Monday, December 29, 2008
Stilton and leek quiche
One of the best ways to use up odd bits of cheese is a quiche and over Christmas that's as likely as not to be Stilton. As I also just discovered two unused leeks I thought I'd combine the two along with half a pot of leftover crème fraiche that was nearing its use-by date. The bliss of cooking on an AGA, which we took over with our current flat, is that you don't have to pre-bake the pastry case which makes the whole process incredibly easy but I've given instructions for a conventional oven here. If you don’t have any blue cheese you could easily substitute Cheddar, Gouda or any other full-flavoured hard cheese.
2 large or 3 smaller leeks (about 350g-400g untrimmed weight)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
3 large eggs
100ml creme fraiche or double cream mixed with 100ml milk
3-4 tbsp grated parmesan (depending on strength)
100g Stilton or other medium-strong blue cheese, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pastry
225g plain flour (or a 50/50 mix of plain and wholemeal flour)
110g chilled butter, cut into small cubes
4-5 tbsp cold water
You will need a deep 23cm loose-bottomed quiche tin
First make the pastry. Put the flour and a pinch of salt in a food processor and pulse once or twice again to mix. Add the cubed butter and pulse to incorporate then add just enough water to bring the mixture together (about 3-4 tbsp). Shape the pastry into a disc, wrap in cling film and rest for half an hour.
Trim the bases and coarse outer leaves off the leeks, slice finely and rinse thoroughly to get rid of any dirt or grit that has accumulated between the leaves. Heat the butter in a large frying pan and fry the leeks for 5-6 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the chopped thyme, season well with salt and pepper and set aside to cool
Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll it out in a circle big enough to fit a 23cm/9in diameter flan tin. Carefully lower the pastry into the tin pressing it into the edges and lightly prick the base with the prongs of a fork. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes then line the pastry case with a piece of greaseproof paper or foil weighed down with baking beans and bake the pastry shell for about 12 minutes.
Separate one of the eggs, reserve the white and beat the yolk and the other two eggs together. Measure the cream and milk into a jug, mix well, add the beaten eggs and parmesan, season with freshly ground black pepper and beat again.
Remove the paper and beans from the pastry case and brush lightly with the beaten egg white. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes then remove the flan case from the oven and turn the oven down to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Trim the overhanging edges of pastry with a sharp knife.
Scatter half the blue cheese over the base of the tart, spoon over the leeks then cover with the remaining blue cheese. Carefully pour the egg and cream mixture over the top making sure that it is distributed evenly*. Bake the quiche for about 35-40 minutes until the top is puffed up and lightly browned. Cool for about 20 minutes before serving. (I personally think it’s nicest at room temperature.)
*If there is too much egg mixture bake the tart for 7-8 minutes then half pull out the shelf and carefully pour the remainder over the top.