Saturday, July 9, 2016

Spinach and Feta Quiche

This tastes great when it's hot out of the oven, even better the second day.

Step 1:  Prepare the shortbread crust.

 Preheat oven to 325°F.  While the oven is heating, combine in a bowl:
  • 2 cups unbleached white flour (or a mixture of white, whole wheat and/or multigrain flour
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • Cold water as required
If the butter is hard, microwave it for about 15 seconds. Cut into the flour with your hands or a pastry-blending tool, and add water a bit at a time till you have a dough that's just starting to hold together (it'll be a bit crumbly, but that's okay).

Press the dough into an ungreased pie pan, lining the pan to just below the rim. With a fork, poke  some holes in the bottom of the crust so that steam can escape. Put in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Step 2:  Prepare the filling.

In a pot or frying pan, heat:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, virgin or extra-virgin
When the oil is hot, add:
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, thoroughly washed (baby spinach works great here).

Toss around in the hot oil till the spinach is just starting to wilt.  Remove from heat and pour off excess liquid.

In the same bowl that you used for the pastry shell, combine:
  • 1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
  • 5 large eggs 
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced fine
  • At least 1/2 teaspoon oregano, fresh or dried 
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Optional spices:  Dill, minced onions, basil.  Because of the saltiness of the feta cheese, we don't recommend using garlic salt, onion salt or any other salt-based seasoning in this recipe.

By this time, the sautéed spinach has cooled a bit.  Add it to the mixture of cheese, eggs and spices, and mix thoroughly.

The pie crust should also be ready by now. Pour the mixture into the partially baked shell and return to the oven.

Bake for at least 35 minutes.  Be aware that it can take 45 minutes or even longer, depending on your oven. Do not underbake!  When the pie is ready, the center will be quite firm to the touch and a very, very pretty shade of green on top.

You can serve this immediately, but it'll cut more easily if you let it cool for a few minutes.

Cooking axioms

Assorted snippets of cooking wisdom from Astreja K.:

  • If a recipe calls for shortening or margarine, cut to the chase and go for butter.  Unsalted is best.
  • Cookies should be baked at 325° F or lower, especially if they contain baking powder or baking soda.  Sodium bicarbonate changes to sodium carbonate (ack! washing soda!) at higher temperatures.  So there you have it:  The real reason Auntie Em's gingersnaps taste like soap.
  • Cool down and wipe down your cookie sheets between batches.  Run them under cold water if they're too hot to handle.
  • Your best bet for getting cookies off the pans in one piece is parchment paper.  When the cookies come out of the oven, let them stand for about two minutes.  Place the cooling rack face-down on top of the cookies while they're still on the cookie sheet, then flip the pan and the rack over together, then lift off the pan and peel the parchment paper off the bottoms of the cookies.  (You may even be able to reuse the clean side of the paper for another batch.)
Things that aren't cookies:
  • There is no such thing as Too Much Garlic, except perhaps in chocolate cake.
  • There is no such thing as Too Much Vanilla, either.
  • Cook slowly and turn up the heat only if you have to.  It's easier than finding a place to dump whatever you just burned.
  • That said, if you're trying to burn something on purpose (For example, onions for French Onion Soup), a little salt will cause them to brown faster.
  • Read that last one again:  A little salt. Salt is the one spice that can severely wreck a recipe. Always err on the side of caution here.
  • However, when brewing coffee, always err on the side of excess.  You can water down the strong stuff, but you can't save the weak stuff.
  • Use nylon utensils, not metal ones, with your non-stick cookware.
  • The infamous Rule of Three:  When you can't decide what to make for supper, pick three ingredients at random from your fridge and/or cupboard.  Once you have the basic outline, you can cheat by adding flour, water, spices and other necessities.  Examples:
    • Carrot-Potato Pancakes (Grated carrots and potatoes, a couple of eggs, flour and spices.)
    • Lentil Soup with Tea Biscuits (Lentils and spices for the soup; flour, margarine and baking powder for the biscuits.)
    • Vegetarian Chili (Kidney beans, canned tomatoes and an onion.)
    • Corn Fritters (Frozen corn, flour, eggs and spices, fried in a bit of oil.)
    • Antibiotic Soup (All the onions and garlic you've got in the house, plus marjoram, a bay leaf and any other spices that look interesting.  Great stuff when you've got a cold.)