Asparagus and Gruyère Quiches

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Originally, the quiche was savoury egg custard baked in a pastry shell with bacon. Today, any combination of vegetable, or occasionally meat fillings, baked in a savoury custard is called a quiche. Come up with your own combinations, but remember to keep it simple and don’t try to add too many flavours — the custard is the star of the show. Take care not to overcook the custard, it should be rich and silky. Just like boiling an egg, if you cook it for a minute too long the result will be very different to the one that could have been.

Ingredients

  • 1 quantity savoury shortcrust pastry
  • 12 asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 5 cm (2 inch) pieces
  • 8 eggs
  • 400 ml (14 fl oz) pouring (whipping) cream (35% fat)
  • g (1/16 oz/½ teaspoon) salt
  • 240 g ( oz) gruyère cheese, grated
  • 4 tarragon sprigs, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method

Roll out the savoury pastry following the instructions and use it to line the base and sides of eight 10 cm (4 inch) fluted, loose-based tart tins. Place in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7).

Blanch the asparagus in a saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute, then immediately plunge into a bowl of cold water. Drain and set aside.

Put the eggs, cream and salt in a bowl and whisk together using a fork. Place the pastry shells on a baking tray. Scatter the asparagus and gruyère cheese evenly between the pastry cases and then sprinkle over the tarragon leaves. Pour over the egg custard to fill each tart as much as possible without overflowing. Season with pepper, to taste. Slide the tray onto the middle shelf of the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 170°C (325°F/Gas 3) and bake for about 30–35 minutes, or until the custard is just set and starting to colour on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little before serving.

The pissaladiére seems to be a way of eating pizza at 8.00 in the morning without feeling guilty — a beautiful thing indeed! If only someone could do the same with wine.

It is still debated what the traditional base should be. These days you could use either a pastry base (preferably puff, we believe) or a bread-dough base, such as olive oil dough. What no one debates, is the traditional topping — caramelised onions, anchovies and olives.