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Friday, July 22, 2005

jendela bayam dan cendawan

One of the things I am thankful for when spring arrives is spinach. I love love LOVE spinach. I love them raw - in salads or kerabu-- and delicately cooked, in pasta, in quiche, in omelette, in soups, steamed, stirfried and in Greek spinach pie. And I have discovered, eggs and spinach make wonderful combination.
In Malay Literature, spinach is something of a legend. A greedy sultan grew fangs when he acquired a taste for spinach cooked in blood. We were told this story when we were small and saw the Raja Bersiong (I am trying to remember who played the sultan - was it Mahmud June or the guy who played Samseng Kampung Dusun in Bujang Lapok)movie in black and white. Needless to say, I have never developed a taste for red spinach - spinach with purplish red stems, more suited for salad than stir fries. Now IF the sultan looked like David Boreanaz or the guy (James Masters) who played Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, maybe I will be cooking red spinach with more zeal?

On Sunday, Terry was watching Bahrain F1 and we were also planning to go for our weekly walk in the forest. After eating a fabulous foccassia and tom-tom tomatoes for Saturday lunch, we were not really in the mood for sandwiches. So I decided, let’s make pie. I always have a box of puff pastry in the freezer for such emergency. Another emergency will be apple pie cravings in which I will just make a simple filling of apple+sugar+raisins and cinnamon and put it in the middle of a puff pastry and fold and voila – you get apple pie! But it is spring and the Friday market brought so much delight to our kitchen that it was a shame not to make something special for Sunday lunch. I prefer to eat clean food in warmer weather – that means no rich creamy or cheesy filling – and I want a pie which we can hold in our hands and eat casually. We still have three hard boiled eggs left from Easter and this will be the main ingredient in the pie. The rest will be oyster mushrooms, pine nuts, young Gouda cheese and garlic. Spinach is a very wet vegetable and the mushroom will be a great mop to absorb all the juicy bit. By omitting the eggs, you can easily make a vegetarian pie. You can change the cheese to whatever you have in the fridge but creamy and less obtrusive ones are best. The pie turned out brilliantly with flaky crust and the perfect combination of textures from the soft eggs, crunchy pine nuts and meaty oyster mushrooms.
A note on the name I call this Jendela Bayam dan Cendawan because the shape of the pie is fashioned after windows with louvered shutters in old Malay houses. Jendela is the Malay word for window, Bayam is the Malay word for spinach and Cendawan means mushroom.

The recipe:
6 buttery puff pastry
egg yolk – beaten

2 cups spinach
1 cup oyster mushroom
3 hard boiled eggs - sliced
Young Gouda cheese - grated
1 garlic
Pine nuts
Olive oil

1. Heat up the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.
2. Toast some pine up in a heated pan. Add Olive Oil
3. Add Mushroom and stir.
4. Add garlic
5. Add the spinach. Season and turn off the heart immediately.
6. To assemble the pie, spread the spinach over the pastry base. Place the sliced eggs, cut side down, two by two, on the spinach then pile the cheese on top.
7. Brush the border with egg yolk and fold the pastry in half, lengthwise. Press the edges to seal. Chill for 15 minutes before baking.
8. Using a pair of scissors, make cuts on the top of the pastry and brush with egg yolks. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until risen and golden brown.