Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction website
- 1/2 recipe homemade pie crust* (step-by-step photos included)
- 1 (10 oz) box frozen spinach
- 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic (or chopped roasted)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk*
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar + mozzarella)*
- salt & pepper, to taste
Prepare the pie crust the night before to save yourself some time.
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. If your frozen spinach is not already thawed, thaw it in the microwave per box directions. Drain the spinach in a colander while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Place sliced mushrooms in a skillet coated with 1 teaspoon olive oil or nonstick spray, add the garlic, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Turn the heat on to medium-high and sauté the mushrooms until they release all of their moisture and no more water remains on the bottom of the skillet, about 6-7 minutes.
On a floured work surface, roll out the chilled pie dough. Turn the pie crust dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls until you have a circle 12 inches in diameter. Carefully place the dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is smooth. With a small and sharp knife, trim the extra overhang of crust and discard. Pre-bake the pie crust for 8 minutes.
While the pie crust is pre-baking, whisk together the eggs, milk, and parmesan cheese until combined. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Blot and squeeze the rest of the water out of the thawed spinach. After 8 minutes, remove the pie crust from the oven and spread spinach on top. Add the cooked mushrooms and shredded cheeses. Pour the egg mixture on top. If desired, sprinkle the top lightly with more parmesan cheese and/or salt and pepper.
Bake the quiche until it is golden brown on top and the center is no longer jiggly. Depending on your oven, this will take anywhere between 45 minutes – 1 hour. Mine took 50 minutes. Use a pie shield to prevent the pie crust from over browning, if desired. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. This quiche makes great leftovers! Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Baked quiche freezes very well, up to 2 months.
Final Project: Cheesy Spinach Quiche
I made cheesy spinach quiche for my final project. The recipe from Sallys Baking Addiction was used, but I changed a few things (the cheeses, premade pie crust, and no mushrooms). It touches on many of the aspects that were covered in this class, including taste, fatty acids, proteins, gluten, and the mallaird reaction.
There are two ways to taste food—binding to a receptor or passing through an ion channel. The quiche utilizes both with the umami and salty tastes. First, the umami taste that is associated with glutamate is present because of the cheeses that are used. This taste is present in protein rich foods and binds to the 7TM receptor. The salty taste occurs when sodium or potassium ion passes through an anion channel found on the tongue.
Saturated fatty acids are used to cook the quiche, including cheese and milk. These help to keep the quiche from drying out while it bakes. Also, the eggs in the quiche act as an emulsifier between the nonpolar fatty acids and the polar substances. The lecithin in the eggs is what allows it to act as the bridge between nonpolar and polar substances, forming micelles and an even mixture.
The eggs are a high source of protein. In order to eat most protein, it must be denatured. Here we use surface change by beating the eggs then mixing them. This physically rearranges the protein and adds air to the mixture. Then we use heat to break the protein bonds. The heat provides the energy to create new and stronger bonds. The elastic quality of the protein is lost when eggs are cooked. By firming the proteins, the eggs are able to bind with the ingredients in the quiche (Science of Cooking). The egg proteins will unwind during denaturation and bond to form a mesh that traps the milk (Science of Cooking).
Another aspect of the quiche is the crust. The crust is a type of bread that requires gluten formation. Gluten is a water insoluble protein made of glutenin and gliadin, which is found in wheat protein. It is formed through hydration, which changes the form and structure of the protein. Gluten has three types of bonds—hydrogen bonds, disulfide bridges, and cross links. The cross links are what give bread its elasticity, allowing it to rise. Without the elasticity, the bread is stiff and crumbly. Kneading the dough causes the protein to denature and flatten out providing more surface area to form cross links (surface change). The sheets trap the carbon dioxide produced by the yeast fermentation reaction. In this recipe, we would use soft wheat which is 6 to 8% proteins, resulting in weaker gluten formation. This is desirable for crust because it is not supposed to rise too much. Also, the addition of baking soda raises the pH level of the mixture, reducing gluten formation (more crumbly texture). The ideal pH of water for gluten formation is 5 to 6. Salt is a positive ion so it associates with negative ions found in gluten, allowing the proteins to approach more closely and creating a stronger dough.
The mallaird reaction is a type of non-enzymatic browning involving the reaction of simple sugars and amino acids. It changes the color of the food and creates flavor. Here it is present on the pie crust and the quiche. Hundreds of different organic compounds can form, creating different tastes and aromas.
My favorite part of any dish is the cheese because cheese is delicious. Cheese is made from milk; essentially, the water is removed from the milk concentrating the proteins and fat. The milk is then preserved for a long period of time under different conditions depending on the type of cheese. First in the cheese making process, the casein protein in milk is coagulated and then the solid curds and liquid whey are separated from each other. The curds are left to ripen. When acidifying the milk, the bacteria will sour the milk converting lactose to lactic acid and lowering the pH. The type of bacteria used will depend of the type of cheese that is being produced. Mesophilic bacteria is used for cheddar, gouda, and Colby cheeses, while thermophilic bacteria is used for gruyere, parmesan, and romano cheeses. Then rennet can be added to the milk to speed up coagulation of casein and produces a strong curd. Rennet has the active enzyme chymosin. Last, ripening occurs where bacteria breaks down proteins altering flavors and texture of final cheese. First it will break down to peptides and then to amino acids. Some cheeses are inoculated with a fungus during this step, which will produce digestive enzymes that break down large protein molecules in cheese. The addition of this fungus produces softer cheese like brie. Cheese making is like cooking because there are many different variables to change that will change the product. Depending on what you want, you can change the recipe. (Biotechnology Learning Hub)
These are just some of the chemistry relationships that a quiche has. There are many more and it is something that can be researched in much more depth depending on your level of interest and basic chemistry knowledge.
“The Amazing Multi-Tasking Egg.” Science of Cooking. Exploratorium: the Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception, n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. <https://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/icooks/article_5-03.html>.
“The Science of Cheese.” Biotechnology Learning Hub RSS. N.p., 11 Apr. 2012. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. <http://biotechlearn.org.nz/focus_stories/cheesemaking/the_science_of_cheese>.