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SPANAKOPITA/SPINACH PIES

Serves 4

  • 1 bunch English spinach, leaves only
  • Olive oil
  • 1 leek thinly sliced
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 150g/5oz ricotta cheese
  • 150g/5oz Greek feta cheese, crumbled
  • Handful of herbs (dill, parsley, mint) chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 sheets filo pastry, thawed/fresh
  • Melted butter

Wash the spinach leaves (don’t dry them) then place in a large microwave-proof bowl, cover with cling wrap and cook in the microwave for a few minutes until wilted. Allow to cook then squeeze out excess water and chop roughly.

Heat some oil in a frypan and cook leeks for a few minutes or until softened but not browned.

In a large bowl combine eggs, cheeses, herbs, salt and pepper. Add cooked spinach and leek and stir well to combine.

Grease four individual pie tins. Brush two sheets of pastry with melted butter then cut them through the middle to form four squares. Pile the four squares on top of each other then place over a pie dish and press carefully so the pastry fits the mould, and there is plenty of pastry overhanging around the tin. Repeat with remaining pastry and pie dishes.

Spoon the spinach filling into four dishes then fold the overhanging pastry over the top, bringing one side in at a time so that the pies have a thick pile of pastry on top. Brush with a little more melted butter.

FREEZE: When the butter has hardened, wrap the pies in cling wrap or store in a plastic container and freeze.

DEFROST: In the fridge (or partially defrost on the kitchen bench before finishing in the fridge)

COOK: Bake in 180C/350F oven for about 30 minutes or until hot throughout and the pastry is golden brown and crips.

TO SERVE: Remove the pies from their tins and serve with your favourite salad.

This recipe is from Frost Bite by Susan Austin (this is a great book)

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WEDDING PAVLOVA

Serves 10-12

  • 8 egg whites
  • pinch salt
  • 500g caster sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornflour
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract

FOR THE TOPPING

  • 2 punnets strawberries
  • 2 boxes blueberries
  • 300mls double cream
  • 300mls raspberry yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Line a baking sheet with parchment and draw a rough 25cm circle, using a springform of that size as a guide if you have one.

Whisk the egg whites and salt until satiny peaks form. Then beat in the sugar, tablespoons at a time, until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cornflour, vinegar and coconut extract, and fold in lightly. Mound on to the baking sheet within the circle. flatten the top and smooth the sides. Put in the oven immediately reduce the heat to 150C/Gas Mark 2 and cook for 11/4 -11/2 hours. It will have risen and cracked on the top and a little around the sides. If it is not dry and crispy on the outside give it a little longer. Then turn off the oven, open the door and leave to cool completely.

When you are ready to assemble the pavlova.  Invert the pavolva on to a plate and peel off the baking parchment and cover the marshmallowy top (ie. the inverted bottom) with the cream, yoghurt and mixed fruit.. If all is too crumbly, don’t bother.

Whip the cream until thickened but still soft and add the raspberry yoghurt, and pile on top of the meringue, spreading to the edges in a rough, swirly fashion. Cut the strawberries in half and arrange them on top of the cream and yoghurt mix and add the bluberries.

This recipe is from Feast by Nigella Lawson – I have changed the topping slightly as the original recipe included peaches, passionfruit and dried coconut for the topping.

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QUICHE LORRAINE

If you don’t have the time of feel confident in make pastry use readymade shortcust pastry this can be bought at most supermarkets.  If you are brave give it a go you might surprise yourself. 

Serves 6, Preparation: 30 minutes, Cooking: 11/2 hours

  • 200g piece speck/bacon, chopped
  • 80g (2/3 cup) grated gruyere
  • 3 eggs
  • 250mls (1 cup) milk
  • 330mls (11/3 cups) crème fraiche or pouring cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • Green salad and radishes, to serve

SHORTCRUST PASTRY

  • 225G (1/2 cups) plain flour
  • 110g butter, roughly chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten 

To make pastry, process flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Using a fork, whisk egg with 1 tablespoon iced water in a small bowl. With the motor running, add egg mixture to the food processor and process until mixture starts to form large clumps. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, then knead very briefly until dough comes together. Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for pastry to rest.

Preheat oven to 200C. Roll out dough on a floured sheet of baking paper to a 3mm-thick, 35cm round. Using a 33cm plate, trim pastry to a 33cm round.

Grease a 4.5cm deep, 25cm springform pan. Gently toll the pastry around the rolling pin, then roll it into the pan. Lightly press pastry into pan and, if necessary, trim the edge using a small knife.

Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with dried beans or rice. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the beans and paper. Brush pastry all over with egg yolk, then bake for a further 15 minutes or until light golden. Remove pastry from the oven and set aside to cool. Reduce oven to 170C.

Trim the rind from the speck/bacon, then cut into 5mm-thick slices, 2cm strips (lardons). Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add speck and cook, stirring, for 6 minutes or until light golden. Drain on paper towel.

Scatter speck over pastry shell, then scatter over gruyere cheese. Whisk eggs together in a large bowl, then add milk and crème fraiche or pouring cream and whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in chives. Pour mixture into pastry shell and bake for 45 minutes or until filling is set and light golden: it should still wobble slightly in the centre. If the filling has not set, return quiche to the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.

Slice into wedges and serve with green salad and radishes.

*Speck, available from selected delis and butchers, is German-style smoked bacon. Substitute good-quality smoked bacon. Gruyere is a firm yellow cow’s milk cheese that originates from Gruyeres in Switzerland. It’s available from supermarkets and delis. 

This recipe is from the Masterchef Magazine Australia – November 2010 issue.

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Quiche Lorraine Frittata

Serves 6 

  • 8 rashers bacon or 175g ham, chopped into pieces
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 8 eggs
  • 200mls milk
  • 50g strong cheddar, grated 

Heat the oven 180/160C. If you are using bacon, put bacon and onion into a large frying pan and cook over a gentle-medium heat. Stir occasionally until golden and beginning to crisp up. 

Line a roasting tin, about 20 x 28cm, with baking parchment – just scrunch it roughly at the corners. Whisk together the eggs and milk in a large jug or bowl, then stir in the bacon or ham, the cheddar and some seasoning. Pour into the tin, scatter with a bit of extra grated cheese, if you like, and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and set.

Serve with boiled new potatoes and a green salad 

This recipe is from BBC Good Food Magazine – August 2010

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Spinach, ricotta and bacon frittata

Serves 2  

  • 4 rashers bacon, rind removed and chopped
  • 100g baby English spinach leaves
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup cream
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 250g fresh ricotta

 Place a small non-stick frying pan with an ovenproof handle over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook for 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Add spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes or until wilted. Whisk together eggs, milk, cream, salt and pepper.  

Pour mixture into the pan and stir to evenly distribute the bacon and spinach through the eggs. Drop spoonfuls of ricotta over the frittata. Cook over low heat for 5-8 minutes or until the outside of the frittata is set. Place under a preheated grill and cook for 5-8 minutes or until frittata is golden and set.

 Serve with green salad.

This recipe is from No Time to Cook by Donna Hay

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