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Lazy daze Summer Picnics: Mini Quiches and more…

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I’m little behind on my blogging, I started this post last week but have not got around to posting it until now.  I was delighted however to be invited to do a guest blog for The Good Web Guide all about Sauerkraut!

So this is what I started last week: My gorgeous hubby had his birthday last weekend and what better excuse than to have a gathering and make the most of the glorious sunshine! A picnic seemed like the most obvious style of feasting  for the day. We went all out and bought a special hamper style cool bag in honour of this special day – much to our friend’s amusement as they thought it looked rather like a baby’s basinette/carrier! Well we are not there yet but good to know we have some equipment on standby for the future! 😉

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The art of great picnic-ing is prepping in advance so all you need to do when you arrive at your desired spot is: pour some cheeky glasses of chilled Proscecco, kick your shoes off, spread your rug and lay out your picnic spread!

This is what we had: Slices of Prosciutto & Salami, Olives stuffed with Pimento, Manchego cheese (Spanish sheep cheese), Goat cheese, Mini Shallot and Mushroom Quiches, Chicken Liver Pate with crackers, my Super Dope Kale Salad, Mini Sesame rolls, and a massive Carrot cake with Goji berries and a Lavender cream cheese frosting!

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So lets start with me’ mini Q’s – I am still so buzzed about these – they turned out so well.  Also doesn’t everything look so cute mini size!  So the genius of this recipe is that the pastry is in fact made with Sweet potato and Buckwheat a glorious combination of nutty and slightly sweet and it makes a lovely low GI alternative to “normal” pastry.  I’ve talked about Buckwheat before but here are some interesting tit bits I’ve learned about it recently: It is related to Rhubarb and Sorrel and because it grows super fast, disease is not generally a problem and so very little pesticide use is found on the crop, in fact it will die if grown with most chemicals – I mean “Hello?” Awesome-ness! It is one of the best sources of easily digestible proteins and high in Rutin, who’s properties are known to help lower blood pressure. If that wasn’t enough for you – it is also apparently very rich in Iron and Antioxidants along with lots of minerals such as Copper, Zinc and Niacin.

Now lets look at the Sweet pots’ goodness factor! Ostensibly they are high in B6, C, Iron and Beta Carotene. They also contain Vitamin D – the sunshine Vit! I know we are having a good streak of sunshine recently here in the UK but we tend to be a little lacking on the sunshine visits.  In fact a lack of vitamin D can effect your energy levels, mood, bone and teeth health. Another important mineral they contain is Magnesium which is known as the relaxation and anti-stress mineral. Now talking to you ladies out there – from personal experience I have been known to turn into a mega bitch because of pre-menstrual tension and I have found that by making sure I get enough magnesium each month can really help combat this – my t’other ‘alf also apreciates it! 😉

Alright I know you are as excited as me now, so I’ll get into the main body of the recipe now – here is what I did:

Mini Shallot and Mushroom Quiches – makes six mini Q’s (or one large one just add an extra egg)

Pastry:

1 medium sized Sweet Potato

1 cup or 125g Buckwheat Flour

Pinch of Salt (Himalayan for extra health benefits)

Sprinkle of grated Nutmeg

Knob of Goat butter (just use Coconut oil if avoiding dairy completely)

1 Tblsp Coconut Oil

Filling:

3 Echalion Shallots, finely chopped

200g Button Mushrooms, sliced (you could swap out the mushroom for peppers (2 peppers will do) if your not a fan of the mushrooms or even add some chopped ham for more protein)

1 cup (about 1/4 litre) of Bouillon Stock

Few springs of fresh Thyme

Pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg

80ml (which is about 1/2 a can) coconut cream

10z Goat butter

3 large free range organic eggs, beaten

60g Grated Ossau Iraty sheep’s cheese grated (or leave out if avoiding dairy)

Black pepper

1) For the pastry add the chopped Sweet potato to a pan with the coconut oil, and a splash of water, cover with a lid and bring up to the boil – and turn the heat down a notch to let it simmer away for about 30-35mins until the potato has softened. Check on it occasionally during this time to make sure the potato doesn’t burn – you might need to add a tiny bit more water if the simmer has got too fierce!  Once softened let it cool with the lid off for a few minutes.

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2) In the meantime you can start on the filling. Chop the shallots and the mushrooms. Over a medium heat fry the shallots with the Goat butter until they start to go transparent (about 2-3 mins) , then add the mushrooms and cook for a further 3 minutes or so until the mushrooms gain a bit of colour. Then add the fresh thyme – I tend to pull the leaves from the main stem particularly if it is a bit woody. Then add the Bouillon stock and bring up to a simmer.  You are going to let this cook away until almost all the liquid has been reduced – about 15-20mins. Turn the heat off and let it cool for a few minutes.

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3) Add the cooled and softened Sweet potato to the food processor along with a knob of goat butter (or Coconut oil if you want to avoid dairy) and blitz until smooth. Then add Salt, black pepper and grated nutmeg to taste.

4) Then back to the Mushroom Shallot mixture. Add the Coconut cream, some black pepper and stir well.

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5) Put the pureed Sweet potato mixture into a bowl with the Buckwheat flour and combine well to make a dough consistentcy.  Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for about 30-60mins – it just makes it easier to handle later. In fact if you wanted to, you could make the pastry the day before and have it in the fridge overnight if time wise it is easier for you to do this in stages.

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6) Once chilled bring the pastry out. Break off a handful and roll into a ball, then press it into a greased and lined mini flan tin (I actually double lined mine as it makes is easier to extract from the tin later see pics) The pastry will press really well, and you should be able to get a reasonably flat surface – doesn’t need to be perfect a rustic quality adds to the charm! It helps to use greaseproof paper to assist you while you press the pastry into the tin- see below:

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7) Prick the bases with a fork and put in the oven for about 10 minutes just to get the cooking started.

8) Now add the beaten egg to the Mushroom/Shallot/Coconut cream mix.  Then spoon a little of the mixture into each of the flan bases and then sprinkle with a little of the Ossau Iraty sheep cheese on the top.

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9) Finally bake in the over for 20-25 minutes until the cheese has melted and gained a little colour and the egg is set.  I promise the coconut cream does not give it a coconut taste for those that don’t like coconut – trust me, I tested these on a “non coconut lover” and he gobbled them with gusto! These little beauties are fab hot or cold – and wouldn’t they be lovely served with a little rocket watercress salad as a starter for your guests at a dinner party or just a little light lunch? But they were fantastic for our picnic!

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This last pic above is a Red Pepper version that I did in a large Flan pan – same amount of filling & pastry ingredients just without mushrooms.  My top tip is to blister and blacken the peppers  (I used two red peppers) on a direct flame on the hob – then wrap them in cling film for a few minutes  to loosen the skin and then peel the skin off.  This just adds a slight smokiness and brings out the sweetness of the peppers. You do this before adding them to the shallots at stage 2.

The crackers, Chicken Liver Pate and Carrot cake went down very well too and I will post the recipes for these shortly but for now here are a few pics:

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