Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Kachapuri-style Bread

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kachapuri2 03/04/2019

This Georgian khachapuri-inspired spinach and cheese stuffed bread tastes amazing. This is not an authentic Georgian version but it definitely delivers flavour and comfort. You can make one large bread or two medium ones from the amount of dough.

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 330g flour (2 2/3 cups)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 egg, whisked

For the filling:

  • 50g spinach, chopped (1/4 cup packed)
  • 200g firm mozzarella, grated (1.5 cups)
  • 100g feta, crumbled (2/3 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 70g butter (1/3 cup)

Instructions:

To make the dough:

  1. First we’ll begin by adding the yeast to the warm water in a small bowl. Let it sit until creamy, about 7-10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, add the flour, salt and sugar. Make a well in the middle and add the wet ingredients: oil, yeast-water, milk and egg. The original recipe made double the amount, so here we only need half of the egg, so make sure not to add the entire egg in there.
  3. Starting from the middle of the bowl, first mix the wet ingredients and gradually mix in the flour, continuing until all the flour is mixed and you have a nice dough. It shouldn’t be too wet or too dry. After it is all incorporated, cover with cling film and let it rest until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours.
  4. Halfway through the rise, turn on the oven to the highest temperature. The oven needs to be hot, hot, hot. You can use a pizza stone or turn a baking sheet upside down in the lower half of your oven (but not at the bottom).
  5. When it has risen, separate the dough from the side of the bowl and add a handful of flour and knead the dough inside the bowl. It should be soft and pillowy. If the dough is too wet, continue adding flour.
  6. Form into a ball, remove from the bowl and set aside to rest for 10 minutes.

To make the filling:

  1. While the dough is resting, combine the shredded mozzarella and crumbled feta. Remove 1/4 of the mixture and place it in a separate bowl and set aside. This will go on top of the bread.
  2. In the larger bowl (with 3/4 of the cheese mixture), add one egg, 50 grams (1/4 cup) of butter, chopped spinach, and garlic and mix.

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Putting it all together:

  1. Separate the remaining egg, saving only the egg yolk (you can use the egg white for meringues or a healthier omelette). Whisk it briefly in a small bowl and set it aside. It will be used to glaze the dough.
  2. Place a large piece of baking paper on your counter and add some flour on top.
  3. Now that the dough has rested, stretch the dough in a nice round shape and place it on top of the baking paper. Add the spinach and cheese filling in the center of the dough.
  4. Fold up the edges around the filling and seal the dough. It should look like a ball. Now carefully flatten it by pushing down on the stuffed dough with your palms and finger tips. Make sure to create a lip or “ridge” around the edge of the dough, with a large “valley” in the middle where the cheese will sit.
  5. Add the cheese in this “valley” and then glaze the “ridge” with the egg yolk. This will give the cheese stuffed bread a nice golden color.
  6. The stuffed dough will be heavy. What I do is I slide the dough and baking paper on a sturdy cutting board, and then slide the baking paper and dough onto the pizza stone or upside-down baking sheet.
  7. After about 5-7 minutes in the oven, the dough will puff up beautifully. Bake until the bread has a deep golden brown color and the cheese is brown and bubbling, about 15 minutes in total.
  8. Remove carefully from oven by sliding the bread and baking paper on a cutting board. Take the remaining butter and slather it on the outside of the bread. You can slice immediately for the gooey cheese effect, or probably wait a few minutes so that you don’t burn yourself. Bon appetit!

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Palestinian Cheese Buns

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Palestinian cheese buns 15/05/2017

An authentic Palestinian bread from Jaffa that is served as a main meal along with a bowl of soup or a salad, this “Yafawi Sfeeha”, also known as “Milwayeh” which means twisted, is crispy yet fluffy and full of flavour.

The dough is a sort of un-yeasted bread dough that needs to be stretched out really thin, to the point where you can see through it, before adding the filling and rolling it up. The shaping technique takes a bit of practice to get right but you get the hang of it after you have done a couple.

The filling is traditionally meat based but I have chosen to make a cheese version using halloumi as that is what I had available. Feta would be great too.

Makes: 8

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 210g (1 + ¾ cups) plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tbsp sugar
  • 1½ tbsp powdered milk
  • 1½ tbsp vegetable oil
  • 130ml (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp) water
  • olive oil or ghee for shaping

Filling:

  • 250g (9 oz) halloumi cheese, grated (or feta, crumbled)
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • fresh ground black pepper

Palestinian cheese buns2

Method:

  1. Place the flour, salt, sugar, powdered milk and vegetable oil in a bowl and gradually add the water until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough. Turn out onto a work surface and knead for about 10 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough into 8 even pieces and shape into balls, place on a greased tray and cover with oiled clingfilm, leave to rest for at least a couple of hours and up to overnight.
  3. Once the dough has rested make the filling, simply mix together the grated cheese, beaten egg and chopped parsley in a bowl with some freshly ground black pepper. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  4. Grease a work surface and your hands well with olive oil or ghee; take one ball of dough and use your hands to gently spread it out on the oiled surface into a large, thin circle. You should be able to spread it out to about 25cm (10in) wide and it should be thin enough to see through.
  5. Fold one side of the circle over the middle, then the other, so that the dough is almost folded into thirds.
  6. Spread some of the filling along one edge of the dough, fold the closest side over the top of the filling then roll it up into a tight sausage; coil the sausage up in a spiral shape, place the bun on a baking tray.
  7. Re-grease the work surface and your hands and repeat with the remaining balls of dough.
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.

Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Dip

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17265144_10154996593121000_1847607797772112201_n 12/03/2017

Here you have a super speedy, easy and more importantly, delicious dip that can be spread on toast, be an accompanyment to a meal, eaten with nachos or provide a lovely filling for pitta breads.

I made my own pitta chips by baking some cut up pitta breads in the oven for a crunchy snack to take on the soft, salty feta and sweet peppers.

Ingredients:

  • 1 red pepper
  • 100g feta cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • balsamic vinegar, a splash

Method:

  1. On the oven hob, blister and burn the skin of the pepper completely. Turn with tongs to avoid burning yourself. Once the skin is completely black, place in a bowl and cover with cling film for 10 minutes to allow to steam.
  2. Once it is cool enough, scrape the black skin from the pepper. De-seed the pepper and very finely chop.
  3. Mix the pepper in a bowl with the crumbled feta, seasoning, oregano and a little balsamic vinegar.

Spinach & Feta Stuffed Chicken wrapped in Parma Ham

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IMG_20160406_183022[1] 08/04/2016

What’s not to like about that title? This isn’t really a recipe, more of a ‘what I had in the fridge for dinner’. It is very simple and you can swap out the fillings for whatever you have to hand. It doesn’t take too long to prepare and can even be done in advance if you’re organised. I didn’t make mine in advance :p

The spinach & feta combo is a bit of a favourite of mine at the moment. I eat it wrapped in filo parcels, spread over toasted pittas and stuffed into various meat and vegetables. It’s definitely worth buying a decent feta cheese with a nice tang. The saltiness goes really nicely with the silky wilted spinach.

For one

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1-2 slices parma ham
  • A generous handful of spinach
  • 15-20g feta cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Method:

  1. Score the chicken breast (but not all the way through) to open it out. Cover with cling film and gently bash with a rolling pin to open out further and tenderise.
  2. For the spinach and feta filling: boil 1cm of water in a pan and add the spinach until just wilted (20-30 seconds). Remove from the heat, drain and squeeze out the excess water with your hands. I find wearing rubber gloves helps for this bit.
  3. Roughly chop the wilted spinach and add to a bowl along with the crumbled feta, seasoning and nutmeg. Mix with a fork to combine.
  4. Stuff the mix into the chicken breast and roll the chicken up to enclose it. Wrap in parma ham to secure further and add more flavour.
  5. Rub the chicken breast with a tiny bit of oil and season. Place on a foil lined baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 30-35 minutes depending on the size of the chicken breast. Check that the juices run clear before serving.

I served my chicken with whole-wheat pasta tossed through some of the chicken juices and steamed tender stem broccoli.

Bacon, feta & leek filo pie

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IMG_20160216_000625[1] 19/02/2016

This Balkan classic makes an impressive centrepiece for any table – a golden spiral of crisp filo pastry, holding a rich filling of vegetables, feta and bacon. This pie recipe includes a guide on how to make filo pastry from scratch, but if short on time you can also use ready-made, rather than homemade filo pastry. One thing I would say is USE REAL BUTTER! It provides a rich crisp pastry with a beautiful taste.

All pie is good in my book, but this pie is extra special. Not only is it the shape of a Cumberland sausage, but it also boasts numerous layers of homemade filo pastry. Yes, that’s right, HOMEMADE filo pastry.

You would be forgiven for thinking life’s too short for such painstaking tasks, but bear with me. I’ll admit, it would probably be fair to say you have too much time on your hands if you can afford to make homemade filo a weekly staple, but it’s sometimes nice to spend longer than 20 minutes knocking up something quickly in the kitchen. It can be therapeutic to take your time. In fact, it’s the perfect activity to take on while indulging in guilty pleasures like watching telly or singing along to your favourite LP in the daytime. And the flavour really is worth the effort. Homemade filo is never going to be quite as thin as shop bought, but the difference in texture from a more rustic roll feels right for this roly-poly pie.

You can, of course, buy ready-made filo, if you must, but I think you ought to try making it yourself at least once first. As for the filling, you can sing your own tune. It’s delicious with a simple concoction of sautéed onion, garlic and spinach with a few lumps of feta crumbled in for good measure. Minced lamb or pork with cabbage makes for a filling and robust pie and you can even add potatoes or rice for extra and economical bulk. As far as I’m concerned, you can never go wrong with bacon and leeks as a base and I love to serve it with a simple salad. It’s best to leave the pie for 15–20 minutes after it’s come out of the oven, as the flavours are best when it’s not piping hot.

Filo pastry:

  • 1kg flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400ml of water
  • 200ml of butter, melted

Pie filling:

  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 bacon rashers, smoked, chopped
  • 200g of feta, crumbled
  • 1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 small handful of mint, finely chopped
  • 1 dash of oil, for frying
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper

Method:

  1. To begin, sift the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the vinegar, salt, oil and half of the water and mix together with a fork until it starts to come together. Add as much of the remaining water as you need to make a dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface
  2. Knead for a few minutes until you have a soft, but not sticky dough. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for at least 20 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, make the filling. In a pan over a medium heat, sweat the onion, leeks, garlic and bacon in a little oil (or butter) until soft and slightly golden. Stir in the feta and parsley and season generously with pepper. There is already plenty of salt from the feta and bacon. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool.
  4. Use your hands to roll the dough into a sausage and cut into 10 pieces. Take a piece of dough and cover the remaining 9 pieces with cling film to prevent them from drying out.
  5. Roll the dough as thinly as you possibly can into a large rectangular shape, then gently stretch it further using your hands. Ideally the dough should be thin enough to be able to see your hand through it.
  6. Once the dough is as thin as you can make it, brush the filo sheet with melted butter/oil and cover with cling film. Roll out the next piece in the same way, remove the cling film from the first sheet and place the second over the top.
  7. Brush liberally with more melted butter and place the sheet of cling film back on. Continue until all the dough has been rolled and brushed with melted butter, giving you 10 layers.
  8. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  9. Place the layered filo in front of you, horizontally, and trim off the edges of the pastry to make a neat rectangle. Spoon the filling into a line a few inches in from the edge of the filo closest to you. Now for the fun bit!
  10. Roll the whole thing up tightly into a long sausage and, with the seam underneath, coil the sausage into a tight ring. Butter a round ovenproof dish, big enough for the pie to snugly fit into the dish. Use a couple of fish slices, or any other long flat implement to hand, to carefully transfer the pie to the dish.
  11. Brush the top of the pie with more melted butter and sprinkle over a little salt and pepper. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  12. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C and continue to bake for another 20 minutes. Leave to cool for 15–20 minutes before carefully transferring the pie to a serving plate. Slice into wedges to serve.

IMG_20160216_001218[1] IMG_20160215_235938[1]