Thursday, 19 September 2013

Overflowing with Goodness!

Torta Salata di Finocchio, Pomodoro & Olive al Soufflé
Fennel, Tomato & Olive Quiche Soufflé

Don't hate me for calling this pretty little pastry a "quiche soufflé" people- I had to try doing something to distract you all from the fact that this is a dish that went wrong! Fortunately, it turned out to be ok... more than simply edible even- in fact, it was pretty delicious to tell you the truth!

This was supposed to be one of my typical, very fluffy, puff-pastry pies... with a light, cheesy topping, then golden-brown fennel on top. The thing is... the filling ended up being a little bit too much, it fluffed and bubbled up over the edges of the pastry and created all kinds of havoc with it! It seemed my supper was doomed! But of course, the important thing in the kitchen is to keep calm and improvise if things go awry... and then you come up with suppers like this!

So yes, there is a puff-pastry base in there somewhere- haha! Sadly, with the egg "royale" pouring over the edges, what happened was of course that the air that usually escapes from puff-pastry, between the many folded layers of dough and butter, which is the thing that makes it puff-up in the first place... couldn't. Sigh. So it didn't get so crisp around the edges as it might have... Still- like I said- the end result was so good I might just make it again- or recommend you try it too!

I started off by slicing the fennel into relatively thin wedges, laying it on the steam rack in a little saucepan and steaming it for 5 minutes. I popped a tomato in there too, with a little cross-cut into one end, so that the skin would pop and be easy to peel as soon as the fennel was cooked.

Whilst the fennel steamed, I turned on the oven to get nice and hot, and busied myself with making a simple "royale" to make the main part of the filling for my little quiche. Just 1 egg, 1 good handful of grated Edam cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg and a good handful of finely chopped chives... briefly beaten with a fork- no fuss- no problem.

By now, the fennel was beginning to turn transparent- which was perfect, and the tomato was good to go too! So under a cold tap they went to cool off completely- and whilst the fennel dripped-dry, I cut the tomato in half, discarded the seeds and cut it into thin slices. 

I cut the pastry to fit my little frying pan and added a few strips of extra pastry along the outside edge, to give a little extra height- which usually keeps the filling tidily inside too... USUALLY! Haha! It didn't look like it was going to be too much either when I added it- so be warned! As I said- this was just 1 egg and it spilt over the edge completely once it began to bake! 

In any case- first came the egg and cheese mix, then the fennel, then in-between, the tomato slices and 4-5 halved olives for a bit of richness and depth of flavor. I seasoned with salt, pepper and a little more nutmeg, sprinkled it lightly with cheese and put the frying pan on the stove top to get the pastry going, for 3-4 minutes... you know my method by now! 

Once the base was firm and secure, the egg had begun to bubble away and the edges of the pastry were beginning to rise, I popped it into a hot oven, 350°F, for 10-15 minutes. As soon as I saw that the egg was bubbling-up and pouring over the edges, I took the pan out of the oven and tilted this way and that, to get the excess egg distributed evenly around the outside edge... Whatever! I added a little more cheese and popped it back inside for a final 2-3 minutes under the broiler. 

End of story! Except that as soon as I saw it in it's finished form, crispy and golden brown all the same, I just added a garnish of fresh fennel greens and decided I had been upset for no reason when things went "wrong". This was so wrong, I think it could hardly have been more right! And I hope you agree with me too!

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