Thursday 5 November 2009

Best ever Spinach Pie-Quichey thing

I know this is completely off topic, but winter makes me into a homebody be it pies, soups or baking. So I thought I'd share a few fridge-empty-ing tactics that are family faves, and perfect for lazy Sunday lunches in winter. Kids who don't eat spinach, usually will eat it this way! I have to think up lots of cunning plans to get green veges into the kids; pie and soup are my 2 most successful ways to input green veges into those relucatant mouths! 

I actually don't really use recipes, I just chuck stuff in as I go along based on what is in the fridge, but I concentrated hard this time so I could report back to you!! Last night we had this with a green salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, chives and Miss Millie knocked up a blue cheese dressing (recipe below).

Leandra' Spinach Pie

50g butter
1small onion
1 clove garlic
1 bag spinach leaves (can also use silverbeet - common downunder - but cut out the white stalks)
6 eggs
1 tub of ricotta cheese
1 pkt feta cheese (200g??)
2 cups of grated cheese (tasty/ medium..whatever cheddar you have to hand)
150ml cream (double in the UK, single downunder...can use the whole pot if you wish)
salt and pepper to season
1 packet of puff pastry.

Put the butter to melt on medium heat in the frypan, and while melting finely chop the onion and garlic and add to the butter. Stir until soft, but you want this to happen slowly, no browning.

Wash the spinach and drain a little, then add the the onion mix, stir around until JUST wilted, and turn off the element, set aside to cool.

Take the puff pastry out of the packet, roll in the lengthwise direction until the rectangle is longer, then cut into 2 pieces: make one portion 2/3rd (base) and the other 1/3 (for the lid).Roll out the base and place into a butter-greased dish.
Note: I use a really large rectangular ceramic dish that takes up most of the over (like a lasagne dish) , but also a roasting tray would do...this makes a large pie about 2 inches high which is enough for us (family of 6) to have 2 meals, evening then lunch the next day. But you can also freeze the leftovers for another day, or you can bak in a smaller dish, and make a much taller pie, up to 4" tall is also a nice way to go.

In a large bowl crack the 6 eggs, the tub of ricotta, the feta (crumbled), the grated cheese and the cream. Whisk with a fork until the eggs are just broken up, don't over-mix its nice to have feta and ricotta lumps. Add to this the cooled spinach mix, salt and pepper seasoning, and with your fork gently mix through again. Pour this onto the pastry base.

Roll out the pastry for the lid. Fold the base flaps/ edges to lie on top of the mix, brush with egg, then put the lid on top, brush with egg and bake at 180 degrees Celcius (375F). When you can smell the pie, and the pastry in brown on the top it is usually done, but check with a sharp knife pushed into the centre of the pie that it comes out clean.

I guess this is a bit like a quiche with a lid, and you can also add cooked chopped bacon, grated courgette, lightly steamed broccolli and other green veges into the mix before baking. Its one of those things that is also nice cold the next day (or warm!). Our kids sometimes add tomato sauce on top, but if that's what it takes to get them to eat greens, then so be it! I wish I'd take a photo of this last night now!!!

Millie's 1 minute salad dressing
Basic Viniagrette
equal amountds of olive oil and white wine vinegar (3T each??), salt, pepper, 1/2t dijon mustard and shake and serve.
T= tablespoon
t= teaspoon

To make this into a blue cheese dressing, add a dollop of sour cream or plain unsweetened yoghurt, and crumble 1 t of blue cheese into the dressing shaker. Put on the lid and shake. keeps in the fridge for a few days, but the oil may need to come to room temp if you store it in the fridge. We just make what we need fresh each day.

Franich Green Soup
Again this recipe can be adapted to what is in the fridge, but blended, creamy soups are a great way to trick kids into eating their veges.

2 onions
2 cloves garlic
5 stalks celery
1 large leek
2 large courgettes
5 potatoes
1 head broccoli
chicken stock (4 OXO cubes, 2 litres water)

 Turn a huge soup pot onto medium heat, and put 50g butter in to slowly melt. Add all the ingredients as they are prepared.

FInely diced onion and garlic, diced celery, chopped leek, courgettes grated, potaotes peeled and diced, brocoli chopped. Keep stirring, but don;t allow to brown, this should soften.

Pour enough water on the veges until the are just covered. Crumble in the 4 stock cubes, bring to the boil slowly, then turn down to a slow simmer until the veges are soft (40 mins)

Blend soup with a blending gizmo gadget (the one that goes zzzzzzzz). Just before serving add half to 1 pot of cream and season with salt, pepper.

Optional : you can also add spinach to this, or just use broccoli on its own...or just leek and potato..there are loads of options to the basic concept.

I make this with an easy peasy homemade bread recipe that is also never fail and no-kneading required! this makes a massive batch of soup (like 3-4 litres) but eat some and freeze the rest. Be careful when reheating if it has cream in it.

Easy Peasy Bread

4 cups strong white flour
1-2 cups wholemeal flour
1T salt
2 packets of yeast ( or about 1 Tablespoon loose granules)
1.5 C boiling water
1.5C cold milk from fridge
herbs, salt/pepper, olive oil

Put the flours in a large mixing bowl, add 1 tablespoon salt, dried herbs (dill is nice). Stir to combine.

In a 1 litre jug, pour 1.5C of boiling water. To this add 1T of sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Now add the cold milk from the fridge. This makes the temperature of the liquid lukewarm. Now add the yeast to this sprinkled on the top. Set aside for 5 minutes until it is good and frothy. Add a good glug of oil to this miz (about 3-5T)

Here is the trick to mixing the bread. Get a rubber spatula, and while evenly pouring the fluid into the flour, keep lifting the flour with the spatula from the bottom of the bowl to the top in a cutting motion so that the liquid evenly gets the dry ingredients wet. Do this fast, but DO NOT OVERMIX. Once you have all the fluid poured into the dry, the contents of the bowl will probably be still a bit dry. Don't mix any more, tip contents out onto a floured worktop, and with your hands gently pull all the inredients together until they are mixed. The mixture should feel soft. Again, do not overwork this, just keep flopping the mix over until it all comes together. If the mix is too wet, then add more flour from the work top while kneading until it is not sticky. Place into a warm, well oiled bowl, and leave for 20-30 mins to rise.

Once the dough has risen to the top of the large bowl, tip out and re-knead for a minute or 2 until it is back to normal size and nice and soft and oily.

I bake this in a roasting dish lined with a craft sheet that I use for baking, pizzas and bread (not crafting!!). The craft sheet fits in my roasting dish enough to line 2 sides and the base. The 2 ends that are not lined I rub with oil.

Press the dough into the baking tray, encouraging it to go into all the corners. use your knuckles to make dimples all over, then grate/sprinkle rock salt generously all over, and drip some olive oil all over the top. Sprinkle fresh herbs on (rosemary or whatever you have). Set aside to rise again until it has doubled in size. (10-15 mins). Turn the oven onto 180 degrees celcius to pre-heat.

Bake the bread in the centre of the oven for 20-25 mins. Usually its close to ready when you can smell it, but test that a knife comes out clean. Remove from the roasting tin fast so that it doesn't sweat and place on a rack to cool. the bottom should be hollow sounding, and browned like the top. If the bottom is pale, then it's probably still gluggy inside the loaf too and not quite done.

This basic bread recipe can also be used for pizza bases (we make alrge rectanguar ones on a baking tray), small muffin-sized rolls, or if you let it rise on a round, no-hole pizza tray, it is idea for making large round sandwiches for parties or entertaining. I fill mine with ham, avocado, letuce and tomoato and cut into wedges for people to help themselves. Delicious.

So there you have it, the Leandra cookery corner! LOL


Laura said...

I love this addition to your blog. Makes me feel hungry though. Will have to try some.

kjjc said...

you mean you actually cook as well as everything else? Just when do you have the time?

Helen said...

Wow! She crafts, she cooks! I LOVE spinach, this sounds great. There's too much for just one though. I have never ever made my own soup - what an admission.

Sarah Anderson said...

It sounds lovely in your house - the smell of baking bread, soup simmering, people crafting...ahhhhh! :)

Anonymous said...

I love to look at English cookery programs on television so may be you can start your own show with cooking and crafting. I will sit first row!

Rosie Rowe said...

I am now starving and feeling the (K)need for freshly baked bread and huge round sarnies... you temptress!
BTW - great pics of the textures! =)