Thursday, 24 October 2019

Beef Stamna

This is a fantastic slow cooked Greek beef stew which I came across during my couple of seasons in Corfu some decade ago and is so hearty and comforting as a dish - it is like a hug in a bowl. 

I've played around with this quite a bit as there aren't a mass of recipes available online for it - the basis comes from this Mamtas Kitchen recipe but I have tinkered with it quite a bit - depending on my family's tastes and preferences, what I've had in stock and most importantly, how I remember it from Corfu myself.

It can also be made with lamb if you prefer, but I've only ever had it with beef and don't be alarmed by the large amount of cinnamon - by the time it has cooked out, it's just really aromatic and flavoursome. I prefer the consistency using white wine, rather than red too, but feel free to experiment. I also transfer the slow cooker dish to the oven to melt the cheese - and last week we had the Stamna a day after cooking - and it seemed even better than normal, so is a great batch cook idea. 

You can also cook this in an ordinary casserole dish in the oven at a very low heat of around 140 degrees for several hours.

Traditionally you would find this dish served individually in earthenware dishes which remain very hot - I always make a family sized dish, and dish up individually into cold bowls - which helps prevent burning little ones' mouths.

The below comfortably serves a family of four with some Dirty Greek Fries and crusty bread on the side. I cook in my slow cooker all day and the end result is a rich, glossy sauce and melt-in-the-mouth meat that falls apart at the touch of the fork. In a word, delicious.

Beef Stamna

Here's how:
  • 500g beef shin (you could also use braising steak, or stewing steak)
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • Large pinch of salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 large white onion
  • 3 large carrots
  • 4 large potatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 jar passata
  • 4 heaped tsp cinnamon
  • 2 heaped tsp paprika
  • 1/4 freshly ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of white sugar
  • 2 sprigs Rosemary
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 glass dry white wine
  • 500ml beef stock (I use a Knorr Beef Stock Pot)
  • Large handful grated hard cheese (Cheddar, Grana Padana, or even a Red Leicester works here)
Firstly cut the meat up into decent sized chunks and set aside. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil into a pan and place onto a medium heat.

Now place the plain flour into a bowl and season very generously with black pepper and a pinch of salt. Stir a little and then place the beef pieces into the flour and move around to ensure they get a good coating of flour - this will ensure the sauce thickens nicely later on.

Now add the cinnamon to the pan and mix the beef around so it gets a good coating. Allow to cook for a minute or so.

Place the beef into the now hot pan and allow to just brown off a little on each side, then place into your slow cooker (or casserole dish). 

Now pour the white wine into the still hot pan and allow to de-glaze the pan of any excess flavours and after a minute or so pour everything into the dish.

Next prepare the vegetables - peel and dice the onion, mince the garlic and add to the dish.

Peel the carrots into thick slices and place into the dish. 

Peel the potatoes and cut into cubes; rinse them off a little, then place into the dish.

Add the remaining spices (paprika and nutmeg), the pinch of sugar, the passata, Rosemary and the made up stock. Now season one more time, mix together, pop the lid on and leave to cook for 6-8 hours on the slowest cooker method - or if using the higher/speedier mode then for 3-4 hours.

Don't touch the lid for the first two hours, but after that give it a stir every hour and watch it thicken, and fill your home with the most delicious aromas.

Once getting ready to serve pop the oven on high - grate the cheese up, and place a little mounds in various spots across the cooked Stamna dish and place the interior part of the dish into the heated oven and once the cheese the melted, you are ready to dish up. Enjoy!

If, like me, you love a hearty Greek dish in the colder autumn and winter months here are a few more you may enjoy:

Monday, 21 October 2019

Top 10 Foodie Must-Do's in Cornwall

We recently visited Cornwall for the second time in a couple of years and enjoyed a fantastic family holiday filled with plenty of delicious offerings.

With x4 under 5's in our number, my sister-in-law and I actually did a lot of the catering - particularly breakfast and a few dinners too, as well as a mean set of packed lunches, but we did find the time to enjoy some really tasty treats out and here is my selection of the top ten must do foodie experiences whilst staying in Cornwall.

1. Crab Sandwiches

Crab Sandwiches overlooking Port Isaac

A crab sandwich with just a hint of mayonnaise a squeeze of lemon and plenty of seasoning is a real thing of beauty when the crab itself is fresh, sweet, juicy and delicious. 

You could get a fancy pants one in any given restaurant around Cornwall, as they appear on many a menu, but you would do just as well in a simple sandwich shop such as Fresh from The Sea in Port Isaac and then if you can find an idyllic spot like the below picnic bench overlooking the view you’ll be hard pushed to beat that food memory.

2. Cream Teas

Cream Teas at The Harbour Hotel, Padstow

The Cornish way of serving a cream tea is always jam first, and then cream on freshly baked fruit or plain scones; and you’ll find these served in bakeries, cafes, restaurants and hotels all over Cornwall - it is after all a speciality. 

If you are staying somewhere and self catering a visit to a bakery such as The Chough Bakery in Padstow will equip you with all you need to prepare them at your designated holiday home - Roddas Cream is mandatory here and they do travel well - last time I brought more than a dozen home for my work team. 

But it is a real treat to enjoy a pot of hot tea and a selection of scones out somewhere nice - The Harbour Hotel in Padstow is a great venue. It offers scenic views over Padstow harbour and if you're lucky to visit on a bright day, those views are exceptional. My sister-in-law and I actually found it a welcome haven during a rainy storm. The scones were fresh and delicious, the staff friendly and the decor modern. Best of both worlds.

I'm also told the cream tea at The Scarlet is exceptional - but sadly we haven't made it there yet - next time.

3. Fish and Chips
Fish and Chips from Stein's Fish and Chips, Padstow

It would be a travesty to visit any seaside hamlet for a length of time and not enjoy fresh fish and chips, and in Cornwall you are spoilt for choice. 

Whilst this is certainly not an ad for Rick Stein, Stein's Fish and Chips at Padstow harbour is a fantastic place to start and you’ll be hard-pushed to find fresher, flakier cod (if that is your fish of choice) with a perfectly crisp batter and the chips are a joy too - crisp on the outside, with fluffy insides. They do a good selection for children too with goujons and smaller cod bites available - these went down amongst our four under 5's.. 

It even travels well as we bought it back to our holiday home in St. Merryn a ten minute drive away.

4. Ice Cream

Me and Bea enjoying the Reeves ice cream at Port Isaac
Driving around Cornwall you’ll be amazed at the number of cows grazing in fields so it isn’t really any wonder that Cornwall is home to some great ice cream farms. We visited Callestick Farm in Truro and can vouch for their rum and raisin, caramel, strawberry and lemon ice creams with passion. The farm also has a pretend cow where the children can learn how to ‘milk’ which provided ample fun for my two, as well as an adventure playground and several farm animals so is well worth a stop. 

We also tried several Roskilly’s ice creams during our stay, although sadly we didn’t make it to the farm in Helston - it is on our list for next time. Their vanilla ice cream is incredible - super creamy, strong with vanilla and just delicious.

Special mention to the super quaint three wheeler ice cream cart, Reeves, at Port Isaac too - Beatrice and I can vouch for their mint chocolate chip and strawberry flavours..

5. The Mariners

Meeting Mr Paul Ainsworth at The Mariners

Beef Burger at The Mariners, Rock

Haddock and Chips at The Mariners, Rock

Whitebait at The Mariners, Rock

Children's Sausage and Mash at The Mariners, Rock

We had the good fortune of visiting Rock - a short boat taxi of £4 per adult from Padstow on the very day that Paul Ainsworth’s latest Cornwall venture, The Mariners, opened; and we couldn’t resist an impromptu lunch. 

We had the luck of Chef being in the kitchen too, and being the fan that I am I couldn’t resist a sneaky selfie with him even though I was a little star-struck. .

Regarding the food, what you will find here, are absolute pub classics, just executed incredibly well. My sister-in-law enjoyed a delightful Ploughman's, I a juicy beef burger, with crispy bacon, cheese and all of the trimmings, served in a toasted brioche bun and with addictive thin and delicious French fries. Glen and my brother-in-law had the fish and chips, haddock this time, and Paul declared it 'the best fish and chips I've ever had' - praise indeed. The children devoured sausage and mash - which arrived so appetising, that I almost regretted my own choice. We also enjoyed an appetiser or salty, flavoursome fried whitebait which were eaten in moments by our table.

Beautifully adorned with a splendid dark wood and well stocked bar; with well informed, polite staff, Mariners is very reasonably priced for the quality of food on offer and well worth a visit to the Rock. If and when we return - we will undoubtedly be trying to book for Sunday lunch.

6. The Cornish Arms

Goan Cod Curry at The Cornish Arms, St Merryn
Children's Ham, Egg and Chips at The Cornish Arms, St Merryn
Vanilla Panna Cotta with Stewed Rhubarb

The Cornish Arms is a long-standing favourite with tourists and locals alike and is another Rick Stein venue. It is casual inside and you do get the occasional dog in the restaurant so be warned if like me, you're not very dog friendly. 
There is also a beautiful garden area and this backs onto a field full of sheep which is great when you have children with you like we did for keeping them entertained.

One again, you will find pub classics on the menu at The Cornish Arms - done really well. Ham, egg and chips, scampi, hearty pies with mash potato but alongside the well executed classics you’ll also find inspiring little dishes such as my Goan Cod Curry which was delicately spiced but packed a punch and was served with rice and roti and went down a treat. We made it to pudding and
 mine was to die for. A sweet vanilla panna cotta with the perfect wobble and served with my favourite fruit, rhubarb stewed and delicious with just the perfect amount of tart. Fantastic.

7. Fudge

Roly's Fudge Pantry, Padstow

Roly's Fudge Pantry, Padstow

My brother-in-law and I were probably the worst instigators of the fudge buying during our week-long stay, both guilty of a sweet tooth and our usual place of purchase was Roly’s Fudge Pantry in Padstow. 

Their sea salt fudge and vanilla fudge is exceptional and the great thing at Roly’s is you fan see them actually preparing the fudge on site from the window and when in-store which intrigued my eldest daughter no end. We had to bring some home as gifts and we enjoyed our own haul on the 5 hour car journey home.

8. Cook with local seafood

My Seafood Spaghetti with Saffron and Chilli

In any good fishing or seaside town, there is always good quality, fresh seafood to be found and if you enjoy cooking as I do, or if your budget doesn't quite stretch to eating out every lunch and dinner - then it is a great opportunity to experiment with the local produce.

There are tons of simple enough dishes you could do at home - pan fried mackerel perhaps, sardines cooked in a little garlic butter and coated in parsley and sea salt, or perhaps a seafood supper of fresh, cold seafood with bread and butter - lovely.

I cooked one of my favourite dishes for the family - my Seafood Spaghetti with Saffron and Chilli with increased quantities, utilising fresh and juicy prawns, squid and mussels all purchased locally to where we were staying just outside of Padstow. 

9. Rick Stein's Cafe Breakfast

Avocado on Toast at Rick Stein's Cafe, Padstow

Chocolate Waffle at Rick Stein's Cafe, Padstow

Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Egg at Rick Stein's Cafe, Padstow

Cornwall is a place where a lot of exploring, often on foot is necessary and so a good, hearty breakfast is advisable. Most days, my sister-in-law and I shared breakfast responsibilities at our glorious holiday home (Blue Seas Container - St Merryn). But we decided to have one day where we had a treat breakfast for us both to enjoy and our venue of choice was Rick Stein's Cafe - in Middle Street, Padstow. 

They have a plentiful menu including a full Cornish breakfast, egg's Benedict and an array of delightful pastries to name a few. I enjoyed avocado on toast which was sublime, my sister-in-law the eggs with smoked salmon which she enjoyed immensely and Bridget had a real treat breakfast a waffle topped with rich chocolate sauce, nuts and marshmallows. A welcome treat and definitely worth a visit.

10. Picnics on the beach

Easy Sausage Rolls for Beach Picnics

Frankly my summer childhood memories are mostly of beach days either here in the UK, or abroad and they inevitably, always involve a picnic of sorts. I'm trying to ensure this tradition continues into the next generation. There is something just wonderful about picnics over the sand with the sound of the sea as a back drop. 

We mostly packed arrays of sandwiches (crab of course) and a few other fillings, as well as sausage rolls, salads and plenty of snack items for the children. 

Holidays are always expensive - but my breakfasting at our holiday home and packing up picnics for our beach days, we saved a few pennies for nicer meals out.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Shakshuka - Spicy Tomato and Pepper Baked Eggs

This spicy tomato and pepper baked egg dish - originating from North Africa, is a winner for any weekend brunch or leisurely breakfast. It packs a punch and whilst this is for one or two people, you can always up the ingredients quantities to make it go further.

You can also throw the dish into the oven once the sauce is complete, and you've cracked the eggs in if you prefer, but it only takes minutes on the hob too.

Serve it with toasted, buttered bread and a spoonful of natural yoghurt. 

Shakshuka - Spicy Tomato and Pepper Baked Eggs

Here's how:
x4 tomatoes or x1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 red chilli
1 pepper (I used green but any colour is fine)
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried cumin 
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 eggs
30g feta cheese
Handful fresh parsley
Black Pepper
1 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 tsp olive oil

Firstly place the olive oil into a frying pan or ovenproof pan and place on a low heat.

Peel and dice the onion, mince the garlic and finely chop the chilli. Slice the pepper and add all of this to the pan and increase the heat slightly.

Whilst that is cooking down, chop the tomatoes (if you are using fresh ones) or open the tin. 

Once the peppers, onion, chilli and garlic have begun to soften, add the tablespoon of tomato puree and the caraway seeds, paprika, dried chilli flakes and cumin and mix. 

Allow this to cook down for a few minutes and then add the tomatoes and about 3 tbsp water. Season generously with black pepper and a pinch of salt and mix. 

Allow this to cook for at least five minutes. 

In the meantime, crumble the feta and roughly chop the parsley and set aside for garnish.

By now the tomato and pepper sauce should be bubbling away, if you're satisfied with the consistency, make a couple of wells or 'holes' in the sauce, so the egg can be cracked directly onto the heat of the pan and do just that. 

Now scatter the feta all around the dish to almost melt whilst the eggs cook. Also directly season the egg to your own liking. 

At the same time, pop your bread into the toaster and butter. 

The egg should only take 1-2 minutes to cook through - you ideally want the white cooked through, with a still-runny yolk. 

Once ready, I always serve at the table on a wooden board in the original cooking dish and just scatter over the parsley leaves. Add the tablespoon of natural yoghurt and serve. Enjoy!

Friday, 2 August 2019

Triple Chocolate Cookie Brownies

I made these yesterday for the end of the dance term for a tasty teacher gift and it's the first time I've made them in a while. This recipe works with any chocolate-based biscuit - I've used Bourbon's before, or even chocolate chip cookies but we love the look and taste with these Oreo style cookies - (although I actually bought the Neo biscuits, which are a cheaper copy from Lidl).

They are super rich and the extra chocolate chunks plus the cookies mean these are a real squishy, fudgy treat - delicious.

Triple Chocolate Cookie Brownies

Here's how:

  • 200g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
  • 185 salted butter at room temperature
  • 80g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 275g caster sugar
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 1 pack Oreo or Neo (or alternative) cookies

Firstly pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees, fill and boil the kettle and then grease and line a baking tin with greaseproof paper. 

Using the just-boiled water, place into a small saucepan and in a bowl that rests on top of the saucepan, add the butter and the dark chocolate, broken into small pieces. Allow this to gently melt until it is a liquid lava of chocolate and then remove the bowl from the heat and allow to cool whilst you get everything else prepared. 

Chop the chocolate into small chunks and set aside. Also break about half of the cookies up into small pieces either by hand or by chopping and also leave to the side for the moment.

In a small bowl sift in the plain flour and cocoa powder. 

In a mixing bowl add the caster sugar and eggs and begin to whisk. This  is the most laborious part of the process - you need to work this quite hard to get as many bubbles in there as possible to allow the brownies to rise up. The final mixture should be light and fluffy and full of bubbles - do at least six minutes of whisking if doing by hand, and of course, take breaks if you need to.

Once you are satisfied, remove the whisk and grab a wooden spoon; now gently pour in the melted chocolate and butter into the bowl, and slowly fold in the mixture - be as gentle as you can to try and not whack all of the air out of the batter. 

Once this is combined, repeat the process with the flour and cocoa - use the figure of eight folding method if you can.

Finally add the chopped pieces of chocolate to the batter and mix to distribute well.

Now pour in half of the brownie batter into the baking tin. Now carefully scatter or place in the broken pieces of biscuits into the batter so they are evenly distributed. 

Triple Chocolate Cookie Brownies

Pour the remaining half of the batter over the biscuits so they are completely covered.

Finally take the remaining, whole Oreo/Neo biscuits and place neatly across the batter just on top - I try to keep one for each piece or portion of brownie. 

Once complete, place into the oven and bake for exactly 28 minutes - this timing works every time in my oven, which can be quite fast compared - so if you're unsure, use the skewer method to see if it comes out dry - if so it's done, if not return to the oven for a few more minutes, then test again.

When you remove from the oven give the tin a bang - this will make it easier to extract the brownies. 

Triple Chocolate Cookie Brownies

Leave to cool for as long as possible - it can be difficult when the kitchen is filled with an intoxicating chocolate aroma, but you'll thank me for it, when you're able to cut into neat squares. If you can't wait (we usually can't either) then be prepared for slightly more rustic brownies, with scruffier edges. Either way it won't impair the taste - enjoy!.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Top 10 Family Picnic Food Ideas

The summer holidays are finally here and with that six weeks, for most parents this can mean a ton of family days out, many of which are expensive and include a meal out. 

I say pack up a mean picnic so the kids won't be bored by the choices, you can save the extra pennies for another day or for all important ice creams and you can avoid any teen, tween or toddler drama in restaurants too. Win, win. 

Here are my top ten picnic food items that we love to bring on our days out - mostly savoury with a couple of sweet treats creeping in for good measure.

1. Sausage Rolls
These have become my go-to for bringing to parties, festive gatherings and of course summer picnics. All you need is puff pastry, sausage meat (you can squeeze the meat out of good quality sausages if sausage meat is hard to source), a little English mustard and an egg. The instructions are here

Top 10 Family Picnic Food Ideas - Sausage Rolls

2. Ham, cream cheese and salad roll ups

You can use any sliced meat and whichever veggies you prefer; we always go for sliced deli ham or home cooked gammon with carrot and cucumber matchsticks. Simply spread a tortilla wrap all over with the cream cheese, place the ham over the top, covering most, and then place the matchstick vegetables on top. Roll up tightly, wrap in cling film and place into the fridge until you’re ready to pack up your picnic. You can slice into three pieces to make little sushi sized pieces.

Top 10 Family Picnic Food Ideas - Ham, Cream Cheese & Salad Roll Ups

3. Tuna Salad Pitta Pockets

These are ridiculously easy to make and you can add whichever salad items your little ones enjoy – we like cucumber, carrot, red pepper and radish with sweetcorn thrown in with the tuna and a little mayonnaise. Simply toast the pittas, allow them to cool, cut in half and gently help to make a hollow, then fill with all of the above and pop into a plastic container for your picnic.

Top 10 Family Food Picnic Food Ideas - Tuna Salad Pitta Pockets

4. Spanakopita

This Greek filo pie is filled with a delicious combination of spinach and cheeses, namely feta and is super simple to make on the morning of a picnic or the night before. Spanakopita keeps well in the fridge and is nice hot or cold. I make one pie and cut into portions but you could make small individual pies too if you preferred. Here’s the instructions.

Top 10 Family Picnic Food Ideas - Spanakopita - Greek Cheese & Spinach Pie

5. Pesto Pasta Salad

My walnut pesto is always made in abundance over the summer months as me and the girls absolutely love it but you can make up this pasta salad with shop bought if you prefer.

You need about 250g of your children's favourite pasta shapes -  fusilli,conchiglie or farfalle all work well. Once the pasta is cooked add a heaped tablespoon of the pesto of your preference - giving a good stir to ensure all of the pasta gets a good coat, and the rest is down to you - it all depends on which salad items you and your family enjoy. I've made a simple one here with just some sweetcorn, red pepper and cucumber as this combination is always well received - but you could add spring onions, cherry tomatoes and even some sliced chopped ham or chicken if you wish. 

Top 10 Family Picnic Food Ideas - Pesto Pasta Salad

6. Chicken Souvlaki Skewers

My love for both Greek food in general and souvlaki knows no bounds, and these overnight marinated chicken skewers are absolutely ideal for picnics as they travel well, are good finger food and they’re just as tasty cold as they are straight off the BBQ or grill. Here is the recipe.
Top 10 Family Picnic Food Ideas - Chicken Souvlaki

7. Cheese Muffins

These are a lovely little savoury muffin, heavy with tangy Cheddar and whatever other cheeses you happen to have lurking in the fridge. They’re really easy to make and a great finger food too. Here’s how.

Top 10 Family Picnic Food Ideas - Cheese Muffins

8. Spiced Chicken Goujons

Another party favourite - I always make up a double portion when I prepare these, as they are great snacks to have in the fridge and are adored by children and adults alike. They transport well and are nice cold too so work well for picnics and the recipe is here.
Top 10 Family Picnic Food Ideas - Spiced Chicken Goujons

9. Fruit Kebabs

These are favourite summertime snack at our house, let alone out on picnics. The preference is to serve on skewers which the girls seem to love, preferably with some kind of dipping sauce such as a chocolate or caramel. You can use whichever soft fruit you prefer – strawberries, pineapple, mango, peach, blueberries, raspberries and watermelon all work well and go down a treat.

Top 10 Family Picnic Food Ideas - Fruit Kebabs

10. Blueberry & Lemon Curd Muffins

A picnic is all about having fun and sweet food and children do go hand in hand where fun is concerned – as long as it’s all in moderation, a sweet treat is absolutely fine in my eyes. The recipe for these two types of muffins can be found here. 

Top 10 Family Picnic Food Ideas - Lemon Curd & Blueberry Muffins

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Spanakopita - Greek Cheese & Spinach Pie

This is probably one of the most comfortingly familiar dishes for on the go that immediately transports me to Corfu and two long, hot summers spent a few years back now. You’ll be hard pushed to find a bakery, patisserie or even supermarket on the Greek islands that doesn’t sell a version of the ‘cheese pie’.

I’ve played around with this dish a LOT over the years, and whilst you can add things like sautéed onions and garlic into the cheesy mix, as well as herbs like dill, mint or parsley, this simplified version below is the one that I prefer and that goes down well with adults and kids alike. It is also quicker to prepare, win, win.

You can serve this as an epic vegetarian main course, but I like to serve it alongside a host of other Greek dishes. It is also good cold, and makes for a really, great picnic dish – I take it along whole, and cut it into about 8 pieces when we find our picnic spot. 

Spanakopita - Greek Cheese & Spinach Pie
Spanakopita - Greek Cheese & Spinach Pie

Here’s how:
  • 1/2 pack filo pastry
  • Olive oil spray (you can also use a pastry brush and some poured olive oil)
  • 200g Feta cheese (do not use ‘Greek salad cheese’ it is not good!)
  • 150g Ricotta
  • 25g Cheddar (or other hard cheese)
  • 250g spinach leaves
  • 2 eggs
  • Fresh nutmeg
  • Black pepper

Firstly pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and use a generous amount of olive oil in a small-medium pie dish and brush all over to prevent any sticking.

Fill and boil the kettle and place the spinach leaves in a colander. Pour over enough freshly boiled water over the spinach leaves to just gently wilt and leave to drip in the sink.

Now to prepare the cheese mixture. Place the Feta into a mixing bowl and use a fork to roughly mash up a little bit. Now add the Ricotta and grate in the Cheddar. Season generously with black pepper – I omit from adding salt here as Feta tends to be quite salty, but add a pinch if you wish. Mix together roughly.

Now crack in the two eggs, which will enrich this mixture – and which is a very much Greek method of thickening things. Mix well and then grate over a really generous amount of the nutmeg – you want to be able to taste this in the final dish, so don’t be shy.

For the spinach, use a clean tea towel or some kitchen paper to really squeeze the excess liquid out of the wet leaves – try to get them as dry as possible to prevent any soggy bottom situations or from the pie being too wet. Once satisfied add to the cheese and egg mixture and stir it all until it is combined well and set aside.

Now it’s time to layer up the pie. Firstly add one whole sheet of filo over the pie dish long ways, and use your hands to gently press down into the base of the dish, so the excess filo pastry is hanging over the side of the dish. Be as gentle as possible here, as filo is incredibly delicate.

Now use the olive oil spray and spray all over the pastry (or use a pastry brush to gently coat) and then place another sheet over the pastry the width ways this time, repeating the process with pressing down, and then spraying with the oil.

Do one more layer long ways, and then you can spoon in the cheese and spinach mixture. Try to distribute it as evenly as you can. Once satisfied, take the excess pastry and layer it over the top of the pie, spraying any dry bits with the olive oil spray. (I appreciate this sounds like a lot of oil – but if you don’t follow this, the final pie can be really dry, and less appetising).

Take one final sheet of filo pastry, fold it half and place over the top of the pie, gently pressing it down to cover the entire pie. Give a final spray of oil and the pie is ready to bake in the oven. Pop it in for approximately 45 minutes – or until crisp and golden brown. If you have a speedy oven, check after 35 minutes to avoid burning.

Remove from the oven and allow to sit in the dish for five minutes, before using a palette knife to gently go around the outside of the pie, inside the dish, to prevent it sticking, then very carefully use a fish slice or spatula to help you remove the pie from the dish and place onto a wooden board or large plate to serve. Enjoy!

Some other Greek recipes you may enjoy:

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Spicy Beef Quesadilla with Avocado Salad

These Spicy Beef Quesadilla are a really comforting dish to have on a work/school night and the accompanying creamy little salad works perfectly with it.

I've used beef mince here but you could just as easily use turkey, lamb, pork or chicken mince - but the beef work well with the level of spicing I've used. If you don't like much heat, adjust the spices accordingly and maybe remove the red chilli.

The below serves a family of four with a couple leftover to fight over.

Spicy Beef Quesadillas with Avocado Salad

Here's how:

  • Few sprays of Frylight Olive Oil or a drizzle of olive oil
  • 450g beef or steak mince
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 red chilli
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp hot paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 250g mushrooms
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 can red kidney beans

  • x6 tortilla wraps
  • 1 ball Mozzarella
  • Handful of grated Cheddar

For the salad:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 8 sweet cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small tin of sweetcorn (or one corn on the cob, cooked, and with the corn extracted)
  • Pinch sea salt
  • Juice of half a lime

Firstly prepare the beef by adding the Frylight or olive oil to a large wok or frying pan and placing on a low heat.

Peel and finely dice the onion, mince the garlic and slice the chilli (keep the seeds in for an extra kick) and add to the warm pan.

In the meantime, slice the red pepper and the mushrooms and set aside.

Once the onion mixture has begun to soften, add the mince to the pan, season well with the salt and pepper and use a wooden spatula to break up a little and ensure it cooks evenly all over.

After a couple of minutes in the pan, add the coriander, cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper and mix well.

Allow to cook until the meat is completely browned off and then add the red peppers, red kidney beans, mushrooms and the tomato puree; mix well and then allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes.

In the meantime prepare the salad by firstly removing the flesh of the avocados and placing into a small bowl. Use the back of a fork to carefully mash the avocado - you don't want a complete puree here, so go easy. Chop the cherry tomatoes up into small pieces and add to the avocado and then add the corn too. Squeeze over the lime juice, season with sea salt and mix gently and the salad is ready.

Now take the Mozzarella ball, and very thinly slice and set aside.

To make the quesadilla, firstly place the frying pan on a medium heat and add a couple of sprays of the Frylight.

Now place one tortilla wrap into the pan, with half on the pan side - you can use a knife or a spoon to prevent the other half going into the pan. Work quickly here. Now spoon over a generous portion of the spicy beef mix and ensure the half of tortilla is well covered. Top with a little Mozzarella and grated Cheddar, fold the other half of the tortilla over and fry for 3-4 minutes until nicely golden brown.

Now carefully use a fish slice and/or spatula to turn the tortilla over and cook on the other side until golden and the cheese has just melted.

Remove from the pan carefully placing onto a wooden board or plate and pop into the oven on a low heat to keep warm.

In the meantime, be assembling the next quesadilla in the pan repeating the process until all are cooked.

Now slice each quesadilla in half or smaller pieces for any little ones, and place onto a plate, stacked up with a couple of spoonfuls of the avocado salad. Enjoy!