Cooking without an idea – not always a good idea…

Sometimes, even the brightest ideas don’t work. In your mind, everything looks good, but the final result is not what you expected. But every mistake is a lesson to learn that will help to improve.

Sometimes, even the brightest ideas don't work. In your mind, everything looks good, but the final result is not what you expected. But every mistake is a lesson to learn that will help to improve.

If you follow Come dine with Teo, you’ll probably know by now that I normally cook freestyle, without really following a recipe. I take lots of inspiration from recipes online, in magazines, or from memories of the past. And it normally works. Not this time though. It all started with a pack of puff pastry got on sale at the supermarket, and a nice idea for a easy and simple dinner.

So yeah, what’s better than a nice quiche? Flaky pastry, juicy toppings. Yum yum! Dinner is served! At least that’s what I thought. I’ve done quiches so many times that changing what would be on top shouldn’t have been a problem. To be honest though, my over-confidence led me to swap ingredients too many times before I actually started cooking, that I should’ve felt there was a chance it was going to be a fail.

The topping – part 1

First, I had some store-bought frozen leeks I wanted to use up. Big mistake. I love frozen veggies, they are convenient and last longer. But for delicate types like leeks, it’s either fresh or bust. Cooking with fresh leeks allows to remove every part that it’s sturdy and fibrous, leaving only what’s tender and flavourful. With store bought leeks though, you get it all. They took me ages to cook, in the end I had to discard sturdy parts once thawed and the flavour was quite bland.

These leeks don't look good at all...

Moreover, instead of leaving the chunks as they were, I also had the brilliant idea to whizz them with a hand blender, obtaining a fibrous-pasty-greeny thing that could’ve been on the cover of a Goosebumps book (ha!).

But the leek paste is even worse...

The topping – part 2

Cheese!! Cheese always saves the day! If something goes wrong, cover it in cheese (given that is edible anyway). So I decided to liven the filling up with some feta cheese. I’ve already baked feta and roasted courgette tartlets, and they really worked. It had to be the right choice, hands down. Instead of crumbling it by hand though – wait for it – I used my little blender, that despite the careful pulsing led to some sort of feta cheese paste, which I had to re-crumble with a fork before sprinkling it on top of the quiche.

The feta cheese actually got back together in the food processor...

The pastry base

It should be pointed out that it was in a block and not ready rolled. Ok ok I already see some eyes rolling – You don’t do your own puff pastry? And you call yourself a cook? – but yes, I buy prepared pastry because it’s easy to use and I don’t have much time to prepare it from scratch. As many of us, I hope. Anyway, I took out my rolling pin and baking sheet and started working the dough. Mistake number one: instead of rolling it on a floured surface, I did it on a baking sheet, making it stick to it. Number two, I didn’t roll it too much because I was afraid it was going to be too thin.

This puff pastry looks good. On paper.

The “bakeageddon”

The oven gets pre-heated to 200°C fan, an egg is beaten for the wash, and the pastry gets an incision at 1cm from the rim to allow it to grow as a well-made pastry square should do.

It gets popped in the oven, and there it sits, for at least 15 minutes (blame the rhythmic gymnastics final of the  Olympics). Enough time to make it rise too much. My only reaction was to quickly take it out of the oven and try to lower the centre with a knife. Oh my word this looks more and more like a farce!

After the pastry slaughter, the only thing left to do was to spread the leeks “paste”, scatter the feta cheese on top and return it to the oven for further 15 minutes.

The result is this:

Well... this leek and feta cheese quiche could've been worse.

The pastry attempted to rise a little bit more but eventually ended up shrinking on top (the bottom was basically glued to the baking sheet and it couldn’t move), the leeks remained quite wet and the feta well, lightly browned on top.

Despite all this, we had it for dinner the next day. It wasn’t THAT bad, but it could’ve been much better.

Thoughts

  1. Never cook in a hurry, trying to fix too many things along the way.
  2. Have an outlined plan (I guess it’s called recipe, am I right?) of what you’re going to use.
  3. Make sure to use fresh veggies, especially if they have sturdy or fibrous parts.
  4. When there is delicate stuff in the oven, check it regularly.
  5. If you can’t properly roll puff pastry – I’m talking to myself – avoid blocks and use the ready rolled type.

I am definitely going to approach this quiche again – expect a follow up – but with different types of ingredients, and way more time to cook!

And you? Did you have any cooking roadkills as well? Please tell me I’m not alone in the comments below!!

Teo

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5 thoughts on “Cooking without an idea – not always a good idea…

  1. Of course you’re not alone! We all mistakes, and often because we’re in a hurry, and believe we can take shortcuts. The whole idea of this”recipe” is fabulous! And honestly, I would never make my own puff pastry!

    Liked by 1 person

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