We had a glimpse of the sun in Ely over the last few days! A little teaser of Summer, it didn’t last long but it gave me a little hope for sunny days, for al fresco dinners, bbqs and my favourite, picnics. I love nothing more than long sunny days spent at the beach or long forest walks with the prize at the end being a lovely picnic. Quiches are perfect picnic food, they may have fallen out of favour for being maybe a little uncool, but not for us, we love them. Our girl in particular loves them, and so to celebrate the end of her SATs I’m making this spinach quiche especially for her.
This spinach quiche has a rich, buttery, thyme pastry, filled with spinach, creamy feta, sweet shallots and just a hint of garlic. It is just as delicious cold as it is hot, it’s not too hard to make even for non bakers like me! I only started making my own quiches last year, after a trip to my father in law’s house for lunch. My husband’s step mum makes delicious quiches, and it had been a very long time since I had eaten a home cooked quiche that good. They were so good that this lunch was the start of Abigail’s love affair with quiche. No store bought quiche can compare to a home made quiche, so I had to start making my own.
Because I have been forever fearful of baking and making lovely things like quiche here are some notes on quiche making that I have found useful. Please don’t be fearful of making your own, it really isn’t that hard.
Notes on a quiche : I use salted butter so I don’t add salt to my pastry, but if you use unsalted butter then you may want to add a 1/4 tsp of salt to the flour. The butter needs to be very cold. I use two knives like a scissors to cut it into the flour. I usually have warm hands which are not great for making pastry, you want the butter to stay cold, so the less you handle it the better. When I blind bake the pastry I crumple up the baking paper before I add the baking beans, this is so that the beans will reach every corner. Always keep any leftover pastry to patch up any cracks after the blind bake, there will be cracks, this is OK, patch it up and the quiche will still taste great, no one will notice. This is not a baking competition.
I use free range, large egg yolks. For this quiche I add the shallots and the feta to the cooked pastry base before adding the filling, it gave the quiche a lovely sweetness. I then added the sautéed and squeezed spinach and poured in the cream/egg mixture, I find this better than adding the spinach to the cream.
This spinach quiche is perfect for lunch, dinner or a nice picnic, you can make it a day ahead and serve it cold or reheat it in the oven before serving. It will keep in the fridge for two days, let it cool completely before putting it in the fridge. This quiche is really great served with a simple tomato salad but a nice green salad would be great with it too.
- FOR THE PASTRY
- 175 g / 6oz / 1 & 1/2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
- 100 g / 4oz / chilled butter , cut into cubes
- 2 x L free range egg yolks
- 4 Tbs chilled water
- 1 tbs chopped thyme leaves
- FOR THE FILLING
- 110 g / 4oz shallots , peeled and sliced
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 200 g / 6 cups fresh raw spinach
- 1 fat clove of garlic
- 3 x L free range eggs
- 140 g / just under 1 cup of feta cheese , crumbled
- 300 ml / 1 & 1/4 cup double (heavy) cream
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- A small pinch of sea salt
- A good pinch of freshly cracked black pepper.
TO MAKE THE PASTRY:
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, add the butter, using two knives like a scissors cut the butter into the flour. Using your finger tips rub the butter into the flour until you have a crumb like texture.
Stir in the chopped thyme leaves.
Mix the egg yolks with the chilled water.
Make a well in the centre of the flour, add a tablespoon of the egg mixture, mix with a knife, keep adding a tablespoon of the egg mixture until the flour and eggs come together.
Using your hands, bring the pastry into a ball shape, wrap it in cling film and place in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes.
Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees C / 392 F, I use a fan assisted, electric oven, please adjust according to your own oven.
Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll it out on a lightly floured worktop. Place the pastry into the tin, cut off the edges, prick the base with a fork then cover with parchment paper. Place baking beans on the paper then bake for 15 minutes on the middle shelf. Take the pastry out of the oven, remove the paper and beans then bake for another 5 minutes.
While the pastry is baking, prepare the filling.
Sauté the shallots in one tablespoon of oil over a low to medium cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, they should be golden brown and soft. Set aside until you are ready to use them.
Sauté the spinach with one tablespoon of oil and the garlic over a medium heat, leave it to cool then squeeze some of the excess water out.
Beat the eggs and cream together, stir in 100g (3/4's) of feta, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
To assemble the quiche, place the shallots on the pastry base, crumble over the remaining feta. Spread the spinach over the feta and shallots then pour over the egg and cream mixture.
Turn the oven down to 180 degrees C / 356 F
Place the quiche on the middle shelf and cook for 15 minutes. The filling should be cooked through, if not cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven, leave to cool for a few minutes then carefully remove it from the tin.
Serve hot or cold.