Sunday, July 17, 2005

Cheesy Spinach Mini Quiches

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I prepared two mouthfuls for the Paper Chef #8 Holiday Edition, which this time around asked for Cheddar cheese, olives, spinach and either cream or potatoes.

My entry for the competition was Potato Shortcrust cases with Cheddar cheese, topped with garlicky spinach and olive filling. But the other mouthful I prepared was also delicious, and I share the recipe with you here. It’s a slightly modified version of pienet pinaattipiirakat from the web-edition of a Finnish recipe magazine Herkkutori, published by one of their supermarket chains, K-Market.

Here’s what I did:

Cheesy spinach pies
(Väikesed spinatipirukad)

The cheesy crusts:
125 g butter
2.5 dl plain flour
0.25 tsp salt
1 dl grated cheese*
0.5 dl cold water

Mix flour, salt and grated cheese with soft butter. Add the water and mix into a dough. Roll the pastry thinly and cut out 24 smaller or 12 larger rounds (depending on the size of your muffin tins - I prepared 24 mini pies). Press them into muffin tins and put into the fridge for 15 minutes.**

Creamy spinach filling:
250 g fresh spinach
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp plain flour
1-2 dl single cream
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp salt
0.5 tsp black pepper

Wash the spinach carefully, remove thicker stalks and heat in a pan until spinach has wilted. Rinse quickly under cold water, drain thoroughly and choproughly.
Heat the oil in a pan, add the chopped spinach. Heat for a couple of minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.
Then add the flour and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add the cream and sesame seeds, season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the spinach mixture has thickened a little.

Meanwhile, put the cheesy pastry cases into a preheated 200˚C oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Put the creamy spinach filling into the half-baked cheesy pastry cases (sprinkle with some more grated cheese, if you wish) and continue baking for another 15 minutes, until the filling is slightly set.

To incorporate the olives required for the Paper Chef #8 Holiday Edition, I spread some tapenade on half of the pastry cases before adding the creamy spinach filling, which added a nice salty touch to the pastries, but they're nice without this addition as well.

* I used Cheddar cheese, but I believe this recipe would work better with some slightly less crumbly cheese, as my pastry cases ended up almost too flaky. The original recipe suggested Emmental cheese and I'd go for this next time.

** It is crucial to do the rolling first and cooling later. Absent-mindedly I put the pastry into fridge before attempting to roll it and badly hurt myself, when the dough refused to bend under the rolling pin – which I then, under my full body weight, ‘pressed’ onto my fingers. Ouch. Just shows you how differently potato and cheese shortcrust pastries work, as the potato shortcrust pastry was very malleable and easy to roll when taken out of fridge, whereas the cheesy shortcrust pastry hardened too much.

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