If you find yourself hosting a brunch in the coming week, then this savoury quiche will guarantee to make your friends and colleagues extremely happy.

Some of us love the idea of hosting brunch and making the most of the morning before the working day (or weekend antics) even begin. But don’t worry if, at the last minute, you start to regret being the hostess and find yourself in a tizzy in the kitchen. Please join the club!

If you rarely host brunch, then the perfect solution is to plan a stress free menu so you are not tied up in the kitchen or delayed on your way to work. Here are some helpful tips that will avoid you being in the kitchen from 5am:

Brunch Tip 1: It might seem simple, but use a versatile and substantial ingredient: EGG!

I’d recommend a baked egg dish. Something light and airy that can easily be scooped onto plates without making a mess (e.g. quiches, casseroles, roulades or pot pies).

Brunch Tip 2: Use ingredients that can be cooked in various ways.

If you are serving bacon or sausages, avoid the stress of getting yourself spattered with oil by baking the meat in the oven. Not only will it keep your house warm and toasty but it will also have your home smelling divine in no time. In addition, when your dish is cooked, you can keep your food in the oven to stay warm until serving.

Brunch Tip 3: Many of us love sweet and savoury things, especially pancakes and omelettes, but they can be prove to be a lot of effort (“will the pancakes flip?!”). Ideally, use a recipe that can either be made the night before or kept in the freezer weeks in advance. Mediterranean bread, cookie and scone recipes are the perfect solution for this and work well when eaten together.

Brunch Tip 4: To avoid forgetting something on the day, lay everything out the night before. Have everything set out on your coffee and dining table, including tea/coffee mugs, napkins, different glasses, plates and, importantly, cutlery. The last thing you want to be doing is washing forks and spoons while your food gets cold.

Brunch Tip 5: Remember, if you are in the kitchen doing last minute prep, don’t be afraid to ask for a hand. One of your guests will be more than happy to help make hot drinks and cocktails (Bloody Mary of course).

For these reasons I decided to make a quiche: elegant, soft and the ultimate comfort food, especially when combined with a flaky, buttery crust which collapses to the touch.

I decided to create a quiche with different textures: a fresh tomato sauce with fragrant garlic and basil for the base, topped with a light and airy batter with delicately sweet oyster mushrooms and torn deli ham filling. While this seems like a lot of work, the majority can be prepared within the hour and be in the oven before your guests arrive, leaving you plenty of time to get dressed and relax.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love getting my hands dirty in the kitchen, but I’m not one to make pastry dough for a large group of people. You just don’t need the added stress of it going horribly wrong and making the process more time consuming. So here’s my approach: buy ready made pastry from the supermarket suitable for quiches. With this little cheat, your quiche can still be a legitimate weeknight dinner for the family or better still an impressive brunch dish that doesn’t require waking up early to make.

The filing for this oyster mushroom and ham quiche is extremely delicate and light in a way that seems to perfect for words. As much as you may love a traditional Quiche Lorraine or salmon and broccoli offering, this combination brings a little twist to the old favourites. The combination of brightly cooked tomatoes in a wild garlic and basil sauce, with gently cooked oyster mushrooms and torn, good quality ham covered with the smoothest, most delicate quiche mixture is sublime.

I hope you enjoy this exquisite dish as much as I do.

Serves 4-6
Shopping List:

230g pre-made rolled pastry
1 9-inch quiche tray
4 medium sized vine-ripened plum tomatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
270ml whole milk
120ml cooking/ heavy cream
100g emmental or gruyere cheese, finely grated
120g very good quality deli ham
120g small oyster mushrooms
1 medium leek (100g), finely sliced
3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
5-10g unsalted butter
Salt for seasoning
Fresh ground black pepper for seasoning
Generous amount of fresh basil

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F/ Gas mark 4 and place a medium sized saucepan on a high heat with water and bring to boil.

Meanwhile, remove the rolled pastry from the fridge and carefully place into the quiche tray and prick with a fork. Gently line with greaseproof paper and place beans or rice on top of the greaseproof paper, pushing snugly against the sides of the pan. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Once the water has come to the boil, cut a small X at the bottom of each tomato and blanch in the boiling water for up to a minute. Then place in a bowl with ice cold water to wrinkle the skin – making the tomatoes easier to peel – and set aside.

Next, place a small saucepan onto a medium heat. Add a knob of butter and allow to gently melt. Once melted, add in the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Stir gently and place the lid on top and cook for 2 minutes.

Remove the lid and stir constantly to avoid browning and to ensure all the moisture has gone before turning off the heat. This normally takes a further 1-2 minutes.

Next, carefully remove the greaseproof paper. If the pastry has little air bubbles, lightly press down with the back of a spoon or prick with a fork. Place the pastry back into the oven and bake for further 10-15 minutes until the crust is light golden. Meanwhile, coarsely chop the tomatoes and set aside. Place a large saucepan onto a medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add in the sliced leeks, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Stir occasionally until the leeks are softened. Once softened add in the tomatoes and a small handful of freshly torn basil. Stir well and place the lid on top and cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should appear sticky and thick.

While the sauce is cooking, in a large bowl vigorously whisk together the eggs, milk, cream and a pinch of salt until the batter is extremely frothy. Mix in the remainder of the freshly torn basil and grated cheese.

Remove the pastry from the oven and discard any excess that has folded over the quiche tray. Pour the tomato sauce over the base of the pastry and scatter the mushrooms and half of the ham, roughly torn, on top of the sauce . Pour in the quiche batter (you may have a little batter left over), and place the remaining ham over the top.

Carefully place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the center is spongy, but still a little wobbly. Allow the quiche to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

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