Food

Spinach and Cheese Flan

Before I begin this, I will acknowledge that, yes, I know the in-vogue thing to say these days is quiche, rather than flan. But I grew up calling them flans and somehow that name makes this dish seem more homely. filled with memories (despite never having spinach in a flan as a child) and less abstract than calling it a quiche.

A couple of weeks ago I saw some lovely-looking spinach when I went shopping and bought it, planning to come up with something creative with it at some point. And what I came up with is probably my best vegetarian dish yet (I am not a vegetarian so tend to focus most of my creative energies in the savoury realm on meat-based dishes). Whilst I worked out the recipe the first time, I didn’t take any pictures. So we’re having it again tonight, and this time, I’ve taken some pictures (well, let’s be honest about this, pictures are really the best thing about recipes – well they are in my world!). This is a bit of a ‘somesomeandsome’ recipe – I can’t give you exact quantities for some of the ingredients, but just feel your way and hopefully it will turn out yummy. All the cup measurements below refer to a 250 ml cup/mug. Here’s what you’ll need:

For the pastry:

3 cups self-raising flour

Pinch salt

1/2 cup toasted mixed seeds

3/4 cup margarine or butter

1/2 cup boiling water

For the filling:

5 eggs

Pepper

1/4 cup cream

1/4 cup milk

c. 200g spinach

Hard cheese (I find mature/strong cheddar worked well)

What to do:

1. Sift the three cups of flour into a bowl with a pinch of salt.

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2. Whizz the half a cup of seeds in a food processor until they are fine crumbs, then add the seeds to the flour.

Seeds

3. Melt the three-quarter cup of margarine/butter and add to the flour/seed mixture, with half a cup of boiling water and mix until combined.

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4. Roll out dough and line flan pan (I think this one was about 10 inches in diameter).

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Hmmm…I really should have tidied up around the pan before taking this picture…

5. Prick dough all over with a fork and bake for about 10 minutes on gas mark 5 or 6 (you’re aiming to get it just about to turn golden-brown – don’t cook it completely, otherwise it’ll burn later).

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Tonight obviously does not represent my finest photo-taking moments – look at that hand so beautifully in focus when the pastry should have been the star of this image.

6. Whilst the dough bakes wash the spinach and pop it into the microwave in a covered bowl for one minute on high power.

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7. Whilst the dough bakes whisk together 5 eggs, a sprinkling of black pepper and one quarter cup of cream mixed with a quarter cup of milk.

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This photo is a great example of the ‘some, some and some’ approach to cooking/baking. That is supposed to be a quarter cup of cream with a quarter cup of milk, which should equal one half, not the just-under five-eighths that I see here. I take the view that so long as you keep the differences minimal, it should still be good – or at least edible. I’ll devote another post to the philosophy of some, some and some one day… For now just keep adding all those lovely ingredients.

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8. When the pastry has just begun to turn golden-brown remove it from the oven, but don’t turn the oven off.

*Pretend there is a picture of the beautifully cooked pastry here – I appear to have forgotten to take the shot.

9. Take a handful of spinach and squeeze it gently to get rid of some of the moisture.

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10. Spread the spinach over the pastry base and repeat the squeezing and spreading process until all the spinach is on the base.

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11. Grate some cheese over the spinach – aim to cover the whole area. To be honest, I have no idea how much cheese there is here – it’s probably more than my heart would like, but seems like a very good amount to my tastebuds.

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12. Finally pour the egg and cream mixture over the cheese and spinach.

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13. Bake at gas mark 5/6 until golden-brown and cooked.

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14. The last thing left to do, apart from turn off the oven, is to eat this yummy concoction, perhaps with some salad…

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