Tag Archives: Bacon

Bacon and Onion Quiche

I can’t actually express how delightful this quiche is. It takes a lot of patience, and quite a bit of time to get things right, but it’s worth it for an occasional treat. Who knows, I might get quicker with practice! It would work well with other fillings and cheeses as well – the pastry and custard parts will stand up to lots of tinkering. 

  
For the pastry case, you will need:

125g plain flour

50g salted butter at fridge temperature 

1-2 teaspoons cold water
For this filling, you will need:

4 rashers smoked bacon

1 white onion

2 large eggs

150ml single cream

50g Gruyère cheese

A couple of grinds of pepper 

A couple of gratings of nutmeg

A sprinkling of chives and parsley, fresh 

The first thing to prepare is the shortcrust pastry, as it will need to chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. I like to make it, chill it, roll and line the case and chill again before I bake it to make sure it stays thin and crisp.

1. When measuring out the butter, dice it into small pieces to make it easier to incorporate the flour. Add the flour to the bowl and rub the two together. This will take patience and strong fingers, but the better you can incorporate the two to make small even crumbs, the more consistent your pastry will be. Remember, it’s important to rub, not knead, as overworking will activate the gluten in the flour and give you a tough quiche crust. 

2. When you think this is about evenly mixed, add in a teaspoon of cold water and mix this in. If this is still really dry, you might want to add more water, but you should try to get this dough to come together with as little moisture as possible. It takes effort and perseverance, but it’s worth it to make the pastry as “short” as possible. This basically means it will be crisp, biscuity and thin, rather than soft and podgy.

3. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes or so. Now it’s time to roll out the pastry. I find it easiest to do this by placing the dough between two layers of cling film, as it means you don’t have to add any flour to stop the rolling pin sticking, helping you keep it short. Roll it out as round and as thin as you can – a couple of mm thick is what you want to ensure a thin, crisp base. 

4. Butter a loose-bottomed tart tin and carefully lay in the rolled out pastry. Try your best to get it right into the corners, and press up against the flutes in the tin. Don’t worry too much if it cracks a little. You can always patch it up. Using a ball of excess dough can help push it into the corners if you’re worried about pushing your finger or nail through it. It’s important to properly patch any cracks to stop the egg leaking through to the tin and making the base soggy. I haven’t yet decided on the right school of though for the edges of the crust. Some chefs advocate cutting all of the excess off at this stage, whilst others say you should leave a bit extra then run a rolling pin over the top once the case has been baked to compensate for shrinking in the oven. I’d say I was somewhere in between. This will shrink down the sides, but in my experience it happens when the pastry starts to cool and contract. If you take the latter course of action, you put yourself at risk of cracking the case when you trim it, or of getting the case stuck to the tin. What I tend to do is cut it off to the top level of the tin while it’s still raw then push the pastry back into the flutes so it spreads to sit a little above the top. 

  
    

  

5. Let the case chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. I can’t stress just how important this is. Not only will it help the pastry to stay short, but it will help to stop it shrinking down the sides of the tin. 

6. Line with greaseproof paper and baking beads and bake blind for about 20 minutes. When it starts to brown at the edge, remove the paper and beans and put back in for 5 minutes or so to let the base dry out. 

  
7. Grate some Gruyère and sprinkle over the base, which wil help to seal off the pastry. 

  
8. During all the rolling and baking, you might want to fry off your onions and bacon so they can cool to let you proceed as soon as the pastry is cool. It’s best if the onion gets really soft and caramelised. 

  
9. Now you’re ready to make and pour out the custard! This is where everything comes together really quickly. I find it easiest to make the custard up in a jug for easy transfer to the pastry case. Crack the eggs into the jug, whisk up a bit with a fork just to loosen them up, then add the cream, seasoning, nutmeg and fresh herbs. 

  
10. Pour into the case. Don’t be alarmed that the custardy filling will come up to almost the very top of the pastry case – it’ll puff up in the oven then sink back down again when you take it out.  

  
11. Sprinkle on some more cheese and then it’s ready to go in the oven at 180C for 20-25 minutes or until the surface has turned golden brown all over. 

Leave to cool and enjoy!

  

Friday Night Carbonara

This one comes with only half the guilt, you’ll be pleased to hear, which is perfect for a quick Friday night supper to be accompanied by a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio, and it can pretty much be whipped up with whatever’s in your fridge. I included sautéed onions to make a change, but they were a bit too sweet with the wholewheat spaghetti, especially as it was unsmoked bacon I had to hand.

I have to give credit to my wise old boyfriend, Charles, (who, by the way, has a cracking B&B
and picture framing business in the Scottish Borders) for teaching me how to make this, though I’ve since changed some if the technique to make things easier for myself and to help to avoid scrambling.

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For 1 decent portion, you’ll want:

2 rashers of bacon, smoked is best

optional clove of grated garlic

2-3 tablespoons full fat creme fraiche (or half fat if you really must but I don’t get it!)

1 medium egg

a sprinkling of fresh or dried parsley

salt

cracked black pepper

a grating of nutmeg

your usual helping of dried spaghetti (they say 75g usually, but who weighs pasta?!), I used wholewheat

olive oil to fry the bacon in if it isn’t fatty enough

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1. Chop the bacon into squares or strips and fry until it’s as gilded as you’d like. If you decided to include the garlic, cook it along side the bacon, but try not to burn it.

2. Meanwhile, boil up a kettle of water and get your pasta on with a decent pinch of salt in the water. You don’t need any oil to stop it from sticking; just give it a few stirs in the first couple of minutes of cooking and it shouldn’t stick. The spaghetti is best when it isn’t too well cooked, but cook to taste; the sauce has to wait for it anyway. It should take between 10 and 15 minutes.

3. While the spaghetti is cooking, spoon the creme fraiche into a bowl, loosen off with your spoon a little, then crack in the egg. Give it a good mix until you have a sort of raw custard. Add parsley, salt, pepper and nutmeg and mix again.

4. When the spaghetti is ready, drain and put back on a low to medium heat to steam out any residual water. You don’t want the hob to be too hot at this stage as you are about to add your eggy custard, and you don’t want that to scramble!

5. Quickly pour in the egg and creme fresh mixture and rapidly stir the spaghetti around in it, then tip in the bacon. I find silicone tongs best for this as you can really control where the spaghetti is going. Keep swirling until the egg mixture has thickened and coated the pasta. Make it as well done as you like. I prefer mine silky and creamy but Charles likes his slightly scrambled.

If it isn’t saucy enough for you, you can add some extra creme fraiche at this stage before serving.

Enjoy!