Eat Your Greens !
For the evening meal Gill chose a pasta dish with (canned) tuna. I took the easy way out and cooked quick-cook penne. Fried some mushrooms (Gill loves mushrooms), added those to the drained pasta with the flaked tuna, stirred in some creme fraiche and a tsp of tomato puree, heated through and served with Parmesan Cheese. Sounds boring but it did taste good. No pud for me, Gill had a banana and yogurt. Tonight will be beef casserole, plus a bottle of my husband's wine so that we can toast Rita's birthday (a mutual friend of ours), which is today, as is also my son's.
Spanakapita: Greek Spinach Pie - serves 4
300g spinach leaves - wilted and chopped (see above)
1 onion, finely chopped
4 oz (225g) feta cheese, crumbled
1 tblsp fresh dill, chopped, or 1 tsp dried
1 -2 tbslp fresh parsley, chopped
2 eggs, plus one extra for glazing
2 - 3 tblsp double cream
1 pkt puff pastry
Beat the 2 eggs with some salt and pepper. Using a saucepan, fry the onion in a little olive oil until soft. Add the spinach, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add herbs and cook uncovered for a further 2 minutes to allow any excess water to evaporate. Remove from heat. Stir in the cream and allow to cool slightly before adding the eggs and cheese.
Roll half the pastry thinly to around the size of a small Swiss Roll tin (which can be used as the baking tin. Spread the mixture over the pastry nearly, but not quite to the edges. Cover with the remaining pastry and pinch the edges or crimp with a fork to seal. Brush with beaten egg and bake at 200C, 400F, Gas 6 for 20 - 25 minutes.
Sweet Spinach Pie: serves four
1 lb spinach, wilted
1 tblsp grated fresh ginger
1 oz butter
1/2 oz sultanas
2 fl. oz dark rum
2 oz soft brown sugar
good pinch each allspice and freshly ground nutmeg
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 oz pine nuts
5 fl. oz double cream
1 pack puff pastry
1 tblsp. sesame seeds
First soak the sultanas in the rum for several hours. Overnight if possible.
Heat half the butter in a pan, gently fry and stir the ginger for a few seconds. Stir in the wilted and chopped spinach and cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl (save a little back for glazing), beat in the sugar, spice and lemon zest. Fry the pine nuts in the remaining butter until golaen (a few seconds only) .
Add the cream to the egg mix then stir in the spinach, and the soaked sultanas with any rum remaining, and finally the pine nuts.
Roll the pastry out as in above recipe, spreading over the mixture and topping with pastry in the same way. Glaze with egg and sprinkle over the sesame seeds. Bake as above - leave to stand 10 minutes. Slice and serve with whipped cream.
Millionaires' Shortbread: makes about 24 squares
This is made in three stages:
7 oz (200g) plain flour
2 oz (50g) rice flour
3 0z (75g) caster sugar
6 oz (175g) butter, softened.
(If you haven't rice flour use 9 oz of plain flour).
Mix the flours and sugar and rub in the butter until like fine crumbs. Knead together to make a dough then press into the base of a lightly greased 13"x9" (33 x 23cm) Swiss Roll tin. Flatten and prick with a fork then bake at 18oC, 350F, Gas 4 for about 20 minutes or until firm to the touch and a light golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin.
Caramel: 4 oz (100g) butter or margarine;
4 oz (100g) light muscovado sugar;
2 x 14 oz cans condensed milk.
Put the ingredients into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the simmer and keep stirring all the time or it will stick and burn. Simmer very gently for about five minutes until beginning to thicken. Pour over the shortbread. Leave to get cold.
Topping: 7 oz (200g) plain or flavoured chocolate, melted.
Pour the melted chocolate over the caramel and leave to set. Mark and cut to the size you wish.
Tip: Instead of just plain chocolate, using two bowls, melt half white and half dark. Pour some of each, in a random fashion, over the cake to cover, then take a skewer or use the end of a spoon and run it through the chocolate to make a marbled pattern.