This past weekend, we flew to Taipei on Jetstar Asia Airways. This is significant for only two reasons. The first is the price. Jetstar is one of Asia’s new budget airlines. The advent of these new airlines has made regional travel suddenly very affordable. Flights that were once between S$700 to S$800 are now between S$200 to $400. Flights that were once a few hundred dollars are now sometimes as cheap as S$20 to S$30. Our flight to Taipei was only S$342 a person (we’ll be flying to Hong Kong next week for only S$277 each), cheap compared to what we would have paid a year ago. However, low cost means no frills. Drinks and food, while available on board, aren’t free. Not that we’d want to buy any of Jetstar’s inflight meals. What we’ve seen so far has been pretty terrifying. S and I have always liked to pack snacks when flying. Usually that might mean some sandwiches or a can of “rillette d’oie”–nothing too heavy since even the worst airline can be depended on to serve nuts, bread, or some other palatable snacks. But flying Jetstar necessitates packing properly and packing anything and everything we’d want to eat or drink.
For our flight to Taipei, S decided to make some delicious individual Quiche Lorraines. I love quiche. As a food, it combines two of my favourite things, pastry and egg. Add to this an endless variety of yummy ingredients (for example, bacon, mushrooms, spinach, cheese, crabmeat, leeks, etc) and you have what might be one of the most perfect foods ever invented. I should also admit that I didn’t know S was making these for our flight. I discovered them after coming home from work. They were cooling in the kitchen, as pictured above. What a wonderful vision. The aromas were equally heady, with the smells of bacon, egg, cheese and pastry filling the house. I was extremely tempted to eat one right there and then, depriving myself of an inflight meal but satisfying my greed immediately. S, of course, wouldn’t let me. And she was right not to. Without any other forms of (free) inflight entertainment–other than my ipod and the latest Harry Potter–my Quiche Lorraine was not only a wonderful meal but a great way to pass the better part of a half an hour.
Quiche Lorraine (adapted from Baking Illustrated)
Makes 4 mini (4.5 inch) quiches
Enough flaky pastry (pate brisee) for 1 double-crusted 9 inch pie (you will have leftovers)
8 ounces bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 large eggs
250ml whole milk
250ml heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
pinch grated nutmeg
4 ounces parmesan, grated
Every baker has his or her own favourite pie crust recipe. If you’re looking for a good recipe to start with, S recommends the basic pie crust recipe in The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion (p408), using a mixture of all-purpose flour and pastry flour, replacing shortening with more butter. The two step method of cutting in the fat gives you a pastry with a lovely mixture of flakiness and crumbliness.
Pre-heat oven to 375ºF. Blind-bake the pastry shells in the 4 pans until lightly golden brown (yes, that means you’ll have to use pie weights, beans or rice). Remove them from the oven but leave the oven on at the same temperature.
Fry the bacon in a skillet until crisp. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Whisk the remaining ingredients, except the cheese, in a medium bowl. Spread the cheese and bacon evenly over the bottom of the pans. Pour the egg mixture into the pans until almost but not entirely filled. Bake until golden brown, a knife blade inserted into the quiche (half an inch away from the crust) comes out clean and the centre feels set but wobbly (roughly 25 minutes for mini quiches). Transfer to a rack to cool. They will continue cooking in their own heat.