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Solving the leftover problem - 1

"The main flavouring ingredients should be well spiced and piquant; they can vary according to the taste and skill of the cook." Jane Grigson

Before I started doing my 'due diligence' prior to writing this post about last night's quiche I confess I thought I had mastered quiche. Now I'm feeling that if a professional chef was to taste any of the multitude of quiches that I make, they would be somewhat critical. Why? Well I will come back to that.

First - solving the leftover problem, dish by dish, and my first one was this quiche which made use of two of the sausages, all the leftover beans, half the leftover asparagus, half the leftover sun-dried tomato tapenade plus some of the cannelloni béchamel. As an aside here, I did as I wrote yesterday - took the cannelloni apart, rescued the sauce, the asparagus and the pesto, and threw away the pasta, which did indeed make me feel very guilty. It did, however, go into the council green bin, and should therefore end up as compost in a park somewhere.

I sliced the sausages and fried them in their own fat, before adding them to the custard mixture. The beans and asparagus were just sliced into smallish pieces, and the béchamel and tapenade were mixed in with the custard ingredients - in this case three eggs, half a carton of crème fraïche that needed using, some cream and a couple of spoonfuls of the béchamel. A little bit of the pesto crept in as well.

My basic quiche custard comes from Jane Grigson. Well I thought it did. I also thought it consisted of three whole eggs, and 300ml of a half and half mix of milk and cream. I now find that although I probably have used various Jane Grigson quiche recipes in my life - the very best perhaps being her kipper flan, I now discover that the half and half thing comes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking although they also said you could use just cream - which I now do. Back then we were poor, so half and half it was. There are lots of deviations from this of course - many more eggs, just egg yolks, more cream, different kinds of cream, some cheese in the mix ... Even Felicity Cloake goes a bit excessive with 4 eggs, 2 yolks and 320ml double cream. I however, unless I am following an actual recipe, rarely deviate from the three eggs, 300mls of cream base.

Where I do deviate of course, is what goes into the custard. Anything goes really, as last night's dinner demonstrates. In Felicity Cloake's article she mentioned a couple of things that people did to prevent the filling ingredients sinking to the bottom. Personally I just mix them into the cream and egg base, which seems to work. And anything goes, with respect to filling ingredients, in the recipe world these days as well.

It's not really surprising that I went for quiche as my first leftover meal. We eat quiche almost every week - most often on a Friday. It's a quick and easy meal for me, because the pastry is always to hand. When I make it, as I did yesterday, I make a big batch, divide it into quiche sized pieces and freeze it. The trick is to remember to take it out of the freezer in time. It's made in an electric mixer as well, so there is no effort involved. Just under 500g flour; some polenta - a handful or two - to bring the flour up to 500g - I think this makes the pastry crisper; 250g butter - well almost butter from a tub; juice of a lemon and water. That's it. I don't even do the right thing and rest the pastry, and rest it again when it's rolled out and in the tin. Another crime to the experts.

To cook the base I use the pizza setting in my oven but at 180°C. The pizza setting is a fan setting with the heat coming from the bottom of the oven. Line the tin with the pastry, prick all over with a fork, place a piece of greaseproof paper on top, and ceramic beans or whatever you use - on top of that. Cook for 9 minutes, remove the paper and beans and cook for another 9 minutes. Pour in your mix, top with grated cheese and cook for 25minutes to half an hour. Hey presto - dinner, served with a green salad and a glass of wine. In this case the Yarrambat 2004 Chardonnay again.

I have to say it was very tasty, and very satisfying because of using up a goodly amount of the leftovers. However I doubt that it would meet all the criteria of the professionals:

"The thing to aim for is crispness, lightness and richness, not always an easy combination." Jane Grigson

Silky says Felicity Cloake in her article on making the perfect Quiche Lorraine. I suspect my custard is not silky enough and possibly creeping towards a scrambled egg texture. And hers, as you can see is somewhat deeper than mine. That's another thing they all argue about. And, of course, there's the usual thing about what is a quiche anyway, with the purists saying it only applies to the basic Quiche Lorraine which most seem to think includes bacon, although some think not. Anything else is just a tart. I'm pretty sure I wrote about this many moons ago. Suffice to say it's from Lorraine, dates back to the fifteenth century and is bacon, eggs and cream in a pastry shell.

Chris Godfrey, however, writing in The Guardian has other views about quiche:

"Its main problem is also its biggest success: quiche lorraine. There is nothing particularly interesting about quiche lorraine, yet it dominates the conversation. It is the quiche to which everyone defaults, out of habit and lack of imagination."

But of course you can go too far with imagination. Felicity Cloake recalled a meatball quiche which she recalled with horror, and Chris Godfrey refers to a hot dog quiche, although when I came to look at that particular one (shown here), I thought the most radical thing about it was not the hot dogs - which were just sliced frankfurters - well why not? - but the shell which was a round loaf, hollowed out and baked until crisp before being filled with the hot dog filling.

Then do you remember all the hoo-hah over the Coronation quiche - the dish chosen by Charles and Camilla to celebrate the recent coronation? As Felicity Cloake says it looks more like a spinach pie than a quiche perhaps, because it is loaded with spinach and broad beans and flavoured with tarragon. Poor Charles and Camilla - always trying to do the right thing by the planet and maybe even the poor, and getting rubbished for it from all sides. I wonder how many people actually made it for their street party.

So part one of the rescue operation on the massive amount of leftovers done and dusted. There are even remains for David to eat whilst I fast tomorrow.

Tonight it's the chicken's turn. Pasta I think. I shall report tomorrow.


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