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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Salmon en Croute

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salm 21/12/2017

Oh the joys of being back at home for Christmas and having a kitchen again! This is a lovely comforting dinner but isn’t too heavy as light flaky salmon and fresh greens are used. It takes a bit of time to put together but the steps are easy then you just bung it in the oven when you’re ready and you’re left with a a dish that delivers on flavour and wow factor.

Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • 250g ready-made puff pastry

For the filling:

  • 450g piece of salmon fillet, skinned and any bones remove, cut into 3 even sized steaks (or 3 skinless and boneless salmon fillets weighing approximately 150g each)
  • 10g butter (a heaped teaspoon)
  • 150g spinach
  • 1 rounded tablespoon crème fraîche
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 dessertspoon lemon juice
  • Whole nutmeg, freshly grated
  • Salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten

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Method:

  1. Place the frying pan on a high heat then add the butter followed by the spinach leaves and wilt it for about 1 minute, stirring it around until it has collapsed then tip it into a sieve over a bowl and leave it to cool.
  2. Then use the back of a wooden spoon to press the wilted greens against the sieve and extract any juices. Now place it on a chopping board and press with several sheets of kitchen paper to extract any wetness that remains. Spoon it into a small bowl then stir in the crème fraîche, lemon juice, some freshly grated nutmeg and some seasoning.
  3. Sweat off the onion and garlic in a small saucepan then remove from the heat, add the spinach mix and stir to combine. Set aside.
  4. Divide the rested pastry into 3 even pieces then roll the first piece very thinly into a rectangle the same shape as the salmon fillet, roughly 21cm by 15cm (you will need to adjust the size of the pastry to according to the shape of the salmon fillet).
  5. Then place a piece of salmon on one half of each piece of pastry and spread a third of the spinach mix on top of each fillet.
  6. Using a pastry brush dampen the corners of the pastry with beaten egg then fold the pastry over the salmon to encase it and crimp the corners with a fork to seal.
  7. Put each parcel onto a parchment lined tray. Pop them in the fridge until you need them.
  8. If you are preparing them in advance cover them with a piece of cling film.
  9. When you are ready to bake them, pre-heat the oven to 220°C.
  10. Place the parcels on the baking sheet, with a liner, then make a few diagonal slashes in each one and brush each one with beaten egg. Bake for 20 minutes on a high shelf until crisp and golden.
  11. Serve with seasonal greens, new potatoes and parsley sauce.

Quick Chickpea & Spinach Curry

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chickpea 07/06/2017

Using canned and frozen veg, this easy vegetable curry recipe will be ready in as little as fifteen minutes. Aromatic, satisfying and healthy, this recipe still delivers when you’re short of time or just simply want a curry fix.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp of oil, vegetable or sunflower
  • 1 tsp small black mustard seeds, heaped
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 800g of tinned chickpeas, undrained weight
  • frozen chopped spinach, 8 blocks
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 ½ tsp each garam masala, ground coriander
  • chilli powder, to taste
  • 1 handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Method:

  1. Drain the chickpeas from the tins and set aside. Put the oil in a saucepan that will be large enough for all the chickpeas
  2. Put it on a medium heat until the oil is hot. Test this by adding a few mustard seeds. If they fizzle and pop the oil is ready.
  3. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and then quickly add the chopped onion. Fry for a couple of minutes then add the drained chickpeas.
  4. Add the salt, chilli powder, coriander and cumin powder and turmeric powder and stir through with a fork. Add the blocks of chopped spinach and a few tablespoons of water and then cover the pan and leave on a medium heat for about 15 minutes. The spinach should then be soft.
  5. Turn the heat off, stir the spinach through and then serve hot with rice or bread. I like pitta breads with yoghurt too.

Saag Paneer

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screenshot_2016-09-16-18-35-12-11 17/09/2016

Saag paneer is a classic Indian dish of cooked spinach studded with cubes of fried paneer cheese. Thickened with cream, yoghurt or coconut milk, it’s a hearty and filling vegetarian meal.

Serves 2 as a main -4 as a side

Ingredients:

  • 8oz fresh spinach leaves, washed
  • 1 inch piece ginger, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 7fl oz water
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds, ground
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 3 Tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 200g paneer, cut into cubes

Method:

  1. Cook the wet spinach leaves in a tightly covered pan for 5 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water and roughly chop the spinach. Add the chopped spinach, ginger, garlic and chilli with a little of the measured water into a bowl and mix. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan, add the bay leaves and pepper and fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the onion and fry for 6-8 minutes or until the onion has browned.
  3. Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the curry powder, methi seeds, salt and chilli powder. Cook for 2 minutes over a medium heat, stirring a couple of times. Add the Spinach mix and the remaining water. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the yoghurt a tablespoon at a time and simmer for 5 minutes more.
  5. Add the paneer to a frying pan over medium heat and cook until beginning to brown then turn the cheese cubes and repeat on all or most sides. Add the browned paneer to the sauce and stir to coat. Serve with chapatti or paratha to dunk into the lovely sauce.

To skin the tomatoes, score a cross in the tops, place in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave this for about 5 minutes, drain and the skins will be easy to peel away. You can leave them on but the sauce will have hard chewy strands in it and this step is definitely worthwhile for a velvet smooth sauce.

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

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Screenshot_2016-06-25-13-51-45-1[1] 25/06/2016

Here is a beautiful recipe for a homely, comforting dinner. It is a little hands on and requires a bit of effort and time in the kitchen but that is half of the fun and the resulting meal is satisfying and flavourful. If you are pushed for time or don’t have the patience then you can cut corners such as using ready made lasagne sheets or cannelloni tubes and buying ready made pasta sauce but you WILL be able to tell the difference.

The pasta in my recipe is so easy to make and the touch of wholemeal flour in the recipe not only adds texture and flavour but fibre too.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 200g ricotta
  • 300g fresh spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 500ml passata
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • Fresh basil, a handful, roughly chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A pinch of sugar

For the wholemeal cannelloni:

  • 50g wholemeal flour
  • 50g plain flour
  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch of salt
  • A dash of water, optional

For the béchamel sauce:

  • A knob of butter
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • Semi skimmed milk
  • Salt and ground white pepper
  • Nutmeg, finely grated
  • Parmesan, finely grated, for topping

Method:

For the spinach and ricotta filling:

  1. Bring a saucepan with 1cm of water to the boil. Add the fresh spinach and wilt it for 30 seconds. Drain all the water and, using a pair of rubber gloves, squeeze the excess water from the spinach.
  2. Roughly chop the spinach and add it to a mixing bowl along with the ricotta, garlic, seasoning and nutmeg. Set aside in the fridge.

For the tomato sauce:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Gently sweat the onions for 8-10 minutes until soft and lightly golden. Add the garlic and stir for another minute.
  2. Add the passata, sugar and seasoning and leave to simmer gently for 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally then add the basil before removing from the heat.
  3. Place half of the sauce in the base of a loaf tin or ovenproof dish and set the other half aside.

For the wholemeal cannelloni:

  1. Place the flours and salt into a mixing bowl. Add in the egg and combine with a fork until a dough is formed. You may need a little added water to help combine the dough.
  2. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Wrap in cling-film and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
  3. When ready, roll the dough into one long sheet. You can do this with a pasta machine if you have one but a rolling pin and good old fashioned elbow grease is just as good if you don’t. Roll the dough as thinly as you can.

For the béchamel:

  1. Heat the butter in a milk pan. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook the flour out over a low-medium heat for a couple of minutes then, away from the heat, add a splash of milk and whisk constantly until thickening. This will happen very quickly. Keep adding small amounts of milk and whisking to incorporate. Keep adding milk until you have a saucy consistency and place back over the gentle heat.
  2. Add the nutmeg and seasoning and keep stirring on the heat until the correct thickness is achieved.

To assemble:

  1. Cut the long sheet of pasta into 8-10 rectangles and fill each with a good dollop of the spinach, ricotta filling. Roll up the rectangles to encase the filling in a cylinder and place each cylinder on top of the tomato sauce in your loaf tin.
  2. Top with the remaining tomato sauce then drizzle the béchamel sauce over the top.
  3. Top with plenty of grated parmesan and bake in an oven preheated to 180C for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

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Lamb Saag

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Screenshot_2016-05-08-21-53-57-1[1] 08/05/2016

This is a proper tasty curry. It’s probably not the most authentic given the baking in the oven and the thickening of the sauce with cornflour but it is damn delicious and the oven spell tenderises the meat beautifully.

Lamb leg is an excellent choice for curry as it contains enough fat, which when slowly cooked becomes deliciously tender without being too unhealthy or gristly like some other cuts.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp garam masala
  • 1 Tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric
  • 5kg lamb leg, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 Tbsps ghee, butter or vegetable oil
  • 3 onions, finely chopped,
  • 6 cloves
  • 3 cardamon pods, split
  • 2 cinnamon sticks or cassia bark
  • 7 cloves garlic, grated
  • A knob of ginger, grated
  • 2 fresh green chillies, deseeded for a milder flavour and split lengthways
  • Cornflour roux (optional)
  • 250g baby spinach
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Place half of the garam masala, chilli powder and turmeric in a large bowl with a generous amount of salt and pepper and stir in the lamb chunks to coat. Set aside.
  2. Heat the butter or oil in a large oven proof casserole dish over a medium heat. Add the onions and stir regularly for about 10 minutes until meltingly soft and coloured.
  3. Add the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, garlic and ginger, increase the heat a little and fry for a further 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the remaining ground spices and the green chillies. Increase the heat to maximum and tip in the marinated meat, scraping in any spice left in the bowl. Fry and stir constantly. Pour in 500ml water, stirring as you add. Bring the liquid to the boil before covering and placing the curry in the oven pre-heated to 180C for 1-1 ½ hours until the lamb is meltingly tender.
  4. Add a little cornflour roux (2 tsp cornflour mixed with a little water) to the curry if a thicker consistency is desired. The curry will be quite thin at this point. Put the casserole dish on the hob and thicken the curry. Add the spinach and the curry is ready as soon as the spinach has wilted.

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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.