Friday, 4 September 2015

Dimly Remembered Pieday

This is not the pie we made today.
It is not the pie we made last week.
It is not even the pie we made a month ago.
It is, however, the pie we made the week that we went on an unintentional hiatus due to my not knowing how to write up this year's trip to Circus Camp and then getting into a rut.

Fortunately, some things stick in the memory.
This is one of them.

This particular pie is called a flamiche* and according to Wikipedia it is much like a quiche, but made with a puff pastry, or brioche-style shell and a base of low fat cheese.
Not one of the flamiche recipes that I have found so far contains either a puff pastry or brioche shell or a low fat cheese base.
A little research has brought me to the conclusion that flamiche differs from quiche in two specific ways.
Firstly, it is called flamiche.
Secondly, unlike quiche which frequently features beside salads in the Lighter Options section of the menu, there is no way flamiche could ever pretend to be healthy.

We made a flamiche.


250g plain flour
150g butter (chilled) plus extra for greasing things (but honestly, just use the wrapper)
Six egg yolks.
One whole egg
400g leeks.
300ml double cream
150g camembert (or brie, or other oozy cheese that tastes good when heated)
Nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Put the flour into a bowl with a pinch of salt and stir it .
Quickly grate in 125g of the butter******* and rub the resulting sticky yellow worms into the flour till it looks like a mass of breadcrumbs.
Dump in two egg yolks.
Mix the egg yolks into the flour mixture with your hands.
Observe that, while perfectly happy to finger-paint, sculpt with clay, dig in the flowerbeds and digitally explore all manner of messes, neither Small nor Smaller Chef is inclined to put their fingers in the egg yolk.
Demonstrate your skills in oration to persuade chefs Small and Smaller to poke the damn egg before the mixture grows warm.
While they are washing their hands, use yours to finish mixing the egg yolks into the flour and butter mixture, adding cold water, a spoonful at a time until you can achieve a smooth mixture that doesn't cling too much to the sides of the bowl.

If your pastry is damp you overdid the water.

Roll the pastry into a ball, squash into a disc, wrap in cling film and put it into the fridge.
When the inestimable chefs return from their ablutions and realise that they have missed the opportunity to become even messier, explain that this is what happens when you become suddenly squeamish.
Endure their protestations and increasingly elaborate list of Things We Would Happily Prod all the way to the library and back.

After lunch, or three hours after you put the pastry disc in the fridge (whichever is longer) turn the oven on to a moderate pie-cooking temperature (we generally go with 200c).

Take out the pastry and roll it to fit your pie dish (or quiche tin actually).
Place neatly in the dish, adjust it until it is actually in the dish and not hanging over the edge, frantically patch the pieces that tore when you moved it and prick all over with a fork.
Realise that you forgot to grease the pie tin, consider any occasions on which you may have left previous******** such tins ungreased, dump out the pastry, grease the tin and somehow get the pastry back into the tin again.
 Fill this pie-shell with baking parchment and baking beans.
If you do not have baking parchment and baking beans, an old, slightly smaller, quiche tin filled with rice works remarkably well.
Place in the oven for ten minutes.

While it cooks, clean the leeks and slice into rounds.
Prevent Smallest Chef from wearing these on her fingers.
While Smallest Chef washes her hands, throw the now less-than-clean rings of leek into the bin, wash your own hands again and place the remaining butter in a pan over a low heat.

At some point during this nonsense the ten minutes will be up.
Remove the pie-shell from the oven, take out whatever weight you used and place the now unburdened shell back into the oven for another five minutes.
After this, take out the shell and set aside, turning the oven down a little (180c works for us, but we have a fan oven).
Cook the leeks in the butter till they are soft and glossy.

Beat the cream and remaining egg yolks vigorously with a little salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Remove whisk from the hands of Smallest Chef.
Wash egg splashes from the hair of Small Chef.
Explain that cold water is best for this as hot water may cook the egg on the hair.
Discuss the temperature required to cook an egg.
Agree that washing the egg out with hot water would be an interesting and potentially useful experiment.
Decide to do it another day.

Cut two opposing sides off the camembert or brie and set aside.
Explain that neither chef should eat them as the rind is made of mould so, in the end, they would just be eating sliced mould.
Discover that Small Chef now really wants to find out what it is like to eat mould.
Smallest Chef was not listening and, as such, simply wants to eat them anyway.
Accept that you are fooling nobody.
Place these extraneous slices of cheese on a plate, on the highest shelf of the fridge.
Now slice the rest of the camembert-or-whatever into creamy lengths ringed with delicious mould.

Spread the squidgy leek-rings across the base of the pie-case, pour over the cream and egg mixture, and lay the sliced cheese across the top.

Return the whole thing to the oven for half an hour till it is just set in the middle and not yet burned outside.

Serve with salad********* and a health warning.

*From Flemish, apparently.
It's a Flemish pie**.

**Or possibly a pie that looks Flemish, or that someone thought was Flemish, or that someone just decided would sell better if they called it Flemish.
There are a lot of those around, like Danish pastries***, French**** silk pie***** and, of course Hamburgers******.
Flamiche is apparently a Walloon speciality.
Whether it was originally Flemish, or they just liked the name I have no idea.

*** The Danes call them Vienna Bread.


*****Coming soon.

******Also American.

*******It helps if you have cut a line into the butter at roughly the point where you will need to stop grating.
This can make a wonderful opportunity for a maths lesson: weighing the butter, then working out what proportion of the 150g will give you the 125g you need here.
Or you can just estimate it.
Estimation is maths too, right?

********And I'm just thinking out loud here, but something with peppery leaves, asparagus tips*********, maybe some halved, sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes would be wonderful.
You could add boiled new potatoes too, or go completely insane and parboil the new potatoes then cut them almost all the way through into slices and roast them in olive oil before sprinkling with salt to make Hasselback potatoes.
I gave you an extra recipe.
And, if you do eat all that at once, possibly a heart attack.

**********They were in season when we made this.
They really were.

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