26 July 2010

Summer quiche and pie crust

I know that summer is not the usual time when people want to get into the kitchen and bake, but all of the summer bounty of vegetables and fruit incite in me a desire to try new things no matter the temperature. Though it has been warm and sunny in London this summer, enough that it actually feels like a summer, I know it is nowhere near the usual summers in the southern US. Still, a girl can dream and go along with season appropriate food, like quiche. Quiche can be eaten hot or cold and can incorporate all sorts of summer flavours which means it is the perfect, easy food for lunch or dinner.

Another great thing about quiche is I have the chance to make pie crust, one of my most favorite things to make. I know that many people have trouble with shortcrust dough as it is persnickety and often fickle in temperament. It can get that way sometimes for me too. Pie dough was one of the first things that my grandmother taught me to make and to me it is calming to mix, roll and shape the dough into a pie pan. Plus, when you get it right there is a sense of accomplishment when something so simple comes together to make a pretty dish.

Quiche was surprisingly easy to make, or at least the pared down version of the recipe I actually used. I used the pie crust recipe from grandma, which is 1/2 cup butter, 1 1/4 cups flour, dash of salt and 2-3 Tablespoons of cold water. When the dough forms a ball, sprinkle flour on a counter top or board and on the dough ball as well to begin rolling the pie crust.

Roll in many directions until you have a vaguely roundish shape larger than your dish.

Transferring the rolled crust to the pie dish should not break the crust if the dough is right. If you fold the rolled crust in half and move it to the dish, it should unfold nicely without any tears or dropped bits.

Then I pressed the dough into the pie dish and ran a knife around the top to cut off the excess dough, (Save this for another tasty treat below!) then pinched the top to give it a finished edge. This also helps keep things in the dish.

After parbaking the pie crust for about 8 minutes, I lined it with sliced courgettes and tomatoes and I was trying to make this quiche presentable. You can probably just throw some veggies into the crust and it will taste just as good, but sometimes you want the food to look just as good as it tastes.

I combined three eggs, maybe 1/4 cup single cream, salt, pepper and 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil and poured it on top of the veggies in the pie crust.

A sprinkling of parmesan cheese on top and into the over for 30 or so minutes on 375 F/180 C.

And it comes out looking so pretty!

Now what about that extra dough I hear you say?

When Grandma taught me to make pie dough, we would always have some left over from the crusts we were making. With the extra dough Grandma would make something she called a sugar packet, which I think she picked up from her mother. Basically, you roll out a tiny crust and fill the inside with sugar and cinnamon, then fold it over like a turnover and bake. The best part is to eat the sugar packet warm so the cinnamon-sugar mixture is still warm and gooey.

Dinner and dessert all in one pie crust!

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