Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pies of Past and Present

Surprisingly, in a book dealing with nothing but recipes using pastry, there is one exception: a crustless quiche! This alone makes me wonder if all quiche fillings could not be treated in the same way, for the end result is almost like an easy souffle. Read through and see what you think' You may even wish to have a go yourself. The sweetcorn used is given as 'on the cob' to be then grated, but canned (and drained) or frozen corn could be used and blitzed for a few seconds in a blender to give a similar result - and as the amount of corn flesh and its juice needs to be approx 12 fl oz (350ml) we should be able to arrive at this amount any which way we choose.
No-crust Corn and Bacon 'quiches': makes 4
4 corn cobs, husks removed and grated
2 tsp olive oil
2 rashers bacon, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tblsp chopped chives
2 tblsp chopped parsley
2 oz (50g) fresh white breadcrumbs
3 fl oz (80ml) cream
salt and pepper
Lightly grease four 6fl oz/185ml) ramekin dishes. Remove husks from the corn and, using a coarse grater, grate the kernels into a deep bowl to give approx 12 fl oz (350ml) flesh and juice combined.
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the bacon and onion for 4 minutes or until the onion has softened. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl, then stir in the corn/juice, eggs, herbs, breadcrumbs and cream, adding seasoning to taste. Divide between the ramekins and place in a large baking dish or roasting tin. Add enough hot water to come half-way up the sides of the dishes. Lay a sheet of foil loosely over the top and bake for 25 minutes at 180C, 350F, gas 4 or until just set.

To make flour go that little bit further, mix it with other ingredients to make a different type of pastry. Two suggestions are given below, one using polenta for a savoury quiche, the other using custard powder for a sweet tart. Although both can be made by hand (God's own tools remember), they are more easily made using a food processor.
When freezing away uncooked pastry, especially when making more than one type, always label as for sweet or savoury use.
Polenta Pastry: for a quiche to serve 6
4 oz (100g) plain flour
3 oz (75g) polenta or cornmeal
3 oz (75g) butter, cubed
3 oz (73g) cream cheese, cubed
First chill the butter and cream cheese before cubing.
Put the flour and polenta into the bowl of a food processor and give a quick blitz. Then add the cold butter and cheese and process for about 15 seconds or until the mixture just comes together. Turn out onto a floured surface and form into a ball. Wrap in cling-film, then chill for 30 minutes.
When ready to use, roll out between two sheets of baking parchment to the size needed to line the chosen tin (makes enough to line a tin approx 9" x 11"/21 x 28cm - use less if a smaller tin is used). Trim away excess pastry and chill again for 20 minutes, then bake blind for 15 minutes at 190C, 375F, gas 5, then remove paper and beans and bake on for a further 15 minutes or until pastry is dry and golden. Add the chosen quiche filling and bake at the lower temperature of 180C etc for about 25 - 30 minutes or until set.

Final recipe today is for the other version of short pastry, and one made by our grandparents, for surprisingly, custard powder (one of the very first convenience foods) has been around for a very long time. As this pastry tends to hold its shape well, worth using when presentation is of some importance.
Granny's Pastry: enough to make 24 little tarts
8 oz (250g) plain flour
2 tblsp custard powder
4 oz (100g) butter, chilled and cubed
1 egg yolk
2 - 3 tblsp iced water
Put the flour, custard powder and butter in a food processor and blitz for 30 seconds until like fine crumbs. Add the egg yolk and most of the water and blitz for a further 20 seconds or until the pastry has come together, adding remaining water only if necessary. Turn out onto a floured surface, gather into a ball, and wrap in cling-film. Chill for 20 minutes.
To use, divide in half, keeping the spare portion wrapped and chilled, and roll out between baking parchment to 1/8" (3mm) thick. Using a fluted cutter, cut into rounds to line 12 tartlet tins, then repeat with remaining pastry. Chill again before spooning chosen filling into pastry cases and bake for15 minutes at 180C, 350F, gas 4, or until filling is cooked.