Sunday, 17 April 2011

Spinach, Feta and Olive Quiche - A Sunday Afternoon Lunch too good to resist!


Twas a Sunday afternoon and I decided lets make quiche. It isn't as difficult as one might think and the ingredients are easy to get. Naturally if you're in Malaysia, then it would cost you quite a bit. But the filling is normally what you can find in your kitchen so there is no fixed kind of filling. However, it isn't suitable for those allergic to eggs as the filling does contain quite a bit of it.

Ingredients:

For the pastry: 
2/3 cups milk
125gms unsalted butter - cubed
2 cups self-raising flour - sifted

Filling:
4 eggs
400ml double cream (whipping cream as an alternative)
at least 20 olives - doesn't matter the colour - sliced
400gms spinach leaves (two pre-washed packets from the grocery here in the UK)
250gms feta cheese - cubed
salt
pepper
100gms parmesan / cheddar cheese - grated

Method:
  1. Firstly, prepare your pastry dough. You can either use a food processor to quicken the process or your cake mixer using a dough appliance (usually looks like a hook) or a wooden spoon and a mixing bowl. Melt the butter in the milk over low heat until melted. Pour into the sifted flour and mix well until dough forms. Roll onto floured surface to knead for a few second before putting into cling film and leaving it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so. Some recipes vary with asking for a longer resting period of up to an an hour.
  2. Crank up your oven to 190 Degrees Celcius.
  3. While waiting for the pastry dough to rest, prepare your filling. Firstly beat your eggs and cream in a bowl. Add in the grated cheese, salt and pepper. Leave one side.
  4. Next sweat out your spinach. How do you do this? On a cooking pan, add a little oil to a medium heat. When heated, put in the spinach and cover it. Wait for about 15 seconds before turning it. Add a little water to help with the sweating process. Then cover, and let the leaves wilt for a further 5 minutes. The leaves should by then turn into a deep greenish colour. Remove from the heat and strain with a sieve to remove any unwanted juices. Set aside.
  5. Slice your feta cheese and olives and set aside.
  6. Next, take out your pastry dough and place onto a floured surface. Knead for a little before rolling it out. Take out your pie dish and have it ready for the rolled out pastry. Using your rolling pin and rough guidance of how big your pie dish is, roll out the pastry as wide as you can but keeping in mind that it should not be too thin. So keeping to at least 3mm thickness is good enough.
  7. Now comes the not so easy part for the not so savvy pastry makers. I ain't that savvy either but it is always trial and error. When transfering your pastry to the pie dish, don't lift the pastry when it is flat as it would break. The easiest is to place your rolling pin on one end of the rolled out pastry, lift the end bit of the pastry on to the rolling pin and wrap the rolling pin up. Almost like how you would make a spring roll. Then place the pie dish in front of you and lift the rolled up pastry with the rolling pin and place it over the dish. Then unroll the pastry with the rolling pin. Voila! Pastry is now in pie dish! Next bit is to press the pastry onto the dish. Using your fingers, press to rid of any air that is stuck underneath. Don't worry if the pastry breaks a little, your fingers to mend it. or use any access pastry to cover it up. Using a butter knife, cut off any access pastry from the sides of the dish.
  8. Next, using a fork, prick the dough all the way through at the base of pie dish all around the base. This is to allow some air to escape from the pastry. Next, place some grease proof paper on top and pour into baking beans. It can be any kind of bean. As long as it is still in its dried state. Bake blind for 15 minutes. This means to bake the pastry case without the filling for a duration to allow the pastry case to cook slightly before adding anything else to it. It is a common cooking method for any kind of pastry.
  9. Take the dish out and remove the baking beans along with the grease proof paper. Next, distribute the spinach, olives and feta cheese even across the base before pouring in the egg mixture. Then pop it back into the oven for a further 40 minutes or until the centre is firm.
  10. Take it out and let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. It can also be eaten cold as some do prefer it that way.
Now I'm set for lunch tomorrow as well! A good vegetarian alternative too :)

Next in line - Mackerel and Watercress Fishcakes

Being all adventurous,
The Innovative Baker

Friday, 15 April 2011

Victorian Sandwich with Pineapple Jam and Cream Cheese Icing


After much prodding, and a blackberry smartphone for a camera, this would be an official recipe post from yours truly.

Yes, yes, I have bought a new laptop, but the missing link to blogging and food is my camera. So for the time being, my blackberry will serve its purpose!

I have been meaning to bake a traditional Victorian Sandwich for a long time now. Seeing all the baking shows on telly and getting all jazzed up to make it. I've searched long and hard to find a recipe that would suit the tastebuds. But, lo and behold, I decided to innovate. The cake in general is largely a butter cake sandwiched with strawberry or raspberry jam and lightly dusted with icing sugar. I took it to another level and did my own version of it using home made pineapple jam and added frosting. So here's the recipe!

Ingredients:

For the cake:
250gms butter (normally unsalted is better but I use any butter)
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups caster sugar (light brown sugar is also fine)
2 cups flour - sifted
3/4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp hot water

For the jam:
2 whole pineapples - skinned, and grated. If you don't have fresh pineapples, then canned pineapples will be fine. Just as long you dice them fine.
200gms caster sugar (use the syrup from the canned pineapples if using canned pineapples)
Juice of 1 lemon

For the icing:
2x 250gms soft cheese / cream cheese
284ml double cream
3/4 cup icing sugar - sifted
Juice of 2 lemons

Method:
  1. Heat up your oven to 180 Degrees Celcius. Prepare a cake tin by greasing it and adding in a sheet of greaseproof paper. 
  2. Next beat the butter and sugar until pale looking and fluffy. The way to know is when you see the sugar actually dissolving into the butter as you beat. Then add in the eggs one by one while continue beating it. When combined, add in half the flour portion and half the juice portion. Beat until well mixed before adding in the remainder of the flour and juice. Finally add in the hot water and beat until well combined before pouring into prepared cake tin. 
  3. Bake the cake at a reduced 160 Degrees for about 50 minutes before cranking it up to 180 Degrees for another 10 minutes or so. Take it out and cool thoroughly once baked.
  4. While waiting for the cake to bake, make your jam. (I tend to make the jam a few days ahead or have a stash of it somewhere in the freezer). After skinning the pineapple and grating it (leaving the core out), be sure to run the pineapple through a sieve to rid of its juices. This is to avoid a longer cooking process and the juice can be drank or used in curries or other cakes. A quick an easy method is to grate the pineapple over a seive large enough or a colander with a big mixing bowl underneath so that the juice is automatically being drained. That saves you time. 
  5. Then add grated pineapple into a big enough pot and add the sugar or syrup that came with the canned pineapples. Crank up the heat to begin cooking the fruit. To know when the fruit is becoming jammy like is when you see the pineapples changing colour from light yellow to a darkish, golden tinge. This comes from the sugar that is turning syrupy. The process should take between 45 minutes to an hour at low heat. Don't rush the process. Add the lemon juice half way through the cooking process and stir to mix it into the jam. Once cooked, take it off the heat and let it sit for a bit. Alternatively, store bought jam is good enough. But be sure to heat it up in a saucepan before spreading on your cake.
  6. The icing is the easiest. Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl and beat. It will reach its creamy consistency when you notice it thickening and soft peaks start forming. Beat a little more and the cream will stiffen up. 
  7. When the cake is thoroughly cooled down, sliced it in half. Place top half on the bottom of the plate and begin spreading the warm pineapple jam. Once it covers the cake, spread a layer of cream cheese icing. Once that is done, cover it with the other half of the cake and ice with the remainder of the cream cheese icing. Place in the fridge to set before serving. 
  8. You can naturally serve it immediately without placing it in the fridge but otherwise be sure to keep it refrigerated as the weather does not permit it to be out too long and the cream will go bad when it is in a heated location for too long.
  9. If you don't like pineapple or have an allergy towards it, a normal berry jam is also fine. 
The cake is absolutely divine and half has been lapped up already. The other half is sitting in my refrigerator waiting to be devoured. Simple cakes are meant to be enjoyed over tea and trust me, this is one of them.

Truly enjoying the likes of English Tea,
The Innovative Baker

Friday, 8 April 2011

Modernist Cuisine - The ultimate book I'd buy!

Whilst reading the Independent newspaper today, there was an article about the ultimate cookbook called the Modernist Cuisine. The price is a whopping £395 for a 5 book volume encased in a perspex case:


The coverage in the newspaper was visually mind blowing, and I must say I'd own this book in a heart beat if i could afford it (It is shy of £5 to match my monthly rent in London). But for serious foodies who would love to get a hand on it there are many ways of purchasing it. Amazon UK is offering discount Modernist Cuisine but it is temporarily out of stock. The official website provides alternative links for prospective buyers including an e-mail address for people who live in parts where the book is not available for sale online. 

The three authors, who coincidentally are chefs in their own right have de-constructed and explained the art of cooking and the kitchen in this collection of books possibly allowing anyone to be able to gather and understand that cooking is in fact a science but at the same time not a science! Well, that's my own deduction anyway. As I have yet to really get into the book with more detail (as I have yet to purchase it), I would reserve my opinions on the book until some great samaritan would like to donate it! Hahahaha... After all, one can never have enough cookbooks at hand. Even if you're not a cook / chef, owning this collection would be a great mantelpiece and a conversational topic as well!!!!

So why not splurge a little since, if you can buy a Louis Vuitton, a Le Creuset, or Villeroy & Boch, you can buy this for sure...

Loving her cookbooks like Smeagol of LOTR,
The Innovative Baker

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Food events for April 2011 in the UK

Hi readers!

Whilst I may not have a camera in hand, I can however suggest what kind of foodie festivals / weeks that one should visit whilst in the UK. Am now an avid subscriber of the magazine, Delicious, their website informs us of the many varied food festivals that are organised to cater to the different tastes buds, locations and fancies of the general public. So the link below takes you to the featured events for this month:

Food events in the UK April 2011

I'd try to go for the London Coffee Festival that would be held at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, London between 8 to 10 April 2011. Tickets cost only £8.50 and that would reduce to £6.00 when more than 5 tickets are bought. But your tickets here. It is held in conjunction with UK Coffee Week and there are events lined up for the whole week. I know...a bit late in posting this as the event started on Monday already. But there's always room!!!!!

So venture to Brick Lane and see what coffee has to offer this time round for ya!

Smelling the aroma of coffee wifting in the air right now,
The Innovative Baker

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