The hubby spied leeks in the veg box in the fridge and asked me to make a ham and leek quiche. I had, of course, scant memory of what lay in that veg box and was quite surprised to find out that we had leeks. Well, there was no excuse and I set out to make the quiche.
I have never made quiche before and had absolutely no idea where to begin. Vague ideas of sautéed leeks and chunky ham baked in an eggy custard floated around in my head and I had no clue how the crust should be. Puff pastry seemed requisite but it turned out that shortcrust would do as well.
I trawled the Net for some basic recipes and then looked through my cookbooks for more ideas. I cobbled together a workable recipe for the pastry case and the filling and this is what I made.
Ham, Cheese and Leek Quiche
1 cup grated cheddar or Grano Padano cheese
250gms ham, diced or in chunky cubes
1 cup sliced leeks
2 tbsp Olive oil
200ml Amul cream
1 1/2 cup maida or white flour
100gms butter, very cold, cut into small cubes
2 tbs chilled water
Start with the tart shell. In a clean bowl put in the flour and the cubed butter. Combine with a fork or a pastry mixer till crumbly. You can also do this in a food processor. Add the egg and a tbsp of the cold water and mix gently to form a loose dough. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead very lightly to bring together into a ball of dough. Work it minimally and quickly with just your fingertips. It just needs to stay together. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 20 to 30 mins.
Dust your work surface lightly with flour and roll out the chilled dough into a large disc at least 15 inches in diameter. Lift gently and place over your loose bottomed pie ring. Gently press the dough into the sides and the base of the ring. Trim the edges with a sharp knife or simply pinch off with your fingers. Press into the sides so the dough sticks to the fluted edges of the tin. Cover the pie shell with parchment and fill it with dried beans, rice or baking beads - whatever you have. I used black eyed peas.
Bake the tart shell blind at 200C for 15 minutes in a preheated oven. Remove and take out the beans and the parchment paper carefully. Put the tart shell back in the oven and bake for another 7 to 10 minutes till it is a pale golden colour.
In the mean while heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté the leeks and then the ham lightly. Remove to a plate and set aside. Grate your cheese and keep it ready. In a clean jug whip the cream with the eggs. Season with salt and pepper.
Once the pie shell is baked to a pale gold it is time to assemble the quiche and put it to bake. First scatter the cooked leeks and the ham. The sprinkle the grated cheese to cover. Finally pour the eggs and cream all over. You can add some fresh or dried herbs if you like.
Now bake the quiche at 180C for 20 to 25 mins. It will be puffed up considerably but will settle as it cools.
Let it cool for 5 minutes and then remove to a pretty plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot.
You can use a slightly smaller pie ring so the filling is deeper. You will also have some pastry left over. Just pop it into the freezer and use it later to make a mini quiche or a fruit tart or something. Be careful while handling the baked pie shell. The constant putting it in and out of the oven is a delicate operation - I cracked my pie a bit and so some of the egg custard dribbled out leaving me with a flatter filling than I would have liked. But this was my very first time and it's a lesson learned :)
Use a jug to pour the egg custard. This is something the hubby saw Jamie Oliver suggest on one of his programmes and it's a genuinely handy hint that ensures less mess.
The egg cream custard is a must in a quiche. You can fool around with different combinations for the rest of the fillings - use chopped and cooked salami, chunky sausages, vegetables, shredded chicken, whatever you like.
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