Peanut butter and jelly. Salmon and dill. Peas and mint. These are all ingredients that go perfectly together. Adding to this list of perfect food pairing is of course, spinach and cheese. Used in a variety of dishes, spinach and cheese compliment each other perfectly no matter what dish they are in together. I combine these two ingredients (with a few extra complementary ones) in this recipe for Savoury Cheese and Spinach Pastries.
I am not just using any old cheese for this recipe. No, sir! This recipe makes use of a special, artisinal ingredient: quark cheese. Haven’t heard of quark cheese before? I don’t blame you. It is definitely not an everyday ingredient in North America. But in Germany, Austria and other parts of eastern Europe, they use this almost as much as North Americans use cream cheese. Once you taste it you will know why.
This soft, smooth, unripened cheese tastes like a cross between Greek yogurt and cream cheese. It does not have a strong pronounced flavour, rather it has a light creamy, and slightly cheesy taste, very similar to cottage or ricotta cheeses (just without the lumps!). Regardless of my attempt to describe this cheese, all you need to know is that it tastes amazing!
I picked up a container of quark cheese (along with a few more tasty cheeses) from The Farm House Natural Cheeses in Agassiz, British Columbia a few months back and I have been aching to visit again ever since. Just the drive out to Agassiz through the Fraser Valley is gorgeous- all those tall mountains, family farms, and dirt roads truly make it a special place. But when you pull up to The Farm House Natural Cheeses, you will see a whole new type of beauty.
A quaint little white and red house is where you will find the cheese shop, filled to the brim with the beautiful cheeses made right there on the farm (you can actually look through a window into the cheese room where they make cheese right before your eyes!). Just a warning- once you enter the cheese shop, you will want to buy ALL of the cheese. Not only does it look delicious, but you can feel good about eating it as it is certified organic!
When I visited a while back, the Marigold cheese was their featured flavour, so of course I picked that up along with the quark, a goat cheese “button” and cheese curds. Can’t resist the curds! I had to restrict myself to just buying cheese even though there were other confectioneries in the store, such as jams, syrups, and even gelato. I literally could’ve spent $100+ in there…haha 😛 But seeing how wonderful The Farm House Natural Cheese’s was and how utterly delicious their cheese was, I know I will be back!
While the cheese curds didn’t make it back to Vancouver (a little snack on the drive back), the rest of the cheese did- including the quark cheese. My master plan for the quark was to try to recreate the Cheese and Spinach pastry that I had at an Austrian bakery in California. I would always get this for breakfast whenever I visited that shop…without fail! Since I had this pastry multiple times (and I have a really good palate), I knew exactly how to re-make it. For the filling, all I needed was shallots, garlic, white wine, spinach, quark, salt and pepper. Wrap it up in a puff pastry and voila! I actually impressed myself with how well these turned out the first time- they (almost) tasted just like the ones from the Austrian bakery!
I highly recommend that you make this delicious recipe for your friends and family (or maybe just yourself). It makes for a delicious breakfast and can be made into a mini version for an appetizer. If you can’t find your way out to Agassiz to pick up the cheese directly from the farm, check out The Farm House Natural Cheese‘s other retail locations– there is likely one near you!
They are all guaranteed to be ‘utterly’ delicious! 😛