I would like to begin this month's musings with a farewell as this will be the last column from me for a while – but hopefully not forever.
I have very much enjoyed writing for the WMN and I can hardly believe it has been a year already. But a year it is and I feel it is time to step down.
But before I go, let's have a little chat about cooking one last time. Specifically eggs. And as any chef will tell you, cooking without eggs would be a tricky proposition. I often have to cook for vegans and, on the whole, I do not have an issue with leaving out the cheese, butter, milk, meat or even honey. But when it comes to eggs, there is simply no substitute. Well, there is, but it's a bit weird and I have not yet got to grips with it.
Can there be a more simple pleasure than the perfectly cooked soft boiled egg?
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Buttered toast and a little salt and pepper transform this simple act of cookery into one of the truly great dishes of all time, all the hard work – as with all good dishes – is done by the ingredients and a good quality free-range egg is a must and a home grown egg all the better.
However, I want to add a few extras to the mix. I like a fried egg sandwich as much as the next chap, especially if it has been fried in a little left over roast pork fat, but add a few cumin seeds to sprinkled over the top and it is a truly wonderful thing.
Scrambled eggs for me are all about the butter. I know that a lot of people swear by a little cream but it makes them a little sweet for my taste and I like to cook mine with butter – lots and lots of butter.
Start the butter in a thick-bottomed pan and as it melts season it with celery salt and black pepper. Just before it starts to foam add your beaten eggs and stir gently until they are just setting, then take them off the heat and allow the heat stored in the pan to finish the job.
Many people like smoked salmon with their scramblers but, for the perfect addition, pop in a few field mushrooms which are out there right now of the taking.
Onwards to better things. Whatever happened to quiche? When I was a lad, quiche was something that people made. I had never heard of a savoury "tart" and there did not seem to be any bad examples knocking about either.
These days it seems a quiche is a flavourless non-specific culmination of food crime sold in a cardboard box (which it very much resembles in flavour) in the supermarket.
I think it is time to own up to this tragedy and get baking. I like a nice quiche as it forms the perfect packed lunch, uses leftovers and provides the tastiest lunchtime treat for fairly minimum effort and if you are really stuck for time, leave out the pastry and just bake a nice frittatta.
For the pastry, I think simple is best; half the butter to flour, salt and enough cold water to make a paste. You need to rest this before you bake it so why not make a batch and keep it in quiche-sized balls in the freezer, thus removing the hassle?
Most quiche tins are too big. I like a deep one around six to eight inches max. This makes the best filling-to-crust ratio with the added joy of maximum crispy crumbly at the crust edge and maximum eggy delight in the middle.
What you put in it after you have blind baked and sealed your pastry case (don't rush this as it will be soft on the bottom) is then up to you. At the moment mine are chocca with tonnes of beans from the garden and mushrooms from the woods, not to mention cold sausage, chicken, herbs and squash.
I am a massive fan of a leftover roast dinner quiche, but make sure you leave out the gravy – it really, really won't work.
But above all, make sure you use great eggs and full-fat milk for your custard as anything else is simply going to be a let down.
So go on, make a quiche and enjoy it, it is not shameful and it deserves to be liberated from its cardboard tomb and given the respect it deserves.
It is a great instant treat from the fridge and will pay you back for the time you invest in it. Feel free to chuck in what ever you like and experiment a bit but please, just for me, don't "tart" it up...
Find Tim Maddams at greensauce.co.uk