Tag Archives: lunch

O’Gourmet Food Hall Vegetarian Tartiflette

22 Apr

Sometimes, inspiration comes from the most surprising sources. I was wandering the halls of O’Gourmet recently, wondering what I could make for a tantalising, delectable meal. I saw M. Seb (the cheese and wine maestro) … and stopped to have a chat. We walked into the cheese cave, and I started asking him to tell me about his favourite dishes – something that I (as a vegetarian) could make and enjoy. “Tartiflette!” he said, with great enthusiasm and excitement. This traditional Savoie dish is a layered potato gratin, given unctuousness and warmth from Reblochon cheese, cream, onions and lardons. Hmmmm. Lardons are pork fat, fried until crisp on the outside and melting on the inside .. and decidedly un-vegetarian! (But M. Seb is French, so I forgive him for being confused!) … However, Reblochon is a gorgeous, creamy raw-milk soft cheese made from the day’s second milking (when the milk is said to be creamier and richer). It is nutty and velvety, and has a soft lusciousness that is hauntingly beautiful.

So, I was definitely interested, and I decided to try and think of a new take on tartiflette that would keep all that rich depth of flavour, and at the same time elevate it to new heights. I had some black truffles (also from O’Gourmet) that I decided to use in place of the lardons, and instead of onions (which would overwhelm the truffles), I used delicate and yet sturdy leeks. This is not a vegan dish – it just cannot be – but it is warming, full of love, easy to make, and joyous. You should serve it with a sharp green salad – arugula or young spinach – simply dressed with a lemon vinaigrette. You need the balance of something clean and bright to offset the richness of this meal. But oh, its worth it. Smooth and comforting, imbued with the scent of truffles, this vegetarian tartiflette is an instant classic.

Its as good cold as it is warm, and can easily be assembled the day before, covered, refrigerated and baked a few hours before you want to serve it. Do try and let it sit for at least 20 minutes before serving – this allows the bubbling cream and cheese to solidify a bit and sink into the potatoes. Bake in a large ceramic ramekin or pot, and enjoy. It soothes the soul while pleasuring the senses. Such a wonderful combination!

Serves 6 – 8 (and wonderful as leftovers!)

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 leeks, sliced thinly (white and light green stalk only)
  • 1/4 cup white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 4 – 6 large waxy potatoes
  • 1 Reblochon cheese, refrigerated (or even frozen for a few minutes), rind removed
  • 2 – 3 black truffles, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup creme fraiche
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • Salt and pepper

You can prepare the leeks up to two days in advance. In a large frying pan, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Slice the leeks thinly, and rinse them under running water to remove any grit. Saute the leeks in the melted butter until they just begin to sweat and soften. Pour over the 1/4 cup white wine, and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Allow the leeks to simmer / saute, stirring every so often, until they just begin to colour. Raise the heat to medium high, and brown the leeks for a few minutes. Transfer the leeks to a small bowl, and allow to come to room temperature. You can refrigerate the leeks, covered for up to two days.

Peel the potatoes, and slice thinly. Submerge in water as you work so the potatoes do not brown. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, and quickly drain the potatoes from their water bath, and tip into the boiling water. Allow the potatoes to soften (but not fully cook) – about 10 – 15 minutes. Drain, and let cool for a few minutes.

If you are baking the tartiflette immediately, preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F, and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Place your large ceramic ramekin or pot on top of the baking sheet (this will protect your oven should the cheese/cream bubble over – and it will!). Whisk the creme fraiche and cream together, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Ladle about a tablespoon or two of the cream mixture into the bottom of the ramekin. Place a layer of potatoes over this, a scattering of sliced truffles, a few thin slices of Reblochon cheese, and a sprinkling of leeks. Over all, spoon about 2 tablespoons of cream. Repeat these layers until you run out of ingredients – or reach the top of the ramekin – whichever comes first! Reserve about 5 – 6 thin slices of Reblochon to scatter over the top of the dish.

Do note that you can cover the ramekin at this point and refrigerate up to 24 hours. I would highly suggest that you bake the tartiflette at least 2 hours before serving. This will give it sufficient time to set up.

Bake the tartiflette in the hot oven for at least 1 hour, and up to 1 1/2 hours. The tartiflette is ready when the top is bronzed and bubbling, and the potatoes are soft and yielding to a knife. Do not be alarmed if there seems to be an inordinate amount of liquid and cream bubbling up. Remove the tartiflette from the oven, and allow to rest for about 20 minutes (and even up to an hour) before serving. The cream and cheese will settle, and you will have a wonderfully solid potato gratin.

Serve with a bright, sharp salad for a wonderful and loving meal.

Anna Olson @ Le Meridien

30 Nov

On Sunday, my nieces and I went to see Anna Olson, the amazing chef from Fresh and Sugar, present a cooking demonstration at Le Meridien. The entire event was presented by the Asian Food Channel, which has really revolutionised access to food television here in South East Asia, and Mumm Champagne – with a free flow of champagne and sparkling apple juice. We were so excited about the event – and my nieces, the youngest at 15, were starstruck.

Even though admission was expensive (USD$100 each), we felt it was worth it – time spent watching a master chef at work, a five course meal at Le Meridien, and the chance to meet Chef Olson and get our cookbooks signed. We were excited beyond belief, and ready to have a luxurious, fun and decadent day.

Let me start out by sharing the good with you – Anna Olson was wonderful! Warm, witty, charming and a brilliant cook. She made three desserts: a Lady Baltimore Cake – a white chiffon iced with an Italian meringue studded with nuts and dried fruit; a Banana Caramel Cheesecake – gorgeous cookie crust, a layer of caramelised bananas, a stunning cheesecake, all enrobed in “ooooooh” sticky caramel; and a Cappuccino Nanaimo Bar – a Canadian sweet treat that consisted of dark cookie layer, a fudgy custard layer and dark chocolate ganache.

with Anna Olson

The desserts tasted as good as they looked, and the cooking demonstration was brilliant. Chef Olson is extremely knowledgeable, and shares her tips, tricks and information openly and intelligently. She explained how sugar worked, how it interacted with various elements of baking. She worked quickly but calmly, explaining why each ingredient when into the recipe at a given time, and what it would do.

And oh is this woman charismatic and funny! The audience was a tough sell. I am not sure why – Malaysian audiences can be notoriously “dead” – may be it was because it was a Sunday morning, but there was little to no response at the beginning. By the end of her presentation, however, she had the audience laughing, clapping and excited. A true professional, and it was thrilling to watch her cook, see how she worked with her off set spatula, timed her ingredients, and all the while, speaking, joking, teasing and teaching. I was impressed. She brought her beloved husband, Chef Michael Olson, out at the end of the demonstration, and that personal touch really seemed to warm up the crowd. My nieces were so impressed by him that they also wanted to take photos with him at the end as well!

Chef Anna and Chef Michael seemed like down to earth, interesting, intelligent foodies, with a great breadth and depth of knowledge about cooking and baking. They were interested in everything unique and Malaysian – from durians to pandan to kaya, and they looked like they were really enjoying their tour in South East Asia. Hands down, this couple were the most laid back and approachable “celebrities” I have ever met (and I have met a few!). They were professional and open, relaxed and funny. It was a pleasure to be in their company.

Unfortunately, I was not impressed by the savoury part of the meal we were served. I had been thrilled to see that the menu was quite vegetarian-centric. Given that there were four courses before a flurry of (superb) desserts, two out of the four were vegetarian, while the other two courses had vegetarian options. Unfortunately, all four courses, eaten vegetarian, were overwhelmingly rich and creamy.

The starter – a beet and goat’s cheese terrine, which features in her new cookbook, was delicious. It was very intense, the goats cheese and herbs mingling with the tart sweetness of the beets. I ate it with bread, which helped cut the richness, and if I had known what was coming, I would have finished it all up. The cream of mushroom soup, with a puff pastry dome, tasted of nothing but white pepper. It was unfortunately, inedible. The seafood in parchment parcels (which was the alternative) was lapped up by the other members of our table though. The main course, spinach, corn and herb stuffed pepper seemed to have sat out for ages – it had become crusted and rather ungainly. It was not helped by the addition of yet more cream to bind the spinach and corn. Though my nieces, who had the beef, said that while it was not hot, it was at least, very tasty. And finally, the brie and fig tart was a great idea – except for the fact that the fresh figs had wilted in our heat, and the brie was yet again too rich.

Le Meridien KL

I often think that restaurants and hotels pay a lot of attention to how to balance meals for those who eat meat and fish, but little to no attention or care is paid to those of us who eat vegetables. Its as if we need to be thankful that they remembered to cater to us in the first place, and therefore we should accept whatever they give us with gratitude. Its a shame, because Chef Olson’s new book is chock full of wonderful, colourful, fresh and delicious looking vegetarian dishes – all of which seem balanced and thoughtful and not as cloyingly rich as what we were served.

I appreciated the effort to place some fresh vegetables in the mix, and I did enjoy the salads, but overall, I was surprised and disappointed with the lack of care and quality on the plates that were served to me – particularly at that price! I did quite enjoy the sparkling apple juice though, and I noted quite a few people joyously partaking of the Mumm!

And finally, we were invited to the meet and greet outside, where Chef Olson presented some of her other desserts – best amongst which were the gorgeous and lush lemon olive oil cake with citrus and cream, the cashew cookies and the delicate and airy madeleines. I watched as the entire audience filed out to the foyer to have their books signed, and pose for a precious photograph with Chef Olson – and also partake of more of her treats.

Unfortunately, a member of the AFC staff ruined the moment for everyone by going down the line of people patiently waiting and telling them, in a brusque and authoritative manner that they were running out of time, and thus they needed to make sure they didnt spend too much time with the Chef. When she got to us, I told her that I thought her attitude was offensive to people who had paid so much to meet Chef Olson, and I thought that the way she was delivering the message was rude.

The AFC staff acted as if we did not matter – and they did not truly represent AFC as it should be represented. From the start they were officious, rude, overwhelmed and unable to deal with issues that came up. I was sorry for their inability to work in such an environment, but that was not my problem. They represent an amazing television channel – they are the frontline for the consumers of that channel and its events, and they should work a little harder at being diplomatic, gracious and kind.

In the end, Chef Olson overcame all. She made time for each and every person, even though she looked tired. She smiled, she posed for photos, she signed books, she paid attention, she laughed and chatted. She was lovely, and for her, I was glad we went. I do want to note that from experience, I really enjoy Le Meridien – they have a stunningly good buffet with loads of options for vegetarians, and their service is always smiling and sweet. And AFC is a great television channel which has brought food into the homes of so many of us who look to be inspired and uplifted. I am just a little sad that a day that could have been perfect was marred, just a bit, by thoughtlessness.

by Anna Olson

 

Stuffed Mushrooms

8 Nov

Cheesy GloriousnessSo, now that I am re-inspired, what do I cook? I thought about it last night, and I knew that some beloved people were coming over for a spot of watching BBC’s Sherlock. We needed some good, hearty hungry people food. And I remembered… one of the first things I ever “made up” inside my head were these stuffed mushrooms. A little twee, I know, and very, very retro. However, classic dishes never ever go out of style, and at the time I first created these, I was on a second hand cookbook kick, and reading books from the 50’s and 60’s – jellied avocado salad and things like that.

The section in these old school cookbooks that really tweaked my interest was the hors d’oeuvres – wonderful things like  puff pastry cheese twists, sour cream onion dip, and mushrooms in just about every form possible. Mushrooms on toast, pickled mushrooms, grilled mushrooms, mushroom jellies. And of course, stuffed mushrooms. Stuffed with everything from spinach to simple breadcrumbs. I have to say here, I adore mushrooms. I think they are fantastic, delicious, easy and incredibly varied. Mushrooms are definitely amongst my favourite things to eat in the world. And I love love love this recipe because it, like mushrooms, is so infinitely adaptable.

I am giving you a basic infrastructure here. This recipe will make 8 large stuffed mushroom caps. If you only have small mushrooms, adapt. If you want larger still – like a big beefy portobello, adapt. If you want to add a certain ingredient (spinach, oven dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, for example), then do so by all means! I would hazard to guess that 8 largish mushrooms might serve 4 rather polite people as a main course – and they are definitely main course material. My nephew turned to me and said, “I wouldnt need meat if I could eat these all the time!” Music to a vegetarian’s ears 😉

Stuffed mushrooms are also fantastic as part of a feast or larger spread – they would be great as a side dish, or the stuffing part of a vegetarian Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Years – or any other big celebratory party. They can be made in advance, held up to 2 days in the fridge, and brought to room temperature to serve. You could even warm them up a bit in the oven if you like. The stuffing must be cooked before refrigerating though because it has raw egg in it – and raw egg mixed with bread and mushrooms and other good things, sitting in the fridge, is a bad accident waiting to happen.

To be honest, I usually prep the mushrooms, saute the duxelles, and refrigerate that and prepare fresh on the day. Otherwise, I would be way too tempted to eat them all up before the party! They are that good. And leftovers (if youre lucky) make a sublime breakfast, cold from the fridge even, the next day.

Serves 4 as a main course, 8 as a side dish

  • 12 large mushrooms (Swiss brown or portobello) – very fresh and firm. About 2kg (1lb) or so
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or olive oil and truffle oil if you have it) plus additional for mushroom caps
  • 3 – 4 minced garlic cloves (or minced shallots if you prefer)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar or white wine
  • 2 – 3 tbsp + 1 – 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs – I use Panko (Japanese) breadcrumbs, but use what you like – brown bread is really gorgeous and rustic in this recipe
  • 1/2 – 1 cup roughly grated parmesan plus additional for topping if you want (and I always do!)
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs, minced – I used Italian parsley, rosemary and oregano – but you could add basil, rocket, thyme – whatever you feel like
  • 2 eggs

First comes the preparation of the mushrooms, and you really need to focus here. Examine all your mushrooms, and put aside your favourite eight. These will be the mushroom caps that will be stuffed. Peel and finely chop the remaining four mushrooms and stems. Place finely chopped mushrooms in a large bowl.

Peel your remaining eight mushrooms and stem them. Chop the stems finely and add to the bowl. Slice a thin slice off the top of the mushroom so that it will lay flat on the baking pan. Using a melon baller, scoop out as much mushroom flesh from the interior of the mushroom as you wish. With Swiss browns this tends to be quite a lot. Finely dice the scooped and sliced flesh. Place the scooped out mushroom caps in a small bowl, cover with a cloth and set aside.

You should have about 5 – 6 cups of diced mushrooms. Take a large non-stick frying pan, over medium high heat, and warm the olive and truffle oils. Saute the garlic lightly until it just softens. Add the diced mushrooms in three lots of about 2 cups each. You dont want to crowd the mushrooms in the pan – otherwise they will begin to steam, and wont saute well. Add one lot of mushrooms, and stir well, coating the mushrooms with the oil and garlic. Add salt and pepper, and allow the mushrooms to saute until lightly browned.

Only then should you add the second lot of mushrooms. Stir well, add a little more salt and pepper, and allow to saute again. They will begin to let go of some liquid. This is good. Each lot may take up to five minutes or more to cook through. Once the second lot has been sauteed to your liking, add the final lot of diced mushrooms, stir well to combine, and slice the butter thinly over all the mushrooms. Allow the heat of the mushrooms to melt the butter – this will flavour the mushrooms, encourage a little sauce to form, and add a bit of oil to the pan.

Let the mushrooms cook for a few minutes, and then pour over the balsamic vinegar. Stir well to combine, and then add the cream and Dijon. Stir, taste and adjust salt and pepper. You should have a pile of gorgeously sauteed mushrooms, with a little bit of thick mushroomy sauce.

Take the pan off the heat and transfer the mushrooms back to the large bowl. You should have about 2 – 3 cups of cooked duxelles.

Stir the mushrooms well and add the breadcrumbs immediately. Stir well, and allow the breadcrumbs to soak up all the wonderful mushroom juices.

Add the parmesan and stir well again. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Mince your herbs of choice very fine, and add to the bowl, mix to combine.

Whisk together the eggs and a further tablespoon or two of heavy cream. Pour this mixture over the mushrooms and stir lightly to create a stuffing. You really dont want to make a dense stuffing – just use the eggs and cream as a binder to get everything nice and cohesive. If you want to add anything else (a bit of spinach, some roasted peppers, a few shards of sun dried tomatoes), you can do so now. Set the stuffing aside for a moment while you prepare the mushroom caps.

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F). Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.

Take the mushroom caps, and pour a teaspoon or so of olive oil into your hands. Using your hands, rub each mushroom cap well, and place it on the baking sheet. This will ensure the mushroom caps bake through and dont dry out in the heat of the oven. You may need to add a bit more oil to your hands to really oil all eight mushroom caps.

Still using your hands, divide the stuffing between the eight prepared mushroom caps. Dont over stuff, and dont let the stuffing overflow too much. As the mushrooms bake, the caps will shrink, and the stuffing will fluff up – you dont want a huge difference between the two in the end product!

Grate a bit of parmesan and sprinkle over the stuffing – I used about half a cup in total. Bake the mushrooms in the hot oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the baking pan about 15 minutes into the baking.

Allow the mushrooms to cool down a little bit once removed from the oven, or serve at room temperature.

Beyond delicious. Enjoy!

Roasted Tomato Tart

18 Oct

Tart!Tonight’s dinner was a work in progress during the day. It was one of those meals that you find a bit of time for, leave, and then come back to. Slow roasting the tomatoes for the tart took a while, and they really benefitted from being left in a hot oven (that I turned off) when we went out for the day.

I also roasted butternut for a soup – but that one was so simple, a recipe is kind of silly. I basically peeled and seeded a butternut, chopped it up, added a few tablespoons of olive oil and some spice – paprika, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg – salt and pepper, and roasted it in a hot oven (225 C / 450 F) until it was soft. I mashed it, put it in a pot, poured a cup of water over, and brought to the boil. Blended it to a puree, and added a touch of milk and adjusted spices. Pure butternut heaven!

I must admit, I used Whole Foods bought puff pastry (from Dufour – amazing stuff!) for the tart. You could use best quality puff pastry, or make a cheese pastry as per the spinach pie I did the other day. Either way, you want a flat pie – almost a pizza but better 😉

I roasted these tomatoes in a very hot oven for about 20 – 25 minutes – until they were very soft, slightly burnt and caramelised, but still holding their shape and size. I then flipped them over, turned the oven off, and went out – and when we got back home, the tomatoes were slightly dried – almost like semi-sun-dried tomatoes. They had intensified in colour and flavour, without losing their shape or size. Absolutely gorgeous. I recommend this if you can – roast for half an hour in the morning, and then just leave them there. When you get home, you will have an amazing tomato dinner waiting for you! These are soooo good in pasta, in a grilled cheese, in salad, soup, just about anywhere you need a pure shot of tomato flavour.

Roasted Semi Dried Tomatoes

You will definitely have extra left over. Seems a shame to roast these tomatoes for just the one tart! Anoint your extras with a bit of olive oil and save in the fridge.

  • 10 – 12 juicy red tomatoes
  • 1 – 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Basil (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • 8 – 10 garlic cloves, sliced

Preheat oven to 225C (450F). Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Wash and dry the tomatoes. Slice them thickly (about 3 – 4 slices per fruit), destem if you feel the need, and arrange in a single layer on your baking sheet. Sprinkle olive oil judiciously over all.

Sprinkle with salt, pepper, basil and sugar. Add sliced garlic (I usually stick one or two on top of each tomato slice).

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the tomatoes are oozing juice, blistered a bit, but still holding their shape and size.

Take the baking sheet out of the oven, switch off the oven, and flip the tomatoes over. Put back into oven and leave for at least 2 hours if not the whole day.

Roasted Tomato Tart

  • 1 large sheet puff pastry (or cheese crust pastry to line a baking sheet)
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 tbsp ricotta or cottage cheese
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 + 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • Roasted tomatoes

Preheat oven to 180C (375F). Line a baking sheet or pan with parchment paper.

Remove parchment paper from the baking pan, and place flat on table. Place a sheet of puff pastry (or a square of your own made cheese pastry) onto the parchment.

Roll out the pastry to to a rectangle about 18″ by 12″ and then fold over the edges by about 2 inches all around. Pinch to make sure the folded over edges stick, and using a fork, prick holes in the centre of the pastry. Slide onto your baking sheet or pan, and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the pastry has puffed up and is a light golden brown.

If you are using puff pastry, remove from the oven, and dig out about half of the centre layers. You will have very puffed edges, and a crisp centre.

Beat together the sour cream, ricotta, cream cheese, garlic, egg, salt and pepper and 1/4 cup of grated cheese. Pour into the centre of the pastry.

Arrange the roasted tomatoes on top of the mixture, and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese, making sure you dont cover the tomatoes completely.

Bake in the oven for a further 20 minutes or so, or until the centre is puffed and browned.

Slice into pieces and enjoy! This can be served at room temperature, or even from the fridge the next day and is still very scrummy.

 

Spinach and Cheddar Tart

16 Oct

TartI made a spinach pie for Essia when she left us to go to Germany, and have been mulling over the workings of that pie since then. I thought may be it could have been done purely spinach (the one I did had caramelised onions on the bottom for pleasure), but I wanted it to be substantial and warming. Spinach and cheddar cheese go extremely well together, and so when it came to dinner, I decided to make a spinach cheese pie – with the cheese everywhere I could get it!

Cheese in the crust, cheese mixed with the spinach… totally delectable. This pie/tart is best made in a small spring form tart pan – I used an 8 inch pan, and it was perfect and served 4 quite well. The tart is quite rich. Its lovely served with a chopped tomato and onion salad just for the juxtaposition. Its also really really good the next day, cold, for breakfast!

The crust was soooo good. I think its because I became shameless, and decided to make it with more cheese than flour. Flour only acts as a delicate connective marker to the crispy burnt cheese in this crust. I cant tell you how much I love burnt cheese, but this crust came close to nirvana for me.

I love spinach, and I love the deep green spinach taste of this tart. You almost cannot taste the cheese except as a support to the spinach, and in the way it makes the texture of the filling firm. I tried quite hard, but I couldnt come up with a good vegan version, Im afraid. This relies too heavily on cheese as one of its main structural ingredients! Speaking of which, you could probably also use feta in place of grated cheddar…

Enjoy a thin slice of this tart, and immerse yourself in the happiness of pure spinach joy.

For the crust

  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 – 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp / 1/2 stick butter, cold
  • 1 – 2 tbsp cold milk

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).

In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup of grated cheese with 1/2 cup flour. You may need more cheese or more flour as you knead the dough, so have some standing by.

Sprinkle over paprika and salt, and grate in the cold butter. Using your hands – just the tips of your fingers – mix in the butter with the flour cheese mixture. You should have an oatmealy mixture. Sprinkle over 1 tbsp milk, and combine until the dough comes together.

Now its up to you – sometimes I add more cheese, sometimes I add more flour – sometimes I add a bit more of both. You want a supple dough that tastes extremely cheesy, and yet has enough strength to be rolled and pressed and kneaded.

Once you are happy with your dough, roll it into a circle, and flatten with the palm of your hand. Centre in an 8-inch spring form tart pan, and using your fingers, press the dough out into the pan. You should have more than enough to cover the bottom and sides of the tart pan.

Refrigerate for 10 – 15 minutes, and then using the tines of a fork, poke multiple holes in the crust before baking for 15 minutes.

Spinach and Cheddar filling

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped frozen spinach or 4 – 6 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • Approximately 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

You want the taste of spinach to come out loud and clear here, so there is no distraction – no garlic, no herbs, nothing but a touch of dusky paprika to bring out the green of the spinach.

In a medium non stick frying pan, lightly saute the spinach in the olive oil until it is bright green, and has released most of its liquid.

Tip the spinach into a sieve, set over a bowl, and drain, pressing down, for at least 3 – 5 minutes. You want the spinach to be quite dry.

Put the dried spinach into a bowl with the paprika, salt and pepper generously, the sour cream, and eggs. Using an immersion blender, puree the spinach well. Once the spinach is a glowing smooth green mass, fold in the cheddar cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings, and add more cheese if you want (though it shouldnt overwhelm the spinach).

Pour the spinach mixture into the prebaked cheddar crust, and bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the filling is firm.

Serve warm or cold.

Grilled Cheese with Jammy Onions

15 Oct

with Jammy OnionsIts suddenly cold! Last night when I went out to get the hound in, I saw my breath, puffs of white, against the darkness of the night. And today, its gray and rainy. In about a week, I will be home in the warmth of the tropics, but here, its cold, and only going to get colder.

Lunch today was about comfort – grilled cheese with the addition of jammy, dark caramelised onions. If you need to start from the beginning it can take a little less than an hour to make this meal. But if you make the jammy onions in advance and have them in the fridge… well, then, you can do this quick as a blink! Jammy onions are wonderful to have on hand, by the way. They elevate anything and everything – from pasta sauce, to curry, to soup.

This is very rich – so make sure that when youre actually grilling the sandwiches in the pan, that you use only a little bit of butter – and low heat. This will enable the cheese inside to really melt and meld with the onions, and the bread to toast without getting too greasy and buttery.

Wonderful served with tomato soup – or something green like a sharp mustardy arugula (rocket) salad with sliced tomatoes and a sharp dressing on the side. This is lunch to warm the innards and bring a smile to the faces of those you love. And its just grilled cheese – but with such a lovely twist.

 

Serves 4

  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 – 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 – 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • Water
  • 8 slices bread – I used sourdough, though a yeasty brown bread would be wonderful here too
  • A few tablespoons mayonnaise (or Marie’s Italian dressing – my family’s favourite!)
  • 2 2/3 cups grated cheese (approximate) – you can use cheddar, brie, blue, goat, parmesan – what ever you like. I used cheddar and jack – and figured about 2/3rd cup cheese per person, but its sometimes less. You could also use 8 slices of cheese but please dont use plastic cheese – its gross!
  • A few tablespoons of butter, softened to room temperature

First, prepare the onions. Slice the onions in half, peel, and slice the top off. Slice half rings, thinly all the way to the root.

Put a medium non stick pan over medium high heat, add olive oil and onions, and saute for 3 – 5 minutes, until the onions have softened. Add salt, pepper, basil, and oregano, and mix well to combine.

Put heat up to high, and add red wine. Allow the red wine to bubble, and mix the onions well to coat them in the wine. The wine will soften the onions, and will be absorbed almost completely by them. Once the onions are a dusky red, and the wine has been absorbed, sprinkle over brown sugar, balsamic and soy sauce. Stir to combine, and allow to bubble for a few minutes.

Add about 1/4 cup water, and bring the heat down to medium. Simmer the onions for at least 10 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed. Taste, adjust seasonings, and consider if the onions are soft and melting enough for you. If not, add some more water (and a little touch more sugar if you like), and bubble away again. Each time you add more water, and it gets absorbed, the onions will go darker, slicker and jammier. Sometimes I do this, in increments 3 or 4 times.

Once the onions are a good jammy consistency, transfer to a heat proof bowl and set aside.

Rinse out the non stick pan, and have another one ready. If you dont think you can fit two sandwiches in one pan (and will thus have to cook them in two rounds), preheat the oven to the lowest temperature, and have a baking sheet ready to receive grilled sandwiches while you make the rest.

Lay out 8 slices of bread in 4 groups of 2 each. Spread mayonnaise (or other sandwich spread – we use Marie’s Italian dressing – mustard would be good here – as would aioli) sparingly on bread. Spread about 1/3 cup (or less if you like) grated cheese – or 1 slice of cheese – on 4 slices of bread. Divide jammy onions between these four slices, and cover again with another 1/3 cup grated cheese (or 1 slice of cheese) each. Cover with remaining slices of bread to make 4 sandwiches.

Butter the outside of each sandwich, sparingly. Place sandwiches on non stick pans, two to a pan, and place on low heat.  Grill sandwiches undisturbed for about 5 – 7 minutes (I always check at 5) on low heat. If you think the sandwiches are not toasting enough, bring heat up, but just a little.

Flip sandwiches, and grill for about 3 – 5 minutes on second side. Once sandwiches are grilled to your preference, remove from pan, slice horizontally, and serve. The cheese should have melted through those glorious onions, and it should be a sticky wonderous mess.

Spinach Frittata

30 Sep

FrittataToday was a long day … loads of running about, and I woke up late, so it was like playing catch up! Had lunch with my oldest friend who was here on a visit from the west coast. Some people you can just pick up the threads where you left off, as if you had seen each other yesterday rather than decades ago. When it came time for dinner, I realised I had about half an hour before we sat down to eat. And the cupboard wasnt exactly full to bursting!

So a frittata it was, with spinach, a few cherry tomatoes thrown in for colour, and seasoned with Asian spices – soy, toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds, some salty dried seaweed. Served on dark brown toast, it was delicious, easy, quick and warm. And for dessert? Ahh well, that was a wonderful crepe made by Jules – bursting with strawberry jam and covered in snow white icing sugar. A glass of milk is traditional with it, and who am I to buck tradition? All in all, a wonderful meal, made even better by eating with family and loved ones, in a safe warm space, while it is cold and rainy outside.

This frittata will serve 4 people. It can easily be doubled to to accommodate more, or halved for just a few. Just remember to add eggs equal to the number of people you are serving, plus one.

  • 1 tbsp olive oil + 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp soy plus more to taste
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds plus more to taste
  • 2 – 3 tbsp roasted seaweed, crumbled, plus more to taste
  • 2 – 3 cups fresh baby spinach, washed and chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 – 3 tbsp milk or cream
  • 1/2 tsp wasabi or dijon mustard
  • Buttered toast to serve

In a medium non stick frying pan, over medium high heat, saute the onions in the olive oil and sesame oil. Let the onions get soft and glossy, and then season with 1 tbsp soy sauce and the sesame seeds and roasted seaweed.

Add all the spinach, and stir well to combine. You want the spinach to just wilt. Taste for seasonings, and adjust. I love roasted seaweed, so I usually add some more here, and if its not salty enough, you can drizzle over a bit more soy – though remember, you will be adding 1 tsp of soy to the eggs.

Add the cherry tomatoes to the pan, and mix well. Lower heat.

In a small bowl. whisk together the eggs, milk, 1 tsp soy sauce and wasabi. Pour over the spinach mixture, and let cook, disturbing the mixture only to poke little holes in it to allow the uncooked egg to get to the bottom of the pan. The entire cooking process may take anywhere up to 5 minutes. You will have a crusty bottom, and a creamy centre. Keep the heat low, and if the top is not cooking to your liking, cover to let it steam for only a few seconds. You can also finish this in the broiler oven, but only if your pan is oven proof!

Serve with hot buttered toast on the side for a quick, delectable dinner 😉

And if you happen to know any Austrians, try and have this sublime crepe with strawberries and powdered sugar for dessert!

With Strawberry Jam!

Mixed Vegetable Phyllo

27 Aug

With loads of mixed vegetables!Oh what a day! Blissed out baby mode, and when it came time to make dinner, I realised we had nothing in the fridge but bits and pieces – a handful of spinach, a few artichoke hearts, quarter of a butternut. Some days, you dont have one thing to work with, but many many little odds and ends of things. On days like these, I like to make something that will incorporate all the left over bits – a pie, tart, pasta sauce, even a bread pudding …

Tomorrow we go to Whole Foods once again, but tonight was incorporate all the remaining handfuls and try and make something yummy night. This is one reason why I love phyllo dough. I am not a master Greekie cook (like my beloved Osisters – their spanakopita is phenomenal!) but I do like its ease of use, its pliability and its wonderful presentation. I dont know why, but people feel very manja-ed (Malaysian word – means spoiledbelovedcaredforlookedafter all rolled into one!) when you present them with a baked good – pies, tarts, pastries of all kinds. People love them, and the presence of a crust seems to elevate a rather normal meal into something special. On a night like tonight, phyllo dough enabled me to incorporate lots of things quickly and seamlessly… and delectably!

I would never ever try and make my own phyllo dough. Its waaaaaay too delicate and intricate a process. Rather, I purchase the best phyllo I can find, and am thankful to those who take (almost) all the work out of it for me! There are a few general rules for working with phyllo. Use butter if you want a rich tart, and use olive oil if you want a slightly lighter version. Set up everything you need before you even begin to unwrap the phyllo because as soon as you do, you need to work quickly and efficiently. Phyllo will dry out or start to melt and stick together, so know what you want to do, and do it fast. And always try and work on grease proof or wax paper. This allows you to preheat your pan (I use a jelly roll or large flat cookie pan for this free form recipe) in the oven, and then slide your creation onto it, still on the wax paper. The bottom of the phyllo pie will be crisped because of the immediate contact with hot pan, and you wont get that soggy bottom which generally occurs when you bake the phyllo on a cold pan. And finally, try and drain as much of the moisture out of the filling as you can. You need some moisture to bind the vegetables, but dont put a very wet filling into the pie – it will leak and get soggy and be yucky. If you are making a vegan version, just boil all the juices down into a thickened sauce and use it in place of the ricotta and egg.

This will serve 6 hungry – 8 people

I am going to tell you what I put into this pie, but really, use up what you’ve got in the fridge – from tomatoes and carrots to spinach and pine nuts. You will need about 4 – 6 cups of cooked filling in total.

For the filling

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large Vidalia onion, minced
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves, minced fine
  • Small handful (may be 1/4 cup) sun dried tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 – 1/2 butternut
  • 1 + 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup mixed dried mushrooms – I used chanterelles, porcini and shiitake
  • Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped french beans
  • 1 cup chopped asparagus
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts
  • 3 heaping tbsp ricotta (optional)
  • 2 eggs (optional)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta (optional) – use toasted pine nuts instead if you are a vegan!

In a large, non stick frying pan, heat the olive oil and saute the onions, garlic and sun dried tomatoes together until the onions are softened and glossy, and have browned a little.

Add salt, pepper, oregano and paprika, and stir well.

Chop the butternut quite fine – you want little cubes about the size of the nail on your pinkie. You want it to have body, but you want the butternut to cook quickly. Add to the pan, and saute for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup of hot water, and allow to bubble and cook for a while on medium high heat.

In a separate small bowl, immerse the dried mushrooms in another cup of boiling water. Leave for at least 10 minutes, whilst the butternut is bubbling away.

Once the mushrooms have softened, take them out of the water, and chop roughly, and add to the pan. Most of the water from cooking the butternut should have boiled away. Add about half a cup of the mushroom water, and allow to cook for a further five minutes or so. Taste and adjust seasoning. Sometimes I add a little cinnamon for depth of flavour, or more salt, pepper and spices.

Turn off the heat (you should still have a significant amount of liquid in the pan), and transfer the contents of the pan to a sieve set over a small bowl. I usually use the mushroom bowl, cleaned out! Let the liquid drip through, and using your spatula or spoon, press down on the onion-butternut-mushroom mixture so that most of the liquid drains through. Reserve the cooking liquid, either to use as the base of a sauce for the pie, or as the binding liquid if you are baking for vegans.

Transfer the mixture back to the pan, and over medium heat, add the spinach, beans, asparagus and artichoke hearts. Saute briefly until completely combined, but make sure that the greenery does not cook too long – you want it to retain its colour and taste!

Tumble the vegetable mixture into a bowl, and set aside for at least ten minutes to allow it to cool.

If you are cooking vegan, transfer the cooking liquid to the pan, and boil it down until reduced by at least half. It needs to be thick and syrupy. You could add some wine to this if you like, though I didnt have any available. Add a few tablespoons to the vegetable mixture to bind it properly, and give it some body.

Otherwise, beat together the ricotta, eggs and feta, and mix gently through the vegetable mixture. Taste and adjust for seasoning, and set aside.

Phyllo Assembly

  • 7 – 9 large phyllo leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil and pastry brush
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta or toasted pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 200 C and put a jelly roll or cookie pan into the oven to preheat.

Lay out your work surface. On a clean tea towel or a strip of waxed paper, unroll your phyllo dough. Have a small bowl with olive oil and a pastry brush handy. Also have a small bowl containing your feta, and your bowl of prepared vegetables.

Tear a strip of waxed paper long enough to fit your baking pan. Lay a phyllo sheet on the paper (my phyllo dough covered almost the entire paper), and gently brush with a bit of olive oil. Continue to layer leaves of phyllo dough, brushing each layer with olive oil. Its okay if the phyllo tears – just patch it up with olive oil, and keep going. You want to work quickly but surely, and dont worry about covering every inch of the pastry with olive oil – you really just want to give it a gentle brushing. I used 7 layers, but you can use as many as you want.

Sprinkle your crumbled feta onto the dough, going straight down lengthways the middle of the dough. Leave a 2 inch space on either side.

Spoon your vegetable filling over the feta, mounding it, and leaving space on either side. You will now have what looks like a log of vegetables centred on your phyllo dough.

To complete the pie, fold over both short sides, like an envelope, and then fold the longer ends over each other. Using the waxed paper, flip the phyllo log over on itself, so that the seam is bottom side down. Centre the phyllo log on the waxed paper. Brush the top with olive oil.

Using oven mits, take the hot baking pan out of the oven. Using the waxed paper, transfer the paper and the phyllo log onto the hot pan, and put back into the oven.

Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes, or until the phyllo is browned and crispy.

Let sit for a few minutes once out of the oven before slicing and serving.

With Sauce!Sauce

If you are not baking a vegan version of this, use the reserved cooking liquid as the basis for a lovely sauce to serve with the phyllo pie. I boiled the cooking liquid until slightly reduced, and then lowered the heat and added a few tablespoons of creme fraiche, a tablespoon of pesto sauce, some salt and pepper, and a few drops of balsamic. I whisked everything together, and served in a little jug to pour over. It was delicious!

Fig Walnut Tart

24 Aug

This tart was something I dreamed up in my imagination, and it turned out better than I could ever have imagined! I made it for my sister’s birthday feast, but it would be phenomenal as a meal on its own – perhaps with a simple side salad of arugula + tomato. It would also be a stunning first course – served either in slices or in little individual tartlets – you could use muffin pans. Its savoury and sweet, incredibly rich, and yet surprisingly light. If you like figs, this is nirvana.

My sister’s husband, BSA, and I were chatting about how I would incorporate all the fresh purple figs that are growing on their tree into my sister’s feast. They are beautiful, and really needed to be used up … I also found some pretty green Calamyrna figs at Whole foods, and I added those too! BSA suggested walnuts – I have to admit I am not a huge fan of the nut in and of itself. I find it bitter and powdery in a funny way. But incorporated into a crust, now thats a different story!

And the figs had to sit in something. I first thought of smearing the base of the tart with blue cheese, but the blue goat’s cheese I found wasnt really blue, and didnt meet my fancy. So instead, I mixed together fresh mascarpone, ricotta and a touch of creme fraiche, with a few eggs. The eggs and ricotta lightened the base – it became almost fluffy, and yet retained a beautiful clean sweetness. Bland, but a perfect counterfoil for the rich luscious figs. I think I was inspired by the wonderful open faced ricotta and fig sandwich I had at Le Pain Quotidien!

I poached the figs in a bit of sweet dessert wine and then reduced the poaching liquid to a thick syrup. I sliced the figs in half, and stuffed each of them with strong soft goat’s cheese and literally tucked them into the pillowy bed of ricotta and mascarpone. They sunk in a little, and I baked the whole thing until the filling was puffed, and the centre didnt jiggle any more. About ten minutes before I thought it would be done, I poured over the poaching syrup and let it bake in.

This was wonderful at room temperature, and really superb the next day, cold. This tart will keep, and the figs are transformed by their bedmates. This is a sensualist’s meal – textural, full of tastes, layers of flavour, and silky smooth. Serve it to those you love. They will be wowed.

I baked the tart in a 9 3/4 inch springform cake pan, and just released the edges when serving. It made for a rustic beautiful tart, but use whatever you have!

Serves 8 – 12 people

For the walnut crust

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (for extra nuttiness, but if you only have regular flour – use that!)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 stick (4 tbsp) butter
  • 1 egg

In a food processor (or, as I did, in the wonderful attachment mini processor that came with my sister’s new immersion blender!) pulverise the walnuts until they are a fine coarse meal. In a small bowl, mix together the walnut meal and the flour, and add salt and pepper. Use your judgement when it comes to the salt – I eventually added about 3/4 of a teaspoon, but I was using unsalted butter… you might find you need less if you are using salted.

Grate the butter into the flour mixture, and using your fingers, mix until you have sandy pebbles.

Crack an egg into the bowl, and using your fingers, combine the egg into the flour-butter mixture. You will get a slightly sticky dough. Knead this a couple times in the bowl, and then refrigerate to allow all to come together for about 10 minutes or so.

Preheat the oven to 190 C.

Take the dough out of the fridge, and on a floured surface, roll out. You might find this is difficult, but do your best. The dough will be crumbly. Transfer to a tart pan, or a 9 – 10 inch springform cake pan. Use your fingers to spread out the dough across the bottom of the pan, and up the sides. Its okay if the dough tears, just use slightly wet fingers to patch it up again.

Put the pan in the fridge for 5 minutes to let the dough set, and then prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the pastry is lightly browned. The butter will have foamed up on the surface of the pastry – this is okay, it will incorporate back in once you take the pastry out of the oven. Cool for at least 20 minutes before assembling.

For the filling + assembly

  • 1/2 cup sweet dessert wine (or port wine, or red wine, or white wine, or if youre not into wine, grape or apple juice!)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 10 – 12 ripe fresh figs, whole
  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta
  • 2 heaping tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup or so soft goat’s cheese (or blue cheese if you would rather – Cashel Blue might be wonderful here!)

Place wine, water, honey and figs in a medium saucepan that will fit all the figs snugly. Over medium heat, bring the wine to a boil, and then turn heat down, and simmer for about ten minutes. Remove the figs from the wine and allow them to cool separately.

Bring the wine mixture to the boil, and boil steadily until reduced to a very thick syrup. Set aside.

Beat the mascarpone, ricotta, and creme fraiche together until just combined. Beat the eggs into the mixture, and taste. You might want to add a little salt and pepper, but I didnt think it needed it.

Preheat the oven to 190 C

Pour the mascarpone mixture into the cooled walnut tart shell.

Chop the goat’s cheese into bite sized chunks, slice each fig in half from stem to bottom, and stuff the centres with a piece of goat’s cheese. Lay the figs into the mascarpone mixture gently, cut face side up.

Bake the tart for about 30 – 45 minutes, or until the centre does not wobble any more. About ten minutes before it is done (when you see a bare wobble), pour the reserved wine syrup over.

I really liked this cooled to room temperature before serving, particularly in the hot summer night, but if you want to serve it warm or hot, please let it sit for at least 10 – 15 minutes before slicing and devouring!

Enjoy!!!

Spinach Pie

20 Aug

Today, around 11am, I realised I had a houseful of hungry women to feed – me, my sister, our mother, and the Au-Pair Nation (3 in total, though in M’s house it seems to be in constant flux!)… So went to the fridge to have a mosey about to figure out what I could cook. The quickest, easiest, and freshest thing seemed to be a spinach pie, with basil from the garden, and a ripe tomato to add colour, prettiness, and sweetness. I love cooking on the fly like this. I love checking out whats fresh, what looks delicious, and thinking up creative ways to cook it. This kind of meal is my favourite – unplanned, and yet with a certain urgency to it.

We sat down to eat at around 1230 or so – and the cooking was really a series of pottering about, mixing, tasting, stirring, sauteeing… It was very organic (as were the ingredients), and even baby Z got into the equation when she went to the garden to help Essia pick the basil! This pie will serve 6 – 8 people for lunch, and is wonderful on a hot summer’s day as it really does taste wonderful lukewarm, or even cold. You can try it with lots of different toppings (sauteed onions or mushrooms come to mind), and you can choose to add or subtract cheese, as is your wish. I used some sour cream and a little milk with the eggs, but if all you have is condensed milk, water, cream – use that. Its a very forgiving dish, and will really adapt to what you have.

Its also best, in my opinion, looking very rustic. This is not fancy restaurant fare. This is healthy, delectable home cooking, and it shouldnt pretend to (or try to) look polished and refined. There is a certain lustiness to this kind of cooking and food that people really respond well to.

I baked this in a medium sized Corningware dish, but if you want to bake it in a pie pan, go right ahead. Its easy peasy, and so delicious. Plus, I find people love pie. It feels like you have done a huge amount of work, when you really havent – and they feel like you have treated them to something magical.

For the crust

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached organic flour plus extra for rolling out
  • 3/4 stick (6 tbsp) frozen butter, grated
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup cheddar cheese (or parmesan, pecorino, goats cheese, whatever you like)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 egg

Preheat the oven to 170C

Measure the flour into a small bowl, and grate the butter over. Use your fingers to mix the butter in well, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese and salt and pepper in, and using your fingers again, mix well.

Break the egg into the flour mixture, and mix well, until a dough forms. Knead this dough, using the heel of your palm, until it feels very soft and elastic.

Let it sit for about 10 minutes in the fridge, and then roll it out, very thin, flouring your rolling surface and pin first.

Transfer the dough to your baking pan, ensuring that its even, and goes up the sides of the pan, and prick all over with a fork, remembering to prick along the sides as well.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the crust has browned nicely. Remove from oven, and allow to cool, though if you are cooking the filling whilst baking the crust, its fine to assemble immediately upon removing the crust from the oven. Dont mind the sizzle 😉

Filling + Assembly

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 (Vidalia) onion, chopped well
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 4 – 5 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large tomato, sliced into 6 even slices
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/3 cup milk, cream or half and half
  • 2 + 1 tbsp grated parmesan
  • A few rough chunks of goats or sheep cheese, roughly chopped (optional)

In a large frying pan, over medium heat, saute the chopped onion in the olive oil, and season well with salt, pepper and dried basil. Once the onion has become soft and glossy, add the white wine, and allow to simmer until the wine has almost completely reduced.

Add the chopped spinach all at once, and saute until wilted. Remove from heat, and let cool for a few minutes.

Chop the basil leaves fine, reserving 6 for the top of the pie, and mix the rest into the cooled spinach. Cut a large tomato into six equal slices, and set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat together the ggs, sour cream, milk and 2 tbsp parmesan.

Mix the egg mixture into the spinach mixture, and taste for seasoning. Adjust if needed.

Pour the spinach-egg mixture into the pre-baked crust. Lay the reserved tomato slices on top, and top them with the six reserved basil slices. Strew a few chunks of goat’s cheese into the pie, if you feel like it (I kind of poked them into the filling), and sprinkle about 1 tbsp parmesan over all.

Bake for about 40 minutes in a 170 C oven, and allow to cool for at least 5 – 10 minutes before serving.