Ooops! Late again. I really have to get myself organised and get a post out on time. On time is sometime before last thing Sunday. Today is Tuesday!
Anyway, this time I’m going to do a cooking post as I can’t remember the last time that I did one. (It was 15th May 2013, actually). I cooked a quiche this weekend and it turned into two quiches. As I usually do I looked on the Internet for a recipe and came up with this one here. Yes, you are correct, I was using up some of the Christmas ham, but I do like quiches with ham in them. I also like quiches with leek or silver beet, but I didn’t have any of those at the time.
The recipe that I found doesn’t include the pastry and uses two 9 inch pastry shells, but my dish was around 10 inches across and I guessed that the area would be about the same. If I’d done the maths, I would have seen that one 9 inch shell would have an area of 81 * pi square inches, so two would come to 162 * pi square inches and the 10 inch pie dish would have an area of 100 * pi square inches, so I’d likely have around a third of the mixture left over.
Anyway, I ploughed on, not realising the problem. I made some ‘short pastry’, which is basically just fat and flour and a little water to bind it. I mixed 5 ounces of margarine and 8 ounces of flour in a bowl. I used the technique of “rubbing in” the fat to the flour and this markedly changes the consistency of the mixture. It starts off with the flour being, well, powdery, but after mixing it with the margarine, the consistency changes to a more “bread crumb” structure. That is, the mixture has a more particulate structure, and the powderiness disappears. When just a little water is added and the mixture is kneaded a little it changes again to a smooth consistency and becomes a ball of dough. There are good reasons why these changes occur, physical and chemical ones, no doubt, but I find them fascinating. What early cook discovered these changes and thereby started the whole culinary business?
I rolled out the pastry and lined the dish and stabbed the base of the pastry case with a knife. Then I put it into the oven (at around 200 degrees C for 15 minutes). As an experiment I didn’t line it or cover it and I didn’t fill the pastry case with beans or pastry beads or similar. It came out fine and that may be because the oven has a fan to circulate the heat.
The recipe calls for two cups of chopped ham and two cups of cheese. It also calls for dried onion, but I used half a normal onion, which I lightly fried first. Two cups of chopped ham seems a lot when you are slicing it off the bone and then cutting it into small bits. The cheese was OK, and grating that amount doesn’t take long. I had the cheese, ham and onion in a bowl and it already looked a lot.
I used two cups of milk instead of cream and added the four eggs to it. It became obvious that there was too much mixture for the pie dish that I had! I put a large part of the ham, cheese and onion into the pastry case and tipped a similarly large amount of the liquid mixture over it and put it into the oven for the requisite 35 – 40 minutes.
While that was cooking I grabbed a smaller dish and made some more pastry to line it. Half of the above quantities was enough and I put the pastry in the oven with the first quiche for 15 minutes. Again it came out OK, and I filled it with the rest of the mixtures and they filled nicely, so into the oven it went. At this stage I managed to burn myself a little on one of the oven racks.
Both quiches came out looking fine, and I’m pleased to report they tasted fine too!
Some people may be wondering what re-ignited my interest in cookery. Well, I’d been complaining for some time about my wife’s scales, as it is difficult to measure small quantities on them. So she bought me a small electronic scales for Christmas and I love them! They have an incremental function on them so that you can put a dish on the scales, set the scale to zero, add the correct amount of an ingredient, set the scales to zero again and add another ingredient into the dish and so on. The scales also have a timer function for the actual cooking.
Before Christmas I bought a heat pad, so that I could raise bread and other yeast doughs in a more consistent way. Watch out for more blogs about bread making!