Saturday, 21 January 2012

New Curtains and Homemade Quiche

I think today has to have been one of the more productive days I've had recently. Inspired by the fact that we've been given the green light to put up picture hooks in the flat (a big deal for me, sad as it sounds, as it means I can now start making the flat feel more homely (empty walls are sad walls)), down came the butt-ugly bathroom curtain that has been terrorising me since we moved in. The picture below doesn't do it justice. It's an unpleasant fabric to start with, and it's all browned and hand badly and a-symmetrically. I don't know why I hadn't done it sooner, it took £2.20 and maybe an hour tops to do. Admittedly it doesn't go with the décor, but I can live with that.

Before = Blech
After = Phew!

Yep, that's a towel. Well, two towels. All it took was a bit of this stuff (curtain hanging tape maybe? I'm not sure what it's called)

It took two ticks to sew this to the top of the towel. Then I just used the hooks that were keeping the uber-ugly "curtain" (it really only roughly resembled a curtain) "up" (barely) to hang it. I did have to sew another towel to the bottom to get it to be the right height, and the second curtain wasn't actually the same width as the first towel, but it was definitely worth it! Not only is this far easier on the eye, but it should hopefully help insulate the bathroom a little, it is by far the coldest room in the flat.

Once I had defeated that task, I moved onto dinner. I decided yesterday I wanted to make a quiche. So I did. As seems to be the case more often than not recently, I tend to look through several recipes for the same thing, take a few pointers from each, and then ignore most of what I've just read and make it up as I go along.

This is the results of today's baking adventures.

A completely made-from-scratch quiche. And it's dead easy. And you don't need silly things like double cream that I never have in the fridge unless it is for a specific recipe.

Here's how I made it.

Bacon, Leek and Mushroom Quiche
for a 20cm flan tin (3 respectable sized portions)

For the pastry:
2oz butter
4oz plain flour

For the filling:
                                                          2 large eggs
                                                          1 rasher middle bacon (or 2 of streaky)
                                                          1/3 leek
                                                          3 medium mushrooms
                                                          150ml milk

1. Make the pastry by rubbing the butter and flour together (so much easier with a pastry blender). Then when it's roughly breadcrumby, start adding small amounts of cold water until you can squish it all together into a soft dough. It doesn't want to be sticky, just soft.

2. Roll out the dough fairly thin, then carefully lay it over your flan tin (with removable base preferably) and press it gently in. Cut off the excess pastry round the edge of the tin then prick the base with a fork.

3. Cover and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes.

4. Set your oven to 200°c and put in a baking tray to preheat.

5. Line the chilled pastry with greaseproof paper then fill with either ceramic pastry beans or just plain old rice (I was surprised how well using rice worked, I had always put off making blind baked pastry cases due to my lack of baking beans). Then pop it onto the baking tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, chop up your mushrooms, leek and bacon and fry them until cooked.

7. Whisk together the eggs and milk and season. I put in a teaspoon of mustard powder, some salt, pepper and mixed dried herbs.

8. Take out the pastry and remove the rice and paper. Cook for 5 minutes.

9. Brush the pastry with the eggy mix and bake for another 2 minutes. This will just form a bit of a layer to stop the pastry going really soggy when you put the eggy mix in next.

10. Take out the pastry again, leaving the baking tray in the oven. Turn the temperature down to 190°c.

11. Spread the bacon, leek and mushroom evenly across the pastry then pour over the eggy mix.

12. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Leave for about 5ish minutes then NOM.

Goes well with: Sweet potato chips. Chop up half a sweet potato per person into chip sized chunks. Put them on a baking tray and slather with olive oil. Cover in pepper, garlic salt and dried mixed herbs. Mix it all up so the potato chunks are evenly(ish) covered then put in the oven at about 200°c for 20-30 minutes. (Give them a prod at 20 mins, if they're soft through they're done)

What I have learnt: Don't think it's clever to put as much of the eggy mix in the pastry case as physically possible. It will go everywhere and make your flan tin stick to the baking tray and then make you drop your lovely quiche on your camera.

This came out far better than I could have hoped for. On taking the pastry out ready for the filling to go in I thought it was looking quite soggy, but it crisped up nicely. Le Boof thought I had bought it from a fancy quiche shop or something and then even after I corrected him it took some persuading to made him believe I had made the pastry case too. This pastry recipe is the one I use for all my savoury pastry needs and it never disappoints. I took out a book from the library a while ago about cooking during WWII rationing, a book full of wonderful, sensible and hearty meals, and this was the recipe they suggested for making pastry. I'm not a big fan of clichés, but if it ain't broke...

Ooh, and finally, I know I've waffled on a fair bit already, but I have for a while been on a mission to find a good chocolate cake recipe that goes well with a chocolate buttercream icing (a lot of recipes I've tried have been too sweet). I made some this week, and they're my favourite so far. It's a recipe for a chocolate cake, but I just put the mix into muffin cases. Also, I discovered that although it makes it far faaaarrr too stiff to pipe, freezing chocolate buttercream icing makes it taste even better. If that's possible.

Song what I have been reminded I really like: The Count & Sinden featuring Mystery Jets - After Dark

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