Archive for the ‘g r e e k’ Category

s p a n a k o p i t a

February 20, 2011

 

This is a family recipe and one that I remember from my very early childhood. If you want your kids to eat spinach, this is the way forward. When I was a kid, my mum would ask me and my brother what we wanted for dinner on our respective birthdays, and 9 times out of 10 we’d shout “cheese and spinach pie please!”. It’s probably evolved over the years, but this is the version I have scribbled in my notebook at the moment. A seriously tasty dish, it’s about time I shared it on here.

 

cheese and spinach pie

 

 

S P A N A K O P I T A

500-600g fresh spinach leaves

5 large free range eggs, beaten

2 packs feta cheese, crumbled

2 packs filo pastry (about 8 sheets)

5 spring onions, chopped

450ml sour cream

butter, melted

nutmeg

salt & pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Firstly, W I L T the spinach with a tiny splash of water in a big pot on a medium/high heat. Keep the lid on, and turn the leaves over once or twice to wilt them evenly. As soon as they’re wilted, remove from the heat and leave to cool in a drainer. Once cooled sufficiently, squeeze out the excess liquid as much as you can and then chop roughly.

Prepare the F I L L I N G by combining the beaten eggs, feta, sourcream, chopped wilted spinach,  and spring onions in a large bowl. Using a fine grater, grate a good 1/2 tsp of nutmeg over the mixture. Season with a bit of salt and pepper, but not too much as the feta is quite salty. Mix well.

B R U S H a large square or rectangular overproof dish with some melted butter, just enough to coat the base and sides. Take one sheet of filo, brush it all over with butter, and layer it into the base of the dish, with a good third to half of the pastry hanging over the side of the dish. Repeat with another sheet of pastry, but position it so it hangs over the other side. Use about 5 or 6 sheets for the base, positioning them so every edge has some pastry hanging over. Remember to brush each layer with butter as you go!

F I L L the dish with the mixture. Then, one edge at a time, fold the overhanging layers of pastry over the top of the dish, like a parcel. Get one more sheet of pastry, butter half of it width-ways, and fold in half so the butter sticks it together. Butter it again and lay it on top of the pie to give it a tidy surface. Using the pastry brush, poke the edges into the side of the dish. If one sheet halved is not enough to cover the top of the pie, just repeat. Drizzle a little butter onto the top, and brush it all over. this will give the pie a lovely crackly golden top.

Put in the oven and B A K E for about 50 minutes. After 50 minutes, turn the oven off and leave for a further 10 minutes. This will help the filling to set a bit.

Makes enough for about 4-6 people, depending on how greedy you are…. Serve with a big fresh salad.

 

cheese and spinach pie 2

 

d o l m a d e s

November 25, 2009

 

I had a couple of friends over on the weekend so I planned a mediterranean ‘tapas’ evening. Handy because you can prepare most of it in advance so you can enjoy the company rather than spending the whole evening in the kitchen! On the menu I had spanish tortilla, tzatziki, chorizo & garlic prawns, crusty bread, cheeses, olives, and dolmades. And I thought i’d put the recipe for the dolmades up, as they were my first attempt, and they proved to be a popular nibble! I didn’t have a chance to take any proper photos, but I took a few briskly in a badly lit kitchen.

 

 

D O L M A D E S

1 packet vine leaves in brine

extra virgin olive oil

1 cup long grain rice

2 red onions, chopped fine

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1 lemon sliced

the juice of 1 lemon

3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted lightly

2 tbsp sultanas

handful of dill, chopped

handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

maldon salt & black pepper

 

To prepare the V I N E  L E A V E S remove them from the packaging, and blanch them in boiling water for about 3 minutes. Drain, and run under cold water to prevent them from cooking further. Try not to tear them when doing this, you want the leaves in tact as much a possible, so the dolmades hold their shape and don’t lose their stuffing!

To make the S T U F F I N G heat a few tbsp of olive oil in a 20cm diameter heavy based pan (about 7-8cm deep). Gently fry the onions for about 7 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and stir through over low heat for 1 minute. Then add the rice, and turn through well, coating in the oil. We only want to partially cook the  rice during this stage. The rice will finish cooking once wrapped inside the vine leaves. So now gradually add about 1 cup of warm water to the pan and stir it into the rice mixture, allowing it to be absorbed fully, this should take no more than 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and remove the pan from the heat, transfer to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool for 5 or so minutes. Then add the pine-nuts, sultanas, parsley, dill, a dash of olive oil, and a bit more seasoning if needed.

To make the D O L M A D E S firstly prepare the pan. Using the same heavy based pan (but cleaned!), pour about 1-2 tbsp olive oil in the base. Then line the base with about 5 vine leaves, overlapping them so the base is completely covered. I try and use the torn/poorly shaped leaves for this bit, and save the good leaves for the dolmades! Now on a clean surface, lay out several vine leaves with the veiny side facing up, stem side closest to you, leaf tip furthest away. You then put about 1-2 heaped tsp of the filling into the centre of each leaf. Now imagine the leaf is a compass. To roll them up, fold the East and West sides over the filling, bring the base (South) of the leaf up over the filling, and roll away from you, tapering the section of the leaf that you are rolling towards so that each dolmade has a neat, tapered seam (when i make these again, i’ll take some more photos!). It’s important not to roll them TOO tightly. The rice will expand a bit when it cooks completely, so you don’t want them to burst! Put them into the pan as you go, fitting them in snugly, seam side down, until you’ve filled the base of the pan with them.

To C O O K the dolmades, place about 7 lemon slices over them in the pan, and then pour the juice of 1 lemon (about 2 Tbsp lemon juice) over them. Then pour enough water over them until it reaches about 2/3 of the way up the dolmades. I find this usually requires about 1 cup of water. Pour a dash of olive oil over them. Finally, place a circle of greaseproof paper over the dolmades, and then sit a small plate upside down, on-top of the paper. This will keep them snugly in place! Put the lid on, and place on the hob on a low heat, for about 35 minutes. Turn off the heat, and leave them in the pan with the lid on for another 30 minutes, to continue soaking up all the juices.

You can S E R V E  them warm, straight out of the pan… or alternatively leave them to cool or chill them in the fridge until you need to serve them. I prefer them cold with a bit of tzatziki to dip them in!