Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Greek Feta & Spinach Pie

Following on from my Raspberry Cheesecake the other week, made with delicious, in-season raspberries, I thought I'd have a go at baking something else using seasonal produce. 

I often add frozen spinach to curries and things but as spinach is only in season for a few more weeks in the UK, I decided to find a recipe calling for it in its fresh form.  I found this recipe for a Feta and Spinach Greek Pie and gave it a go.  This dish is similar to traditional Spanakopita which, as a veggie, has been a staple dish for me on many Greek island holidays over the years!

It's really easy and the results far exceed the amount of effort put in.  I don't know about you, but that is the perfect kind of baking as far as I'm concerned!  I followed the original recipe fairly closely but adapted it a bit according to the quantities of the ingredients I had in.  

Recipe (serves 4)

200g bag fresh spinach leaves
Half a 270g jar of sundried tomatoes in oil*
100g feta cheese, crumbled
2 medium free-range eggs
Approx. 135g filo pastry sheets

*I used 80g sundried tomatoes (drained weight) but you can add more if you prefer

Loose-bottom cake or flan tin, anything from 20-24cm diameter will work fine

Pre-heat oven to 160C/Gas Mark 4.

1. Put the spinach into a large pan with a couple of tablespoons of water, then cook over a low heat until just wilted. Drain well in a sieve, squeezing excess water out with kitchen towel. Drain the sundried tomatoes, retaining the oil, and roughly chop.  Mix the tomatoes, spinach, eggs and feta together in a bowl. 

2. Carefully unroll the filo pastry. Take a sheet of pastry and brush with one teaspoonful of the sundried tomato oil. Drape oil-side down in the cake tin so that some of the pastry hangs over the sides of the tin. Brush another teaspoonful of oil on another piece of pastry and place in the tin, just a little further round. Keep placing the pastry pieces in the tin until you have roughly three layers.  

3. Pour the filling into the centre, then spread out to ensure an even filling.  Pull the sides of pastry over the filling, scrunch up and make sure the filling is covered. Brush with a little more of the tomato oil if needed.

4. Cook for approx 30 mins until the pastry is crisp and golden brown. 

It turned out much better than I expected, so I think I will stick to the same quantities next time.  I was worried you wouldn't be able to taste the cheese as it didn't look much going into the mixture but considering there's only 25g of feta per serving, it tastes really rich.   All in all, the perfect quick summer meal when served warm with a baby leaf salad!

It would be really easy to adapt to your personal taste and to include whatever you happened to have in.  It's pretty low on calories and fat too, not that you'd know from eating it as it's very tasty and substantial.  I've still got half a pack of pastry in and half the sundried tomatoes so I think I'll be making it again before the end of the week!


Thursday, 14 June 2012

Easy Baked Raspberry Cheesecake

Despite being a huge cheesecake fan, I'd never made a baked one before, only the kind that you leave in the fridge to set and requires no cooking.  For a Jubilee barbecue last week, I thought I'd have a go at using some of the lovely, in-season raspberries I was seeing everywhere.  I planned on using ricotta but had to abandon this idea when I couldn't find a vegetarian version in the supermarkets, booooooo!

I used this cream cheese based recipe from the BBC instead but changed it a bit as I wanted a thicker base, more coulis and more fruit! Here's my version of the recipe:

Baked Raspberry Cheesecake

12 digestive biscuits
75g butter
600g cream cheese
2tbsp plain flour
175g caster sugar
2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
150ml soured cream
500g raspberries
2tbsp icing sugar

20cm springform tin

1. Heat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.
2. Crush the biscuits anyway you please - I use a deep mixing bowl and the end of a rolling pin - until you have fine crumbs.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat then stir in the biscuit crumbs
4. Press the base mixture into the tin.  Bake for 5 minutes then leave to cool.
5. Beat the cream cheese, flour, caster sugar, eggs, egg yolk and cream until light and fluffy. Stir in 200g of raspberries and pour onto the base.  Bake for 40 minutes until set but still slightly wobbly in centre.  Leave to cool.
6. Place 100g of raspberries into a pan with the icing sugar and gently heat until they begin to break down and the juices flow. Mash them with a fork and push the mixture through a sieve into a bowl or jug, discarding the seeds.
7. When the cheesecake is cool, decorate with the remaining 200g of raspberries, then pour over the raspberry coulis.

It turned out bloody delicious, albeit a little cracked which I believe can be caused by a few different things, such as abrupt changes in temperature.  It was no problem as I just used strategic fruit placement to cover the cracks....

The only thing I would change next time is to use even more fruit!  I'd like to add a few more to the mixture and have a few more on top.  The tartness of the fresh raspberries cuts through the creaminess of the cheesecake perfectly.

Raspberries are in season in the UK from now until September so make the most of them while they're at their best (and cheapest!).