The grand thing about cooking is you can eat your mistakes. -Julia Child

Monday, April 27, 2009

Spinach and Gouda Quiche with No-Roll Crust

As promised, AZEats recipe #2.

I like quiche a lot - how can you go wrong when there's eggs, cheese, and pastry involved?! But I have a confession to make. I used to use storebought crust. I just felt like my minikitchen with its two square feet of counter space wasn't conducive to rolling out dough. (I'm not exaggerating about the lack of space, either - my old apartment's counter was exactly 1 foot wide and 2 feet deep.) But after several weeks of eating processed premade pastry stuff for recipe constest entries, the last thing I wanted to do was bring some premade pie crust in my house. Plus I just got a brand new Pyrex pie plate that I needed to break in. So it was time to make my own crust.
But this recipe is for my friend, and I'm not going to make her roll out crust in her minikitchen, either. So - the hunt for a no-roll crust recipe began. Most recipes I found called for vegetable oil to be used, sometimes shortening, too. I wanted to stick with butter, so I kind of made up my own recipe. I also wanted to minimize the amount of dishes she (and me) had to wash, so this recipe can be made right in the pie dish. Pretty cool, no?

As for the selection of spinach and gouda, well - I tend to make broccoli quiches but wanted to branch out a bit so spinach it is (plus it has been on sale at the stores around me lately - notice a trend in my recipes?). And Gouda, well, my friend told me that she basically has available three kinds of cheese - something salty and white, something mellow and melty and yellow, and gouda. Gouda it is.

A quick preparation note - Gouda is fairly soft and might not shred well. Try freezing it for 30 minutes or so first to harden it up a bit. If the Gouda just crumbles - don't worry, that will work just fine. And note to anyone who tries to cheat and use the food processor to crumble the Gouda - just use the "pulse" setting and don't process it too long or you'll have something that looks like the inside of that nut-encrusted cheese & wine ball that is ubiquitous at parties... I learned this firsthand, yes. It still works in the recipe, just will require that you manually break it up into "pieces" so you don't have a giant blob of gouda in your quiche. Also - fluff up the flour a bit in the bag before using it. The reason a lot of baking recipes seem to work for one person and not for another is due to how flour can settle during shipping, causing one cup of flour used by one person to weigh a lot more (and thus contain a lot more flour) than someone else's. To combat this, stir the flour in the bag to fluff it, scoop out more than your measuring cup can hold, and then use the back of a table knife to push off the excess, taking care to not pack more flour in your cup than it naturally picked up. I will also give weight measurements for those of you with kitchen scales.

Spinach and Gouda Quiche with No-Roll Crust
by Me
Serves 4-6

No Roll Pie Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 7.25 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 stick salted butter, melted (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons milk (plus more if needed)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Add flour, salt, and sugar to your pie dish. Stir with a fork to evenly distribute the salt and sugar.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the melted butter. Stir to combine (this will be a sort of half-stir, half-mashing motion).
Add the milk a tablespoon at a time and stir. Mixture should have the appearance of large crumbs but be able to be molded almost like clay. Add up to another tablespoon of milk if needed.
Using your hands, gently press the mixture flat against the bottom and sides of the pie dish. It will seem like you won't have enough dough, but you will - extra dough hides in the corner between the bottom and sides so be sure and shape that area carefully.
Shape the top edges if you want to be fancy about it. (I just kind of did a quick semi-pinch thing.)
Using a table knife or fork, make about six small cuts in the bottom of the crust (to prevent air bubbles from forming under the crust).
Place an oven-safe plate on the inside of the crust to weigh it down (you can also cover the crust with foil and use about two cups of dried beans or rice to weigh it down).
Bake the empty crust for 20-25 minutes, or until edges are light golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool.

Quiche filling:

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt (divided)

10 ounces fresh spinach, roughly chopped into 1 inch ribbons
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (divided)
3 large eggs
1 cup milk
6 ounces Gouda cheese, shredded or crumbled

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until beginning to soften. Stir in the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook until onions are fully soft.
Add the spinach and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the spinach has wilted. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and milk together. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and the Gouda. Stir until combined. Stir in the spinach mixture.
Pour the egg and spinach mixture into the cooled pie crust, ensuring that the spinach is spread out evenly.
Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes, or until center of quiche is slightly firm to the touch, and a knife inserted in the center of the quiche reveals no uncooked egg.

Verdict? Really yummy. In fact, I can't wait to have the leftovers for lunch today! (I even ate some cold when I was preparing my lunch last night.) Seasoning the spinach well ensures that the seasoning is spread throughout the whole quiche (instead of getting lost in pockets of egg as happens with some quiche recipes that mainly have you season the egg mixture). Gouda's subtle tang is a good mix for the earthy spinach. And that crust? Nice and flaky and better than anything I'd have previously bought in a store. So it isn't perfectly thin and I totally lack the skills to make the edge pretty, but - I think you'll like it and appreciate the ease as well as the taste. Next time I'll try and press it out even a bit thinner, though. Isn't that cross-section pic with its spinach ribbons pretty?!


Anonymous said...

This sounds and looks absolutely delicious! I am one of your friend's site-mates in Azerbaijan and I can't wait for her to serve this to all of us when it's her turn for 'hub night'! And, I mean that literally -- I may whip one up for myself before it's her turn to host. What a kind friend you are to help her out as well as the rest of us. By the way, we are not all vegetarians here and do have mutton, chicken and beef available so if you have any simple meat dishes that can be made with the ingredients you know are available here, please post them also! Thanks so much!!

T$ said...

I am a vegetarian myself so the recipes will be vegetarian, unfortunately. But sometimes I modify meat-containing recipes to be vegetarian. In those situations I'll try and add a note where you could sub back in the meat as it suits you.

Glad the quiche looked yummy to you. Thanks for checking out my blog!

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