Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Home Alone 3: Real Men Don't Eat this simply delightful Smoked Salmon and Shallot Quiche

Smoked Salmon and Shallot Quiche

Day 4 of Blanca’s trip to Spain. I’m a changed man, I must have cycled 100 miles since she left, blogged & cooked regularly and eaten all my fruit. The only signs left of my manhood are the fact that I’m leaving the bed unmade in the morning and refusing to clean the kitchen floor. Even when I try and assert my masculinity, I end up co-opting Simon into going to what, to all intents and purposes, appears to be a lesbian gig on Thursday (does anyone know “the organ” from Vancouver? Please don’t comment about the name, apparently the music is good).

God, I hope that Blanca doesn’t read this. She’ll be pissed that I haven’t cleaned the kitchen floor.

Some people say that real men don’t eat quiche. Well to prove them correct, here is a great recipe for Smoked Salmon and Shallot Quiche that I cooked last night. It is from my book of the moment; “fish”. I think this is the third blog in recent weeks from “fish”. I need to stop, I’m in danger of infringing their copyright. I think a spell of cold turkey would be appropriately horrifying to fish lovers.

Ingredients for shortcrust pastry (thanks to Books for Cooks cookbook)
175 g plain flour sifted
A pinch of salt
90 g of very cold butter, cubed
3 tbsp very cold water

I “scienced” myself out yesterday on my rice blog. Luckily I have already discussed the science behind shortcrust pastry. Check it out, interesting stuff, it puts all of the instructions into context beautifully.

I’m scared of hot hands so I use a food processor for the pastry mixing. Aerate the flour and salt with a few pulses. Add the cubed butter and pulse until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water (some people add egg, but I think it produces overly hard pastry) and process until the pastry just draws together. Turn this onto a lightly floured worksurface (marble best for the temperature) and knead into a ball.

Satisfaction delivered by a rolling pin.

Butter and refrigerate the baking tin. Be careful not to over handle the pastry (it gets emotional). Roll it out into a thin flat about 5cm larger than your tin. Wrap the pastry over the rolling pin and unroll over the top of the tin. Work the pastry into the tin. Then, the most satisfying action in cookery; roll the pin over the top of the tin in order to remove the excess pastry. I don’t know why I like this so much, but it is really very satisfying.

Refrigerate the pastry for at least half an hour. Keep any excess pastry in case you need it later to fill in imperfections (just misunderstood perfections).

Baking blind and showing your wealth... can two things say more about a person?

Bake the pastry blind. Heat the oven to 190 C. Line the chilled pastry case with baking parchment and fill with backing beans. Blancs showed me a very retro method for this. Rather than using the conventional baking beans, demonstrate your wealth and sophistication by using the pennies from your piggy bank.

Cook for about 10 minutes. Remove the coins and use to pay at your local large, impersonal supermarket while still hot… I bet they still take the cash. Cook for another 10 minutes or so, until a light biscuit brown.

Ingredients for the filling
110 g shallots, sliced
60 g butter
3 egg yolks
225 ml crème fraîche
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
110 g smoked salmon, in thin strips
salt and pepper

Cook the shallots in the butter until translucent, without browning (this is sauté… no?). Beat the remaining ingredients together. Once the pastry case is cool, distribute the salmon and shallots. Pour the cream. Cook for about 30 minutes, until just set. This can be served warm or cold, in my case, warm and reheated.

I’m off now to start a fight in a bar and wake up tomorrow without my clothes.

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