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Q: Several times when visiting St. Louis, I have been fortunate enough to have dined at The London Tea Room on Washington Avenue downtown. Since distance makes my visits far too infrequent, I would love to have its recipe for the Gruyère cheese quiche. I find the crust on the quiche to be particularly outstanding.

Chris Black, Hackettstown, N.J.

A: Chef Jackie James of The London Tea Room loves to bake, and the shop's display case shows off her efforts.

The silky-smooth custard of this deep-dish quiche lends itself readily to variations, and the quiches that are offered change daily. Ingredients might include bacon or other meats, Cheddar or other cheeses and herbs.

"We cut our quiche into five large slices, but for more normal portions, a 9-inch quiche will make eight to ten servings," James noted.

Her mother, Pat Richardson, opened a furniture shop called English Living in 1995. Two relocations and 12 years later, the family added a place to celebrate England's favorite beverage.

Customers can order English tea, which is a hearty snack or small meal that includes a pot of tea, of course, and food.

Dozens of teas and coffee are available, as are breakfast items, salads, sandwiches and soups.

"About half of our baking is from recipes that I grew up baking in England," James said. "Our most popular are the scones, rock cakes, shortbread, sausage rolls, eccles cakes and treacle tart."

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THE LONDON TEA ROOM

1520 Washington Avenue

St. Louis

314-241-6556

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SPINACH AND GRUYÈRE QUICHE

The London Tea Room

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Salt

1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into cubes

4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

4 eggs

1 cup whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1/8 teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper

2 1/2 ounces prewashed baby spinach (3 to 4 cups)

4 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (about 1 cup)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

2. In the work bowl of a food processor, combine flour, a pinch of salt and butter. Pulse until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Gradually add ice water, pulsing just until the mixture forms a dough. Do not overprocess.

3. Press dough into prepared pan, making sure that dough covers the sides of the pan all the way to the top. Bake 12 to 14 minutes. (Crust will be about half baked. Crust might shrink slightly from the top edge of the pan.) Place crust on a cooling rack; reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

4. In a medium bowl, beat eggs thoroughly with a whisk; add milk, cream, cayenne and a pinch of salt. Whisk until completely blended.

5. Arrange spinach in pastry shell; sprinkle Gruyère over spinach. Carefully pour egg mixture over the top. Place the pan in the oven on a sheet of foil with the edges pulled up slightly. Bake 1 hour, until lightly golden brown. If the filling still jiggles slightly after 1 hour, bake another 10 minutes or until set. Cut into wedges and serve.

Per serving (based on 10): 456 calories; 34g fat (67 percent calories from fat); 20.5g saturated fat; 181mg cholesterol; 11g protein; 26.5g carbohydrate; 1.5g sugar; 1g fiber; 100mg sodium; 184mg calcium; 128mg potassium.

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