The egg. Perhaps the humblest food there is. A great source of protein and the foundation of so many quick and simple meals.
For nearly 18 months I didn’t eat eggs. Along with a host of other foods, following food intolerance testing, I removed egg from my diet. I embraced vegan baking using egg replacers such as applesauce, mashed banana, flaxseed and chia seeds to bind ingredients. Turns out eggs are fairly easily replaced in baked goods. An egg-less quiche even became a common lunch for me – intrigued? Mixing together gram flour and water, leaving it to froth for a few hours, once baked creates a texture amazingly akin to the egg filling of a quiche.
After seeing my digestion and overall ME/CFS symptoms improve over the year or so following my restricted diet, it was time to try re-introducing the banned foodstuffs. The theory goes that a 12 month absence from eating a food to which you were intolerant, will, in most cases, heal your gut to the point where you can reintroduce the food without reaction. It doesn’t work in all cases, it depends how severe your intolerance was to start with – I haven’t been able to successfully reintroduce gluten and dairy for example, as my last post shows.
The humble egg was the first food I reintroduced and I am very happy to say that it was successful. I now eat eggs two or three times a week. They make the perfect quick lunch – scrambled eggs with basil pesto on toast is my go to when I’m feeling
Although I do still make the chickpea based egg free quiche – I like to mix up my proteins, and still eat plenty of plant based meals – an egg full quiche is firmly back on the menu.
A quiche of course doesn’t just call for eggs. It calls for delicious pastry too; not an easy fix when it has to be gluten and dairy free. I have been gluten free for over 10 years now. I remember the first gluten free pastry my Mum and I made. It was my first gluten free Christmas and we tried to make gluten free mince pies. The pastry could have shattered glass. Or broken a tooth as you bit into it. It was very hard and totally unyielding.
Ten years on however, after much trial and error, my Mum has cracked Jess Friendly pastry. For lunch in the run up to the wedding, Mum made a quiche with a light, flaky shortcrust pastry that literally melted in your mouth. It had a lovely wholemeal flavour from using oat flour. You would never have guessed it was gluten and dairy free.
I have made the quiche twice since Mum’s wedding week one. And the pastry worked beautifully both times, even though the first time was my first attempt at making pastry ever. Gluten free or gluten full. Somehow, despite a love of cooking, I had reached the age of 31 without making pastry. It wasn’t perfect to look at, but it tasted very good which is all that matters in my eyes.
Some gluten free pastries suggest rolling out between two pieces of clingfilm, I didn’t need to do this with this pastry, but it may help. Pastry is a challenging friend, so do whatever helps you get it into the baking dish! I would say though do not chill the pastry in the fridge before rolling out. In my Mum’s (pastry chef extraordinaire) experience that just makes the pastry hard once baked.
Back To The Egg
My quiche filling was less successful the first time around than my maiden pastry voyage. After blind baking the pastry, I followed the guidance of a famous British celebrity chef (who shall remain nameless) whose recipe said to bake the quiche for 15 minutes and then the egg mixture would be set. Erm no. I baked it for 25 minutes and then thought it was done. It was firm to the touch in the centre. But on cutting into it, there was still a steady stream of liquid egg. Although I definitely wouldn’t advocate eating semi cooked quiche, it did taste very nice! I can thank the pancetta and caramelised onion filling for the delicious flavour rather than the runny egg.
Second attempt at quiche making resulted in the recipe and photos that I am sharing today. Even if I say so myself, it looks mighty fine! This time I ignored Mr celebrity chef’s advice and asked my Mum – Mum’s know best correct? Correct! Mum advised a much longer cooking time and the result was a perfectly set egg filling to the quiche, moist but not runny. And the pastry again was delicious, light and flakey.
Quiche comes in hundreds of different guises. My recipe here is for a vegetarian filling. I used a bounty of summer produce – sautéed courgette, slow roasted tomatoes and caramelised red onion. If you don’t have to avoid dairy, feta or goats cheese would be an amazing addition. Or if you’re an avid meat eater then smoked ham or bacon would be delicious too. The pastry recipe is the star here, beyond that go forth and be adventurous with your choice of filling!
Here’s the recipe:
A Summer Quiche
Gluten, dairy, nut and soya free
For the Pastry:
- 100g rice flour
- 100g oat flour (I grind my own from gluten free oats) + extra for rolling
- 1/2 tsp xanthum gum
- 80g solid vegetable fat (I use Trex)
- Pinch of salt
- 6-8 tbsp of cold water (I chill a jug in the fridge to ensure the water is cold before use)
For the Summer Quiche Filling:
- 6 eggs
- 5 slow roasted tomatoes (I used a recipe from the Intolerant Gourmet‘s first book)
- 2 red onions
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 courgette
- rapeseed oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Sesame seeds
For the Pastry:
- Preheat your oven to 220ºC (fan oven 200ºC)
- Line the base of an 8 inch round shallow dish with baking parchment and grease the edges of the dish with rapeseed oil
- Sift the flours into a large bowl, add the xanthum gum and salt, stir to mix together
- Cut the vegetable fat into small pieces and add to the bowl
- Rub the fat into the dry ingredients with your fingers until you have a breadcrumb type texture
- Gradually add the cold water, 1 tbsp at a time, mixing with a metal spoon as you go. You need enough to bind the crumbs together but you do not want it too wet or sticky
- Once the crumbs have started to come together, gently kneed the dough with your hands for a couple of minutes until it forms a ball
- Place the ball on a floured surface and gently roll it out into a thin circle (mine was about 1/2 cm thick I think) and then, the trickiest part, place it into your prepared dish. Do not be afraid to patchwork your pastry if there are any cracks or holes. The egg filling will seal it all together later
- Lightly prick the base all over with a fork
- Place a piece of baking parchment paper over the base and cover with baking beans
- Bake blind for 10-12 minutes.
For the Summer Quiche Filling:
- Whilst the pastry case is baking, prepare the filling by cracking the eggs into a basin and lightly whisking with a fork
- Slice the onions into half moons and add to a frying pan with a little seasoned rapeseed oil. Once the onions have started to soften and brown add the vinegar and sugar and stir well. Cook for 5 minutes until nicely caramelized.
- Slice the courgette into thin strips, cut length ways. Heat a little rapeseed oil in another frying pan and sauté the strips for a few minutes until softened
- Once your pastry case is cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Reduce your oven temperature to 180ºC (fan oven 160ºC)
- Arrange onions, tomatoes and courgette slices in your pastry case before pouring over your whisked eggs. Finish by sprinkling sesame seeds over the top
- Bake for 40 minutes or until firm in the centre (I used the clean tooth pick test to be sure), allow to cool slightly before cutting into slices.
Do you have a favourite quiche filling? Or any tips for working with pastry? Don’t be shy, please share in the comments below!