Once upon a time, when I hadn’t had a massive bill I wasn’t expecting, when I was going up to London to do university interviews instead of wondering how my life would have been if I’d done the degree I knew I should and could have done, when my jeans were tight because that’s how they were supposed to be worn, when I first discovered patchouli and wore it for the same reasons then as now, the mark of the dwindling tribe, I discovered this wondrous food.
We’d always been into vegetables at home, and a series of uncles’ and aunt’s weddings proved that the recipe for bacon and egg flan was not unknown in our circles. But it wasn’t until I went up to my step-sister’s in Notting Hill, those heavy years away when ordinary people lived there and not that thankfully, given that there was plenty of unspecified trouble just waiting to happen to you if you walked around not noticing what was going on, or noticing too much of what was going on. Then I got broccolli quiche for supper.
Almost every time. When years nearer now than then I mentioned it my step-sister wasn’t best pleased. But I was by it. She always made it from scratch, when she came in from law school. Her husband usually got back earlier and we’d drink massive gin and tonics steel blue and then red wine sitting around the table, eating bread cut with a razor-sharp old knife on ancient plates off a Portobello stall, talking of the future and psychology and all the things that were to happen. Some of them did.
So tonight, unable to visit that place in the past, I made broccoli quiche. It goes like this.
300g self-raising flour
About the same of butter.
Mash it all up together, crumble it between your fingers, then add just enough water to make it roll into a ball that stays together. Not too much. You can’t get the water out again if you mess it up.
Wrap it in clingfilm if you’ve got some or silver foil if you haven’t and put it in the fridge for at least half an hour. I gave it a day and half because I changed my mind about what to have for dinner yesterday.
The Quiche Part
Half-boil some chopped broccoli.
Soften some finely-chopped onions, lots of garlic, at least three cloves. Do not burn any of this.
Mix up three eggs, creme fraiche or yoghurt and some grated cheese. Feta works. Anything in the fridge works. No, more than that.
Roll out the pastry (use a floured wine bottle if you like) and put it in a heavy flan pan with a removable bottom. About £8. Trust me on this. You won’t regret it. They’re what TK Max is for.
Put little fork marks not all the way through into the pastry then bake it on really hot until it changes colour. You’ll see.
Take it out and put the onions, broccoli, garlic into the pastry shell then pour the eggy cheesy creamy mixture over it.
Bake until it sets without burning the pastry.
Then eat it, talking about Nietsche, the Channel Tunnel, Gurdjieff and if you really want to go for it, Kate Bush.
And don’t worry. You don’t have to know anything about any of them this far back into your comfort zone, just like the first time.
I’ve added another egg to this recipe because I skimped and only used two today. I didn’t use anywhere near enough cheese either. And I burned the onions and the oven was clearly too hot for the blind baking. All in all, it wasn’t quite as good as it used to be. But then, nostalgia never is.