My life has been consumed by Candy Crush Saga; please do not judge me.
So I decided to bake a quiche this week. Partly because spinach quiche holds a very special, dear place in my heart (considering I lived on it while studying for my ‘O’ levels) and also partly because I was sick of bringing sandwiches to school. So, spinach quiche it is. I also wanted to practise making tart pastry again. My biggest problem is that my pastry tends to be ever so slightly undercooked. I need to remember that things kept in freezers tend to be very, very cold.
This recipe is really three different recipes hastily cobbled into one. The recipe for the shortcrust pastry is adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, although I’ve sort of modified the instructions based on how I usually make shortbread pastry (i.e. the old-fashioned way, with a wooden spoon). It contains (gasp) vegetable shortening. I did use vegetable shortening in mine because I had quite a lot lying around at home. However, I think it’s perfectly acceptable if you substituted it with butter, which is far, far healthier. Nevertheless, I do like this pastry because it is very short indeed and has a rather lovely homemade feel to it. On the other hand, I suppose using ready-made pastry is perfectly fine if you’re short on time. Puff pastry would also probably be interesting in this case.
The recipe for the filling was inspired by this recipe from James Martin and this one from smitten kitchen. I think James Martin’s recipe is slightly too complicated and very rich for an everyday affair (it’s more of a dinner party quiche, if you will), but I like the idea of using nutmeg and mustard to spice up the flavour of the spinach. I used a combination of cheddar, milk and cream cheese for the filling (like smitten kitchen’s) but I left out the Parmesan because I’m too lazy to grate it. And I used fresh spinach instead of the frozen stuff. It makes no economical sense to buy frozen spinach, really; the stems are so easy to trim and, well, I kept the stems anyway. The crunch is quite lovely when you eat it.
All in all, very proud of the end result. And of course, like most quiches, this reheats very well after keeping in the fridge.
For the pastry
160 g plain flour, sifted
1/2 tsp salt
85 g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened
40 g vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces and softened
3 tbsp ice water
For the filling
1 tbsp olive oil
300 g baby spinach leaves (or leaves and stem)
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
85 g cream cheese
80 mL milk
100 g shredded cheddar
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Making the pastry
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 23 cm (9 inch) loose-bottomed tart pan with butter. Whisk together the flour and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, stir the softened butter and shortening until combined. Then stir in the flour and salt gradually, bit by bit, until the mixture is homogeneous and comes together as a dough. Sprinkle 3 tbsp ice water to allow the dough to bind. Roll the dough into a ball, cover with cling film and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. After chilling, roll out the dough into a circle about 30 cm (12 inch) in diameter on a lightly floured surface. Gently press the dough into the tart pan and trim off the excess hanging over the sides of the pan.
Alternatively, you can do this the lazy person’s way (i.e. how I do it). Simply press the dough into the tart pan and let the tart pan chill in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes.
Cover the pastry with a piece of aluminium foil and fill the tart pan with pie weights (or beans, rice etc.) and bake blind for about 12 minutes. After that, remove the foil with the pie weights and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the pastry is golden and just cooked.
Making the filling
You can make the filling while waiting for the pastry the cook. If you like, you can cook the spinach beforehand. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Roughly chop the spinach. Add the spinach to the pan once the oil is heated and cover with a lid. Cook the spinach until it has just wilted. Remove the spinach from the pan, drain and set aside. Generously season the spinach with nutmeg, a pinch of salt and lots of black pepper.
Actually, you might want to cook the spinach beforehand. Even before you make the pastry.
To make the rest of the filling, whisk the cream cheese, milk, cheddar, eggs and wholegrain mustard in a bowl. Stir in the wilted spinach and mix well. Once the pastry is done, take it out of the oven and gently pour in the filling. Be careful not to spill the mixture, which is a pretty easy mistake to make. Turn up the temperature to 220C and bake for another 25 minutes or so. The filling should be bubbling and the pastry golden-brown. Let the quiche cool down for about 10 minutes before removing from the tart pan and serving.