Monday, February 28, 2011

Spinach and Tomato Quiche

Quiche!!! I don't remember having quiche before coming to Japan. For some reason a savory pie just sounded... weird. Oh what I was missing out on! During my first two years here in Japan, me and a girlfriend (hey Kathryn) loved to go to a tea shop called Auntie's. Their lunch set had quiche, scones, salad, tea and a cake! I fell in LOVE with quiche. If I had known it is so easy to make at home all those years ago, I could have had it more than 2 or 3 times a year ;)

I have a base recipe of ingredients for quiche and then for the meat, veggies and toppings I vary it every time I make it, depending on what is in the fridge or what was fresh at the market. I love how moist and yummy this recipe always turns out, and my FAVORITE topping in the whole world is tomatoes!!! Give it a try...

First you will need pie crust from my grandmother's pie crust recipe. Roll one portion out and prepare it in a pie plate for the quiche filling. All those instructions are in Granny's pie crust recipe.

Or I GUESS you could try store bought pie crust, but just don't tell me you used store bought pie crust. We'll pretend it never happened. A note for those living in Japan, store bought pie crust here doesn't go well with this recipe. It gets all mushy, it isn't strong enough to hold up to this quiche recipe, so I suggest making the pie crust from scratch.

For the egg mixture you will need the following ingredients...

4 eggs

1/2 onion

1~2 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup grated cheese (use your favorite kind, I love Goda)

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup cream

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp oregano

1 Tbsp flour

Veggies and toppings...

in the pic above you can see that I used bacon, spinach and tomato

other yummy suggestions..





or be creative with the things you love!

Let's get started on making this one. In a large bowl break 4 eggs and beat them slightly with a fork.

We'll need half an onion, so take your onion and peel it, and cut it in half.

Store half of that onion for something else later, and then finely chop the other half for the quiche.

Take that chopped onion and just dump it into the egg.

Take one or two cloves of garlic and peel them.

Then grind it. I love my litle egg plant shaped grinder that I found in the first house we lived in and have kept all these years! I hope it lasts a lifetime, it's so handy for garlic!

Throw away the root that is left!

Scrape the ground up garlic into your bowl.

Then add the cheeses. Just dump them in there!

Add 1/2 cup milk,

and 1/2 cup cream,

again just dump it in there, or have your mini-me do it! ;) Isn't her sweet little hand the cutest!

Dump the spices in (feel free to add any fresh herbs you maye have, or an italian seasoning mix, or just go with a salt and pepper flavor if you prefer). I didn't use basil on this day, but I love putting in basil leaves!

Add salt and pepper to taste.

And 1 Tbsp of flour to act as a bit of a thickening agent to hold the whole thing together when cooked!

Now have your mini-me mix that up to her heart's content while you chop a couple veggies and bacon.

I first cut up the bacon into smaller pieces and put that into the egg mix.

Next I prepared the spinach. I always wash the stems and leaves before cutting the root.

Then lay it down and cut the root portion off, and rinse again around the exposed stem area to get any remaining grit out that may have been trapped in there with the root still on.

Now begin to chop it into the pieces about one inch long like so...

I chose about three stalks of spinach and they yielded about one cup, packed, of spinach.

I also dump this into the egg mixture and mix it in.

Now take your empty pie shell...

and dump it all in there!!!

Next I sliced a couple of tomatoes because I LOVE love LOVE the flavor of baked tomato! So tart and bold, MMMMMMMmmmMMMMM!

Lay those out on top of the quiche in a nice little wagon wheel pattern!

I like to slightly submerge the tomato and let a little egg run in on top of it. It makes the final product look yummy!

Now sprinkle a little more cheese right on top!

And bake at 160ºC (325ºF) for one hour. When you remove it from the oven, shake the pie plate back and forth gently and if the middle of the quiche jiggles like jello, it still needs to bake a little longer. Put it in for another 5 minutes or so and check again. If at this point the top is beginning to look too done or the crust is starting to burn, you should cover it with foil for the remainder of the baking time.

Savory yumminess in a pie shell. H.E.A.V.E.N. in the kitchen! YUM!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pie crust recipe

The enduring and classic pie crust recipe passed down to me by my grandmother. No telling how many generations this recipe has been in the family! Enjoy! It is great for pecan pie, apple pie, quiche, and a WHOLE lot more!!!

You will need...

3 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter (one stick, 1/2 of a Japanese block of butter, or 100 grams)

1 cup shortening (200 grams)

1 egg

1 Tbsp vinegar

5 Tbsp ice water

Place flour in a large bowl, and mix in 1 tsp of salt.

Just PRETEND that butter isn't in there yet. It is all in your imagination. No butter has entered the picture yet!

Measure your shortening. In Japan it comes in all kinds of crazy different containers and amounts. Today the one I found was in a tube, and I just cut the thing up to get it all out.

Have you ever tried to squeeze shortening out of a tube. You'd have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger.


I put my shortening in the fridge for a bit because it was getting warm since I had the heater going. We want it to be pretty firm and cold.

Measure your butter. Try not to link your fingers too much while you measure. You know, germs and all! ;P

Now dump the butter into the flour, you can cut it into some smaller pieces just to speed things up a bit.

and the shortening in.

If you have one of these handy dandy little dudes called a pastry cutter (or ペストリーブレンダー in Japanese), the next part of this job is gonna be pretty easy. If not... um you could use two knifes, slicing parallel to each other through the mixture, or you could use a large fork? Try something! Just get in there and cut that shortening and butter up a lot, so it'll turn into little pebbles covered in flour!

smash and twist and mix until it looks like a bunch of tiny little pebbles.

Once it looks like this (I tend to leave some pretty good chunks in there, I like it that way)

Now you are ready to add the vinegar. If someone could explain to me why vinegar makes a pie crust so crisp and yummy, I'd love it... no on second thought, it doesn't really matter. for some reason folks, vinegar makes pie crust really crisp and yummy. I've tried making it without, and it just ain't the same. Go for the vinegar!

I make pie crust with a fork. Don't know why, but it is what works best for me. So with my fork I mix in the vinegar a little.

Pour in the egg and mix it around well.

NOW, this is the part that takes a little practice. The recipe says 5 Tbsp of ice water, but on some days you may need 3 and others you may need 6. It depends on how humid it is, the temperature of the room, the shape of your bowl, how long your fingernails are and the phase of the moon (or something like that). ;P And unfortunately at this point my hands were too dirty to take many pictures so...

So one tablespoon at a time, pour in that ice cold water, and mix it around with the fork. the dough will begin to pull together. Don't over mix, but between each Tbsp of water, mix the dough around. When it starts to clump together in bigger clumps, take some in your hand and see if it will all stick together when you squeeze it in your hand. if some of it crumbls away, add a little bit more water. Be sure that all of the flour gets exposed and mixed, and if some powdery area still remains, add one more Tbsp. and so on until you can form a ball with it. I have NEVER had to add more than 6 Tbsp of water, so I wouldn't go there probably.

Now stick your hands in there and just press it together into a ball. No need to knead it (LOL no pun intended), just press it all together. If some of it is still a little dry crumbles away, dribble a tiny bit of water on that spot. Be careful not to add too much water or to over mix it.

Now take the dough out of the bowl onto a slightly floured surface and divide it into 3 equal parts.

I bag each part and put it in the fridge or freezer. If you are going to use it right away, put it in the fridge for AT LEAST 30 minutes if not more. If you are going to use it three or more days later, I would freeze it. It freezes beautifully. Just take it out and put it back in the fridge about 12 to 18 hours before you need it again.

Now get a pie plate.

Generously flour the surface where you will roll out the dough.

Remove one piiece of dough from the fridge and place it in the middle of the area. Also flour the top, and the surface of your rolling pin

Rol it out until it is a little larger than your pie plate. check often to be sure it is not sticking to the counter. Or better yet, roll it out on top of oven paper or parchment paper. I normally do this, but I was out of paper tonight. if you do this, be sure and wet the counter top underneath you parchment paper with a few drops of water so it won't slide around.

slightly rub some flower on the top of the dough when you are ready to transfer it to your pie plate and then roll the dough up on your roller like this. Be sure it won't stick to itself!

Now transfer it to your pie plate.

center it...

You will probably have a raised edge in several spots

We want to fold this in between the pie shell and the pie plate to create some thickness for the edge of the crust.

Now press the top edge down a bit and rotate your way around the plate until you have an edge with uniform thickness all the way around. Don't be afraid to push on some of the the thicker areas to disperse the dough to an area with less thickness.

Now you can do anything to the edge you like. You can just use a fork to score it. Or you can create a wave in it like I did...

place your pointer finger and middle finger on the surface of the crust edge on the far side of the pie plate. Put your thumb in between your pointer and middle finger and pinch.

Now place your pointer finger in the groove where your middle finger was, and move your thumb and middle finger over to a portion of the crust not yet pinched, and pinch again!

and so on..

and so forth...

until you start to get this little wave!

Continue to pinch the edge all the way around until you have something like this...

It took me 10 years of making pie crusts for it to start to look like that! and you know what, no matter what it looks like, it tastes scrumptious just the same!!!