Tag Archives: vegetable suet

Flamiche – A Wholemeal Leek and Gruyere Quiche

29 Mar

 I’ve been walking past these leeks every day watching them grow. I thought they were spring onions up until a few days ago when they became definite leeks.

I use leeks a lot for cooking. I like their sweet mellow oniony flavour and they are also quicker and easier to peel and chop than a normal onion. You have to be careful to rinse them thoroughly before you chop them though. They hide a lot of grit in between the layers that could ruin a lovely dish.

Although I use them often it is always in a supporting role. I wanted a dish where they could be the star of the show, come out from the background and impress all by themselves. This is a recipe for Flamiche. A  classic northern French tart where the white parts of the leeks are softened slowly in butter until sweet then mixed with cream and egg yolks and baked in a pastry case. It is a simple recipe with very few ingredients and that is how it should be. I couldn’t resist topping it with some grated Gruyère for the last 5 minutes of cooking, but if you want you be a purist about it leave it out.

I used wholemeal flour and vegetable suet to make my pastry but you can make your own version of short crust pastry or buy a prepared pastry case if you want to make life easier.

Flamiche –  Wholemeal Leek & Gruyère Quiche

Serves 6, makes a 9 inch Quiche, vegetarian. Adapted from The Art of the Tart by Tamasin Day-Lewis

  • 120 gr self-raising wholemeal flour
  • 60 gr vegetable suet (I use Atora)
  • salt & pepper
  • iced water
  • 6 or 7 large leeks
  • 90 gr unsalted butter
  • 150 – 300 ml cream (I used creme fraiche)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • salt & black pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • a handful of grated Gruyère

To make the pastry, mix together the flour and suet and season with salt & pepper. Pour in about 3 tbsp iced water and stir to combine. Keep adding water a tbsp at a time until the mixture comes together and stays in a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge while you make the filling.

Chop the dark green parts and the hairy ends off the leeks and remove the outer layer(you can use them to make your own veg stock if you want). Slice the leeks in half lengthways and rinse well under the tap to get rid of any grit between the layers. Slice into about 1cm half moons. Heat the butter over a medium low heat in a large pan. When the butter has melted add the leeks and a good pinch of salt and allow them to sweat slowly until they are completely softened, about 15 minutes. Leave to cool.

Butter and flour your tart tin. Remove the pastry from the fridge, flour your work-surface, rolling-pin and pastry and roll it out, making quarter turns to keep it even and stop it sticking. When it looks big enough to fill the tin (it should be about 3mm thick), lift it up by rolling it over your rolling-pin and lay it gently over the tart tin.  Push it into the tin (don’t stretch it out) and cut off any large overhanging bits but don’t trim it completely. Put it in the fridge while you finish the filling.

Preheat the oven to 180 C. When the leeks have cooled, whisk together the cream (the amount you use will depend on the depth of your tart tin, do it by eye) and egg yolks and season with salt, pepper and a little grated nutmeg. Stir this into the leeks. Remove the pastry case from the fridge and spread the leek mixture evenly over the base. Cook for 35 minutes until just barely set then sprinkle over the grated Gruyère, if using, and give it another 5 minutes for the cheese to melt & brown slightly. Leave for at least 10 minutes before serving and trim off the edges of the pastry with a sharp knife.

This is best served warm, not hot, to really appreciate the flavour of the leeks. In my opinion it is even better served the next day at room temperature (Not cold just out of the fridge). It is perfect picnic food or for a spring buffet even if you’re feeling brave about the weather.

Serve it with a peppery green salad, rocket & watercress would be good, dressed with olive oil & lemon juice for a spring time lunch alfresco…..

Individual Cauliflower Cheese Pies

27 Feb

I used vegetable suet and wholemeal flour to make this pastry. I’ve had this packet of vegetable suet in the cupboard for a while and not really known what to do with it. Proper suet is a made from the fat deposits around the kidneys of an animal. I know, disgusting. Vegetable suet (I used Atora Light) has 3o % less fat and is made with vegetable oil. Much more appetising, don’t you think?

Suet can be used to make dumplings, pastries, pies and puddings.  The classic Steak & Kidney Pudding is made with suet pastry and so are most of the traditional Pork Pies. But don’t let that put you off!

The vegetable suet was really easy to work with, so much easier than using butter. You just stir the suet granules and flour together and add water. That’s it, no messy rubbing butter into flour business. You don’t even have to chill it before you use it (although I put it in the fridge while my filling cooled down). It’s definitely a much quicker option if you’re pressed for time or just very impatient, like me.

Don’t be scared about the pastry being that soggy, doughy pudding pastry either, unless you like that sort of thing! Even using wholemeal flour it turned out to be light, flaky and delicious. I followed the pastry recipe on the box (which was for a quiche) but you can send off for an Atora recipe book if you want to make that strange, soft pudding pastry. 

I knew I was going to make a cauliflower cheese because I had a cauliflower getting bored at the back of my fridge. I toyed with the idea of making dumplings with the suet and doing a Cauliflower Cheese Cobbler (which I will definitely try next time) or even a Cauliflower Cheese Quiche. But I am a sucker for individual pies (don’t like sharing, only child!) and The Washer Up wanted to see if I could make his favourite pork pie-like pastry with the suet, so pies it was.

Instead of making a white sauce with butter & flour for the Cauliflower Cheese, I cooked the leeks in the butter and put the cauliflower florets in a freezer bag with the flour and seasonings and shook the bag to coat the cauliflower. This way when you tip the floured cauliflower to the butter & leeks you get the white sauce base to add your cream or milk to and only use one pan, result!! This is a Nigella trick she uses to make her chicken & mushroom pot pies. Anything that saves time and washing up is a definite bonus….

Individual Cauliflower Cheese Pies

makes 4 small individual pies, vegetarian

  • 150 gr self-raising flour (I used wholemeal self-raising)
  • 75 gr vegetable suet (Atora Light)
  • 3 or 4 tbsp iced water
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into 1 inch or less size florets
  • 1 leek, halved lengthways, rinsed & sliced
  • 30 gr butter, plus extra for buttering pie dishes
  • 30 gr plain flour, plus extra for flouring
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • a few sprigs thyme leaves chopped, about 1/2 tsp
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 pot creme fraiche about 200 ml
  • about 100 – 150ml veg stock 
  • 50 gr mature cheddar, grated
  • 50 gr Greek feta, or Lancashire crumbly, crumbled
  • 50 gr manchego or parmesan grated
  • 1 egg, beaten, for glazing

Butter & flour your pie dish/dishes and put them in the fridge. If you like you can make your pastry first and leave it in the fridge while you make and cool the filling. Mix together the flour, suet, salt & pepper in a bowl and stir in enough iced water to make a firm but not sticky dough. Wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge.

Heat the butter over a medium heat, in a large frying pan with a lid.  Fry the leeks in the melted butter with a pinch of salt for a few minutes until softened. Meanwhile put the cauliflower florets, flour, nutmeg, thyme, chilli flakes, salt & pepper in a freezer bag, seal it and shake it so that the cauliflower is coated with the seasoned flour. Tip the contents of the freezer bag (including the excess flour) into the pan with the leeks, stir and cook out for about 2 minutes.

Add the creme fraiche, stir to coat the cauliflower, then add in 100 ml veg stock, stir, cover and leave to cook for about 5-7 minutes until the cauliflower is tender crisp.You can add some more veg stock if it is too dry. Then add in the cheeses, turn off the heat and stir to melt the cheeses.  It should be a thick cheesy sauce clinging to the cauliflower with not too much liquid or the pastry might get soggy. Check seasoning and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200 C and take the pastry out of the fridge. Cut the pastry into four and roll out one piece at a time to a thickness of about 3 mm. Cut about a third off of the pastry and set aside for the lid. Push the pastry into your dish, you may have to cut bits off if it overlaps too much and stick bits in the gaps, this is fine. Just make sure it’s about the same thickness all the way round so it cooks evenly. Fill it right to the top with the cooled filling and push it down well.

Roll out the reserved third to about 3 mm thick and use another pie dish to cut a circle the same size as the top. Keep any pastry offcuts in cas you need them. Roll the circle out a little to make it slightly bigger, but not much.  Brush the edges of the pastry that will be touching the lid with the beaten egg then lay the lid on top. Push it down with your fingers, then crimp around the edges with a fork to seal it. Trim of the excess pastry round the edges, make 2 holes in the top with a sharp knife and brush the top with beaten egg.

Repeat with the other 3 pies and cook in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until puffed & golden brown.

Serve hot straight out of the oven with a simple green salad or some green beans, it’s delicious. Equally good served at room temperature for lunch with some beetroot chutney if you want to go down that ploughman’s/ pub lunch route.

Ahhhh.. Pub Lunch. There are not many things I miss about the UK but lunch (or even just a packet of cheese & onion crisps) in a pub garden on a sunny day is one of them. That, and Grandad’s pickled onions. Which would be great with this, by the way. Maybe Michelle could bring some over in May (hint). Now, you really wouldn’t want that to break in your luggage……………..!

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