Ham and Gruyère Quiche

Ham and Gruyère is a particularly Christmassy combination. It would be great with a festive salad for a brunch around the Christmas period.

Big Christmas gatherings necessitate lots of food, so I am more than happy to pull out my Grandmother’s beautiful – and enormous – quiche dish (Portmeirion c. 1972). She never did portions by halves, a family trait I am quite happy to have inherited. This one makes about a quiche and a half in one dish, but I’ve provided quantities for a normal-sized quiche, below.

Particularly around Christmastime it’s so important to indulge those feelings of nostalgia, familiarity and personal history. I can think of no better way, than to cook using my Grandmother’s dish and my Mum’s quiche recipe.

Ingredients

Shallots, finely chopped

Good quality cooked ham, cut into cubes or small pieces

200g Gruyère cheese, grated

6 – 8 eggs (depending on how deep your quiche dish is)

Milk

Salt and pepper

For the pastry:

3 cups plain flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup vegetable shortening, chilled

1 egg

Ice water

Method:

To make the pastry, ¾ fill a mug with water and ice. Set aside. In a large bowl, add the flour and salt and stir to combine. Cut the cold shortening into little pieces and add to the flour. Use a pastry cutter to mix the flour and shortening together so it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Remove the ice from the water and beat one egg into the cold water. Add about half the egg and water mixture to the flour bowl and use a fork to stir. Keep adding water – a little at a time – until the pastry just starts to come together. You may not need all the water and egg. Try not to overwork the pastry, but don’t panic about it. Just stir lazily. Split the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Press gently to form discs, then refrigerate the discs for 20 minutes, or longer.

You’ll only need one disc for a quiche. You can either refrigerate the other disc for up to 4 days or freeze.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface, dusting a little more flour as you go and rotating the pastry to make sure it’s not sticking. Loosely roll the pastry around the rolling pin and transfer your baking dish. Let the pastry fall in and up the sides, trying not to stretch the pastry as you go.

Now it’s time to blind bake the pastry, which simply means bake it with a layer of foil or parchment, with beans or pastry weights weighing it down.

Prick the raw pastry all over with a fork, including the sides, then place a sheet of foil on top. Add a layer of raw beans/split peas/lentils – whatever you have – and bake for 10 minutes at 375F / 190C / 175C Fan. Then, carefully remove the foil and beans and bake for another 5 – 10 minutes, until the pastry is no longer shiny and the edges are just beginning to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Tip: Beans used for blind baking aren’t good to use in normal cooking afterwards. Keep them in an airtight container and use again and again to blind bake.

To the base of the pastry shell, add a layer of finely chopped shallots, ham and the grated cheese.

Whisk together the eggs, a splash of milk and a pinch of salt and pepper. Slowly pour in the egg mixture. Bake at 375F / 190C / 175C Fan for 30 – 40 minutes, or until just set and browned on top. Let sit for about 20 minutes before slicing.

The best bit about quiche is it’s just as wonderful cold as it is warm from the oven. The next morning, when you have the house to yourself again, retreat back up to bed for a cup of tea, a slice of quiche and some peace and quiet.

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