Spinach Pie

60 Comments

It was the photo that caught my attention on the Epicurious website. I was searching for something, and this distracted me. Spinach pie. A simple, beautiful Irish recipe.

Savory tarts, pies, and quiches are some of my favorite things to serve for lunch, especially for company. They’re not much work, as long as a pie crust doesn’t worry you. Plus, they look so much more special than, say, a casserole.

On this blog there’s a leek and cilantro pesto tart, a recipe by Eugenia Bone, which is more quiche-like, marbled with a cilantro pesto.

I also have a tomato tart on the blog, a recipe by Guliano Bugliali. It’s like a cross between a quiche and a rich tomato soup.

There are just so many ways to create something savory in a crust.

Then I read the recipe through, and there’s no crust in this recipe! So there are no excuses not to make this!

Here is the recipe from Epicurious.com:

Spinach Pie
from Irish Country Cooking

1 lb. 4 ounces spinach, washed
1 onion, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
10 ounces cottage cheese
10 ounces Parmesan, freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Steam the spinach, drain well, and roughly chop it once it cools down.

In a large bowl, mix the cooked spinach with the onion, beaten eggs, and both types of cheese. Beat well and season with pepper and nutmeg.

Transfer the mixture to one large pie dish, (9″) or individual dishes if using. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.

And that’s it!

I served the pie with a simple salted tomato salad, so as to let the pie filling shine.

If I had been thinking, I might have puréed the spinach mixture so that it was more green than mottled with the cottage cheese.

Or, maybe checked with Conor Bofin, from the blog, “One Man’s Meat,” to see if Irish cottage cheese is more like a farmers cheese or even ricotta cheese.

Nonetheless, the taste was lovely.

And I copied the purple flower idea since my borage flowers were blooming!

Reprinted with permission from Irish Country Cooking: More than 100 Recipes for Today’s Table by The Irish Countrywomen’s Association. © 2012 Irish Countrywomen’s Trust. This Sterling Epicure Edition published in 2014.

Flamiche

62 Comments

A flamiche is somewhat related to a quiche, but with the addition a a generous amount off caramelized onions. It is good.
flamiche-7-of-10

Unfortunately, I can not give you the source for the recipe, because it was from the days when I copied recipes out of cookbooks that I borrowed from the library.
img_0133
flamiche-5-of-10
I changed the recipe by adding cheese to the quiche. Why not?!!
flamiche-2-of-3

Served with a green salad, it will definitely please you for lunch or a light dinner. You could always add bacon or ham to it.

Flamiche

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
6 ounces Gruyère
Nutmeg, white pepper, salt
Baked pie shell

Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the onion slices and sprinkle on the sugar. Sauté the onion slices until they are caramelized. This should take about 20 minutes, trying not to burn the onion.

Set aside the onions to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, and cream. Add your desired amounts of seasoning; I used 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper, approximately 1/3 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
flamiche-1-of-6

Place your pre-baked pie crust pan on a jelly roll pan. Place the grated cheese on the bottom. Top with the caramelized onions.

Add the seasoned egg and cream mixture.


Bake the flamiche for about 40 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 325 degrees and continue cooking for another 20 minutes. You can test its doneness by using a cake tester, which should come out clean.

flamiche-6-of-6

Let the flamiche rest for a bit, then cut into slices and serve.
flamiche-10-of-10

It’s good warm or at room temperature.

flamiche-8-of-10

You could use a dip-dish pie pan; the one I used is quite shallow.

flamiche-6-of-10

Gougère Tart

41 Comments

You’ve all probably heard of gougères – those fabulous bite-sized, savory choux puffs that are a Burgundian French classic.

The problem is, I’ve never been able to make these for a get-together of any kind at my house, or when I catered either, because they’re really only good just out of the oven. Similar to a soufflé, they will deflate, so they’re not as pretty, and even if they’re kept warm, the texture will change.

I present to you another gougères option, more easily served as a first course or even as part of a lunch; thin slices can be served as hors d’oeuvres as well.


This version utilizes the same dough and cheese, but it’s a whole tart, and not individual puffs. There’s no outside crust that dries out, and the inside stays nice and moist. The dough will deflate a little after the tart is out of the oven, but the tart itself maintains its integrity, so you can let it cool a little, slice and serve.

If you’ve never made a choux dough before, don’t worry. It’s not as involved as making something like a dough for croissants. All you need is a strong arm, in fact, because there is a lot of stirring involved. I’m pretty sure you can make the dough in a stand mixer, but I make it the old-fashioned way.

My husband actually remembers the last time I made this tart, which proves how memorable it is. And I hadn’t come across the recipe till recently. You can see by the stains how many times I used it. I’d love to credit the source, but I looked online and found nothing. I think it’s funny on the recipe card that I actually changed the ingredient amounts not just once, but twice. But there’s no mention of the pan I used. Since I wasn’t sure which column was the one to follow, I went with the numbers on the very left.

gou3

As with classically-shaped gougères, the secret to this gougère tart is the cheese. Really good Gruyère – diced as well as grated for this tart.

Gougère Tart

3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup, or approximately 5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon butter
1 cup white flour
4 eggs, at room temperature, broken into a small bowl
7 ounces diced Gruyère
2 1/2 ounces grated Gruyère
1 egg mixed with 1/8 teaspoon of salt

Turn the oven to 375 degrees.

Generously butter a 10″ tart pan; a pan with a removable bottom is not necessary.
gou1
Have all of your ingredients on hand, and read the recipe through before you begin.
Begin by melting the butter into the milk in a medium saucepan.
gou

Add the flour, and vigorously stir the mixture for about one minute over the lowest possible heat.

gou2

It will look similar to a roux – kind of crumbly.
gou8

Let the pan cool slightly, then beat in one egg at a time, beating vigorously. There should be no heat involved any more.
gou9

By the time the second egg is added and incorporated, you can see the dough getting smoother.

When you add the fourth egg, don’t beat it in completely. Then add 2/3 of the diced Gruyère and stir to just combine.

gou33

Plop the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth. Then coat the top with the egg wash.

Add the remaining diced cheese as well as the grated, and place the tart in the oven; I put my pan on a baking sheet for easier handling.

Bake for 35 minutes. You will see it rise in the oven as it puffs up.

Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. It should be set enough to slice easily after just about 5 minutes. The tart is cheesy, but it’s also bready.

I enjoyed my slice without even a green salad on the side. Mostly because I couldn’t wait. But it would be fabulous with a salad of tomatoes or spring greens, and it would certainly be delicious served as a first course, just a matter of minutes out of the oven.

This gougère tart would pair perfectly with a light fruity red, or a pinot grigio. No white that is too tart or too oaky.

At Mesa’s Edge

24 Comments

“At Mesa’s Edge” is the first book ever written by Eugenia Bone. It’s more of a memoir with recipes.

51EDBn1znyL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_

I discovered it after purchasing her cookbook entitled, “Well Preserved,” which turns out is the third book she has authored.
512iM35BN4L._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_

I’ve featured this cookbook before. It’s in this book where I discovered my most favorite guilty pleasure, Italian Foriana Sauce.

It’s a mixture of nuts, raisins and garlic, seasoned with oregano. It’s a unique and delicious compliment to just about any cheese, shown in the photo below with blue cheese. I can tell you that this stuff is to die for. In fact, it would be my last meal if I had a choice in the matter.

for4

It is because of Ms. Bone and her Foriana Sauce, which I’ve still never seen in any other cookbook, that I sought out other books she’d written. I wondered what other secrets she had to reveal in the way of recipes from her father’s Italian heritage.

What I discovered was a completely different kind of book. “At Mesa’s Edge” is about her journey and experience moving west, out of New York City, where she was perfectly happy living a big city lifestyle. Her husband, however, had always yearned for a life in the Rockies, which really seemed foreign to her. But out of deep love for him, she relented. My husband obviously doesn’t have this level of love for me, or we’d be living in the mountains, too. But anyway, they pretty much packed up and moved to a beautiful piece of land in western Colorado.

I don’t want to give too much of the story away, because it’s a delightful read. It certainly makes me glad I wasn’t living back in the pioneer days, which is practically the lifestyle Ms. Bone endured in the beginning few years of their homesteading. Throughout her trials and tribulations, a beautiful story unfolds, as well as an appreciation for their 45-acre parcel of Colorado. There were many learning curves, from dealing with local varmints, including four-legged as well as two-legged ones, gardening off of the land, and creating a home from a dilapidated structure. Intertwined are some wonderful recipes that are meaningful and significant in some way to the author. Because of those stories, the recipes become special to the reader, as well.

I was intrigued to make her leek tart for this post for three reasons:
1. There’s no cheese in this tart,
2. There’s cilantro pesto on the tart, and
3. It’s like a quiche, but with fewer eggs.

So I bring you my only slightly altered version of this tart.

Leek and Cilantro Pesto Tart
adapted from At Mesa’s Edge

1 – 10″ by 1 1/4″ pie pan
1 chilled pie crust dough
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
3 large leeks, cleaned, sliced crosswise
Cilantro Pesto, see below

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll out the pie dough and place it in the pie pan. The dimensions of the pie pan I used worked out perfectly.

leekpie5

Using a fork, pierce the dough all over the bottom of the pie pan, then chill it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake the tart.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, cream, and salt. Set aside.

Prepare the leeks by trimming the stems, removing the leathery outer leaves, then slicing them in half lengthwise. Slice the leeks crosswise, then place them in a large bowl. Fill the bowl up with cool water.
leeks2

Shake the leek slices around to dislodge any silt, and then remove them from the water, using your hands, and place them on a clean dish towel or on paper towels to drip dry.
pilaf5

Add the butter to a large skillet and heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks.

leeks
Sauté them for at least 10 minutes to soften, without any major browning. If they begin to brown, turn down the heat.
leeks1

Let the leeks cool and make the cilantro pesto, if you don’t have any already. I know that I have some in the freezer, but I’ve been so bad in the past about labeling my jars, that I have no idea which one is the cilantro version of pesto, so I used my version of Ms. Bone’s recipe, which is as follows:

My Cilantro Pesto for this recipe, which more more garlicky than hers

1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, cleaned and dried
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves fresh garlic

Place all of the above ingredients in a blender jar.

leekpie1

Process until fairly smooth.
leekpie

Assembling the tart:

Begin by placing the cooled, sautéed leeks in the bottom of the pie pan.
leekpie4

Pour in the whisked egg-cream mixture.

Using a spoon, spoon out blobs of the pesto and place on top of the tart. The pesto doesn’t have to cover the whole top. I used approximately 1/2 cup of pesto, if not more.
leekpie3

Smooth the blobs out as you can, then place the pie pan on a baking sheet and place it in the oven.

leekpie2
Bake for 30 minutes. It doesn’t seem like very long, but the tart is 1″ in thickness only.

Let the tart cool, then slice and serve.
mesa

I served the warm tart for lunch, with a tomato and red onion salad.

mesa2

The tart would also be good at room temperature, or even chilled, since there’s no cheese in it.
mesa3

The sweetness of the leeks and the sharpness of the garlicky pesto were so perfect together, along the the quiche-like creaminess of the tart base.

mesa4

The tart would also be a good brunch dish, along with a mimosa. I’ll definitely make this again!

notes: Well Preserved was nominated for a James Beard award. Her second book, which I need to purchase, is called Italian Family Dining. It was written with her father, artist and cookbook author Edward Giobbi. This is her fourth book:

51MrErpmYzL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_