As Pesach approaches, I’ve started my annual ’emptying of the freezer’ ritual. I’ve never yet managed to get it completely empty but we do usually get at least a couple of drawers cleared. There was a raw pastry case in there, which had been lurking for a few months – I’d accidentally made twice as much pastry as I needed for something else, so rolled out the excess and froze it as a pastry case. It cooked up beautifully from frozen.
This is a dish I remember fondly from childhood. My Mum used to make it, and I think she called it cheese and onion pie. Which lead to an in-depth discussion as we ate my version – was it a pie? A quiche? A tart? A flan?
I think we agreed that to be a tart, it would need to be sitting in an Amsterdam shop window. But the differences between a cheese and onion quiche, a cheese and onion flan and a cheese and onion pie were more elusive.
Whatever you call it, it is delicious, and – especially if you have a ready-made pastry case – extremely simple to make. The fennel seeds add a tasty twist, and bring out the flavour of the cheddar and the sweetness of the caramelised onions. It makes a perfect light lunch with a green salad, and possibly a few new potatoes.
(P.S. If you don’t happen to have a pastry case in the freezer, you can make one as follows: Rub 175g flour into 85g butter or margarine to form crumbs. Add cold water to bring it together into a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill 30 mins. Roll out, line your pie dish, and refrigerate (or freeze) at least another 30 minutes before continuing with the recipe below.)
Cheese and onion quiche with fennel seeds
A crisp pastry case with a delicious cheese and onion filling, subtly flavoured with fennel seeds.
- 1 23cm uncooked pastry case (9-inch)
- 500 g onions (4-5 medium onions)
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp white balsamic (or white wine) vinegar
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 200 g grated cheddar cheese (2 cups)
- 6 eggs
- 75 ml milk (1/3 cup)
Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).
Peel and thinly slice the onions. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, and sauté the onions until softened and beginning to brown. Stir occasionally to encourage even browning.
Stir the white balsamic vinegar and the fennel seeds into the onions and stir and scrape to deglaze the pan. Set aside.
Mix the eggs and milk together well.
Meanwhile, bake the pastry case blind for around 15 minutes (less for a non-frozen pastry case) or until just starting to colour. Remove the pastry case from the oven, and spread the onion mixture over the bottom. Top with the grated cheddar, then pour the egg mixture carefully over the top. Wiggle the case a few times to ensure the liquid has penetrated through the cheese and onions. (You may not fit all the egg mixture into the case.)
Bake the cheese and onion quiche at 200C for 35-40 minutes until golden, and set in the centre. Remove from the oven and serve warm.