First dog-walking class. I think that the puppy has a streak of the devil in her. It couldn’t come soon enough. Running late, so carry her to the class. It takes twice as long to walk anywhere. Put her down and she clamps her jaw round the lead trying to wrench it out of my hand. “We’ll start by going round the group — and if you can all say a little something about yourselves …” the teacher says, looking at me, nudging.
“I’m Rachel, this is my first dog,” I say, holding the lead aloft, with the snarling terrier dangling from it, still playing tug-of-war. Immaculate black spaniel pup next to us looks very smug. His owner says that it’s her ninth dog. Did a swift calculation and don’t think that works out at a favourable lifespan though. She doesn’t look older than mid-thirties. Perhaps spaniel shouldn’t look so smug.
Luckily there’s a nervous-looking Shar Pei who might share bottom-of-the-class spot with Tonka, meaning that she isn’t a complete dunce. Relief to get back home – particularly to this summer quiche, an ode to leftovers.
I’m not a rampant consumer of dairy, so was confused to find a part-used carton of buttermilk, crème fraiche and cottage cheese in my fridge. Couldn’t remember what on earth I had been using them for … but a cursory sniff indicated that I couldn’t have been cooking with them too long ago. Scraped them all into this quiche filling and cleared a scrap more space in the fridge, which is otherwise taken over by huge jars of elderflower cordial, as Campden tablets seem to be lost in the post.
One of the joys of this recipe is that pretty much any combination of dairy will work – it’s a great way to use up leftovers before they begin to grow fluff, and if you fall short, then add a slosh of milk. The frozen spinach and jar of sun dried tomatoes will hint how disinclined I felt to leave the house yesterday. Good news is that it didn’t reflect in this tasty dinner.
Spinach, nutmeg, sun dried tomato & buttermilk quiche
110g plain flour
pinch of salt
55g butter, cold and cubed
1-2 tsp ice cold water
250g frozen spinach
6-8 sundried tomatoes, sliced
175g buttermilk / crème fraiche / cream / cottage cheese
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
16cm diameter, deep pie dish
Preheat the oven to 180C
Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl, add the salt and cubed butter. Use your fingertips to ‘rub’ it together until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add 1 tsp of water, and use one hand to scrunch the pastry into a ball. Only use the other teaspoon of water if it’s not coming together.
Use a knob of butter to grease the pie dish, and dust a worktop with plain flour. Roll out roll out the pastry, line the pie dish, crimp the sides and then pop it in the freezer, to quickly chill while you make the filling.
Defrost the spinach in the microwave and then press it against the sieve to make sure that all the moisture is removed. Meanwhile, mix the sundried tomatoes, buttermilk (or dairy comination), eggs and spices in a bowl. Stir the spinach into the mixture. Tip it into a pie dish. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until the quiche has puffed-up.
NOTE | A note on cooking. If you cook quiches on the floor of the roasting oven of an AGA then the direct heat will ensure that the base of the tart cooks. One alternative is to sit the quiche on a hot pizza stone, otherwise it’s best to blind bake it before putting in the filling.