Sunday 8 March 2015

Spinach, Artichoke, and Bacon Quiche

Quiche and I have a bit of a troubled past.

Years ago, when my mother was feeling adventurous in the kitchen she prepared a quiche for our Sunday dinner. As my parents murmured happy noises while they demolished their portions, I stared at mine, willing it to become something non-eggy. My grimaces offended my mother, and she gave me firm instructions just to EAT IT.

Well, being a good girl, I did as I was told, but my stomach had other ideas and my mother lived to regret her instructions to me. For years, it was a running joke, with "mmm..quiche!" being uttered whenever we were in its presence in a cafe, with mocking looks in my direction. Truthfully, I didn't eat it again for at least another ten years.

But then, one day I stepped into a Parisian patisserie and I decided quiche needed another shot. I ordered a simple miniature quiche lorraine and was bowled over by it. My tastebuds had decided to grow up, it seems (though not completely - I still detest eggs cooked on their own).

Fast forward a few years, when I went to Michigan to visit my husband's family. We were served what my aunt-in-law called "spinach pie" but what I would simply call quiche. I loved it, as did my husband, and I immediately asked her for the recipe and have used it repeatedly since when I want a meal that is simple and easy to make in advance then heat up later. It also travels well, so is handy for pot-luck affairs.

I've adapted it a bit over the years, and this time decided to add in a new element I hadn't tried before: artichoke hearts. It was my husband's idea, as we had a jar languishing in the cupboard, and it seemed a good one, bringing to mind the American restaurant starter staple: spinach and artichoke dip.

The filling is easy to prepare: frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed), a handful of artichoke hearts, a chopped onion, a couple tablespoons of flour, lots of swiss cheese (emmental in this case), salt, pepper, nutmeg, milk, and three eggs. I just put them all in a bowl...

Then mixed them into this unappetizing looking combination.

I had Pepperidge farm pre-made pie crust recommended to me, but we have no such thing here, so I just made a simple shortcrust pastry from my Joy of Cooking recipe, using a combination of butter and vegetable shortening. I know vegetable shortening is the new Satan, but it ensures good pastry, so I still use it. I put it into my prized pyrex pie dish - pyrex really is the ideal material for cooking pie crusts.

Because I wasn't baking for any vegetarians, I put some raw smoked bacon bits in the bottom.

Then on went the filling in one big splodge.

And for a nice brown cheesy top, I added some freshly grated parmesan.

The excess pastry was just folded back over and smooshed together.

Then, the better part of an hour later, using the fan setting with the emphasis on the bottom heat to prevent a soggy bottom, out it came in all its golden glory. I did this early on in the day, then reheated it slightly for our dinner, serving it alongside salad (not pictured).

I'm surprised I haven't posted this before - it is easy to throw together and for this reason makes a fairly regular appearance around this house, in spite of my childhood trauma. 

I promise it tastes better than it looks in my rubbish photo here.

Spinach, Artichoke, and Bacon Quiche

1 pie crust (either bought or half of this recipe which, again, I am surprised I haven't posted yet)

8 oz swiss cheese
2 Tbsp plain flour
1 cup milk
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
plenty of pepper and nutmeg
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and liquid squeezed out
1 onion, finely chopped
handful of artichoke hearts
2-3 Tbsp smoked bacon bits
Parmesan cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 350F/180C

1. Prepare pie crust (whether it means making pastry or removing plastic from it)
2. Mix together all ingredients except Parmesan and bacon
3. Scatter bacon bits evenly in bottom of pie crust
4. Dump mixture on top and spread to even it out
5. Top with freshly grated parmesan, as much or as little as you like
6. Put on bottom rack of oven and bake for 50-60 minutes.

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