Sunday, 14 November 2010

Chestnut Mushroom and Goats Cheese Quiche with a Cashew Nut Crust

It came as a bit of a shock the other day when I realised how little time we have left before Christmas. I've organised my work Christmas party, I have ordered several new outfit options for said party (one made me look like a shiney bat, that went straight back... ), I even started buying presents in October, but I am still at a loss thinking that there are now only 41 days left.

Being in my early twenties and without any kids I still spend my Christmas Day and Boxing Day with Pete's parents and my parents respectively so I don't tend to do much entertaining at home, but for some reason I still feel the need to fill the flat with company ready foods that I can grab at a moments notice, although it tends to be myself grabbing for a quick snack between baking rather than because we have guests over. Either way, Christmas is definitely a party season and although buying nibbles from the supermarket is far easier, I think you should always serve something homemade to make it extra special - and to gain a few Brownie points with the inlaws and other people you wish to impress!

One staple of the British buffet is a quiche, which can just be put on a plate and cut into wedges and is always a good option for vegetarian guests. I am however quite snobby about quiche, as bought ones tend to have cardboard like pastry and taste like the foil tin in which they arrived. I have made my own pastry for this which does lengthen the cooking time, but if you would prefer you can use some pre-made pastry to speed it up a bit. The filling though requires nothing more than a short bit of veggie frying, a little whisking and then some pouring so will set you back no more than 15 minutes before putting into the oven to bake while you potter off to do something festive.

Chestnut Mushroom and Goats Cheese Quiche with a Cashew Nut Crust

Serves 6-8-10 depending on generosity

Pastry Ingredients
200g plain flour
100g cashew nuts, finely chopped
140g cold butter, in small chunks
40g cold vegetable shortening (or lard if serving to carnivores), in small chunks
a little ice cold water

25cm tart tin - preferable loose bottomed
dried beans / ceramic baking beads
baking parchment

Filling Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced small
1 clove garlic, crushed
300g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
125g goats cheese, mashed with a fork
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
250ml double cream
3-4 tbsp grated parmesan
50g cashew nuts, finely chopped

Pastry Method
Preheat the oven to 180C / 360 F.

Place the flour, cashew nuts, butter and shortening/lard into a bowl and rub together with your fingers until it reaches a sand-like consistency. Now add the cold water a tablespoon at a time and then kneading a little until the pastry comes together. Form into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface until it is about 30cm in diameter, lift it up using the rolling pin and drape lcarefully over the tart tin. Gently push the pastry down into the edges of the tin, trying not to make any holes - if you do, patch it up with a little of the pastry overhang from the edges. Run your rolling pin over the top of the tin - this should cut off the excess leaving a neat, smooth edged crust. Lightly prick the pastry using a fork and chill for a further 20 minutes.

Cut a large circle from baking parchment and place it over the pastry in your tart tin, then fill with dried beans / baking beads. Blind bake like this for 20 minutes, then take out the beans and parchment and bake for a further 10 minutes.

While your pastry case is cooking, prepare the filling.

Filling Method
Fry the onion in the olive oil over a medium heat until softened, then add the garlic, mushrooms and sage. Season to taste. Fry for a further 5 or so minutes and then add the balsamic vinegar. Stir and fry for another 2-3 minutes then remove from the heat and set aside.

Mix the goats cheese, eggs and double cream, then add the fried mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Pour into your pre-baked pasty case and sprinkle over the parmesan and finely chopped cashew nuts.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until set. The filling may rise while baking but will sink back down when you remove it from the oven.

I think this quiche's flavour improves if left overnight in the fridge and then either reheated or served at room temperature. We ate this as dinner along with some roasted carrots and parsnips and a little vinegar dressed salad.

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