Mini Ham quiches

How is your year so far?

For us, the last few days of January have been most hectic with 2 major events: school starting again and (probably more significant for Terry and I) the sale of our beloved boat. The decision was a few months in the making and it took even longer to complete the final move. I will spare you the details of days spent packing personal items, scrubbing and cleaning, carrying out repairs (as luck would have it, some of the equipment decided to fail us 1 week before handover!) and generally having it ready for the new owners to enjoy. It was a massive job, which combined with back to school preparations with the kids, made for a very busy time.

Handover day coincided with the first day of school. Being Anne’s first day in High School, I spent the morning meeting some of the teachers and seeing her off (we must have been 20 mums waving our babies goodbyes, just as we did on first day of Kindy!). Then it was full on, back on the boat, briefing the new owners Jon and Katie. While Terry dealt with the technical issues with Jon, I went over the general organisation of the vessel with Katie, particularly in the galley. As I opened lockers and drawers, and described how I used to store utensils or food, a flood of memories came back: the exhaustion of pre-ocean passage provisioning, the excitement of preparing your own freshly caught fish, the fun of impromptu parties with other boat crews, the privilege (and relief) of enjoying my favourite cup of tea safely on board while conditions at sea were precarious… For 1665 days, this boat has been our home, safe haven, an Australian/French embassy, school, mobile workshop, chick magnet, kids playground, a floating restaurant and party pontoon. Most importantly it is the vessel that has allowed us to step out of our comfort zone and explore this big world out there. Many friendships were forged while dropping the anchor or walking a marina dock, many life experiences forever have shaped the way we see the world and its people…in a good way, I hope.

Back to cooking, we were invited to the boat by her new crew, for a farewell drink. Knowing that everyone had been flat out working all day and probably survived on minimal lunch, I decided to bring along one of my signature snack dishes: mini ham quiches. These are without a doubt an all- time favourite in the family, and everyone who has tasted them. A smaller version of a quiche Lorraine (the French savoury custard filled tart), I make individual portions in a silicon muffin pan: the silicon makes it easy to dish out, and the small serves mean they are ideal for lunchboxes, picnics, boat snacks or cocktail parties (as it was, I made a triple batch, took some to the boat, kept some for the kids and froze the rest for next week’s lunches)…

Mini Ham and Cheese Quiches

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Serves 12 as a snack

Ingredients:

3 frozen sheets of store-bought puff pastry (you can also use shortcrust pastry if preferred)
300g ham, roughly chopped
1 cup grated cheese (cheddar or swiss, not mozzarella)
3 eggs
300ml pouring cream
A pinch of nutmeg

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
2. Thaw out the puff pastry at room temperature, until pliable. Cut each sheet into 4 squares. Place each square into a muffin hole, folding the sides in a little pleat so they fit neatly. Keep aside in the fridge while you prepare the custard.

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3. Make the custard: In a medium size bowl, whisk the eggs and the pouring cream together, add the nutmeg, salt and pepper.
4. Divide the ham and cheese evenly among the quiches. Slowly pour the custard in the quiches ( I use a small ladle ). Fold the edges of the pastry over the filling.

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5. Place the quiches in the oven. After 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to 180C and cook for another 25 minutes.
6. Serve at room temperature or cold. You can also freeze them once cooked, simply reheat in the oven. Enjoy!

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