I love quiche. In my pre-glutenfreebie days, a supermarket quiche would often find its way into the trolley for a quick, mid-week meal. Pop it in the oven and put some potatoes on to boil. Salad in a bag or baked beans from the tin. There are unhealthier comfort foods than this. But not anymore. I’ve got to really want quiche now because I have to make it from scratch and it isn’t a ten minute job. I must admit that I rarely ever made pastry before either – it was much easier to buy it ready-made (and even ready-rolled!) from the chiller cabinet. Now I really enjoy making pastry and thinking of what I can add to it to make it more interesting. I really like the Parmesan in this one – it makes the pastry really savoury. I once heard Sophie Grigson say that a quiche is only worth making and eating if you go the whole hog with adding double cream to the eggs, but I don’t happen to agree with her (I’m sure she must be gutted by this revelation!).But  I don’t believe in clogging up your arteries just for the sake of it. I try to use low-fat ingredients and buy low-fat foods when I think it really doesn’t matter but if the low-fat alternative is truly unpleasant (such as low-calorie coleslaw – bleugh!),then I give it a wide berth.  I use half-fat crème fraîche in quiche and, while it might not be as unctuous as the mega-calorie version, I still think it tastes delicious.

Gluten-free broccoli and garlic mushroom tartlet with Parmesan crust

Makes 4 tartlets

For the crust:

215g gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
15g ground tapioca*
50g Parmesan or Grana Padano, grated
60g butter, cubed
55g vegetable shortening (e.g. Cookeen), cubed
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
30ml cold water

For the filling:

100g broccoli florets, cut small
225g mushrooms, cut into 1cm dice
1 clove garlic, crushed
knob of butter (or low-fat spread)
5 eggs, lightly beaten
6 heaped tbsps half-fat crème fraîche
salt and pepper

You will also need 4 13cm x 3cm loose-bottomed fluted tartlet tins.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F).

Make the pastry. Pulse the flour, ground tapioca and grated cheese in a food processor to combine and get rid of any lumps.  Add the cubes of butter and shortening and pulse once more until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg and continue to mix until the mixture resembles damp sand. The amount of water you’ll need to add will depend upon the absorption of your flour mix and the size of the egg, so add about a tablespoon of the water first and continue to pulse, adding more water if required. The mixture needs to come together as a slightly sticky dough.

Tip the pastry out onto a lightly floured surface and bring together as a ball with your hands. Slightly flatten and cut into four portions. Form each portion into a ball and flatten into a disc about 5mm thick. I tend to do this with the heel of my hand, perhaps finishing it off with the rolling pin. Carefully lift the disc into the tartlet tin and press it in firmly. Remove the surplus pastry from around the rim, either with a knife or your thumb. Mend any tears in the base with surplus pastry and then prick it with a fork. There should be some pastry left over. Reserve this in case any cracks need mending after blind baking. Line the cases with baking parchment** and baking beans. Place them on a baking sheet and bake them blind in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and parchment, return to the oven and cook until the pastry is golden (about another 5-10 minutes). Remove from the oven and mend any cracks with leftover raw pastry.  Lower the oven temperature to 150°C (300°F).

While the pastry is baking, gently fry the mushroom cubes in a knob of butter (or substitute: I used olive spread). Add the garlic after the mushrooms have been cooking for several minutes, so that it doesn’t burn and also a sprinkling of salt (this should help to release the liquid from the mushrooms). Cook the mushrooms until they are a dark, golden brown and most of the liquid has evaporated (this should take about 10 minutes). Set aside to cool. Blanch the broccoli florets in a large pan of boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water. Set aside. Lightly whisk the eggs and crème fraîche together in a jug. Season with salt and pepper (but remember that some salt has already been added to the mushrooms).

When the tartlet cases are out of the oven, scatter the mushrooms evenly over the base and then divide the broccoli florets equally amongst them. Carefully pour the egg mixture into the four cases and cover loosely with aluminium foil. Return them to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes or until the outside is set but the middle is still wobbly. Allow to cool slightly so that the egg custard continues to set. Serve warm with new potatoes and a salad.

* I’m using up some tapioca that I ground myself in a coffee grinder because I couldn’t find any tapioca flour. I think tapioca flour is probably a bit finer.

** I use Heston Blumenthal’s trick which is to scrunch the parchment up several times and smooth it out before putting it in the tins.

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