In celebration of Coronation Big Lunches taking place over the Coronation weekend, Their Majesties have shared a recipe for a Coronation Quiche - featuring spinach, broad beans and tarragon. | Youtube: The Royal Family


Britons will be baking more quiche this weekend than any other nation in the world — and it’s a Royal Command performance that comes from King Charles himself as part of the celebrations for tomorrow’s Coronation.

King Charles and Camilla decided on quiche as a Coronation dish because it is relatively easy to make, can be eaten hot or cold, and also because it’s ideal for sharing — slice it up, plonk it on the table and let everyone dig in. They won’t be serving it like that at Buckingham Palace (or even in the more laid back bagpipes and Highland fling ambience at Balmoral Castle) but this weekend it will fit in nicely at Coronation parties up and down the country.

Charles and Camilla chose the ingredients and their cook, Mark Flanagan, helped to create the final dish. The recipe is on The Royal Family, the Buckingham Palace website.

Charles has always been an environmentalist and the filling for his quiche is literally on the green side: it contains a generous amount of spinach and broad beans and is flavoured with tarragon. The filling is based on a traditional savoury custard made with eggs and cream (double cream in this case) and with a short crust pastry made with equal parts of butter and lard, quite a few calories are involved.

As presented on the website, it’s not suitable for vegetarians or vegans — but they’ll be able to enjoy it as well, because nowadays British supermarkets stock veggie and vegan versions of everything — even haggis, pork pies, sausages, bacon, black pudding and sausage rolls. I’ve yet to see a T-bone steak suitable for vegans, but I’m pretty sure someone, somewhere, is in a laboratory hard at work on a prototype with a soya bean base.

Although the quiche is considered to be a classic French dish, it has its origins in the middle ages in the German kingdom of Lotharingen. The French eventually took over this area and renamed it Lorraine, which is why most countries call it quiche lorraine. The French word ‘quiche’ comes from the German ‘Kuchen’, meaning cake, which was originally a poor family’s dish made in bakeries with leftover bread dough.

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Its filling was a savoury custard with chopped bacon and it was cooked on the hob in a cast-iron frying pan. As the dish evolved, cooks dropped the bread dough and used a short crust based on flour and butter. Some cooks started to add grated gruyere cheese, but purists nowadays insist that a genuine quiche lorraine is never made with cheese of any kind. When onions are used in the filling, the lorraine becomes a quiche alsacienne — or a quiche from Alsace, a part of France that was also originally German. Cream and eggs were being used for pastry in English cooking in the 14th century and Italian cooks were baking with that type of pastry at least as early as the 13th century.

Quiche lorraine became popular in England in the 1950s when postwar holidaymakers started to visit France, spurred on by the 1951 publication of Elizabeth David’s A Book of Mediterranean Food.
Quiche became a staple in some restaurants in London’s Soho district and was also a popular picnic dish: it travelled well and was enjoyable when cold.

Quiche underwent all kinds of variations on the basic theme. One made with two or three cheeses was given the French name quiche au fromage, and when called provençale, tomatoes were the principal ingredient. If spinach was the main part of the filling, it became a quiche florentine. The quiche nowadays has become a dish for all seasons and all tastes. The quiche is like pasta and rice in that it can take just about any ingredient, so you get those for vegetarians, for fish and shellfish fans and with all kinds of meats and charcuterie for omnivores.

My favourite continues to be the authentic quiche lorraine with short crust pastry and a lightly smoked bacon filling. It’s the only one I ever make, although I have tried (and enjoyed) a few of the others. One thing I have stopped doing, however, is ordering quiche in restaurants, unless I know for sure that it was baked only a few hours previously.

Although quiche became a popular picnic dish, I find that even the very best versions do not stand up to being served cold. And, with one exception I know of, it’s just about impossible to get a recently baked quiche.

PALMA - Panorama Gastronomico - Maribel, con una quiche de espinacas.
Maribel with her spinach quiche.

That one exception is La Bodeguita in Calle Carmen, off La Rambla (Tel: 639-253249) where owner-cook Maribel Moll does an luncheon menu based on seven or eight dishes from Monday to Friday. At least two of the dishes, steak tartar and entrecôte (both with superb chips) are permanent fixtures by popular request. The other dishes change twice a week.

Maribel occasionally does a large quiche, not necessarily a lorraine, because it is sometimes a vegetarian option. She doesn’t have a rota for her dishes, but if you’re interested in trying a superb quiche, she’ll give you a date for the next one. She’ll even do it on a day that’s convenient for you.
And be sure to try her steak tartar: she doesn’t mince the meat until the order comes in, and it’s by far the best I’ve ever had. Even the Michelin star cooks I know can’t equal it.