After weeks of lacklustre baking, I got bitten by the baking bug yesterday in a big way. I don't celebrate Christmas, so I had the whole day as a holiday where I chose to stay home and bake up a storm. Ma was a bit bewildered with all the sudden action in the kitchen. I'm holding the weather responsible for this spurt of enthusiasm...the joys of a tropical winter!!
First up, for lunch I baked a chicken and spinach quiche. After all the sweet pie and tarts that this blog has seen, a savoury quiche has been on my mind. I went with a filling of cooked chicken, spinach, cheese and some celery, for some added herby flavour. Celery is one of my favourite herbs to add to food. So, I even raised the profile of the crust, by adding some celery to the pastry. It is a subtle touch that adds bags of flavour to this pie.
You can play around with your filling, as per your taste. Off the top of my head, I can think of mushroom, cheese and thyme, chicken and mushroom or even spinach, corn and ricotta. Just don't be stingy with the filling. I have used an egg-cream-milk mixture to bind the filling together. If you aren't generous with your filling, you run the risk of tasting more of the egg mixture, making it taste more like a frittata. I think I managed to get the right balance.
The filling was just right. My main ingredient was the chicken, with the spinach and celery giving not only some veggie flavours but also some needed visual texture. The creamy egg mixture binds it all together without in any way overpowering the other ingredients.
This quiche is a rustic and hearty dish, perfect for any family dinner. Make it as a part of a larger spread or if its just two of you, then it's a meal all by itself. I would, however, recommend some sort of green salad to infuse a certain freshness to help counter all the eggy creaminess of the filling. Come to think of it, this quiche would be perfect picnic food too, with its beautiful flavours and easy portability.
I do apologise for the poor quality of the photographs. We've been experiencing some overcast weather for the past few days and the lack of natural light has really affected these pictures. Moreover, I took them in haste with everyone waiting for lunch to start!!
Now, come back tomorrow and I'll tell you what we had for tea! Yup, it was a busy day in the kitchen!!
Chicken And Spinach Quiche
Makes one 6-inch diameter quiche. Serves 2. Can be doubled for a 8-9-inch diameter quiche.
For the pastry
For the pastry
- 1/2 + 1/8 cup plain flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut in pieces
- 1/2 tablespoon celery, chopped (optional)
- 1/8 cup ice cold water
- 1 cup cooked chicken
- 100 gms fresh spinach leaves
- 1/4 cup grated cheese
- 1 tablespoon celery, chopped
- 1 egg
- 100 mls cream
- 50 mls milk
- salt and pepper, to taste
- For the pastry, sift the flour, chopped celery and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in just enough water to bind the mixture. Gather the pastry into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 20-30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to the pie dish and trim the edge to leave a 1/2 inch overhang.
- Refrigerate this pie shell for another 20 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg C.
- After at least 20 minutes, remove the pastry. Prick the case all over the fork. Line with greaseproof paper/foil and fill with baking beans. (I use old rice). Bake for 15 -20minutes. Remove the paper and beans and continue baking, until golden, 8-10 more.
- Once the pastry is removed, lower the oven temp to 170 deg C.
- Blanch the spinach in a saucepan of boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain and squeeze to get rid of excess water. Chop finely.
- In a mixing bowl, mix the spinach, cooked chicken, 1/2 of the grated cheese, chopped celery, salt and pepper.
- Beat the egg. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the inside of the pastry shell with a tiny amount of the egg.
- Beat the egg with the cream and milk, in a separate bowl and keep aside.
- Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the bottom of the pie shell. Then pour half of the egg and cream mixture. .
- Scatter the spinach and chicken mixture and spread evenly, then pour over the remaining cream/egg mixture.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes, until the mixture is set.
- Remove from the oven and cool before serving.