I've just been completely wiped out over the weekend... struck by a nasty flu that saw temperatures rising to 40.5 C (that's 105 F for those of you who care to know) and that's inside my body, unfortunately, the outside thermometer was rather rapidly approaching freezing! So this is why I missed the first Daring Baker's challenge since I joined, but I will still make that delectable potato bread as soon as my two legs will support me all the way to the supermarket, which, given that I just lost 4 kg in 4 days (sometimes, bad bouts of flu DO have a positive side effect as well) and has left me very frail, seems unthinkable at the moment.
Jeanne of Cook Sister! is hosting this month's instalment of "Waiter! There's something in my..." and her chosen theme is topless tarts... I couldn't very well miss that now, could I, at least not if I expect her to participate in the round I will be hosting next month (where the theme might be soufflés, if you're must ask). So I dragged myself downstairs this morning, my circulation not thinking much of it all, deciding it was too weak to fight gravity yet and sending me back into a seated position with every major exertion (like opening a fridge door or cracking three eggs in a row, for example), but I did complete the challenge and even managed to take a picture... back on my sickbed, I am typing it all up so you get your fair share. I've decided that quiches are a much better way to regain strength than chicken noodle soup, provided you have the strong and experienced stomach of a gourmand, there's not a lot of food out there that's more comforting than this.
Speaking of chicken, my lecturer was saying last weekend how a flatmate only recently found out that the eggs you buy in the supermarket are unlikely to hold a little chick, and the woman was thirty! You have to wonder: what are these people thinking? Apart from the fact that these battery-laid eggs are thoroughly x-rayed before they're put in the carton (somebody could sue the producers for emotional distress, I guess, if... no, no need to go into details here), do the chickens you see in those documentaries all the time look like they're enjoying a little number (free-range or other) every so often? No they don't! Otherwise they wouldn't look so bloody miserable in the first place!
But back to my quiche... I can't get enough of leeks, be it just steamed and served with a simple vinaigrette or in a potato and leek soup - leek rules! Especially when it is young and doesn't contain much grit so you can cut right up into the end of the stalks, which gives you that vibrant green in your food... can only be good for you! As for the cheese, feel free to use anything you like, but I just love a good reserve gruyère. Whether you grate it or cube it is really a bit of a lifestyle choice, just like the decision whether to lick the chocolate off your Maltesers first and slowly melt the malty bit on your tongue or to just go for it and bite straight into it for maximum crunch (although for the quiche, it doesn't really make a difference if you wear dentures, whereas in the Maltesers situation, it is a crucial factor!). The hazelnuts were a great addition, I don't know why but nuts in cooking give such an autumnal feel - although they're available throughout the year, I do think that they taste slightly fresher when they're new season.
I'm running out of steam despite all the good food I just had to give me strength... so I'll rest a bit for now. Enjoy!
Leek, gruyère & hazelnut quiche
(serves 4 for a light lunch or 6 for a starter)
300 g shortcrust pastry (ready-rolled)
1 egg (for brushing the pastry shell)
2 small onions (thinly sliced)
2 medium leeks (cut into 1 cm rounds)
50 g butter
150 g gruyère cheese (roughly grated or cubed)
50 g toasted and chopped hazelnuts
150 g single cream
100 ml milk
3 large eggs
pepper, nutmeg to season
Line a 20 - 22 cm fluted, loose-bottomed flan tin with the shortcrust pastry and press down to distribute evenly. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. (If you're pressed for time and want to skip the chilling, let the sides overhang a bit to to prevent the pastry from shrinking as it bakes).
Pre-heat oven to 200 C (no fan)
Poke the base with a fork a dozen times, then blind bake for 15 minutes. Beat the egg and brush the pastry with it, return to the oven and bake for another 3 - 5 minutes. This will seal the dough and prevent the pastry case from getting too soggy.
Meanwhile, heat the butter in a frying pan, fry the onions and leeks until soft and starting to brown. The should retain some bite, as they will continue cooking in the quiche later. Spread on the bottom of the quiche.
Prepare the filling: beat the eggs with the milk and cream, season with nutmeg and pepper. Add the cheese and 25 g of the hazelnuts and combine well before pouring over the leeks, filling the quiche case up until about half a centimeter under the rim. Sprinkle with the remaining nuts, then bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until set. Check 15 minutes into the cooking time, you might want to lightly cover the quiche to prevent the nuts from burning.
Leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving with a salad, if you wish.