Let's be honest, quiche as a food isn't exactly "fun" nor is it particularly photogenic. Not like pretty berry tarts or pastel coloured macarons, and there are plenty other savoury dishes that are far more appealing to the eye, even if it's just a juicy steak with perfect grill marks. Quiche is definitely a "don't judge a book by its cover" sort of dish, because while it can appear fairly boring, even downright ugly, once you get to the different flavours hiding inside in a warm and soft eggy centre, you remember why you like hanging around with quiche so much. It's got personality.
Speaking of quiche, as I'm doing right now (to the point where "quiche" is sounding weird to me), I just need to lay out some rules. Let's call them Mandy's Rules of the Quiche.
Mandy's Rules of the Quiche
Rule no. 1: Although there appears to be such a thing as a "crustless quiche", any excuse for buttery pastry is a bonus and should not be dismissed flippantly. If you're off carbs, you shouldn't be eating Quiche. Quiche is a fat-fest and no amount of carb-stripping or low-fat dairy is going to save its delicious calorific soul.
Rule no. 2: Quiche must be no less than 2 inches tall. If you think a shallow tart tin is going to give you quiche just because it happens to have the right ingredients, you're wrong. Quiche is also about the texture and you need at least 2 inches to qualify. So get that tart tin out of here, Quiche will not be insulted like that!
Rule no. 3: Quiche is better the next day, but it won't be held against you if you can't wait that long.
Rule no. 4: Quiche loves to be made with leftovers and lonely vegetables, so take those humble remnants from yesterday's chicken roast or that one lonely tomato and its half onion friend and whatever else you can gather together and put them in a Quiche. That said, Quiche prefers ingredients that are fresh, not ones that are currently on death row.
Rule no. 5: Quiche with cheese is a better Quiche indeed. Need I say more?
Now that we understand each other, let's talk about this quiche in particular.
I've been doing a bit of research for a new blog series that I'm planning on doing this year all about Ireland's food history; native ingredients, food before the potato, traditional recipes etc. and this quiche is completely influenced by that research. I'm actually going to include this recipe in the series because, although a quiche itself may not be Irish, I think the flavours and ingredients would have made this a rather popular dish in Irish homes had it been around a few centuries ago.
Going back before the potato, the Irish enjoyed a diet mostly made up of dairy. Fresh milk, buttermilk, sour milk, cream, curds, cheese and butter in various forms; dairy wasn't just a staple, it was thoroughly enjoyed. If you ask me, a quiche would not look out of place in a drawing of a dinner table some 400 or more years ago, although the pastry would probably have been made with oat or barley flour.
Even though I'm planning on steering more towards recipes from before the much loved potato for my blog series, I couldn't help but include it in this recipe. For me, quiche needs something substantial inside. Chunks of ham, meaty mushroom, roast chicken, creamy feta, and in this case, perfectly cooked new potatoes. Considering all of the cream and eggs, quiche is actually quite light in texture, so having something to really bite into and chew is a very enjoyable texture contrast. And, of course, potato goes incredibly well with leek, kale and cheese, so it was a no-brainer to include it.
I like to think that this recipe is a combination of old Ireland and new Ireland, or possibly from the point where the potato was just becoming popular but dairy was still the main focus. Rich with dairy; milk, cream, sour cream, butter and good farmhouse cheese, then loaded with new potatoes, leek and curly kale, this quiche is full of personality!
Last words (and only one more use of the word quiche, that one not included...) You may have noticed the tub of Avonmore Cooking Cream in a couple of the photos, well, this is another entry for an Avonmore blogger's competition because I couldn't just stop at one recipe. Besides, it's a delicious product, so it's a win win. And hopefully Win!
Actually, this recipe ended up with a rather unplanned but impressive line up of Avonmore products. If I hadn't gone with farmhouse cheeses (the oak smoked cheddar is undoubtedly one of my most frequently bought cheese), I could have gone with an Avonmore cheddar and then just labelled this recipe as Avonmore's Potato, Kale & Leek Quiche. They might have liked that a lot! (And I'm willing to negotiate the title for, um, let's say, the prize? Just saying...)
Potato, Kale & Leek Quiche
Crust Ingredients (Pâte Brisée)
340g Plain Flour
2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme, roughly chopped
225g Unsalted Butter, chilled and cut into cubes
115ml Ice Cold Water
750g New Potatoes, rinsed
150g Curly Kale, rinsed
2 Leeks, split and rinsed
250ml (1 cup) Milk
250ml (1 cup) Avonmore Cooking Cream
250ml (1 cup) Sour Cream
2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Cracked Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Grated Nutmeg
100g (1 cup) Aged Cheddar, grated (smoked is optional but delicious)
For the Crust:
- Combine flour, thyme and salt in a large bowl with the butter
- Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs, with a few good pea sized pieces remaining
- Tip: You can also use a pastry cutter or 2 knives to cut the butter into the flour
- Tip: Alternatively, you can do this in a food processor. Add half the butter, pulse a few times, add the remaining butter, and pulse until you get the breadcrumb texture and pea sized pieces of butter
- Add half of the water and stir the mixture with a blunt knife
- Add more water just until the dough start to clump together
- Tip: If using a food processor, stop adding water as soon as a ball just starts forming after pulsing together
- Tip mixture out onto a floured surface and lightly work the dough until it comes together to form a ball
- Tip: Don't overwork the mixture, you want to still be able to see chunks of butter in the dough
- Flatten the ball of dough into a thick disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill for a minimum of an hour before using
For the Quiche
Prepare the crust:
- Remove chilled dough from the fridge and leave to stand at room temperature for about 15 mins, just so that it's easier to roll out
- Meanwhile, line the bottom of a 9" springform pan (or a 2" deep quiche tin) with parchment paper and lightly butter the sides
- On a well floured surface, or between 2 sheets of parchment paper, roll out the pastry dough until about 5 - 7mm thick
- Carefully roll the pastry onto your rolling pin, then gently unroll it over your prepared tin
- Gently work the pastry into the tin, making sure it's pressed into the corners
- Let the excess dough hang over the top of the pan, but reserve a small piece in case you need to patch any holes once baked
- Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork, then cover in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for about 30mins, during this time preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C Fan assisted)
- Once chilled, line the pastry with crumpled parchment or heavy duty clingfilm and fill with baking beads or dried beans or rice
- Put tin on a baking sheet and blind bake for 25 mins
- Remove parchment or clingfilm with beans, use reserved dough to patch any cracks or holes if needed, then return to the oven and bake for a further 15 mins
- Leave to cool on a wire rack, and once cool, use a sharp knife to trim off the overhanging excess dough
Prepare the Vegetables:
- Cook the potatoes by bringing a large pot of salted water to the boil, add potatoes and cook for 10 - 12mins, until a sharp knife or fork can easily pierce all the way through a potato
- Drain potatoes and leave to cool
- Blanche the kale by bringing a large pot of salted water to the boil, add half of the kale and cook for about 1 min, just until tender but still firm
- Remove kale with a slotted spoon and leave to drain in a colander
- Add the remaining kale and do the same
- Chop the leeks into roughly 1cm discs
- Add a splash of olive oil and 1 Tbsp salted butter to a frying pan over medium high heat
- Once butter is melted, add the leek and sauté just until tender, between 2 - 5 mins
- Remove from heat and leave to cool
- Once potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut each potato into thirds or quarters, depending on size, so that each round is about 1cm thick
- For the kale, squeeze out any excess water then trim off and discard any thick stalks. Roughly chop the kale and set aside
Assemble & Bake the Quiche:
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan assisted)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, sour cream, eggs, salt, pepper & nutmeg until frothy
- Combine the chopped kale with the custard mixture
- Spread the potato pieces on the bottom of the pastry shell
- Tip: The pastry tin must be on a large baking sheet
- Evenly strew half of the leek and half of the grated cheese over the potato
- Carefully spoon the kale on top and strew with the last of the leek
- Pour the custard into the shell and fill to the brim
- Tip: You need to work quickly at this point, the pastry is quite porous and you may see some of the mixture seeping out the bottom of the tin, but as soon as it's in the oven, the leaked mixture will cook and stop any more from seeping out
- Sprinkle the top with the remaining grated cheese
- Carefully place it on the middle shelf in the preheated oven, and reduce the temperature to 160°C (140°C Fan Assisted)
- Bake for 1h20 - 1h30, just until done but there's still a slight jiggle in the centre
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack for 40mins - 1hour
- Carefully remove the tin and leave for another 10 - 15mins before cutting into
- Tip: Don't be tempted to cut into it too soon, it won't be firm enough and you'll end up with a heap of scrambled egg on your plate rather than a slice of quiche
- Enjoy still warm, or refrigerate and enjoy the next day, either cold, or heated up and served with a fresh salad
Pastry and Basic Quiche Custard Recipes Adapted from Michael Ruhlman
Quiche will keep well up to 3 days in the fridge
To reheat, place slices of quiche on a baking tray and bake for 10mins in an oven preheated to 190°C (170°C Fan Assisted)