Tuesday, April 21, 2009

tuesday: quiche à la camp stove

A conventional oven is a high ticket item here, so we Peace Corps volunteers have embraced an alternative baking method of which our camp stoves are capable. Along with the gas stove, you need a huge pot (marmite) which serves as the oven space. We place the marmite on the gas burner, and add a few empty cans. The cans are basically the grate in your oven at home: they lift the dish so that it’s surrounded by hot air, instead of being placed directly on the heat source. You can see this configuration in the picture above, except throughout cooking the lid covers the marmite.

This recipe is once again based on Chop Fayner. For the quiche, you will need:

1 ½ cups flour
½ cup chilled butter
3 T cold water
½ t salt

3 American-size eggs
½ to 1 cup grated cheese (or five slices vache qui rit and three or more slices vache cheddar)
1 scant cup milk
1 small onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
Handful of mushrooms, chopped
Salt, pepper, basil, paprika

If you make this recipe in a fancy conventional oven, preheat it to 350° F (180° C). Otherwise, just light the stove and let the marmite air warm up.

Start the crust by combining the flour and salt. Add the butter, breaking it up with a fork. Once the butter is well distributed, add the cold water by the tablespoon. Once the mixture can hold a ball shape, you’ve added enough water. Chill the dough for half an hour to an hour. To chill, I just placed a wet cloth over the bowl in lieu of a refrigerator. Roll the dough out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin (or a wine bottle), then lay the dough in your well-greased baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the milk and spices. Place the vegetables into the uncooked crust, and spread the cheese over them. Pour the egg mixture over the veggies and cheese. Bake 30 minutes to an hour. The top will turn golden brown, and a knife stuck in the center will come out clean.

It took an hour to bake my quiche, I believe because my oven did not reach to 350°. As always, cooking with vache qui rit requires generous spices, since it’s so bland. Vache cheddar can really improve this recipe, so get it if you can. Also, even though Cameroonians seem to insist on refrigerating the vache cheddar, it does not say “keep refrigerated” on the package. I have bravely risked stomach discomfort to tell you that the vache cheddar can be kept on a shelf without refrigeration for weeks, and consumed safely. For those reading in America, vache cheddar resembles Kraft American Singles in taste, texture and packaging. And yes, this is considered a fancy cheese.

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