Scrumptious Sunday: Quiche Lorraine with a Twist

As you know, I live to please people with my food. It’s how I love. It’s how I apologise. It’s my way of giving comfort, and support. To celebrate and to mourn. I live by the philosophy that good food, in fact, makes everything better. So with that in mind – our latest Scrumptious Sunday! Quiche Lorraine with a Twist. My beau adores quiche, and he hurt his back at the start of the weekend, so the poor man was in pain and had to stay in a vertical position. So to comfort and heal him, I decided to make him a quiche for Scrumptious Sunday. I had to fly solo on this one, but he was very encouraging from the sidelines (the couch). Quiches are funny things. I’ve never been a fan, because most of the time it just tastes like someone put some ingredients into scrambled eggs and filled a tart pan with that. Ugh, no. I just can’t. I don’t deal well with quiche like that, so I’ve always been reluctant to make it. Clearly this was very much a challenge for me because: 1 – I had to do it alone and 2 – It was very scary virgin territory for me.

I paged through my cookbooks (of which you can never ever have too many), and finally settled on Gordon Ramsay’s Leek and Pancetta Quiche Recipe. Except, I would be winging the filling part, just using his recipe for the pastry recipe, but eyeballing the custard quantities. I have to say, I was majorly impressed with myself for that pastry. Gosh, it was so good. And really, not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. So off we go!

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Quiche Lorraine with a Twist

Pastry Ingredients:

  • 200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g butter, at room temperature and cubed

Custard and Filling Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 6 tbsp double cream
  • 100g finely grated Cheddar
  • 250g mushrooms (any kind, I jused Button mushrooms)
  • 100g Cooked Ham
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Parmesan, for sprinkling

Method:

First make the pastry. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour, lifting the mixture up and dropping it back into the bowl – you want to keep the mixture light and airy. When it resembles fine breadcrumbs, mix in 2–3 tablespoons of cold water. Bring the pastry together, then knead lightly on a floured work surface to create a smooth, solid ball. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Oil a 25cm loose-bottomed tart tin. (I didn’t have one, so I used a normal tart tin)

Flour a work surface and roll out the pastry to a thickness of 3 mm. Use to line the prepared tin, pushing it into the corners and sides with a small ball of leftover pastry. Leave some excess pastry overhanging the edges, then prick the base with a fork. Chill for 10 minutes.

Line the chilled pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with ceramic baking beans or uncooked rice. Blind bake in the preheated oven for 10–15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, then bake for a further 5–8 minutes until golden. Trim off the excess pastry with a sharp knife, then set the case aside.

Meanwhile fry onions in a pan until they become soft and golden. Add salt & pepper, and minced garlic and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Let the onions cook down until well caramelized. When they are done, empty them into a large mixing bowl. Using the same pan, saute your mushrooms until golden brown, but still quite firm. Add the ham and saute for another 5 minutes or so. Add to the onions.

In a smaller mixing bowl, crack 6 eggs, add cream and three quarters of the cheddar, season well with salt & pepper and whisk together well. Pour the egg mixture into the onion, ham and mushroom mixture and stir until combined.

Pour the mixture into the cooked pastry case, sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and cook in the preheated oven for 15–20 minutes until golden and set.

Remove the quiche and allow to cool slightly before serving.

I was so proud of my quiche, that I was actually doing a little dance! The pastry was perfect, the filling was delicious, the custard had set and best of all: IT DIN’T TASTE EGGY! It was so good that we ate half of the quiche on Sunday, and the other half on Monday. And to quiche I say this: I’m coming to get you! Watch out world, I know how to make pastry now – and I’m not afraid of egg-based tarts any more!

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What’s your opinion on quiche? Any ideas of different quiches to make? I’m excited about our next Scrumptious Sunday already! And I owe you a delicious mustard recipe! (It’s coming!) And I want to try my hand at Bacon Onion Jam. So many things to cook, so many calories to burn! Until then, good eats and much love.

Amsterdam: A quick guide

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I thought I’d do a quick post about our favourite places in Amsterdam. We so love Amsterdam, and it is our favourite European city. We find the people to be friendly and happy, with generous spirits, and I feel a major affinity to the people and the culture. I could go on for hours about my love for Amsterdam, but I won’t bore you with that. Instead, I’m just going to give you a run down of where to eat, what to eat, what to drink (I’ll give you a hint: it’s always beer), and things to see. I’ve even done the work for you and added all the links you need!

  • Stacey’s Pennywell – The best place to have lunch. Have a Stacey’s All Time Favourite Sandwich. Trust me. It. Is. The. Bomb. Located very close to Rembrandtplein.
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  • Café Luxembourg – Some of the best Croquettes and a very good Eggs Benedict, located on Spui.
  • Coco’s Outback – Out favourite spot for Bitterballen and beer. It’s an Australian pub with very reasonable prices (quite cheap actually), with a good vibe. It’s located right by Rembrandtplein. Bitterballen is an absolute must on your trip.
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  • De Brabantse Aap – Another favourite for Bitterballen, but a little more pricey than Coco’s Outback, located also on Spui.
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  • De Ysbreeker – If you recall, I did a post about our Croque Monsieurs, and I mentioned where the best Croques I’ve ever eaten was. This is the place. Do it. You won’t be sorry. They are pricey, but well worth it. You could also do an Uitsmijter, which is amazing too. Located on Weesperzijde.
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  • De Biertuin – Amazing burgers for a decent price. It’s a little bit further from the centre of the city, so it’s not very touristy. It’s where the local young people hang out, and reservation is a must. Find directions here.
  • Café Stevens – A lovely little bar with an amazing variety of beers to try. It’s quite close to the bustling touristy red-light district (De Wallen), so if you take a stroll down there to have a look-see, Café Stevens is the perfect place to fill your belly with plenty of beer.
  • Café Kale – This is our favourite place to eat Vlammetjes, which is also a must have while you’re there. Located on Weteringschans.
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  • Bar Lempicka – A bar with a great atmosphere, day or night. It’s situated right on the Amstel river in Sarphati straat.
  • Vooges (Harmsen Restaurant) – A lovely place to have dinner, if you’re looking for something that doesn’t include burgers and run of the mill food. The cuisine is exquisite, the service so friendly, and the frites are to die for. Located on Utrechtsestraat
  • McDonalds. Don’t shoot me. Yes, I just suggested you go to McDonalds. But hear me out. The franchises in the Netherlands have a speciality not available anywhere else. And I am recommending that you have it. It’s the McKroket. Try it. Please.
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If you’re staying in Amsterdam for an extended period – and not necessarily in a hotel, then you might need to buy some supplies. Our favourite go-to shop for anything from bread, milk, cheese, to surprisingly tasty ready-made Creme Brulee, meat, wine and everything in between was Albert Heijn. Just a traveller’s tip though – they won’t let you pay with a Visa card. Even if it’s a debit card. There are ATM’s in the shop though, so it’s not that big of a deal.

For more of a farmer’s market feel, you should definitely visit Albert Cuypmarkt. It has fresh (FRESH) fish, homemade breads, cheeses of all shapes and colours, poultry, fresh vegetables and flowers. While you’re there, stop by the Stroopwafel stall, and get a fresh and hot Stroopwafel. It will change your life. It is crispy on the outside, made with a ginger and cinnamon infused dough, filled with a sweet, all-butter, very sticky and sweet caramel. Mmmhmmm. You can also find almost anything else at the market, from socks, to beads, crockery, fabric and upholstery, clothing, shoes and bags. It’s a lovely outing.
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You can’t visit Amsterdam without doing the historical and cultural circuit. So here’s a quick run down. I’m going to start with the Anne Frank House. We go every time we’re there. I’ll keep going. Every time. It is something so powerful, a humbling experience like no other. It teaches us what humanity can be if we let it. It’s a somber reminder of what cruelty truly is. It also teaches us that the human spirit is an unyielding and beautiful thing. You really should visit. You can (and I recommend that you do) book your tickets in advance online. And try to book it for the earliest time slot possible. It gets busy, and it’s really an experience you want to have when there aren’t that many people around. And please, if your children are not old enough to understand the gravity of the place they’re standing in, keep them reigned in. The people who go there have an emotional experience, and unruly little brats running around screaming, not only lessens – nay, ruins – the experience for other visitors, but makes you look bad too. (Preaching over) When you’re done there, you can pop in right next door at the Westerkerk. There is also the Oude Kerk to visit, which is located right by the red-light district. Two museums worth seeing: Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. You can buy your tickets online. Try to get there early too, to avoid the masses.

The squares I mentioned in the food section of this post, are all beautiful places too. Even if you don’t visit the restaurants, take a stroll through Rembrandtplein, Leidseplein, Frederiksplein and Spui. For shopping I highly recommend going to Kalverstraat. You can find just about anything there, and it includes some of the world’s most popular brands – like Guess, Steve Madden, Levi, Fossil and so on. You should be able to pick up some great bargains if you’re there around the time that they have end of season sales. I also love walking through Utrechtsestraat, which has more of a quirky feel to it, with smaller stores, speciality shops and small eateries. It also happens to be very pretty. If you happen to be strolling through Utrechtsestraat, you should pop into Kaldi. It’s a speciality coffee and tea shop, where I could spend hours selecting teas. It’s lovely. My last little shopping gem is the 9 Straatjes. It is a 3 streets x 3 streets block of little cafés and specialty stores, ranging from a shop that exclusively sells buttons, another selling only board games, vintage shops, toothbrush shops and tea shops. The shops there only open at 11am on a Monday – remember that.

In terms of transport, you could rent a bicycle and do it the way the locals do it. I don’t though. The rules are very different than they are in my country, there are trams all over the place, cars, buses and pedestrians. It’s scary. But if you have the bravery – go for it! Many family members adore cycling in Amsterdam. I prefer using the trams and metros when I need to, but we tend to walk most places we go. In fact, the walking helps ease the guilt of consuming so much beer and Bitterballen. You can buy a chip card to use on the metros and trams, which works on a prepaid basis. You load your card with a certain amount, and every time you use it the card will be deducted with the fee of your trip. This is important though: REMEMBER TO CHECK OUT EVERY TIME YOU GET OFF. Other wise it will deduct about 4 Euros from your card. The trams are very easy to use, super accessible and there are regular trams coming and going throughout the city. There’s a very useful app that you can download which can tell you which tram to take depending on your destination, and their stops, and their times. The app can be downloaded on iPhones and Android phones – just search for 9292 OV app.

That’s it from me, I think. If you have the opportunity to see Amsterdam, you should grab it. It is a magical place.

Weekend Escapades (Review of Taste of Cape Town)

It’s Tuesday already, could you believe it? Mondays are normally such a blur for me, that it takes me a day to catch up. Be that as it may, I wanted to tell you what I got up to this weekend… (Eating mostly)

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You wouldn’t necessarily know this about me, but I am a competition junkie. I enter every competition I come across. Well, not every one. Only the ones with cool prizes. Especially with the wedding planning and budgeting (eeeeek!), I’m entering a plethora of bridal/wedding-related competitions. Also ANY kitchen competition. So when I saw that The Pretty Blog was giving away double tickets to the Taste of Cape Town I just knew I had to enter. I ended up being one of the 20 winners who got tickets! I asked my bestie to come with me, and I was elevated when he told me that he was in Cape Town for the weekend anyway, and would join me for the festivities. Among our many shared interests, food is a major one. We love it. We email each other almost daily, and the majority of our conversations are either about food, or being hilarious. Obviously.

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We met up at the Green Point Stadium, where we had to park, and the festival was held at the Green Point Cricket Club. In terms of venue – it was quite good. There was plenty of space to mill about, looking at the food and drink stalls, but there was VERY little shade in which to sit, so every bit of shade was a revolving mess of people sitting down to eat, getting up to get something to drink, and back to searching for a cool place in the shade (Saturday was a scorcher).

The festival works on a voucher basis, where you buy a booklet with 20 vouchers in for R100.00, and everything inside is paid with that (except the products that you buy to take home like olive oils, pesto’s, chili jams and so forth). Bestie very graciously purchased a booklet for me, and a booklet for him. So, to taste some wine would cost 1-2 vouchers. A pint of craft beer would cost 5. A cocktail 6. And most foods was between 5-9 vouchers. This system is a bit of a rip off, I feel. I mean, even to taste wine, you have to pay? Not even for a full glass of wine. Literally a sip or two. Really?

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Then, I’d also like to mention the variety of food stalls. Or lack thereof. There was maybe 15-20 food stalls, each with 1-3 items on their “condensed menu”. There was about 3 or 4 Asian options. I found it somewhat disappointing. I ended up drinking two pints from Mitchell’s Brewery – South Africa’s oldest craft beer, which was really good. I almost always go for a Lager, and this time I wasn’t disappointed. Bestie had some Paella, which was wonderfully tasty. The portion wasn’t big – but the aromatics were spot on. We also got some Jalapeno Poppers from Beefcakes. The filling was delicious, and they weren’t too spicy (not spicy enough for me, but I do like the burn!), however, since they weren’t exactly made to order, they weren’t hot anymore, and the batter was no longer crispy and crunchy. Which was a big downer, because I adore Jalapeno Poppers…

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He also had a Spanish Chorizo Sandwich, which looked wonderful, but disappointed tremendously. The chorizo was not cured, so it had to be cooked before serving. And because the sandwiches looked so great, the line was super long. Which probably led to the person who was responsible for cooking the sausages to spinning a little, and leaving us with a raw sausage sandwich. Yum… Our last stop however, saved the day! We got some Fish Tacos and I’m sad to say that I forgot what the vendor’s name was. The fish was lightly battered, incredibly fresh and gloriously golden and crunchy. The tacos were just lukewarm making them just pliable enough, and cool enough to handle. Inside, there was an almost sweet but still amazingly acrid red cabbage slaw, and some chunks of mandarin to lighten the whole shebang. It was amazing. I had three. I have no shame.

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We’ve come to this conclusion though: We would not buy tickets to go again. If it wasn’t for me winning the tickets, it would have ended up being a ridiculously expensive day, and to be fair, not really worth the money. Maybe if they can step it up a little, and work on the pricing structure. Maybe. But for now, I’d much rather go to The Good Food and Wine Show. But, it did give me the opportunity to see my friend for the first time in ages, and I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) put a price on that.

Did any of you go? How was it for you?