THE CUISINE SCENE

Brenda

Hill


 


5/22/08
Brenda's Bistro
Brenda Hill



Spinach & Cheese Quiche
Easy Pie Crust
Oatmeal Lace Crunch Cookies


I was feeling a little blue this week, so what did I do? Head for the nearest bar? Nope, not my style. Instead, I took out some novels I hadn’t had a chance to read and dove into my recipe box for some good ol’ comfort food. I found one I love, a spinach quiche made with cheese and pie crust. What could be better?

Only problem is I’m trying to lose weight. So, I decided to experiment. Instead of cheddar cheese and heavy cream, I substituted mozzarella cheese and low-fat milk. For this recipe I used 2% milk and the local store-brand mozzarella. I left out the butter and mixed the mozzarella with feta cheese and I think it tastes great

And it looks pretty.



Some people, though, especially those used to spicy Mexican food, may think this recipe is a little bland. If so, just add onions, mushrooms, sautéed sausage, or anything else you enjoy in an omelet since the word ‘quiche’ is simply a fancy name for an omelet in a pie crust.

Since I was going to photograph the quiche, I used the refrigerated pie crust, something I seldom do. It’s handy and doesn’t easily tear, which makes it good for presentation. But still, the taste just isn’t the same—at least for me. I use it occasionally for hamburger & cabbage or pizza pasties, but for pies, I want the better flavor from homemade dough.

Now I recognize that I’m not the best cook, and what I make from scratch often comes out lopsided, split-in-the-middle, or deflated. But when cooking for home, I go for taste instead of looks. And I don’t have a lot of time to devote to cooking, so I usually ignore directions that say to fold in here, blend there. If I can’t just dump the ingredients into one bowl, I seldom bother.

My pie crust is like that. I don’t do a thing I was taught except mix it quickly, as the longer you work it, the tougher it gets. I prepare it in an unorthodox way by pouring everything into one bowl, mixing it, usually with my hands, and only until it sticks together enough to slightly form a ball. Then I take that ball and put it directly into the pie pan and press it out to fit the pan. When it tears, I just work it closed again, just as if it were children’s playdough. If I run out of dough before the pan is covered, I just ‘borrow’ some from a thicker section and work it in. It may not look like the best, but I prefer the taste.  

But, as I said earlier, for this article, I bought the Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust. It comes two in a box and you just let it sit about fifteen minutes at room temperature then carefully unroll. There again, if it tears, just work it closed. Once you have it shaped to fit the pan, pierce the bottom with a fork so it won’t swell, and place the pan in a preheated oven for a few minutes, just until it loses that raw dough appearance. You don’t want it to brown, because it has to bake again once the quiche batter is added. And just remember: if it gets too brown or burns, no sweat. There’s another roll of dough in the package. Just start over.

SPINACH & CHEESE QUICHE

1 9” prebaked pie shell
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 9 oz frozen package chopped or leaf spinach. I used leaf. Thaw and press out excess liquid. I used paper towels.
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 c crumbled Feta cheese
2 small tomatoes, sliced

Other ingredients you can add:
1 tsp dry basil
Any ingredient(s) you like in an omelet
Sprinkle top with parmesan & romano cheese

Preheat oven to 340˚
Combine ingredients, adding about 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella cheese
Pour batter into cooled pie shell
Arrange tomato slices on top and sprinkle remaining cheese over it. If you like the extra flavor of the spaghetti cheese, sprinkle on some grated parmesan and/or Romano cheese.

Bake about 30 – 40 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

When serving the dish as quiche, simply add something light such as a tossed salad and/or a pretty vegetable such as asparagus, and you have a nice meal. The wedge of a pie-shaped slice of quiche with spears of asparagus on the side looks elegant as well as tastes delicious, although with the spinach, you don’t really need another vegetable. If, however, you’re serving it as an omelet, you might add some sliced fresh fruit to the plate and perhaps some biscuits or even brown a can of crescent rolls and add a dish of softened butter and jams to the table. It’ll look as if you’ve spent hours preparing a special feast to wow your family/guests when in actuality, everything’s easy to prepare.

MY OWN PRESS-OUT PIE DOUGH
(2 crust pie)

3 c flour
1 cup oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold water

It’s so simple. No rolling out, no adding more flour, just mix and press out on pie pan.

For two-crust pie, I mix all the ingredients, divide in half for the bottom crust and press it out into the pan. For the top crust, I just press sections of the dough, about the size of a silver dollar or a little bigger, in my hand, getting them as thin as possible, then arrange on top of pie mixture. It comes out with a little different design than most pies and that’s okay with me.

I was so proud of myself for the way the quiche turned out with the low-fat ingredients, altho I have no idea how many calories I saved and don't really care, I decided to reward myself with a batch of cookies.

To appease my slight guilt over baking cookies when trying to diet, I decided to sacrifice my chocolate chip cookies and make oatmeal instead. Normally I don’t care for oatmeal cookies, but I discovered this recipe years ago. They’re thin and crisp and I love them. And they’re lace cookies, which mean they’re all different, and if the edges get too brown, I just break them off. That leaves a jagged edge, which is the best for lace-style cookies.

OATMEAL LACE CRUNCH COOKIES

1/2 cup butter
1 cup plus 2 tblsp firmly packed brown sugar
1 medium egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
I like nuts in cookies, so I add a small pkg of chopped walnuts

Again, mix ingredients together and place on greased cookie sheet and flatten as much as possible for the crunch. If you desire a softer cookie, scrunch the dough together more. Also, pieces of oatmeal tend to scatter and I just scoot them back to the cookie.

For the first batch, I was still thinking low-calorie, so I didn’t grease the pan. They were okay, but they didn’t have that certain flavor I like, so for the next batch, I caved and greased the pan with butter. And yes, I use real butter. I might substitute cheeses or milk, but there’s nothing quite like the flavor of real butter.



Okay. Next time, I’ll have jell-o.

Till then, bon appétit, y’all.