When I was young, shortly after my father passed away, my mum made a life changing yet perplexing discovery – the frozen quiche.
I had a quick lesson in the workings of grief by what was served to me in those years my mother mourned. Frozen this and tinned that all got a bit too much, but the frozen quiche was the deal breaker.
I suppose ‘quiche’ to our suburban life in the eighties was très exotic. It even sounded posh (as opposed to a Chiko Roll) but the frozen varieties back then were cardboard nonsense. Symmetrical ham chunks, floury pastry (if you can call it that) and the eggs – oh my, those weren’t eggs. Mixed with some iceberg lettuce and a tomato or two, you had yourself a right French knees-up of a meal.
I can honestly say that I never remember my mum making a quiche from scratch, despite the fact that she was a pretty good cook. Why would you bother slaving away at dicing ham, beating eggs and making pastry when a sheer miracle from a box can be ready in 35 minutes (taste and texture aside)?
I would like to tell you that packaged quiches have come leaps and bounds since those heady days of the Florentine frenzy - I can’t because I haven’t had one since 1983. But I have made them and variations alike.
One of my first attempts at spanakopita was from a free book courtesy of the Hare Krishna movement. I was still at school and grateful to get my hands on any cookbooks that I could. It used ghee instead of butter (this was Cabramatta in 1983 – ghee was non-existent) but everything else was readily accessible. It was from this humble Hare Krishna cookery book that I discovered a whole new world of the egg-spinach-pastry-combo and I have been experimenting ever since. From that day forward I never laid eyes on a cardboard box full of French falsification again.
I bought some rainbow silverbeet from the farmers market last weekend and I knew instantly that it was destined for a fetta and leek bed. This is still a quick mid-week meal if you use shortcrust pastry, as opposed to laborious filo, and, like most things, tastes even better the next day.
Rainbow silverbeet, leek and fetta tart
Serves 4 as a meal or 6 as a light lunch
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
200gms fetta cheese
1 bunch of rainbow silverbeet (regular silverbeet is fine)
1 leek washed and finely sliced
1 tablespoon butter
2 shortcrust pastry sheets
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
Fresh dill to garnish
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line a pie flan and gently place pastry into case.
Beat eggs lightly with a fork until combined season with salt and pepper. Wash and slice the silverbeet and steam for two minutes until wilted. Fry sliced leek until just turning golden.
Mix eggs, silverbeet leeks in a large bowl and crumble in fetta cheese. Spoon this mixture into the prepared pastry and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes or until set. Serve with a lightly dressed green salad.
Watch: Curtis Stone show us how to select seasonal ingredients.