spot the minor flaw in my plan to try the recipe out…  I can deal without access to gorgonzola – after all, I can always substitute a creamy blue if absolutely necessary – but the lack of sage is a tough one because I have quite a few recipes that require sage, and I’ve definitely read recipes in Kiwi publications that call for sage.  So it must be available somewhere, but the question is where?  After weeks and weeks of unsuccessfully scouring the supermarket aisles, I was starting to think that my squash, gorgonzola and sage tart wasn’t going to happen.

Then, at the farmers’ market on Saturday, I spotted some sage.  I snapped up the last bag a little over-enthusiastically and just managed to stop myself from doing a victory dance on the spot.  I think the stallholder lady thought I was a little crazy (imagine if I had done the dance…), but I really didn’t care.  I had sage, therefore I was winning.  (Winning at what, I have no idea.  The great game of tart-making?)  That afternoon I decided to go investigate the big supermarket that’s rather further than the smaller one that I usually go to (and only barely within carrying-heavy-shopping walking distance) and guess what?  They had Kiwi-made gorgonzola-style cheese.  Jackpot!  Incidentally, they also had sage.  Oh.  So clearly my usual supermarket just makes poor stock choices (they both belong to the same chain).  Good to know.  Anyway, armed with my Kiwi gorgonzola and sage, I enthusiastically  tried the tart.  Which took forever, by the way, because I forgot that you’re supposed to roast the squash first.  But it was definitely worth waiting for!  The wonderfully autumnal flavours are perfect together, with the slight sweetness of the butternut squash cut through by the gorgonzola’s “bite,” and the sage adding that little extra dimension.

Squash, gorgonzola & sage tart

Serves 6-8 as a starter, 3-4 as a main course
Adapted from Baking – 100 everyday recipes

Remember to take the roasting time of the butternut squash when planning this recipe (totally not speaking from experience, ahem).  As a rough guide, I found that 500g was half of a large butternut squash.  Pumpkin would also work instead of butternut squash.  If you’re not too keen on blue cheese, I’d suggest reducing the amount of gorgonzola a little bit, but that depends entirely on personal taste.  This tart is delicious eaten both warm and cold, and can easily be prepared in advance, though the pastry will begin to soften after about a day.

Ingredients

500g of butternut squash
1 tsp organic rapeseed oil
Quiche pastry (click for recipe – it’ll make twice as much as you need)
5 tbsp crème fraîche
2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
200g gorgonzola (or similar creamy blue cheese)
10-15 fresh sage leaves

Directions

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.  Butter and flour a 24 cm fluted tart tin.

2.  Cut the butternut squash in half (if necessary) and place the halves cut-side up on a baking tray.  Drizzle the cut side with the oil and bake for 30-40 mins until browned and soft.  Set aside to cool a little, then remove the seeds (you can toast them and use them as a snack).  Scoop the flesh out into a large bowl and throw the skin away.

3.  Meanwhile, whilst the squash is roasting, make the pastry.  Roll it out and line the prepared tart tin.  Trim the edges, prick the pastry with a fork and refrigerate for 30 mins.

4.  Blind bake (line the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking beans) the pastry for 10 mins (the oven should still be at 190°C), then remove the baking beans and baking paper before baking a further 5 mins.

5.  Whilst waiting for the pastry to bake, mash the squash flesh with a fork.  Add 2 tbsp of the crème fraîche, season with freshly ground black pepper and mix together.  Set aside.  In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, egg yolk and remaining crème fraîche and set aside.

6.  When the pastry has been blind baked, thinly spread the mustard over the base of the quiche, then evenly cover with the squash mixture, making sure to spread it right into the edges of the pastry case.  Crumble or slice the gorgonzola and spread evenly over the top of the squash layer.  Top this with the egg mixture, making sure that it settles evenly across the tart.  Decorate the surface with the sage leaves.  Bake for 30-35 mins until cooked through and golden.  Allow to rest in the tin for 10 mins before turning out and serving accompanied by a green salad.

Enjoy!

PS – I apologise for the dreadful photos – I was pretty hungry by the time this came out of the oven, so I made do with my phone.  Turns out that was a bad plan.

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Spinach and feta “quichelets”

I have a tendency to bookmark recipes involving spinach. It’s a habit that I picked up in St Andrews, thanks to Kat. She’s on medication that basically limits the amount of alcohol that she can drink to about 2 glasses of wine a day. Which wasn’t ideal for dinner parties (because unfortunately the 2 glasses a day aren’t transferable to the next day if you haven’t consumed them). However, she also had to limit the amount of vitamin K because it has the opposite effect on the medication to alcohol. So clearly, if she ate more vitamin K, she just had to balance it with an extra glass of wine or three and vice versa… Spinach is jam-packed full of vitamin K, so whenever I had Kat for dinner, it was highly likely that spinach would feature at some point. I didn’t want Kat to have to feel limited to drinking less than everybody else, because that’s just not fair. Of course, the obviously sensible thing to do would have been for everybody else to cut down on the amount of wine being consumed… but as fourth year undergrads, let’s be realistic here.

In fact, Kat was first prescribed this medication over the summer of 2010, which she unexpectedly spent living with me in St Andrews – this was the summer that definitely cemented our friendship. We spent a large part of the summer perfecting the amount of spinach required to balance out various quantities of wine and gin. We got it down to a fine art. This wasn’t quite as irresponsible as it sounds since Kat was conveniently having plenty of check-ups to check the levels of her medication throughout the summer. Kids: don’t read this and think it’s a smart idea to play Russian Roulette with your health, it’s not and that’s really not what I’m suggesting you should do. Rather hypocritical, I know, but I felt a disclaimer was probably a good idea.

So anyway, as a result of this, I have lots and lots of bookmarked recipes involving spinach. This particular recipe is adapted from a wonderful little cookbook that Craig (who was also involved in many of the spinach vs wine/gin experiments) gave me for Graduation, so I never got around to trying it out before I moved from St Andrews. The original recipe has been bookmarked for a long time, partly out of habit, partly because it uses egg yolks (I’m always looking for recipes that use up egg yolks) and partly because it sounded delicious. And it turned out scrumptious, as I was expecting – I’ve tried the spinach and feta combination before, and have always enjoyed it. I decided to make these as mini quiches (or “quichelets” as I like to call them), as suggested in the book, but it would also work as a larger quiche, particularly if you want to make this as a main course rather than a starter or light lunch.

Spinach & feta “quichelets”

Serves 6 as a starter
Adapted from Baking – 100 everyday recipes

You could, of course, just make one big quiche, but making the mini quiches doesn’t take that much more time and effort (just the time to cut the pastry from the tartlet tins). A larger quiche will take longer to bake – I can’t give you a time estimate, so I’d suggest just monitoring it, and toasting the pine nuts in a small frying pan and just topping the quiche with them when it comes out of the oven. I always add a tiny bit of Dijon mustard to the bottom of all my savoury tarts and quiches because I find that it subtly heightens the flavours, but it is entirely optional. If you’re not a big fan of cheese, you may wish to reduce the quantity of cheese down to about 100g.

Ingredients

Quiche pastry (click for recipe – it’ll make twice as much as you need)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
250g fresh spinach
1 tbsp butter
150g crème fraîche
3 egg yolks
2 tsp ground nutmeg
150g feta (pick one that crumbles easily)
25g pine nuts

Directions

1. Grease and flour six 9 cm tartlet tins (or one large quiche tin). Divide the pastry equally into six and roll out each portion to about 4mm thick and line one of the tartlet tins. Prick with a fork and refrigerate for about 30 mins. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C.

2. Line each pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking beans. Blind bake for 10 mins.

3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, lightly beat together the egg yolks, crème fraîche and ground nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper (don’t be afraid to be a little heavy-handed with the pepper). Set aside.

4. Blanch the spinach for 1 minute in a large pot of boiling water. Drain and squeeze all the water out (having just been in boiling water, the spinach is very hot – I’m not sure how you would do this if you don’t happen to have asbestos hands like me… Use the back of a spoon perhaps?). Roughly chop the spinach (again, good luck if you don’t have asbestos hands). In a frying pan or wok, melt the butter and add the spinach and cook over a low heat to evaporate any remaining water.

5. Add a tiny dollop of mustard to each blind-baked pastry case and spread evenly. Crumble the feta and split evenly between the six tartlets. Stir the creamy egg mixture into the spinach, mix well, and spoon over the feta. Bake for 10 mins (if you’re making a large quiche, the cooking time will be a bit longer).

6. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the mini quiches and bake a further 5 mins.

7. Remove from the oven and serve immediately accompanied with a green salad or allow to cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

PS – Kat, I wish I could have shared these quichelets with you!

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A first adventure at the St Andrews Farmers’ Market

The Farmers’ Market in St Andrews takes place on the first Saturday morning of every month.  I’ve never quite managed to make it – either I’ve forgotten that it’s happening and made other plans, been put off by foul weather or accidentally overslept.  But after living in St Andrews for 3 ½ years, I finally got my act together, and went with Craig on Saturday.  Ya, I know, 3 ½ years – about time!  I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of produce!  I could happily have bought about half the market, but luckily managed to restrict myself to a jar of Mojito jelly, some Feta-stuffed red peppers and two types of cheddar.  This was obviously due to my brilliant self-control and had nothing to do with forgetting to check that I had enough cash with me (because I would never be that supremely disorganised, nope, not me).  The stuffed peppers went into a salad for lunch, but I haven’t made any specific plans for the jelly yet – I’ll blog about it when I do.  For today though, I would really just like to share my love for the cheddar with you.

The Isle of Arran Cheese Shop had a stand with different flavoured cheddars, including herbed ones (chives, etc.), a mustard cheddar, a smoked oak one and even a chilli flake cheddar.  But the two that caught my eye were the Arran whisky cheddar and the claret cheddar.  I’ve tried their “normal” cheddar before and liked it, so I would probably have bought them anyway, but we were able to taste them and they turned out to be even more marvellous than I’d expected.  There was no way I was leaving the stand empty-handed (thank goodness Craig lent me some money or this could have been a bit of an issue) and I ended up taking three cheddars (one whisky and two clarets) home with me…

On Sunday, Kat and Craig came over to do some data analysis for one of our modules, but since we’re practically incapable of doing anything that doesn’t involve food, it made sense for us to start off with lunch.  This was obviously the perfect occasion to share some of my newly-acquired Farmers’ Market cheddar in the form of a claret cheddar and onion quiche.  Oh yes.  It turned out rather delicious.  That’s really all there is to say about it, ha ha.  I wish I could take all the credit for it, but when you use good quality, super-tasty ingredients, it’s difficult to go wrong with them (unless you burn them, obviously, or do something really weird).

Cheddar & onion quiche

Serves 6-8 as a starter, 4 as a main course
Recipe from my imagination

This quiche works as a starter, lunch or light dinner, and can be served warm or cold.  Whether you choose to use a flavoured cheddar or not, make sure you pick one that has taste!  I added rosemary because I had some sprigs in the freezer (it freezes well) and it goes with my chosen cheddar, but if you’re using a different flavoured cheddar, make sure to change the herbs to match it.

Ingredients

Quiche pastry (click for recipe)
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 eggs
4 tbsp crème fraîche
2 long sprigs of fresh rosemary (about 2 tbsp of stripped fresh leaves)
250g of cheddar, grated
2 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)

Directions

1.  Roll out the pastry to about 3-4mm thickness and line a well-buttered 24 or 26cm tarte tin with it.  Trim the edges and prick the pastry with a fork.  Leave to rest in the fridge for about 30 mins whilst you prepare the quiche filling.  Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.

2.  Roughly dice the onion and chop the garlic cloves.  Sauté them in some oil until softened and just golden.

3.  Beat the eggs in a large bowl, add the crème fraîche, the stripped rosemary leaves (I was a bit short on time, so I didn’t chop the leaves, but you can if you’re really motivated) and some pepper and mix well.  Add 200g of the grated cheddar and the (fairly) cooled onions and garlic and mix well.  Add a little more crème fraîche if you feel this is necessary.

4.  Remove the tarte tin from the fridge, spread the mustard thinly over the base (this is optional, but it helps to bring out the flavours in the quiche), pour the cheddar and onion mix over the top and spread it evenly.  Sprinkle the remaining grated cheddar over the top.

5.  Cook for 30-40mins, until the pastry is golden and a toothpick comes out clean (if the top is getting a little too brown, cover with tin foil).  Serve hot or cold with a simple salad on the side.

Enjoy!

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What to do if you have 3.5kg of salmon tails residing in your freezer

Over the summer, I worked in one of the University research labs, for a professor who is looking into changes in the condition of Scottish wild Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) populations and how this may be tied to climate change.  I won’t bore you with the details, but basically, we processed a lot of salmon in the lab this summer.  44 salmon if I remember correctly. Most of each fish was used for research, with the exception of the tail section, and we didn’t want it to go to waste.  Since the fish were chopped up in an ouside shed rather than in the lab (thus avoiding any potential chemical contamination), the meat was perfectly fine for human consumption, so we shared the tails out amongst the lab members.  Consequently, guess who ended up with about 3.5kg of salmon sitting in her freezer by the end of the summer?  (And that’s not counting the salmon that had already been eaten!)

So I ended up with a load of salmon – what’s the big deal?  Firstly, wild salmon is just so flavourful.  Unfortunately, farmed salmon just doesn’t compare.  Not even remotely.  Secondly, we got the tails for free.  Wild Scottish salmon retails at minimum £20 per kg (depending on your fishmonger).  As a student, that’s a whole achievement in itself!

Now, 3.5kg is a lot of tasty salmon (an entire freezer drawer actually) – what does one do with all those tasty tails?  I can scientifically gut and dissect a fish, I can slice through a fish’s brain and find the otoliths for you, but I’m no fishmonger – I can’t presentably fillet a fish and the tails make rather tiny slices.  So no salmon fillets/steaks for us.  How about… quiche!  The great thing about quiche in this particular case is that the salmon doesn’t have to be perfectly sliced or anything, so it can be steamed and then just flaked off the bones (so much easier than trying to fillet it before steaming).  These wild salmon had so much taste in them that the quiche didn’t really need additional flavours so I only added an onion and some garlic, but quiche recipes are always flexible and with less flavourful salmon you could add wilted spinach or cooked broccoli.

I defrosted the last of the salmon for Burns Night (it seemed an apt occasion – and yes, due to deadlines, this is a delayed post).  I’d made salmon quiche so many times over the summer and last semester that I really thought my friends would be a bit fed up of it.  I was trying to think of something else to do for a starter, perhaps salmon mousse, but they actually requested quiche.  So I made “lab salmon” quiche one last time…  I was really touched when they told me they’d been looking forward to it all day (thanks guys – I hope it lived up to your expectations!)  This time we accompanied it with Pieropan Soave Pieropan 2009 (Italy), but we’ve previously enjoyed it with Cousino Macul Sauvignon Gris 2009 (Chile) and Crazy by Nature Shotberry Chardonnay 2008 (New Zealand).

Salmon quiche

Serves 6-8 as a starter, 4 as a main course
Recipe from my imagination

This quiche works as a starter, lunch or light dinner, and can be served warm or cold.  The salmon has to be cooked beforehand – I marinated it in some olive oil, pepper and herbes de Provence for at least 15 mins before steaming it in my pressure cooker.  If you do likewise, reserve the marinade oil to sauté the onions in.

Ingredients

Quiche pastry (click for recipe)
300g of cooked salmon, flaked (skinned and de-boned if necessary)
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 eggs
5 tbsp crème fraîche
5 tsp herbes de Provence (at least!)
2 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)

Directions

1.  Roll out the pastry to about 3-4mm thickness and line a well-buttered 24 or 26cm tarte tin with it.  Trim the edges and prick the pastry with a fork.  Leave to rest in the fridge for about 30 mins whilst you prepare the quiche filling.  Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.

2.  Dice the onion and finely chop the garlic cloves.  Sauté them in some olive oil (or the reserved oil from the salmon marinade) until softened and golden.

3.  Beat the eggs in a large bowl, add the crème fraîche, the herbs and some pepper and mix well.  Add the flaked salmon and the (fairly) cooled onions and garlic and mix well.  Add a little more crème fraîche if you feel this is necessary.

4.  Remove the tarte tin from the fridge, spread the mustard thinly over the base (this is optional, but it helps to bring out the flavours in the quiche), pour the salmon mix over the top and spread it evenly.

5.  Cook for 30-40mins, until the pastry is golden and a toothpick comes out clean (if the top is getting a little too brown, cover with tin foil).  Serve hot or cold with a simple salad on the side (oak leaf salad and walnut oil vinaigrette both go really well with salmon).

Enjoy!

PS – Uhm, ya, I really did put the scientific name for Atlantic salmon up there in that first paragraph.  I left it in because it amused me that I didn’t initially notice.  What can I say?  I’m in the middle of writing a review essay for my dissertation – it’s kind of automatic.  You’re lucky I haven’t thrown in any references.

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Filed under Recipes, Savoury Foods, Student Life

Easy-peasy pastry (no really!)

I used to think that making pastry was a horrendously complicated undertaking.  I may have been slightly traumatised when I was younger by a shortcrust pastry-making attempt that ended in a lot of crumbly mess and not a lot of actual pastry.  That failed experience coupled with my inability to roll things out into anything resembling a circle resulted in the mistaken belief that anyone able to successfully make pastry must be blessed with some kind of innate skill.  A delusion slightly fuelled by my mum, who has always been adamant that she doesn’t have that special knack and is therefore incapable of making pastry without it all going horribly wrong.

One of my mum’s friends makes the best tartes and quiches.  She always makes her own pastry and it’s ever-so-slightly flaky and just… amazing.  So one day, I asked her to show me the secret to a wonderful tarte or quiche pastry.  Well, it turns out that it is neither difficult nor time-consuming and there is no inherent ability required.  Being able to roll things into circles, however, does come in handy (still not one of my strong points, but practice makes perfect and all that).

So with the exception of puff pastry (I draw the line at spending 10h of my life folding pastry, letting it rest, rolling it, folding it again, letting it rest again, rolling it again, etc.), I now always make my own pastry.  I feel that it makes all my tartes and quiches just that tiny bit yummier (so modest, I know).  What is fabulous about this particular pastry is that it is quick to make, there’s no waiting around for it to rise, it works for both savoury and sweet recipes, it can be baked blind if required but works just as well if it isn’t and it can be stored in the fridge for up to a week (you could probably even freeze it, though I’ve never tried it).  There is therefore NO excuse for shop-bought pastry!

I know the photos aren’t that great – apologies!  I will update them when I’ve taken better ones.

Easy-peasy tarte/quiche pastry

Makes enough for two 24-26cm tartes/quiches (depending on thickness)
Recipe from my mum’s friend

The pastry works for both savoury and sweet recipes and you can add ground spices into the pastry to give a subtle hint of additional flavour to whatever you are making.  It can be stored in the fridge for up to a week and probably be frozen too (though I haven’t actually tried it).  If you’ve stored it in the fridge, bring it out about an hour before you want to roll it out (microwave it for about 5 seconds if you forget, just to soften it up).

Ingredients

250g all-purpose flour
100g butter (slightly softened if possible)
100ml of lukewarm water (it has to be lukewarm)

Directions

1.  Butter the tarte/quiche/whatever tin(s) that you plan on lining with the pastry (even if they are non-stick).

2.  Cut the butter into little cubes, and add it to a large bowl with the flour, a pinch of salt (even if it’s for a sweet tarte) and the lukewarm water.  Knead by pressing downwards and bringing the pastry round the sides of the bowl.  Make sure that you really work the butter cubes into the flour.  (This should take about 10mins maximum – I told you it was quick!)

3.  When the dough forms a ball (if it gets too sticky, add a bit more flour), split it into two.  Take one half and shape it into a ball, then slightly flatten it onto a floured work surface and roll it out to the required diameter and thickness.

4.  Line the buttered tin with the pastry (to easily lift the pastry into the tin, fold it into quarters – it shouldn’t stick to itself), trim the edges as necessary, prick with a fork and if you have time, leave it to rest in the fridge for about 30mins (this is optional, but helps make it slightly crispier) whilst you prepare the filling .  If you’re only using half the pastry, wrap the other half in some tin foil and store it in the fridge for up to a week.

Easy-peasy!

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Filed under Recipes, Savoury Foods, Sweet Foods