As I waddle around the block, I can barely believe how slow I am. It’s like each injury break adds a minute to my per kilometre time. Melbourne is now just a month away and while I’m getting the training runs in, I fear/know that I’ll be woefully underdone come race day. My plan is to hook up with the slowest pace group and try to keep up.
What probably isn’t helping is the food experimentation I’m doing at the moment. All I want to do is cook – then, of course, eat. When I’m not cooking, I’m thinking about what I can cook next – these long slow runs give me loads of time to think about what I can make next.
It’s been a pastry week for me – which is rare, I’m generally a big avoider of the butter and flour mixture. I blame the lovely Helen at A Taste of Greece, the café I spoke about a few posts back. I popped in for lunch again and decided to give her spanakopita a try. So good were they, I gave two of them a try. Helen’s point of difference is using puff rather than filo pastry.
I had a party to go to so thought I’d give them a whirl as my take along plate. While I could have used store bought pastry, it’s been a while since I’ve made rough puff. (I used my recipe for cheese straws, omitting the cheese.)
The recipe makes enough for two batches of pastry so I kept the leftover to make more the next day. It can also be frozen – although, I’d be more inclined to make the spanakopita up and freeze them uncooked. Then cook them straight from frozen – handy to have in the freezer for weekend lunches.
Some spanakopita recipes don’t contain eggs in the mixture – I prefer to use egg as it makes the cooked filling a little more moist.
(to make about 14 spanakopita, with mixture left for another batch)
1 quantity rough puff pastry, or store bought pastry (you’ll need 2 batches to use all mixture up)
500gm frozen spinach (I use Talleys brand), defrosted – put it in your fridge overnight
Splash olive oil
1 red or brown oven, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Nutmeg – either a good grate or 1 tsp of ground nutmeg
Handful of mint and parsley, finely chopped
200gm feta, crumbled
To make them
Put the spinach into a colander and press liquid out with a fork.
Heat oil in a fry pan and sweat onion. After five minutes, add the drained spinanch. Cook for a few minutes before adding the garlic. Cook for another few minutes, until mixture is reasonably, but not overly dry.
Put mixture into a bowl and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Add seasonings, herbs and feta to spinach mixture. Mix through with a spoon or fork.
Lightly beat two eggs together with a fork, then work it through the combined mixture. You may need an extra egg – the mixture should not be super loose, but not be dry either.
Heat oven to 200C.
Roll the pastry out and cut rectangles – about 9x12cm (or whatever size you like, but make them uniform) . Put a tablespoon or so of mixture towards the bottom of each piece of pastry.
If you have scraps of pastry left you can re-roll it by putting the pieces on top of each other and rolling out again – this maintains the layers.
Using a pastry brush dipped in water, brush around the edge of each square. Turn over the pastry and use your fingers or a fork to stick the pastry down, encasing the filling.
Put each spanakopita on a tray lined with baking paper. Brush the top of each with a beaten egg. Score the top with a sharp knife.
Bake for about 20 minutes until pastry has puffed and is golden.
These are far too good not to make time and time again. You could also make one large pie (if doing so, add an extra egg to the mixture).
On the subject of large pies, my second pastry experience of the week was the Puff and Choux class at Crave Cooking School through Wellington Foodies. Butter, butter and more butter. What a result – almost perfect layered pastry, which we then turned in to a decadently rich pie. A moment on the lips and all that – but so worth while. And I guess I am running it off, albeit ridiculously slowly.