Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Chorizo and Roasted Red Pepper Quiche... it’s pronounced “Quickie” Bill!

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Ah, Quiche. It is so often the butt of jokes, an object of scorn. And yet when my sister-in-law, Rosie, brings her - admittedly, extra fabulous - quiches to a family gathering, there isn’t a morsel left over. (I’m sure some people even lick the quiche dishes clean when no one is looking.)
Once, her quiches had an unfortunate accident between the oven and the table. Guests, who had already caught the scent of pie, seemed quite willing to scoop up the ruins with a spoon - slivers of glass and all. Good sense prevailed in the end, although several people eyed the bin longingly during the course of the evening.

There is that famous joke where Bill Clinton and Al Gore are out to lunch in the middle of the Lewinsky storm. Bill Clinton asks the waitress for a quiche. The waitress sternly tells him she doesn't think that's a good idea given his circumstances. Gore leans in and confides that "it is pronounced Keesh, Bill".

This one isn’t, though, Bill. It is pronounced “Quickie” because it was made in such a hurry, in a WOW (War On Waste) assault on the contents of the fridge.

For a 23cm Chorizo and Roasted Red Pepper “Quickie” with Nutmeg Pastry you will need...
Quickie Nutmeg Pastry
180g plain flour
100g butter, from the fridge (cut into pieces)
1 egg yolk
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3 – 4 tablespoons iced water 

a little extra flour for your work surface 

Preheat the oven to 180°C when you put the pastry in the fridge to chill

Place everything except the water in your food processor and pulse until combined and resembling a very fine crumb. Add 3 tablespoons of the water and pulse again. The mixture should come together in a soft ball of pastry. If it doesn’t, add another tablespoon of water and pulse again. Wrap the pastry in cling film or place in a freezer bag and chill for about 10 minutes while you prepare the ingredients for the filling.  

Quickie Nutmeg Pastry

When the pastry has chilled, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll out to a circle approximately 30cm in diameter. Use to line a quiche dish or a 23cm tart tin no less than 3cm deep. Roll your rolling pin over the top to trim off any excess pastry and, using a fork, prick the base of the pastry before lining it with aluminium foil or greaseproof paper and filling it with baking beans (ceramic, or dried beans kept for the purpose). It is well worth taking this extra step to avoid soggy pastry. 

Bake for 10 minutes before removing the beans and foil. Bake for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside while you continue with the filling. 

Quickie Filling
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, halved then cut into thin slices
150g spicy chorizo sausage, diced
200g roasted red peppers (mine were from a jar)
50g Emmental cheese, diced
150mls Greek yoghurt
150mls single cream
2 eggs, beaten
100g Gruyere cheese, grated 

Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan over a medium heat and gently fry the onion slices until they are translucent and beginning to take on golden edges. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, scatter the diced chorizo over the base of the pastry. Arrange the roasted red peppers on top, followed by the onions and finally the diced Emmental cheese.

Quickie WOW (War On Waste) Filling 
Mix together the yoghurt, cream and eggs and 50g of the Gruyere cheese. Pour into the pastry shell, making sure to coat the rest of the filling ingredients with the mixture. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining Gruyere cheese.

Say Cheese !

Place on a shallow baking tray (in case of overflow, or spills while baking – especially if you are using a loose-bottomed tin). 

Return the filled pastry to the oven and bake for about 25 – 30mins or until the top is golden brown and the filling just set. 

'Keesh' or 'Quickie'? Who cares as long as it's delicious!
Leave to cool for a few minutes before serving.
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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Gorgonzola – and flaming cheeks !

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Upon a time, I had a favourite little restaurant. It did decent coffee and good homely Italian food at a reasonable price. It was the sort of place where you could eavesdrop on the most interesting of conversations, or chat to a complete stranger on the table next to you.
Its main attraction was its star waiter, a crazy, red-haired Roman with a big heart and an eagle eye who kept the place more or less shipshape. He was deeply and irrevocably a fan of The Blues Brothers. From time to time, he would get a little carried away, douse the lights and subject his alarmed (and captive) audience to a rather startling mime of I Can’t Turn You Loose.

I once spent 8 hours there – breakfast with one friend, a chance meeting that turned into lunch with another, and then finally dinner with my beloved – although I did go for a walk in between times to make room for my favourite of their dishes - Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Gorgonzola.
Unfortunately I’m too embarrassed to go there anymore. The eagle-eyed Roman was off duty that evening. And I know I shouldn’t have... but rather stupidly... I left my beloved unattended for a whole five minutes. (The Roman would have kept an eye on him...) When I returned, the restaurant was filled with smoke, and feathery ashes were settling on the clientele. He had managed to accidentally set his napkin on fire. He had quickly extinguished the flames, but while he was busy checking if anyone had actually noticed, he failed to notice the napkin had reignited and set the tablecloth ablaze.

This is my attempt to recreate the gnocchi dish - Blues Brothers soundtrack and inferno optional.
For lunch for 2, you will need...
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
300g ready-prepared potato gnocchi (a lazy dish, this)
150g fresh mushrooms, sliced
a fat clove of garlic, crushed
5 tablespoons cream
40g Gorgonzola cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
freshly ground black pepper

In a frying pan large enough to take the gnocchi in one layer, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the gnocchi and fry gently until a golden crust forms, turning occasionally.

Meanwhile, place the remaining olive oil in another pan over a medium heat and add the mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the crushed garlic. Cook for a further minute or so before adding the cream and the Gorgonzola, stirring as the cheese melts. When the Gorgonzola has completely melted, add the parsley and the now-golden gnocchi.

Serve immediately with a little freshly ground black pepper over the top. I find it doesn’t really need any salt - but maybe keep a fire extinguisher handy :)

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