Friday, July 10

SUMMER BRUNCH




Pimms, Strawberry Lemonade, Rosé
Crustless Quiche (bacon, shallots, spinach, broccoli, eggs, nutmeg, cheddar, Romano peppers, tomatoes)
New Potato Salad (sour cream and spring onions)
Lemon Tart topped with fresh Strawberries
Coffee/Tea

Recently, on the warmest Sunday of the year (30 celsius) I invited friends to join me for a summer feast in the garden. Richard was at a cricket game, so I took the opportunity to make a woman pleasing brunch, festooning the outdoor table with a handmade quilt; hanging long, brightly colored scarves from the sun umbrella; making napkin rings from pliable stems of flowering mint, and recycling food tins into whimsical table planters.
Bottles of bubbles awaited discovery, at each place setting, along with tiny, clay flowerpots filled with sweets. Lemonade was spiced with sliced strawberries, a dash of pomegranate syrup, and mint leaf. Strawberries also featured in the lemon tart, made the night before.

Brunch and quiche are not as popular in England as they are in America. In the states, Sunday brunch, usually enjoyed between noon and 2:30, is big business for restaurants and hotels. Specific menus are created for the occasion, usually featuring quiche, along with Eggs Benedict, omelettes, bacon, sausage, ham, breads, and beautiful pastries.


Of course, eating brunch out is never as good as brunch at home, or at a friend's house. My favourite quiche is homemade. As long as it's homemade, I love it. Like pizza, everybody has a different take on what combination works best. Asparagus and Parmesan. Artichoke and Parma ham. Sage and sausage. Stilton and red onion. Most people make it with a nice crust, but since it is the filling that captures my attention, I skip the pastry entirely and devote myself to a firm, crustless quiche, generously topped with mature cheddar, tomatoes and Romano peppers.


Crustless Quiche

What You Need

Allow yourself three hours from start to finish.

Romano Peppers - 2
large
Olive Oil - 1/4 cup
Bacon – smoked Bacon Back - 400g
Butter - 2 tbs
Shallots - 10 - 12
Spinach - baby spinach, 250g
Broccoli Tips - 125g
Cheese – mature cheddar, 3 cups
Eggs – 18 large
Sea Salt – 1 tbs
Pepper – 1 tbs
Nutmeg 1 tsp

Tomatoes – 500g

What You Do

Preheat oven
130 C/ 250 F

Wash peppers. Slice length-wise and remove seeds (save to plant later) Place in roasting tin and coast with half the olive oil. Roast in oven for 30 minutes. When nicely toasted, remove from oven, allow to cool and cut into small piece. Place in medium bowl and set aside. This will form part of your topping (with tomatoes and cheese)

While peppers are roasting, cut bacon into generous bite size pieces. (I use kitchen

scissors for this job) Fry in a large, dip-sided skillet, until crispy. Transfer to big bowl. Remove any obvious fat.

Peel and slice shallots. Add butter to skillet used for frying bacon (without rinsing) Add shallots. Caramelize over low heat. Cook for 15 - 20 minutes, stirring often, until deep golden brown and slightly sticky. Add to bacon bowl.

Wash spinach and broccoli tips. Rough cut broccoli. Stir fry spinach and broccoli over medium heat, in same skillet used for shallots. Fill skillet with as much spinach as it will comfortably hold, adding a handful at a time, as it shrinks down. Keep stirring with wooden spoon until all spinach is wilted.
Add to bacon bowl.

Grate cheese and set aside.

In large bowl, break eggs, add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Whisk briskly until yolks are well blended with whites. Set aside.
Wash and slice tomatoes. Use whatever size you choose. Sometimes I use cherry tomatoes, sometimes larger ones, sometimes both. As long as they are fresh, any size will be good. Add sliced tomatoes to peppers. Mix together. Set aside.

Depending on how you want to serve your quiche, you can either assemble it in a large baking tray, with thick lip, lined with baking paper, or foil, or combine everything in one big bowl, and ladle into large, well-oiled,
muffin tins. I prefer to make one large sheet because I like seeing it spread out in all it's ample glory. This quiche was made in a 16-1/2 x 13-1/2 pan, about an inch deep.

Do make sure you line your pan completely. Baked dairy makes washing up a miserable chore. Add the rest of the olive oil to the lined pan, before filling with quiche mixture. Combine bacon, shallots, spinach, broccoli, and eggs. Evenly scatter the cheese, tomatoes, and peppers on top.

Slow bake in hot oven
130 C/ 250 F for approximately 40 minutes, or until quiche is well set, and slightly browned in some places. Serve hot out of the oven, or at room temperature. It is equally good either way. Cut into generous squares, plate and complement with side dish, or garnish of your choice.

SUGGESTIONS

Quiche travels well. Consider taking on a picnic, potluck, or as a gift to a friend. It is one of those wonderfully convenient dishes you can make a day ahead. It tastes just as good the second day as the first.

Serve with potato salad, or watercress and a fresh bread basket.

Strawberry, or rose scented lemonade is the perfect beverage to serve with quiche. Spice with fresh mint leaves, if you have them. A really good rosé, or champagne also goes well with quiche.

For dessert, you can't beat a lemon tart, topped with fresh strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries (sweetened with a bit of caster sugar)

If you're hosting a brunch, add an element of surprise. Think Mad Hatter's Tea Party. Pick up fetching hats from charity shops and place the hat that best suits each guest on their chair, before they arrive.

Bubbles are often available for purchase in party packs. Place a bottle at each place setting.

Napkin rings made out of vines, or pliable garden cuttings, also adds to the unexpected.

Sweets in
dainty flower pots, or an over-the-top chocolate bar, made up of all things chocolate (cakes, biscuits and candies) will delight and bring out everyone's playful nature.