As we head in to the festive season, I find that I need to balance out the indulgences of this time of year, with home cooked, healthy (at least semi-healthy) meals.
Packed full of goodness, and also gluten-free (for any of you who are gluten intolerant), this baked quinoa “pie” with spinach and feta is as comforting as it looks. Hot from the oven, the quinoa are almost pillowed amongst the ingredients, adding a lightness that you wouldn’t get if I omitted them. I only need to cook for two, so I made enough for four, split the mixture in to two small pie tins, and will freeze the other portion for a time when I need something easy, quick and delicious. All I have to do is warm up and eat.
This recipe is really versatile – adding in ham or bacon would work too.
Ingredients (for one large pie to feed four or two smaller pies)
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 large handfuls of fresh spinach leaves
- 200g feta (you can also substitute ricotta or even cottage cheese)
- 4 large eggs
- Splash of milk
- 1 cup of grated parmesan, divided in to two portion
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F
- Cook the quinoa in 2 cups of water. Cover, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes, until tender and the germ is visible
- Stir in the spinach leaves as you fluff the quinoa – the residual heat will wilt the leaves
- Crumble the feta in and mix
- In a bowl, whisk the eggs with a splash of milk and one portion of the parmesan
- Add a pinch of salt and a good grind of pepper – don’t over-salt as the cheeses will already add some savouriness to the dish
- Loosely spoon the quinoa mixture into your pie dish, pour over the egg mixture and combine the two in the dish
- Flatten the top and sprinkle the second portion of parmesan over the top
- Bake for 30-35 mins until the top is golden
- Allow to rest for 5 minutes and then enjoy hot !
pavlova with fresh cream and berries
Pavlova is another one of those desserts whose origin seems locked in battle between Australia and New Zealand. I don’t care who “invented” it, I’m just grateful for it, no matter where it comes from.
It’s a dessert which seems to invoke fear in people trying to make it, but I have made it enough times to know that with some basic rules, it’s a simple and impressively sweet treat to make. You end up with this perfect blend of crisp outer shell with marshmallowy centre, topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit.
The basic rules:
- Use a clean bowl and beater – any oil, egg yolk, water, soap etc will limit the volume that you will get from your egg whites
- If you’re in humid weather, beat your egg whites with the airconditioner on. Humidity also minimises volume
- I make my pavlova a touch less sweet, but you need at least 50g of sugar per egg white to keep the stiffness in the meringue mix
- Make sure you add the sugar to the egg whites gradually, making sure you beat well until the sugar is dissolved (taste some of the mix, if it’s gritty, you need to beat it more)
- When the cooking is done, let the pavlova cool in the oven with the oven door closed or at the most open only a crack or your pavlova will collapse
OK that’s a few more than I thought, but really, it’s not that difficult, honest !
Ingredients (to feed 6 people or 4 greedy ones)
- 4 egg whites at room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- 200g castor sugar
- splodge of vanilla
- 2 teaspoons cornflour
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- Whipped cream and fruit to top
- Preheat oven to 180C
- Beat egg whites with salt until satiny peaks form
- Add castor sugar in small batches, beating well between each so that the sugar has dissolved
- fold in the vanilla, cornflour and vinegar
- Pile on to a tray lined with baking paper (you can draw a 15cm circle on the underneath of the baking paper to help), flatten the top a little (so you can add the topping)
- Put into oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 150C and bake for 30 minutes
- Reduce the temperature to 120C and bake for another hour
- Turn off oven at the end and let the pavlova cool in the oven
- Top with fresh whipped cream and fresh fruit