In my efforts to shop with a shorter supply chain and closer to the supplier, I have tried my local Food Assembly. This is a network of local organisations which allow local suppliers to deliver food to organised distribution points after you order on line. I used https://thefoodassembly.com/en/assemblies/8012/products Putney Food assembly. organised by the lovely Floriane and supplying amazing fresh food, bread, dairy and fruit. Oh and there’s jams, jellies and chutneys too, one particular jam coming from as close as a garden in Mortlake. Price wise, well, for the fruit and veg, frankly, no more expensive than a supermarket, but of greatly superior quality. The preserves were a little more expensive than the mid range brands, but in the same ball park as the higher end brands.
It was great fun picking up the order, as it was all set out in a room in a pub on the embankment in Putney, for collection between 6.30 and 8.30. Easy parking (although I went on the bus) and you can have a drink while it’s all happening (hence me going on the bus….). The quality of produce was superb – as if I’d picked it from my own garden (I wish) and the cheese I tried was wonderful. I am sorry to report that that evening we put away the whole 100g of Sussex Slipcote Soft Sheep Cheese with Garlic and Chives with celery and multi seed sourdough, both from the Assembly.
Although it is strictly speaking a bit early in the season, I had ordered celery which I love for not just its flavour, but also its versatility. The stems were a little on the slender side but the flavour was wonderful – a mile away from flaccid supermarket stalks. The new ingredient for me was Rainbow Chard; I’ve had it served in Italy and I do like the flavour but in the UK, have always been deterred from buying it by the price and by the fact that in the supermarket, it looks faded, dusty and ready for its bus pass. Anyway, this was positively juvenile in what I can only describe as a huge bouquet and squeaky fresh. Couldn’t wait to try it, so after having it using Nigel Slater’s gorgeous recipe for Chard with caramelised onions and sultanas (in Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries Volume III), I still had lots left.
I remembered that I’d had it in a quiche in Treviso about three years ago so had a rummage around for recipes. There wasn’t one that I liked the sound of in its entirety, so this is very much my own recipe, following fairly standard quiche principles which I have tweaked to satisfy my likes and if I’m honest, what I had in the fridge. My Rainbow Chard had brilliant gold and ruby stems which was criminal to chop up completely so I used eight of them as spokes around the quiche. Very attractive looking but will cook them for longer next time as they could have done with being a bit more tender. And when you strip the leaves form the stalks, do make sure you get rid of any nasty stringy bits.
When it comes to pastry, I prefer to use a richer shortcrust pastry, using butter and egg yolk with a small quantity of ice cold water as it always turns out very short and crisp. It is a tad more difficult to work but I find it do-able if it’s left to rest for at least an hour. I haven’t included the recipe here, as you probably have your own favourites but the quantity I used was from 170g of plain flour and 100g butter.
Rainbow Chard QuichePrint Recipe
- 170g rich shortcrust pastry
- 150g rainbow chard, well washed, leaves stripped from the stalks, keep the 6 - 8 nicest stalks for the centre, chop the rest into small dice and slice leaves into narrow strips
- 70g pancetta, chopped into 1cm dice
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
- leaves stripped from two sprigs of fresh thyme
- 150ml creme frâiche
- 3 medium eggs
- 50g finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 23 cm loose bottomed flan tin
- oven tray
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C/180 degrees fan and put in the tray to heat
Line the flan tin with the pastry and bake blind in usual way
Meanwhile, put the pancetta in a non stick sauté pan over a medium flame and cook until the fan runs and the pancetta has taken on colour
Remove from the rendered fat and drain on kitchen paper
Soften the shallot and garlic in the pancetta fat, adding a little mild olive oil if necessary
Ensure they are soft but not coloured and then remove and drain on kitchen paper
Add the chard stalks to the pan and allow to soften without colouring; the whole stalks will need longer so you might want to put then in first
While all this is going on, crack the eggs into a large jug and beat well, stir in the creme frâiche and mix well and follow with the finely grated Parmesan
Add the thyme leaves and season, remembering that both the pancetta and cheese will add salt
When they are softened, remove the chard stalks from the pan and drain
Add the sliced chard leaves to the pan and also allow to soften but not colour or frizzle - add a little more oil if necessary; remove and drain
Spread the onion, garlic, pancetta and chopped chard stalks and leaves over the baked pastry case
Pour over the egg mixture carefully and make a pinwheel pattern with the whole chard stalks
Place the tin on the oven tray and bake for 25 - 30 minutes until the filing is set and it is a lovely golden colour
Serve warm or cold with a green salad or vegetables