So Christmas is done for another year…… I hope it was good for you and that you enjoyed plenty of happy and restful time with family and friends and some fantastic food too…….
With New Year now just a few days away, my culinary thoughts have turned to parties and nibbles and what would make great food to pick at and scavenge as you socialise in the annual anticipation of midnight celebrations. This foodie expectation runs alongside an annual contemplation of life and progress over the last few months. I always do a lot of thinking when I am cooking……
Somehow, the hope and reflection that come with the turn of the year seem that much more poignant this year. The world is in turmoil. Every time we turn on the news there seems to be yet another scene of devastation and destruction whether man-made or natural. We live in fear for the future of our planet and our children…… everything from pointless human conflict to floods, fire and famine….. and every day I think to myself ‘when will we achieve the shared consciousness that will allow the penny to drop and propel us towards the change we need to get back on track?’ (be it recognising the futile waste in killing each other or the need to act to prevent climate change and save our planet in a habitable state). I look at my own day to day small (and very trivial) battles and realise just how lucky I and my family are not to have been directly caught up in anything thus far…..
The multitude of world threats that now exist seem to surpass everything that has gone before. Let’s hope that 2016 brings positive change and a greater understanding that our future really is in our collective hands……
Whatever happens next year and beyond, make this New Year one to remember. Enjoy those close to you and remember each and every day to tell them that you love them……
And so back to food….. Whether you intend to see the new year in quietly at home or partying into the small hours, you may well be planning dishes that are good to share and graze on as the evening progresses. It seems to be a good opportunity to think small….. food that you can pick up with your fingers and munch as you chat and mingle.
You can’t go wrong with mini quiches. Making a whole variety of flavours using just one batch of pastry and one batch of egg filling, they are perfect for speedy preparation as well as to fit a whole range of individual preferences. And you can make them in advance and heat them through. Plate out what you need and any that are left over, freeze for another day. Win win!
Perfect for the party platter or as an appetiser, the biggest decision you will need to make is what to fill them with….. I have decided to make meat, fish and vegetable options, to try and get a choice for everyone…… a good medley of popular combos enhanced by a contrasting mingle of cheeses.
They are made with my favourite almond pastry, although I tweaked the liquid quantities slightly, to achieve a more pliable dough that would push flexibly into my mini tart cases. I also tried blending the dough using the fraisering technique that I learnt when I went on a gluten free pastry course at Braxted Park with Adriana Rabinovich in the Autumn. You can see how to use the fraisering technique here.
I have no idea whether fraisering made any significant difference to the end result, but I can confirm that the pastry was amazing. It was light and short and crisp and crumbly in the mouth, melting beautifully around the fillings as it was eaten. With each quiche I have munched I have mumbled ‘wow… this pastry is so good’!
Although they are all delicious, my favourite filling has to be the Mushroom, Leek and Stilton one. You can use whichever mushrooms your prefer, but being the season of indulgence, I chose to use some extra special Forestiere mushrooms (found at Tesco), which had a particularly deep and nutty flavour about them, perfectly complimented by the slightly acidic sweetness of the leeks and earthy tang of the blue cheese. I threw some brandy into the pan for good measure when cooking, which definitely added an extra richness and decadence to the flavour of the mix. I will absolutely be trying this concoction of ingredients in a larger quiche, it was that delicious!
My mini quiches are being shared with the following linkies :
Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice.
The Pastry Challenge with Jen’s Food and United Cakedom.
Tasty Tuesdays with Vicki at Honest Mum.
Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.
Mini Quiches (makes 40 to 50 mini quiches)
For the Pastry :
195g brown rice flour
75g corn flour (corn starch)
60g ground almonds
1½ teaspoons xanthan gum
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
165g unsalted butter (cold & cubed)
2 large eggs
½ tablespoon very cold water
- Weigh the flours, almonds, xanthan gum and salt into a large bowl and whisk lightly (hand whisk) to mix thoroughly.
- Rub the butter into the dry mix until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg and water and then pour into the crumb mixture.
- Stir the ingredients with a flat knife until they begin to clump together and form a slightly sticky dough.
- At this stage, you may choose to use the fraisering technique to work the dough (although this is not essential) or you can just bring the dough together with your hands (floured if necessary) into a block.
- Get ready a couple or three mini tart tins and break off small (walnut sized pieces) of dough. Roll the dough pieces into balls and dip the base of each in flour before gently pushing into a tart hole.
- Take a pastry pusher or a child-sized rolling pin and dip the end in flour. Gently press on the top of the dough balls and rock back and forth to push the pastry up the sides of each tart mould. Repeat until all the pastry has been used. If you want to make in batches, tightly wrap any remaining dough in cling film and chill until ready to use, but be sure to bring back to room temperature before rolling.
- Set aside the uncooked cases and chill covered in cling film until ready to fill with your chosen filling.
Egg Filling – For all the quiches
Bacon & Cheddar
Salmon & Gruyere
Mushroom, Leek & Stilton
approx 100g mushrooms of choice (I used extra special ‘Forestiere’ mushrooms) – cut into small pieces
- To make your Bacon, Salmon and/or Mushroom fillings (increase the quantities if you are only making one variety). Don’t overfill the cases as you will need room for egg filling too :
- Bacon & Cheddar : sautee the bacon. Place a sprinkle of Cheddar in the bottom of some of the uncooked tart cases. Top with a little bacon and a sprinkle of parsley and then a little more Cheddar.
- Salmon & Gruyere : Place a sprinkle of Gruyere cheese in the bottom of some of the uncooked tart cases. Top with a little salmon, some dill and the a little more Gruyere.
- Mushroom, Leek & Stilton : Saute the chopped leeks for a couple of minutes with a little olive oil and then add the mushrooms and continue to fry until soft. Add a dash of brandy, a sprinkle of chopped parsley and season with salt and a good grind of black pepper. Simmer for a couple of minutes until the liquid has significantly reduced. Place a sprinkle of Stilton in the bottom of some of the uncooked tart cases. Top with a spoonful of mushroom-leek mixture and then top with a little more Stilton.
- Egg Filling : beat together all the ingredients until light and airy.
- Using a jug or spoon, pour a little mixture into each of the filled tart cases until almost to the brim (but make sure it does not overflow).
- Bake all the tarts for about 20 minutes until the filling is set.
- Enjoy hot, warm or cold!