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Posts Tagged ‘Filo pastry’

We recently discovered the ‘Theo’s’ brand of filo pastry in one of our local shops; definitely better than most others we’ve used. It’s usefully a touch larger per sheet, and very easy to work with. Combined with a light, crispy finish we’ll definitely be putting some in our freezer for whenever the mood strikes.

This is a rich and substantial dish, but you can divide it all between two pie dishes and freeze one for later if you like. Serve with a green salad with bacon bits and lemony dressing.

Wine Suggestion: This is worth splashing out on a good Chardonnay that has both body and a nutty, mineral freshness. An old favourite of ours would be something from the Jura, but given their scarcity opened an Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc “les Sétilles”, a cuvée from Puligny and Meursault vineyards that while inexpensive has some serious chops behind it. All citrussy, deep and bubbling with energy.

Smoked haddock, cheese & leek pie – serves 6 to 8

  • 600ml full fat milk
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp white peppercorns
  • 650g smoked haddock fillets
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 75g butter, plus extra for frying
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 2 large leeks, halved and finely sliced
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp English mustard powder
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 175g strong cheddar, diced

FOR THE FILO CRUST:

  • 140g butter
  • 6 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 400g filo pastry, preferably Theo’s brand
  • large bunch of chives, finely snipped

Bring the milk, bay and peppercorns to a simmer in a large shallow pan. Add the smoked haddock fillets, then remove from the heat and cover with a lid. Leave for 30 minutes. Remove the haddock from the liquid onto a plate, then strain the milk into a jug.

Remove any skin and bones from the haddock and break into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

Heat the oil and a small knob of butter in a pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 15 minutes, or until softened. Add the leeks and cook for 2 minutes, then set aside to cool (drain in a colander if there is liquid).

In the same pan, melt the 75g butter, then stir in the flour to make a paste. Cook for a few minutes, then slowly add the warm milk, stirring constantly, until you have a smooth sauce. Stir in the mustard powder, lemon juice and some seasoning, then pass through a fine sieve.

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Put the leeks into the base of a 1.6 litre pie dish and top with a third of the sauce. Next add the smoked haddock and another third of the sauce. Finally, scatter over the cheese and top with the remaining sauce, making sure the filling is completely covered.

For the filo pastry, melt the butter in a small pan, then add the galric and heat gently for about 5 minutes. Lay a sheet of filo pastry on a wooden board and brush all over with the garlic butter, then sprinkle with chives and some black pepper. Put another sheet of pastry on top, at a slight angle and repeat. Continue until all of the pastry is used, you will end up with a sort of pastry circle. Lay this over the pie dish, trim the edges with scissors or a sharp knife, but still leave an overhang. Brush with a final layer of butter, sprinkle with flaky sea salt and bake for 40 minutes or until crisp.

(Original recipe by Tom Kerridge in BBC Good Food Magazine, March 2015.)

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What a clever idea this cauliflower cheese pie is, and the filo pastry makes it straightforward too. This one is from the clever people at the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen. It takes shape perfectly in the oven and then oozes appropriately when you cut into it. A definite crowd-pleaser.

Wine Suggestion: A rich white was called for, and while we’d have normally gone for a Chardonnay by default we had something different in the glass: Quinta Soalheiro’s Primeiras Vinhas. An old-vine alvarinho partially made in old oak that was velvety, concentrated and powerful. Despite it being bone dry the fruit was sophisticated and effortless. We’d opened this the day before and had to admit it was even better on the second day so a good one for the cellar.

Curried cauliflower cheese pie – serves 4

  • 1 large cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite-sized florets
  • 2 tsp mild-medium curry powder
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g unsalted butter, 50g cut into cubes and 50g melted to brush the pastry with later
  • 75g plain flour
  • 675ml full-fat milk
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 ½ tbsp English mustard
  • 150g mature cheddar cheese, roughly grated
  • 6 sheets of filo pastry
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
  • 1 ½ tsp lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 180C fan.

Line the bottom and sides of a 23cm springform cake tin with baking parchment.

Line a large baking tray with baking parchment and place the cauliflower florets onto it. Add the curry powder, 1 ½ tbsp of olive oil, ½ tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper. Toss with your hands to coat, then roast for 20 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly browned. Set the cauliflower aside.

Lower the oven temperature to 170C fan.

Meanwhile, make the béchamel sauce. Put the 50g of butter into a medium-sized saucepan and melt over a medium-high heat, then add the flour and stir to combine. Cook for a minute or two, then gradually add the milk stirring constantly and waiting for it all to be incorporated before adding any more. You can use a whisk to do this but we prefer a wooden spoon. When all the milk has been added, continue to cook the sauce for about 7 minutes or until slightly thickened. Keep stirring the whole time until it bubbles, then turn it down and keep giving it regular stirs. Remove from the heat and stir in the garlic, mustard, cheese and ¼ tsp of salt, keep stirring until the cheese has melted.

Get your filo pastry out of the pack and cover it with a damp tea towel to stop it drying out. Combine the melted butter with 1 ½ tbsp of oil. Take one sheet of filo at a time, brush the upper side with the butter mixture and drape into the cake tin, butter side up. Push it down gently to fit into the tin. Continue with the remaining sheets , brushing each with butter and laying in the tin, rotate the tin slightly each time so the pastry hangs over the sides at a different angle.

Spoon half the béchamel into the tin and top with the roasted cauliflower. Spoon over the rest of the sauce, then crimp the overhanging pastry to form a border, leaving the centre of the pie exposed. Brush the top of pastry with the butter mixture, then place onto a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Carefully release the outer circle of the baking tin and remove the paper to expose the sides, bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the sides are nicely browned. Leave to rest out of the oven for 15 minutes before serving.

Top with the parsley and the lemon zest and cut into big wedges to serve. Some salad is nice on the side.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Noor Murad & Yotam Ottolenghi, Ebury Press, 2021.)

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We loved this deep-filled veggie pie and it looks so bright with the broken eggs on the top. Excellent for lunch or dinner or to pack up for a picnic. Leftovers are good too. Use a 23cm round baking tin. Serve with a salad.

Wine Suggestion: Pick a white you’d be happy having on a picnic; something with a bit of body and dry, minerality. For us it was an old vine Bourgogne Aligote from Domaine Gueguen in Chablis. Full and round with apricot and apple flavours and a saline, chalky twist at the end. Tasting this we wonder why Aligote isn’t more popular as it is delicious.

Spinach, egg and filo pie – serves 8

  • 70g butter
  • 1 small packet of filo pastry

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 50g butter
  • 500g spinach
  • 1 small bunch of dill, chopped
  • 3-4 scallions, chopped
  • a few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked and chopped (about 2 tsp)
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 160g  cup yoghurt
  • 50g plain flour
  • 8 eggs
  • 50g finely grated pecorino
  • 50g feta

Melt the 50g portion of butter for the filling in a large saucepan. Add the spinach and cover, then cook for a few minutes until wilted. Drain in a colander to drain off the excess liquid. Transfer to a large bowl and add the dill, scallions, thyme, dried mint, salt, pepper and nutmeg and mix well. Add the yoghurt, flour, 4 of the eggs, the pecorino and feta, and mix well to combine.

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Melt the 70g portion of butter for the pastry and take the filo sheets out of the packet. Brush the first sheet with the melted butter and lay another sheet on top. Lift these 2 sheets into the round baking tin, allowing a little overhang. Repeat this process and put another layer in the tin, slightly overlapping the first. Continue this way until the tin is fully lined with pastry, with pastry over hanging on all sides. You will probably need about 4 double sheets.

Fill the pastry lined tin with the spinach mixture, then fold the filo overhang to cover the edges of the filling but don’t cover the whole surface. Scrunch the pastry to form a crunchy rim and brush with a little more butter. Place in the oven for 10 minutes.

Carefully remove the tin from the oven and crack the remaining 4 eggs over the surface. Aim to have an egg yolk in each quarter and for the egg white to be evenly distributed. Use the tip of a sharp knife to swirl the yolk into the filling but don’t push it in too much. Put the pie back in the oven and bake for another 20 minutes or until the spinach mixture and eggs are set and the pastry crispy.

(Original recipe from Honey & Co. At Home by Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich, Pavilion, 2018.)

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The flavours in this little Middle Eastern pie are stunning. You can make the filling up to a couple of days ahead and keep it in the fridge, the problem with this is trying to resist eating it. If your filo pastry is frozen you should defrost it in the fridge overnight, defrosting in haste causes the sheets to stick together. You can also re-freeze any sheets that you don’t use. Sarit and Itamar suggest serving with a rocket and orange salad dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. We had a green salad which worked fine too.

Wine Suggestion: we chose the Manciat-Poncet Pouilly Vinzelles which is a classic Chardonnay with good weight and a delightful balance of perfectly ripe fruit, vibrant freshness and judiciously handled oak. Aromatically broad and rich to counter the rich chicken flavours and natural minerality giving it all lift and vitality.

Chicken pastilla – serves 4-6

  • 6 chicken thighs (about 800g)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 100g pitted dates
  • 3 onions (about 300g), sliced thinly
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 dried chilli
  • 2 tbsp ras el hanout
  • 240ml water
  • 1 packet of filo pastry (250g-270g)
  • 60g melted butter

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Put a large frying pan over a medium heat. Put the chicken thighs into the pan, skin-side down, then season with 1 tsp of the salt and the pepper. After about 10-15 minutes the skin should be crisp and nicely coloured. Turn the thighs over and cook on the other side for about 5 minutes, then transfer to an oven-proof pan that can fit them all in one layer. Add the dates.

Add the sliced onions to the fat in the frying pan and add another tsp of salt. Cook until soft and starting to turn golden, then add the cinnamon stick, dried chilli and ras el hanout. Mix well together and cook for 30 seconds, then add the water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, pour over the chicken thighs, then cover the pan and put in the centre of the oven for 1 hour.

Check that the chicken is cooked, it should just fall off the bone. If not, return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes. Set the chicken aside until cool enough to handle.

Pour the contents of the pan into a sieve over a bowl, keep the cooking liquid. Pull the chicken from the bones and discard the skin, bones and any gristly bits. Remove the chilli and cinnamon stick. Mix the chicken with the cooked dates and onions, then add just enough of the liquid to bind it all together. You can prepare this part up to 2 days in advance and keep in the fridge until needed. Keep the extra liquid too and serve as a sauce on the side.

Preheat the oven to 200C/180 fan/gas 6.

Open the filo pastry packet and lay it out on a surface.

Carefully peel off the first sheet and brush with the melted butter, then fold into four and set aside (this will form the base of the pastilla).

Peel of the next sheet and butter it, then cover with another sheet and set aside. Repeat with two more sheets, so you have two sheets of double thickness.

Place one doubled sheet lengthways on the table, put the folded square in the centre of it, then lay the other doubled sheet on top at 90° to the first sheet, so you have a cross shape that is thickest in the middle.

Carefully lift the pastry and place in a 22-24cm ovenproof frying pan letting the sides hang over the edge. Fill with the chicken mixture and fold the corners over to cover it. It looks nice if its a bit crumpled so no need to be to neat about it. Brush the top of the pie with the rest of the melted butter and put into the centre of the oven for 15 minutes. Turn the pan around so it all crisps evenly, then cook for another 10-15 minutes until crisp and golden.

Meanwhile, heat the cooking liquid in a small pan.

Serve immediately with a jug of the sauce to pour over and a salad on the side.

(Original recipe from Honey & Co. by Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich, Saltyard Books, 2014.)

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Beetroot & feta samosas

These are so simple to make and you can stash them in the freezer and cook from frozen so great for a snack or starter with drinks.

Wine Suggestion: We’ve tried these with a few different wines and prefer them if the wine is chilled. Quite a few whites worked really well, but interestingly the best combination was a chilled red made from Grignolino from the Piedmont in norther Italy. Light bodied and yet dry with hints of (in balance) pippy bitterness and structured, light tannins. From a bottle a friend brought over and made by Olim Bauda; a nice discovery.

Beetroot & feta samosas – makes 18-24 samosas

  • 400g fresh beetroot
  • 200g feta cheese, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 30g coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp toasted cumin seeds, crushed
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 x 270g packs of filo pastry
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted
  • onion seeds (nigella seeds), to garnish

Boil the beetroot until tender when pierced with a sharp knife, this can take an hour or more depending on what size they are.

Trim the beetroot and peel off the skin (you might like to wear gloves), then roughly mash.

Put the mashed beetroot into a hot frying pan over a medium heat and heat for 5 minutes to remove excess moisture, then transfer to a bowl.

Stir in the feta, scallions, coriander, green chilli, garlic, chilli powder, cumin, garam masala and salt.

Lay a sheet of the filo pastry out with the long side towards you (cover the rest of the filo with a damp tea towel). Brush the left hand side of the pastry sheet lightly with the melted butter. Fold the right hand side of the sheet over the left so you have a double layer of pastry. Cut the pastry into 3 long strips with a sharp knife.

Place a heaped tbsp of the beetroot mixture at the bottom of a pastry strip, then fold the bottom right hand corner up over the filling to make a small triangle. Flip the triangle over as you move up the pastry strip, the filling will eventually be sealed inside. When you get to the end, brush the end of the pastry strip with a little melted butter and press to seal.

Continue like this until all of the beetroot mixture has been used, you might not need all of the filo pastry.

If you want to freeze the samosas at this stage you can set them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, then place in tray in the freezer. When the samosas are frozen you can transfer them to a bag.

If you want to cook the freshly made samosas, preheat the oven to 200ºC/400°F/gas 6. Brush the samosas on both sides with melted butter and sprinkle a few onion seeds over the top. Put onto a lightly greased baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

To cook from frozen. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400°F/gas 6. Brush both sides with melted butter, sprinkle a few onion seeds over the top, and put onto a lightly greased baking tray. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until crisp and golden.

(Original recipe from Made in India by Meera Sodha, Fig Tree, 2014.)

 

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Spanakopita

We can’t get enough of this classic Greek dish and we especially like this herby version by Felicity Cloake. Serve with salad.

Wine Suggestion: we think this works best with crisp, herbal white wines. As we couldn’t find a Greek Assyrtiko we chose instead the Zuani Vigne Collio Bianco, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Friulano and Chardonnay from north-eastern Italy.  White flowers, peaches, crisp yellow apple and citrus aromas and flavours are followed by a good texture, vitality and fresh acidity.

Spanakopita – serves 6

  • 1kg frozen whole leaf spinach, defrosted
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion or leek, finely chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 300g feta, crumbled
  • 25g dill, chopped
  • 20g mint, leaves removed and chopped
  • 3 sprigs of oregano, chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • nutmeg
  • 250g filo pastry
  • oil, for brushing

Gently fry the onion or leek in the oil until softened, then remove from the heat and stir in the scallions. Tip into a large bowl with the feta and herbs.

Squeeze the spinach with your hands until all of the liquid has comes out, then stir into the cheese mix. Add the egg, lemon zest, a splash of oil and a good grating of nutmeg, then mix with your hands. Season lightly (not too much salt).

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/Gas 6.

Brush a 30cm x 25cm baking tin with olive oil, then line with half the filo, brushing each sheet with oil as you go and trying not to press down. Leave the excess pastry hanging over the sides.

Spoon the filling into the pastry lining, level the top, then put the lid on: repeat the layering process with the rest of the filo pastry. Fold the overhang inwards to form a rim and drizzle with more oil and cut into portions.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden and leave to cool slightly before serving.

(Original recipe by Felicity Cloake in The Guardian, Wed 22 Aug 2018)

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