Fish

SMOKED HADDOCK AND NORFOLK TAWNY QUICHE

There is something very traditional about smoked haddock. A fish that many of us remember being luminous yellow, simply poached in milk, served with butter or a poached egg. Although you can still buy “yellow” fish, undyed smoked haddock is readily available, and you can’t beat its lovely delicate flavour.

In this quiche recipe the combination of leeks with smoked haddock and the added bonus of double cream are wonderful, it’s a glorious mixture of flavours with the subtle addition of the local cheese Norfolk Tawny, from Ferndale Farm.

If you have an Aga you have the advantage of not having to bake pastry blind, by cooking quiches and tarts on the floor of the roasting oven, so the pastry cooks through at the same time as the filling. This principal also works in a conventional cooker, saving cooking time and also the messing around with baking beans and grease proof paper! Heat a heavy flat baking tray in the oven until it is piping hot, it does have to be a thick one so it holds the heat and doesn't buckle. Then sit the quiche on top of the hot baking tray in the oven and bake as you normally would.

THE PASTRY

225g (8oz) plain flour

115g (4oz) butter

a pinch of salt

1 medium free-range egg

a little cold water

THE FILLING

35og (120z) Un-dyed smoked haddock

1 bay leaf

300ml milk

40g (1 ½0z) butter

3 medium leeks finely slice (about 300g/10.5oz)

3 medium free-range eggs

300ml double cream

85g (3oz) Norfolk Tawny cheese grated (you can use cheddar or Gruyere cheese)

a pinch of nutmeg

freshly ground pepper

Grease a 25cm/10 in loose bottom flan tin

Preheat the oven to 190°C Gas Mark 5, In an Aga, cook on the floor of the roasting oven, using the cold shelf on the first set of runners if the quiche browns too quickly.

To make the pastry, place the butter, flour and salt in the food processor and whizz to a fine bread crumb texture. Whisk the egg and add a little at a time to the pastry mix until it forms a dough, if the mixture is too dry drizzle in a little cold water. I then transfer the mix to a bowl and finish it by hand. Press the pastry into a flat disc shape, it will make it easier to roll out later, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for a good hour.

Place the smoked haddock in a pan with the bay leaf, pour over the milk and poach gently for about 5 minutes, until the fish is just cooked. Once it’s cooked remove from the pan to cool and reserve the milk, once the fish is cool enough to handle flake it into small pieces, removing any bones.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over a moderate heat and soften the leeks for about 10 minutes, taking care they don’t catch.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl add the cream and some of the reserved poaching milk; you need approximately 6ooml of liquid for this size quiche, season well with pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.

Roll out the pastry and line the tin, scatter the flaked smoked haddock, softened leeks and grated cheese evenly over the base, pour over the eggs and cream mixture and bake for 3o to 40 minutes until golden brown and the filling has set.

Serve warm with a green salad and crusty bread.

PASTRY HINTS AND TIPS

When you make pastry in the processor be careful not to over whizz it, if you do, the butter will start to break down and go back to its liquid form and your pastry will always be sticky and difficult to work. If you buy ready made pastry, buy a good one, preferably made with butter. Cheaper ones often have the addition of water and will shrink when you cook them.