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Bury St Edmunds Gastrono-me executive chef Gemma Simmonite on kissing goodbye to shop-bought quiche



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I’m writing this article and recipe just before the big heatwave hits and thinking of what I’d really like to eat when the mercury does hit that burning 40 degrees!

This is one of my favourite recipes, and one that I’ve been making since St John’s Street Gastrono-me days, and for my family even longer.

Pastry from scratch often frightens most people, with it looking like a palaver and then maybe only having a disaster after all that work, so I’ve used this opportunity to include in this recipe a little pastry masterclass, long-winded in detail, but I truly promise you that if you follow this recipe religiously, you will have a success on your hands.

Kiss goodbye to shop-bought quiche
Kiss goodbye to shop-bought quiche

There are also some useful pastry tips to help you further in your pastry endeavours.

You will not only be able to make this tart, but you can start creating your own flavours, and if you need inspiration there are so many delicious tart/quiche recipes out there.

Large quiches were on a constant loop at St John’s Street, we used to make four giant ones every Saturday, usually dictated by the season, or more often what delicious cheeses and meats I could snaffle from the deli counters! A regular favourite was also our salmon, taleggio and spring onion, but I was often tempted by a minted pea and feta combination – so fresh and vibrant.

But literally anything you love will work in a tart – leftover cheeses, some salami, cold cuts or vegetables.

Of course, it’s often much easier to watch a recipe being demonstrated, so back in lockdown and with time on our hands we made a video to show exactly how to make this tart, especially the pastry making section, so if you need a visual just go along to our Instagram – instagram.com/gastrono_me – and click through to the video section. There are also some other quick videos on how to make my Gastrono-me favourites.

This delicious Mediterranean tart really does evoke feelings of summer, the sun-drenched ingredients really pop, and it will make you wonder why you ever bought store quiches before – too often devoid of any flavour or seasoning and encased in a stodgy pastry. A slice of this homemade creation hot or cold, with maybe a little salad and a cheeky chilled glass of something, will be all you need to get you through the heatwave, well maybe except a fan.

Pastry Baking Tips

If you don’t own baking beans, raid your loose change – coins will work just as well. Don’t worry they won’t touch your pastry!

Don’t skip the chilling process, either before you’ve rolled or once in the tin.

Don’t overwork the pastry, just enough handling to bring the pastry together.

Don’t use too much flour on your counter when rolling, just enough to prevent it sticking, and a little on your rolling pin will help, too.

Preheat your oven for the initial blind bake, if it’s not hot enough your pastry will start to collapse and shrink.

Don’t forget to lower the oven temperature after the initial blind bake, so the quiche filling can bake slowly.

Fill your pastry case close to the oven, even the steadiest hand will spill, trust me!

Decorating with extra toppings after you’ve filled your case will make for a beautiful and professional looking finish.

Allow to cool in the tin before removing.

For safe removal, pop a tin of baked beans or similar underneath the tart tin, and this will allow you to lift out the quiche safely, then transfer to a wire rack.

Why not double the recipe and make two at the same time – perfect for when you need something delicious with minimal effort.

Mediterranean Tart

You will also need a 9-inch/23cm loose bottom fluted metal tart tin

Parchment paper

Baking beans

Rolling pin

For the shortcrust pastry

200g plain flour

100g butter chilled and cubed

1 large free-range egg

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon of cold water

Filling ingredients

3 large free-range eggs

250ml double cream

1 teaspoon of salt

4 tablespoon of tomato sauce (you could use roasted cherry tomatoes instead)

180g extra mature Cheddar, grated

75g of feta cheese, cubed

A handful of roasted vegetables

4 teaspoons of fresh pesto

A handful of sliced black olives

Snipped chives, torn basil

Method for pastry

Pour all the ingredients into a food processor and

use the pulse button to blitz the ingredients gradually. Do this carefully – it will start to turn into breadcrumbs, then will turn into clumps. When it gets to this stage, empty onto a floured surface and bring together gently – the less you knead, the better your pastry as you won’t over work the glutens and end up with tough pastry.

Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour – doing this will help the pastry relax and will prevent it from shrinking when baking.

On a floured surface roll out the pastry from the centre, moving it around in circles to ensure equal thickness. Roll the pastry’s diameter 3 inches larger than your tart tin.

When you’ve rolled to the right size, about the thickness of a pound coin, roll the pastry towards you over your rolling pin, then unroll the pastry over your tin starting closest to you.

Gently ease the pastry into the tin using the heel of your hand, whilst pushing up a little on the sides of the tin at the same time.

Cut the over-hang by angling the rolling pin over the sides of the tin and roll the pin around the top of the tin.

When cut, gently push up the pastry from the sides, then prick all over with a fork.

Chill again in the fridge for at least an hour.

When chilled, line with crumpled baking parchment and line with baking beans.

Put in a 205C/400 pre-heated oven and bake for 10 minutes. This is known as ‘blind baking’.

Remove the parchment and beans and bake for a further 3-4 minutes until just golden.

Your pastry case is now ready for filling.

Method for filling

Lower the oven to 175C/350F.

Crack the eggs into a jug and whisk with the double cream and salt and put to one side.

Spoon the tomato sauce thinly into the pastry case, followed by the cheeses – reserve some of the cheddar and the feta for the final topping.

Layer with the roasted vegetables, black olives and chives and drizzle over the pesto sauce, again reserve a little of all of these for the final topping.

Carefully pour over the egg custard, and finish with more of the cheeses and leftover ingredients and herbs.

Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Allow to cool in the tin.

Gemma is executive chef and co-creator of Gastrono-me, Abbeygate Street, Bury St Edmunds and Bridge Street, Cambridge