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Comfort Food

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: May 04, 2013

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This weekend is the first of the two public holidays during the month of May.

On Monday it will be the May Day bank holiday giving everybody a nice long weekend to relax and chill out and probably visit the beach or the moors.

A day out does not have to cost a fortune if you choose to take your own picnic, and make your own dish of the day.

Flans and quiches are ideal picnic food, as they travel well and are ideal served with a variety of salads which you can either make up yourself and pack into plastic containers, or buy ready made from your local deli counter.

I would suggest that you make your own quiches or flans. It is well worth the effort as the results are far superior to the shop-bought variety.

What I always hated was the palaver when creating quiches of making the pastry and having to bake it blind.

All that hassle disappeared when the late Cornish cookery writer, Marika Hanbury Tenison gave me a wonderful tip. She had been on book tour to South Africa giving live cookery demonstrations and had found herself at one venue with no plain flour or iced water available for pastry – so she improvised by using self-raising flour and dry white wine (instead of water) which resulted in a super pastry that needed no chilling, no baking blind and produced a nice, crisp, pastry bottom.

Enough to make 2 x 25cm quiches

350g self raising flour

pinch salt

150g butter or margarine

1 small egg

dry white wine

Chop the butter into small pieces. Put the flour, salt and butter in a food processor or mixer and process until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the egg and process again until the ingredients are mixed, add sufficient wine for a nice soft, but firm, dough to form.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface and use to line the flan cases. Prick the base all over with a fork and chill in the freezer while you make the filling.

Serves 6

1 ready prepared pastry case, as above

350g streaky bacon

1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 free-range eggs

150ml natural yoghurt

150ml semi-skimmed milk

salt and freshly ground black pepper

225g cooked and chopped spinach – defrosted

Preheat the oven to 190C (375F, gas mark 5). Cut half of the bacon into small dice. Put the spinach into a strainer, so that all the liquid drains off.

Heat the oil in a pan and sauté off the diced bacon and onion until golden. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little before spreading evenly over the pastry case base.

Put the eggs, yoghurt, milk and a good seasoning of salt and freshly ground black pepper in a bowl and whisk until well blended. Stir in the spinach and pour over the bacon and onion, and put into the oven for ten minutes.

Cut the remaining bacon rashers in half, and using the back of a fork stretch the bacon to double its size and form into little rolls. Place on a baking tray and once the initial cooking time of ten minutes for the quiche is reached, put the tray of bacon rolls in the oven alongside the quiche and cook for a further 20-25 minutes. Garnish the top of the quiche with the bacon rolls.

Serves 6

1 pastry case, as above

8 spring onions

225g fresh crabmeat

125g Danish Blue cheese

2 free range eggs

150ml double cream

150ml semi skimmed milk

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Trim and chop the spring onions and scatter on the base of the pastry case, and top with the crabmeat. Preheat the oven to 190C (375F, gas mark 5).

Crumble the cheese into a food processor, or blender, together with the eggs, cream and milk and process until smooth, then pour over the crabmeat. Sprinkle the ground nutmeg evenly over the top and pop into the oven and bake for around 30-40 minutes or until golden and firm.

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