I am a potterer and one of the places I like pottering about the most is the kitchen. Since I got back from my mother-in-law's I've been reorientating myself with kitchen activity. It's probably the equivalent for me of a dog sniffing and peeing in his territory. First I tidied and smoothed and made sure everything was in it's proper place. Then I sharpened all my knives and ensured all my tools were in working order (one of the most satisfying things for a cook is a knife that just glides through ingredients). After all of which I began to think of baking to fill the house with the requisite smells.
By Wednesday I was ready to get into full feeding mode and decided to make my son's favourite quiche for supper. The whole thing was incredibly therapeutic, from the fact that I had all the ingredients to hand (except the cream which I sent Bob out for, a gladdening notion in itself), to the sun shining outside, and the way the kitchen looked with broken eggshells, torn packaging, and other sundries littering the counter and table. I love walking into a pristine, tidy kitchen, but I also love to see flour snowing all over the table, a fat yellow disc of dough sitting amongst it, pressaging all the good things to come. The very thought of pastry thrills me and this day I experimented by merging two of Nigella Lawson's pastry recipes and (joy!) managed to make my own perfectly light and flaky shortcrust.
Here's my recipe for hot smoked salmon and feta quiche (I know it's not really quiche if it doesn't contain bacon and Gruyere for the purists out there, but it's delicious nonetheless). This fills a dish 28X18X5cm, but you can shrink or expand the quantities to fit your own dish without any harm, it's not an exact science:
2 fillets of hot smoked salmon
1 packet of feta cheese (I use organic)
6 large eggs
600ml of double cream (ish)
For the pastry
300g of Italian 00 flour (this doesn't need to be sifted like ordinary plain and is much lighter)
170g of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of yoghurt
a few tablespoons of iced water with half a teaspoon of salt stirred into it
I make the pastry in my food processor a la Miss Lawson's recipe in How to Eat. Measure out the flour and butter, cut butter into small dice, put both in a bowl and stash in the freezer for ten minutes. Once they have had their chilling, put them in a foodprocessor and whizz till they look like fine oatmeal (you can do the rubbing in by hand if you so wish). Add your teaspoon of yoghurt and pulse for a second, then with the machine running add the iced water very slowly through the funnel until the pastry is just about to come together but hasn't quite. Swich off and turn the dough onto a surface, squish it into a ball, wrap in plastic and put it in the fridge to rest for at least twenty minutes.
Once the pastry is rested bring it out, roll it to size and line your, buttered, dish. Put it back in the fridge, put the oven onto gas mark 6, and gather all the other ingredients. Flake the salmon, beat the eggs with the cream and crumble the feta. Bring the pastry lined dish out of the fridge once the oven is up to temperature and get on with building the quiche. Put the salmon in the dish, pour in the eggy cream, arrange the feta all over and put in the oven for about an hour. You may need to turn the temperature down after about forty five minutes, but ovens vary so much, so just have a look and see what you think: if it's getting rather brown but is still very wobbly turn it down a notch.
I really like this eaten hot with salad and a baked spud, but it's great ice cold the next day too. This size will easily feed eight people but I like to make a lot so there is plenty left over, it freezes very well and it's great to have the odd wodge stashed in the freezer for unexpected feedings.
The finished product
One of the best things about making pastry is that there is almost alway some left over from trimmings, and with this I like to make pudding. Sometimes I make custard tarts but on this day I made jam tarts. Little teeny fat ones filled with raspberry jam.
P.S in my next post I will be talking about tank-tops, and why fair-isle is cool, specially for Conan.