We're pretty lucky here, because we have access to some very decent farmers markets within a thirty minute drive. The first Thursday of every month is market day in Wokingham, a small village about ten minutes away and is my favourite of all because of the range of local meat and game that's always available.
I usually try not to spend more than about £20 on these market trips, because in the end, it is all part of the grocery budget and I only have so much fridge/freezer space.
The veggie growers often sell some tasty looking seasonal treats and the pies and breads on offer always tempt but I tend to spend the majority of my money on meat and fish. Our organic and free-range producers need all the support they can get in this age of two-for-a-fiver intensively reared supermarket chicken and when it comes down to it, I can grow my own veg and bake bread (ish) at home.
So this week, for my £20, I was able to get a lovely big slab of Hereford skirt steak, an oak smoked trout, a nice piece of Old Spot pork belly, some oak-smoked back bacon, a few chipolatas, two pheasants and two rabbits. Top top it all off, I found a gently used copy of Larousse Pratique in the Cancer Research shop in the market square!
I got home feeling triumphant, with ideas swirling through my head and spread all my treasures out on the kitchen worktop, like Richie Rich counting his stacks of coins. I stopped short of rolling around on my bed in a pile of meat though, I thought that might put the guys off their food...
pork I cured and cooked slowly in olive oil. Despite the slight saltiness, he really loved that dish, which says a lot, because there isn't much food he gets excited about (grr!)
This quiche is lovely for a light lunch or after-school snack and was even elicited a few moans from the same husband who doesn't like fish or egg dishes (go figure..) It would be handy for a pot luck because it's best served at room temperature and is quite simple to make. I would say that the most important thing would be to get as much moisture as possible out of the spinach and tomatoes, to avoid getting a soggy crust. Try to buy un-dyed fish (which is sustainably sourced), as it will definitely effect the colour and flavour of the final product.
Rustic Smoked Trout, Spinach and Tomato Quiche
Serves 8, takes approx 2 hours+ cooling time
For the pastry:
300g (10.5oz) plain (all purpose) flour
1/2 tsp salt
150g unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
ice cold water
For the filling:
1 medium smoked trout, skinned and boned (take care to look for any hair-thin bones)
400g (14oz) washed baby spinach
2 ripe, red tomoates
150ml double (heavy whipping) cream
100ml whole milk
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
1/2 tsp white pepper
To make the pastry, put the flour, salt and butter into the bowl of a food processor and pulse for a maybe 20-30 seconds, until you have the consistency of fresh breadcrumbs- the coarser, the better.
Beat the egg together with a couple of tbsp of ice cold water and pour about half of this mixture into the processor. Pulse again for a few more seconds, until the moisture is well distributed then lift the lid and see if the mixture will hold together when pressed with the tips of your fingers. If it does, remove the mixture and form a loose ball. If the mixture is still a little dry, add more of the egg mixture a few drops at a time while pulsing the dough until it JUST holds together, then wrap this in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
While the pastry is resting, prepare the veggies. Blanch the spinach for 30 seconds in salted boiling water and then plunge into ice cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well, squeezing out as much moisture as you can; a tea towel can be really helpful here, just heap the squeezed spinach into a ball in the centre, then bring the corners of the towel together and twist hard to wring out any last bits of moisture.
Slice the tomatoes about 1/4" thick and sprinkle with a little salt. Lay the slices on a double layer of kitchen towel with another double layer on top and press gently to absorb as much water as possible. Leave the tomatoes within the layers of towel until you're ready to use them.
Beat the eggs together well with the cream, milk, some salt and the white pepper, then preheat your oven to 190C (375F) and roll out your pastry.
Put your ball of pastry between two layers of cling film and roll into a circle just larger than a 25cm (10") quiche tin, including the sides. Use one of the layers of cling film to move the pastry to your quiche tin, pressing well into the corners and the scalloped edge, then, with the clingfilm still in, fill with dried beans or rice (I have a bag of rice that I keep for this purpose, as it's useless after you blind-bake with it once) and blind bake the shell for twenty minutes.
Remove the shell from the oven, turn the heat down to 160C (320F) and use the cling film to lift the rice/beans out of the shell.
Lay the tomato slices over the base in one snug layer and then scatter with the drained spinach leaves. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and black pepper and grate the nutmeg over the top in an even little shower.
Pour the egg mixture evenly over the lot and then flake the smoked trout over the top, jiggling the pan a little to settle it all into the custard. Grate the parmesan over the top and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the edges are beginning to brown and the centre is set.
Remove from the oven and gently break off the excess pastry around the edges (I did say 'rustic') then allow to cool completely before serving. Simply dressed rocket (arugula) leaves are a particularly lovely accompaniment.