14 April 2017

Maundy (Green) Thursday with Nettle and Mushroom Quiche


Back in Slovakia Maundy Thursday is called Green Thursday. There are many traditions linked to "Green" Thursday. One that I tried to keep since I was a child is to eat something green in colour. This year I decided to use the green garlic and nettle tops from our garden to make a refreshing quiche.

My pastry is a variation of the pastry from foodlover.cz, which is a blog from which I learned to make quiche and since then made it many many times, although I must admit that I rarely measure out all the ingredients, I just throw things together and add flour/water depending on the dryness/stickiness and thickness/runniness of the pastry.

For the pastry you will need:
  • 350 g of plain flour
  • 185 g of unsalted butter (if you use salted to easier on the pinch of salt)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • a pinch of salt
You can roll it out and then place in the tin/baking dish or if you are - like me - reluctant to get another piece of equipment messy, just push it into the dish with your fingers. It looks less pretty and neat but tastes exactly the same. Bake for about 15 minutes on 180°C. Some recipes suggest covering the top of the pastry with ceramic baking beans to prevent it from rising but I find this step is unnecessary and the pastry doesn't rise that much.

My quiche is quite massive, so you may want to halve the amounts and masses above. Alternatively make two quiches or one regular quiche and a lot of mini quiches in muffin cups.


For the filling you will need:

  • 2 large mushrooms
  • 3 eggs (plus the two whites that you did not use when making pastry)
  • 3 spring onions, bulb and leaves, chopped
  • grated cheddar (or any other hard cheese you like)
  • nettle tops, steamed
  • 150 ml single cream
  • 5 green garlics, bulb and leaves, chopped (to be completely honest here, my garlic wasn't traditional green garlic, it was garlic that survived the winter, thenw as given summer to grow and survived another winter and was still minute, so I lost my patience with it and pulled it out and sowed lettuce leaves in its place)
  • optional - salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:


1.  Steam the nettle tops until they wilt and stop stinging.
2.  Prepare and bake the pastry.Take it out of the oven.
3.  Lay out sliced mushrooms on the pastry


4.   Lay the steamed nettles on top of the mushrooms


6.  Add the chopped spring onions and garlic on top of the nettles.


7. In a bowl mix the eggs, single cream and half of the grated cheese (you can add more salt or pepper to taste). Pour the mixture over the raw ingredients.


8.  Return to the oven and bake until the top starts getting golden and crunchy looking, but do not overdo it! (It usually takes 20-25 minutes depending on the thickness of your quiche.)


9.  Cover the top with the remaining grated cheese and return to the oven for 5 minutes until all the cheese is melted.


10.   When you like the look of it, take it out of the oven and serve with your favourite salad and a bit of vinaigrette.


I love what a versatile dish this is, you can add any vegetables you have in your fridge or freezer and it will keep in the fridge for several days. It can be eaten cold or warmed up, with salad or on its own. It is great for using up seasonal vegetables and I would imagine it freezes quite well, too (although I haven't tried yet as I never have anything left over :) )

I made a version of this quiche for my family when they came over for our wedding. Stressed out as I was I forgot to add the cream! And - it was still delicious and nobody noticed anything!!! A very forgiving meal :)

13 April 2017

Mothers' Day Gardening

Mothers' day is always a big family gathering over lunch in my husband's family, either somewhere out over a carvery or over a roast lunch at home. This year I wasn't looking forward to eating the meal or the cakes that I made, but I couldn't wait to take my niece Amy (almost three years old) out into the garden.

We built the experience up over a couple of weeks. She knew what she was going to do, she was given a choice of planting flowers or potatoes. She picked potatoes, so I bought two varieties of seed potatoes and out we went with them.


I dug up a hole for each one and she carefully placed a potato into it. At first she was just throwing them but she learned quickly and soon she became very careful. At least some of them were the right way up. After that we said "Bye-bye potatoes, we'll see you later!" and covered them with soil. 


The entire experience took no longer than 20 minutes (I forget how limited attention span youngsters have) but I think it was thoroughly enjoyed by both of us.


A bit more than two weeks later and we have our first sprouts poking above the soil. All the watering and earthing up will be up to me but I look forward to being able to present Amy with her very own home-grown potatoes.

10 April 2017

The Windowsill Jungle


I have been gone from home for a couple of days, paying a visit to my relatives and friends back in Slovakia. When I came home, this amazing jungle has been waiting for me! All of my seedlings - broad beans, cabbages, tomatoes, sunflowers, sweetcorn, pansies, pot marigolds - have been busy growing and the flat looks... quite overgrown! My two little tables in the living room and the windowsill in the kitchen were taken over by living green stuff! How exciting! :) I can't wait to re-locate this jungle outdoors.


Big thanks goes to my husband who managed well without me and watered all this growth whilst I was gone. Well done!
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