Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spinach Quiche

I love this quiche and I don’t care whether quiches are in or out of fashion. If you are not up for making a pie crust, buy one. If you are not up for a pie crust of any kind, make this quiche without one. I have a friend who actually prefers it that way.

1 partially baked 8 or 9-inch pie shell, see recipe below
Purchase one from the supermarket
Note: If the supermarket one comes unbaked, follow the instructions on the wrapper for partial baking or look to the recipe below.
2 tablespoons butter
½ onion, chopped
4 cups finely chopped spinach
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon smoky sweet paprika
1 cup grated cheese, whatever you like or have on hand cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan or a mix
1¼ cups heavy cream, warmed in the microwave
4 eggs, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. Melt the butter in a large skillet and sauté the onion until tender but not browned.
3. Add the spinach, cover and cook for 5 minutes. If you use fresh, you’ll need to chop again. No need to do that if you use frozen. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, paprika, and ½ cup cheese.
4. Pour the warm cream slowly over the eggs while beating. Gradually beat in the spinach mixture. Taste for seasonings. Ladle into the pie shell. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
5. Bake for 30 minutes or until set. It will take longer for larger pies—45 minutes perhaps. Let sit for 15-20 minutes before serving. Serve warm.

For a bigger pie shell, increase the cream to 1¾ cups and the eggs to 5.
If you make this quiche ahead of time (the day or the morning before serving), refrigerate and then reheat at 300ºF. for 20-30 minutes to warm it slightly.

6 servings
Adapted from Craig Claiborne’s The New York Times Menu Cookbook

Pie Crust

For an 8 or 9-inch pie plate or tin:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut roughly into ½-inch pieces
7 tablespoons ice water or more if necessary

1. Combine the flour and salt in the container of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the butter and flour are blended and the mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds.
2. Add the ice water to the mixture. Pulse until you see the mixture coming together. If it doesn’t after a couple of additional pulses, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does.
3. Dump the contents of the container onto a sheet of plastic wrap and mold it into a ball. Flatten the ballot a disk; bring the plastic up around the dough to cover it completely. Either freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for 30 minutes. (You can also refrigerate the dough for a day or two or freeze it almost indefinitely. If frozen, defrost before rolling.)

 4. Sprinkle a smooth countertop or a large board with flour. Unwrap the dough and place it on the work surface; sprinkle the top with a little flour. If the dough is hard, let it rest a few minutes to warm up just a little.

5. Roll with light pressure, from the center out. Continue to roll, adding a small amount of flour as necessary, rotating the dough occasionally, and turning it over once or twice during the process. When the dough is about 1/8-inch thick, place your plate upside down over it to check the size. You want your circle of dough to be about 2-3 inches bigger than the plate it will go into.
6. If the size is correct, move the dough into the pan by folding the dough in half and placing the fold in the middle of the pan. Carefully unfold the dough and press it gently into the outer edge of the plate.
7. Trim (I use scissors) the extra dough about 1 inch above the rim. Fold the dough above the rim in half (to ½ inch) and crimp with your fingers to make a decorative edge. With the scraps, you can fill in any part of the circle that’s missing.
8. Place the plate in the freezer for 10 minutes or the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Partially Baked Pie Crust

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
2. Prick the dough all over with a fork to help prevent the crust from poufing. (You’ll see what I mean when it happens.)
3. Tear off a large piece of aluminum foil. Press the sheet into the dough, especially on the sides. Weight the foil with a pile of dried beans or rice, pie weights, or a tight-fitting oven-proof skillet or saucepan—anything that will sit flat on the surface and hold the dough in place. Sometimes I just do the foil and don’t weight it with anything and it’s just fine.
4. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven; remove the weights and foil. If it has poufed, wait for a few minutes for it to settle and then prick the bottom, once again, with a fork.
5. Bake for another 4-5 minutes or so until the crust is just starting to turn a light brown and the bottom looks set.
6. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food, Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and M.F.K. Fisher’s The Cooking of Provincial France

Here are a couple of suggestions for rounding out this dinner:

Summer Squash Gratin

Italian Lemon Ice

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