The Light Weight Champion – Quiche con Porcini e Gruyère

When it comes to food, I am one of those “everything in moderation” people. Life is too short for calorie-counting and worrying about each mouthful that would make your personal trainer frown.

On the other hand, I have noticed that as you get older, your body starts to complain more easily if you do not listen to it. If you eat too much something that is not very good for you, your body will definitely shout.

I have always kind of liked quiches but they are typically so heavy that if I eat some, I need to beg my stomach for forgiveness for days. The usual challenge is the crust which typically includes its fair share of fat. Then when you add the filling into the calorie equation, you will end up with more energy than a group of toddlers after their nap time.

When I found today’s recipe in the October 2019 edition of Cucina moderna, the filling of the quiche in question sounded quite nice albeit heavy (as usual). So I started googling if there was a lighter option for the crust. I discovered this this recipe that I think is quite ingenious! It is almost fat-free, very easy to prepare and complements perfectly the mushroom filling of this quiche (although I’m sure it works well with any filling of your choice). You can also make the filling of this quiche slightly lighter by substituting some of the cream with milk without losing any flavor.

Mushroom and gruyère quiche

For the crust

150 g flour

50 g yoghurt

30 ml oil (e.g. rapeseed, sunflower)

10 ml (cold) water

1 pinch of salt

For the filling

300 g mushrooms

100 g smoked pancetta/ bacon in cubes

3 eggs

100 g grated gruyère

2 dl cream (or cream-milk mixture)

25 g butter

1 garlic clove

1 tbsp chopped parsley

nutmeg

salt

pepper

Start by preparing the crust. Add all the ingredients of the crust to a bowl and mix until you have obtained a homogeneous dough. Cover the dough with foil and move it to the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the filling. In a pan, melt the butter and add the garlic clove. After a few minutes, add the (cleaned and) sliced mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, remove the garlic clove and add the chopped parsley.

Fry the pancetta in another pan until crisp. In a bowl, break the eggs and mix them with a pinch of salt, pepper and nutmegs and then with the cream (/cream-milk) and cheese.

Roll out the dough. Butter/ oil a pie mold and move the crust into it. Add the pancetta on top of the crust, followed by a half (or all as I did) of the mushrooms and the egg – cream mixture. Bake in the oven at 180C for 25 minutes, add the remaining mushrooms and continue baking for another 10 minutes (or if you don’t have any mushrooms remaining, you can bake the quiche for 25-30 minutes straight).

 

The Beardy Monk – Torta Salata alle Mandorle, Gorgonzola e Verdure

Coming back to the theme of changes in my previous post, there is one additional one to consider. Possibly the most radical of them all, really. I am starting to uncover my previously extremely well-hidden inner baker! Within the past few weeks, I have made several pies, pizzas and a (pretty decent) loaf of bread. All naturalmente with Italian recipes.

Just yesterday I used this one for a dose of blueberries I picked in a forest near Helsinki. In general, I am jealous of Italians for their vast range of fresh veggies, herbs, and fruit. However, at this time of the year there are some fantastic ingredients also available in my Finnish hoods, such as those blueberries and chanterelles.

Blueberries

Today’s recipe doesn’t have anything to do with them though (I just wanted to show off my 1.5 litres of blueberries). In fact, the recipe contains an ingredient completely unknown to me, the Finnish forests, and supermarkets in Helsinki called barba di frate. It directly translates as a “monk’s beard”. Fortunately Wikipedia kindly informed me that I would not need to start negotiating with the very few monks in Helsinki about their facial hair but it is a plant called salsola soda or opposite-leaved saltwort (with so terribly complicated English names, I suppose this beard plant is not that common in the UK either…).

Anyway, today’s recipe is a pie I found on one of Italy’s most popular food blogs called Sale&Pepe. I was intrigued by the use of almonds in its filling and topping although it is a salty pie instead of a dessert (the afore-mentioned blueberry pie also has an almond topping). I substituted the beard plant with spinach which worked quite deliciously with those almonds and the heartiness of blue cheese! As the recipe only advised to use a pasta brisé for the crust without any further details, I picked a recipe for it from one of my Italian cook books called Voglia di cucinare. However, if you are a more advanced baker than myself and have a secret crust recipe of your own, or – alternatively – like those ready pastries from supermarket, I am sure they will be fine options too.

Almond, Gorgonzola and Vegetable Pie

Serves 6

For the crust:

500 g flour

250 g butter

salt

For the filling:

1 egg

100 g almond flour

100 g almond flakes

3 bunches of salsola soda (or spinach)

1 garlic clove

butter

300 g soft gorgonzola (or other blue cheese)

1.5 dl milk

salt

First make the pastry for the crust (unless you are using a ready one): Cut the butter into smallish cubes and let them rest in the room temperature for a few minutes to become a bit softer. Place the flour on a pastry board (or other flat surface…) and mix in a pinch of salt. Make a hole in the middle of the flour and add the butter cubes. Use your hands to quickly knead a pastry of the flour, butter, and salt. Finally add a 2 tablespoons of cold water into the pastry. Wrap it in a tinfoil and leave to rest in a fridge at least until you have prepared the filling.

If you are using salsola soda, peel them, wash them and cook them in salted boiling water for at least 4-5 minutes. Drain well. If you are using fresh spinach, cook them in boiling water for a few minutes, and rinse and drain well after that.

Move the drained vegetables (either salsola soda or spinach) into a pan, and gently cook them with some butter, the garlic clove and a pinch of salt for 5 minutes.

In a blender, mix the egg, almond flour, milk and gorgonzola.

Roll out the pastry and move it to a pie mold (previously buttered or coated with parchment paper). Add the vegetables and on top of them the gorgonzola cream. Finally scatter the almond flakes on top of the filling. Bake in the oven at 180C for about 35 minutes. Serve warm.