Category Archives: Cheese, Eggs & Dairy

Bacon and Cheese Quiche

There you go, I’m being posh and calling it quiche! It’s really a good old bacon and cheese flan. It’s a pity that so many poor imitations of this superb rich savoury egg custard are sold by supermarkets and presented to the world on numerous buffets with cheap frozen sausage rolls and those damn miniature scotch eggs.

A good quiche is all about the quality of the ingredients, there’s few of them, so they all count. Use good dry-cured bacon (mild smoked if you like), good eggs, double cream not milk, and you won’t go far wrong. One other thing, and a very important one, is that most recipes (including Delia) will tell you to cook the quiche at too high a temperature. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again – cook the quiche at around 160°C or below; you’re making a savoury custard, not an omelette!

I was fortunate to receive Jane Grigson’s book “Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery”, for my birthday a week or so ago. You see, it’s not just me:

Bake in a moderate oven for about 40 minutes. Remember that a quiche is a savoury custard tart; it mustn’t cook too quickly or it will curdle.

I feel a bit of a fraud giving a recipe; it’s not rocket science, but here’s my take on it:

Pastry

6oz Plain Flour
3oz lard (or lard/butter mix)
about ¼ teasp salt
water

Rub the fat into the flour/salt until it resembles breadcrumbs, then add water a little at a time and mix until it forms a dough. In all honesty, I generally make a batch using 1lb flour, 8oz fat and 1 teaspoon of salt, in the food processor. Don’t add too much liquid or the pastry will be hard – about 1½ – 2 tablespoons (ish) should be about right for 6oz flour.

Use the pastry to line a loose-bottomed flan tin (approx. 7½ inch diameter) then prick the base with a fork, line it with parchment paper, fill with baking beans, or rice or dried beans, and bake it at 180°C for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and parchment and bake it for a further 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C ready for the next stage.

Filling

6 – 8oz bacon
2 – 3oz grated cheese
¾ pint double cream
3 eggs
Salt and pepper

While the pastry is cooking, remove the rind from the bacon and discard it. Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry it, then put it on a paper towel to drain and cool. Mix the eggs and cream and season. Sprinkle the bacon over the base of the pastry followed by the cheese and then fill with the egg/cream mix. I do this while the pastry case is still on the oven shelf to avoid spillage. Bake it at 160°C for 40 minutes or so until it’s set.

It can be eaten warm but according to my wife is better eaten at room temperature the following day.

Butter Making

Originally posted at Christmas 2009

This time of year is great for picking up double cream that’s near its sell-by date from the Supermarket. Just after Easter or Wimbledon are also good times.

I make butter using my Kenwood mixer, you could also use an electric whisk, or even make it by hand.

I put the cream in the mixer with a pinch of salt and a small pinch of sugar for every 300ml. I’ve no idea why I use the sugar; it’s just that I saw a lady who had made the butter for Chatsworth house for about 50 years do it. Who am I to argue with her experience?

Using the K beater on the mixer, start ‘churning’ the cream

Nearly there!

If you don’t have a bowl cover use a tea towel, or when it ‘turns’ it will splatter everywhere:

Turn it off quickly when you hear the butter slopping around in the butter milk.

Now the important bit, rinse and work the butter in very cold water to get rid of as much of the milky stuff in the butter as you can, then put it onto a board and pat (beat) it – water will come out of it. I don’t have butter pats so use my hands and a rolling pin.

I flatten it, then roll it like a Swiss roll to shape it.

You can see from the photo that it needs more work to extract water – I’m going to be using it quickly so it’s not so important. This butter will freeze well, so there’s no excuse for not making plenty.

The taste reminds me of the creamy Normandy butter you get in France. It’s far better than shop-bought and for about half the price. You also get the buttermilk, which makes great scones or can be used to dip chicken into before coating in breadcrumbs or flour when making fried chicken.

Queso blanco, or Paneer (Panir)

In 2012, I wrote:

Here’s a great cheese-related activity to do with a group of school kids that won’t break the bank. Paneer, an Indian vegetarian cheese – or the cheese your granny made out of sour milk!

That said, I’ve only ever made it from non-homogenised milk, which works out a tad expensive ‘cos those large cheap plastic containers of milk in the supermarkets are invariably homogenised.

Ah well, nothing ventured, nothing gained: the investment of a whole £1 coin got me 2 litres of ALDI’s best full-fat milk.

To make the cheese is simplicity itself: put the milk into a pan and bring it to the boil stirring regularly so that the milk doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Just before it boils (or at least when it’s over 80°C) add a couple of lemons worth of lemon juice or about the same amount of white vinegar. Give it a quick stir then leave it for a couple of minutes or so. The milk should split into white curds and a watery light-green/yellow/clear whey. If it hasn’t, boil it back up and add some more lemon or vinegar. Pour the whole lot into a cloth-lined colander and run it under cold water to cool it, then leave it to drain:

…you can save the whey to use in scones or soda bread if you want.

That’s basically it – you can go on to wrap the cheese up and press it (I did, under a stone mortar). You can add salt, herbs, spices etc to it or you can even use it for sweet puddings or have it dribbled with honey. If you press it for a couple or three hours, you can cube it or mould it into balls. Then, unlike virtually all other cheeses, it will fry without melting; it’s great in Mattar Paneer (Panir).