I really need to up my game of finding inspiration everywhere so I can produce more recipes. This one was borne out of financial hardship and the prospect of what to serve my visiting brother for lunch. Which going by the title doesn’t sound like pauper’s cooking but I already had four different cheeses in the fridge including two impulse buys from one of Waitrose’s perpetual 2 for £4 offers and were all open and needing use. You can of course use any 4 cheeses your heart desires, though cheddar is recommended for grating atop. Don;t feel confined by weights when it comes to the cheese….I go purely by eye here and don’t get hung up on proportions of each kind. As long as you are precise for the pastry and custard, you’ll be fine.
Same with the chutney layer – I had some homemade ‘rag bag’ chutney – so-named for its ludicrous combination of fridge, cupboard and freezer-raid ingredients – that was sat in the fridge and felt was perfect to cut through all the cheeses. You can use any good bought chutney from a jar; anything you’d serve with a cheeseboard will do (though not mango – think Branston pickle or ploughman’s relish. Yes you can use Branston if you want…just don’t tell me about it).
Quiche is a fantastic thing to have in any savvy cook’s repetoire – its basis is simple with its easy pastry base and simple custard filling, and, like a frittata or omelette, you can throw in any leftover vegetables hanging round your fridge drawers though I recommend cooking them first. Caramelised onions are a fabulous addition, which is why I’ve gone for them, though obviously they take time to cook; this is weekend cooking at its finest…pottering about the kitchen unharried and serene. This is also much better made one day ahead to allow the filling to settle and makes for easier slicing.
Four Cheese And Sherry-Caramelised Onion Quiche With Chutney Layer
For the onions:
2 regular onions, peeled and sliced lengthways
Oil or butter, or a mixture of the two
A good few splashes of medium dry sherry
For the pastry case:
280g plain flour
Water, to combine the dough
For the filling:
2 large eggs
284ml double cream
A mixture of:
Blue Shropshire, crumbled
Double Gloucester With Onion And Chives, crumbled
Or indeed whatever combo of cheeses your heart desires.
About 3-4 tbsp (enough to make an even but thin layer) good piquant chutney, either home made if you’re super domesticated or any bought one from a jar.
You will need 1 x 20cm sandwich tin, greased, as well as some baking parchment and beans.
- Heat the oil (or butter, or both) in a thick bottomed pan over a medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion slices and stir to coat with oil. Spread them out in an even layer and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Turn heat down to medium if your hob is particularly fierce.
- After the 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt over the onions, and optionally, a pinch of sugar to help the caramelisation process. If they catch a bit as they cook, just splash in a bit of water and stir to loosen.
- Cook, stirring every few minutes for at least 30 minutes…as soon as they start sticking..let them stick a little and brown, but stir before they burn.
- Continue to cook and scrape until they are a rich brown. Taste for sweetness. Once you’re happy, deglaze the pan with the sherry and stir to loosen all those crucial brown bits off the bottom. Turn heat up to cook off and reduce the sherry right down – you don’t want any excess liquid but they will take on its’ spicy-sweet, bosky flavour. Decant into a bowl and set aside.
- Now you can get on with the pastry (or indeed you can do this before you cook the onions if you’re super organised). First, preheat oven to 200C (180 fan). In a stand mixer or food processor; or indeed by hand if you’re not a lazy bum; rub/mix the fats into the flour until it resembles medium oatmeal or breadcrumbs, and then gently pour in the water. As soon as the dough looks like it’s about to cohere, turn the machine off and squidge together to form said dough.
- On a floured surface, roll out the pastry to a round about the thickness of a £1 coin. You want it strong enough to prevent leakage but not too thick. Use your rolling pin to lift it and drape over the sandwich tin so there’s an overhang, pushing into the edges. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly neat. You’re not a factory. Pull away scraps but you want it slightly above the height of the tin to allow for shrinkage. Chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
- Lightly prick the base of the tart with a fork; line with parchment and fill with ceramic beans or dried beans or rice if you’ve not got the ceramic ones. Bake blind for 20 minutes; remove the parchment and beans, and then continue to bake for 5-10 minutes until biscuity. Remember to not go overboard here; it’s going to be baked again once it’s filled!
- Whilst the base is cooking, beat the eggs in a jug or bowl with the cream and season. When the case is ready, spread it carefully with the chutney (or pickle), trying not to cut it, before sprinkling with the parmesan, Shropshire, double Gloucester – I layer the parmesan over the chutney and dot with the crumbled Shropshire and Gloucester. But do this your way; as long as the chutney is the first thing to go on.
- Arrange half the cooled, caramelised onions atop the cheeses, before pouring over the eggs-and-cream-mix and finally, scatter with the grated cheddar and the other half of the onions.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until set and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely in the tin.
- When the quiche is cooled completely, trim away the ugly (and possibly darkened to inedible) edges of the pastry and carefully remove from the tin, before cutting into wedges and serving with whatever you like.