Thursday’s in my kitchen mostly involve fun cooking sessions with my 10-year-old niece. It’s her weekly off from school and we like to make the most of this holiday. One of the reasons I use food as an activity is because as a child Thursday’s were always extra special for me. My mom who is a teacher would also get her weekly off along with me and because she had more time than usual she would whip up something extra delicious. For me this gesture communicated love and thoughtfulness, and I wanted my niece (whom we babysit) to have similar joyful memories. And now that she is older I let her use the knife and chop things (with my overprotective supervision, of course). She is super thrilled about chopping – you should see the excitement! Kids.
This recipe was the result of one such cooking adventure and it turned out so yummy that it had to be documented in the blog. Spinach pies are pretty common, so I figured the recipe after a quick glance at Pinterest. If I had to credit one source for this recipe, it would probably be this blog. I used oven-roasted tomatoes instead of sun-dried tomatoes and added paneer cause I had made a fresh batch just the other day. It is the tangy-sweet roasted tomatoes along with the coarsely crushed pepper that provide an amazing flavour to this quiche. Simplicity in flavours is something I always enjoy!
To make this recipe fun to cook with the kids, I don’t roll out the pastry dough. We simply take small chunks of the dough and press it on to the pie tin with our fingers. Its rustic and engaging – also kids love it. When I baked this second time around for the blog I rolled the pastry and I noticed that they tend to shrink when baking. Case in point:
still tasty nonetheless 🙂
But if I hand-pressed the dough, it retained its shape well and didn’t need any baking beans for the blind-baking process, just a few pokes from a fork.
Now I have to admit these tiny individual quiches while pretty and easy to serve, are time-consuming for a home baker. Especially if you have a small oven and only six mini-pie tins. I would recommend making one big pie instead, if you are pressed for time and want a stress-free baking. But if you have many willing and helpful hands, then it can be a delightful baking experience with many pretty quiches to show for it 🙂
So go ahead and have a crusty, spinachy (yes love the greens too!) and tomatoey Thursday!
- 250gms maida
- 125gms cold butter, cut in cubes*
- ¼cup cold water *
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- 1 cup oven-roasted tomatoes*
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- ½ cup cooked spinach, chopped
- ½ cup crumbled paneer
- Chilli flakes (optional)
- Salt and coarsely ground pepper
- To make the shortcrust pastry: In a bowl, rub the cold butter into the flour with your fingers, till it looks like breadcrumbs. Add tablespoons of water at a time and shape it into a ball. Once ready, wrap it with a cling film and rest it in the fridge.*
- For the filling: Beat the eggs and milk in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients: palak, tomatoes, paneer and garlic. Season with chilli flakes, salt and crushed pepper. Set aside
- Get the pastry dough out of the fridge and allow it to soften a bit. Line the mini-quiche tins with the shortcrust pastry. Gently poke the pastry with a fork. Let them rest in the fridge until the oven is ready.
- Preheat the oven at 180 degree Celsius for 10-15mins. Once it crosses the 10 min mark, place the pastry shells in the middle rack of the oven and set the timer for 10 mins.
- After 5-7mins, while the oven is still on, remove the pastry shells from the oven. Add the filling into each shell with a tablespoon. Place the rack in the top shelf of the oven and bake for another 10-15minutes. Take the quiches out of the oven and once cooled gently remove them from the mould. Repeat the process with the remaining pastry dough and filling.
- Serve as it is or with an extra serving of roasted tomatoes and chilli flakes.
*Making a good shortcrust pastry: Ok, firstly I am still improving my baking skills but I have learned a few things along the way. It’s very important that the butter and water is cold, it is the coldness that lends the pastry a beautiful crumbly texture. Never overwork the pastry dough. In fact you don’t “knead” the dough, you simply form it into a ball in between your palms. There might be ‘cracks’ in the dough and it’s perfectly fine. Also something to keep in mind while working in hot and humid climate like Mumbai, a shortcrust pastry dough doesn’t enjoy warm weathers – at all. Even excessive warmth from our palms can affect the texture (learned that on Masterchef Australia – how I love that show!) So work away from hot kitchen zones and try to maintain cooler temperatures.
*To make (roughly) 1 cup of roasted tomatoes, you will need about 3-4 medium-size tomatoes that have been deseeded. Place the chopped tomatoes in a baking pan, season with salt, pepper, dry herbs and olive oil. Place the pan on the top rack of the oven and bake for 20-30mins (make sure the oven was pre-heated). Keep a close watch, you do want a little char on them but not too much. Once it is ready, it will fill your home with its tangy aroma. You can make extra and store it in the fridge. Use it for sandwiches or as accompaniment for breakfasts – there’s a lot you can do with a jar of roasted tomatoes.