STARTERS: Green Pea, Feta & Mint Pâté (Marie), Spanakopita (Geraldine), Vegetable Tagine with Chick Peas (Liz)
PUDDINGS: Plum frangipane tart (Liz), Chocolate Truffle Torte (Claire), Blackcurrant Cheesecake (Ann)
Green Pea, Feta and Mint Pâté – From Green World Cookbook by Rachel Demuth
300g organic frozen peas
175g feta cheese
50g Cheddar, grated
75g crème fraiche
1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced
Juice and zest of one lemon (I used ½ lemon juice)
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/Gas 6
Grease and line a 450g loaf tin with baking parchment.
Cook the peas and drain, then refresh under cold water to retain vibrancy of their colour.
In the food processor blend all the ingredients, except the eggs and black pepper. Check for seasoning before mixing in the eggs. Mix in the eggs and blend thoroughly and add black pepper to taste.
Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin. Cover the top with baking parchment and bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes or until firm.
Serve the pate cold, cut in slices with warm walnut bread or a nutty seeded wholemeal loaf.
SPANAKOPITA – ΣΠΑΝΑΚΌΠΙΤΑ
READY IN: 1hr 30mins SERVES: 15-18
1 lb filo pastry (fresh or frozen but note defrosting instructions vary from brand to brand eg some need defrosting for 24 hours in the fridge)
1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil, approximately
1⁄4 cup olive oil
2 lbs spinach, cleaned, tough stems removed
6 spring onions, cleaned, sliced in 1/4 inch lengths
1 leek, white and tender part of green, cleaned, sliced in 1/4 inch lengths (if very large, slice leek in half lengthwise before slicing)
1 medium red onion, chopped fine
3⁄4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped or blitzed
1⁄2 – 3⁄4 lb feta cheese, crumbled (Use less for a sweeter taste)
3 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper
Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions and leek until translucent, approx 5 mins on medium heat. Add the spinach and cook until the leaves have wilted and the liquid has cooked off, about 8-10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, finely chop the spinach and place in a large bowl.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190° C, Gas mark 5)
Lightly oil (use olive oil!) metal baking pan – 10 X 15 inch or similar.
Add dill and feta cheese to the spinach. Add salt and pepper to taste (be sparing with salt as feta is salty). Pour the eggs over and give a stir to combine well.
Place filo on a work surface. Work quickly and cover the pastry sheets with a damp cloth each time you remove one as you prepare the pie.
Layer the filo in the pan, allowing the edges to hang over the sides of the pan, brushing or sprinkling each layer with olive oil.
Use up half the filo sheets to make the bottom pastry layer, allowing excess pastry to drape over edge of pan.
Put the spinach mixture in and press the top down gently to flatten filling. Tuck in the pastry draping over the edges for a neat finish – if you prefer a more rustic look then tuck in the pastry after final layering on top of the spinach mixture.
Repeat layering with the remaining filo, oiling each sheet.
Using a sharp knife or scissors, score the upper layers of pastry into the size pieces you will want to serve once the pie is baked – BE CAREFUL NOT TO CUT THROUGH ALL LAYERS.
Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for approximately 40-45 minutes until it is golden brown. For the last 15-20 minutes, you can put the baking pan directly on the oven floor to crisp the base better.
Cool till just warm (never eat this hot as the flavours develop as it cools). Cut into pieces and serve either just warm or at room temperature.
Feel free to adjust the amount of olive oil – most Greeks would use a lot more and you may want to use less but be aware that flavour may be compromised.
Vegetable Tagine with chick peas
(tweaked from two recipes: Chickpea, Olive & Raisin Tagine from The Really Quite Good British Cookbook (various chefs) and Chickpea, Aubergine and Date Tagine from Mob Veggie Cookbook.
Pinch saffron in half cup hot water
1 tablespoon ras el hanout
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoon tomato paste
2 large onions (1 chopped, 1 feathered)
3 cloves garlic crushed
4 diced carrots
1 sweet potato peeled & cut into chunks
1 aubergine cut into chunks
1 courgette cut into chunks
1 red pepper diced
Large handful chopped dried apricots
6 chopped dates
2 cans drained chick peas
50g puy lentils rinsed and drained
150g green olives
1 tablespoon honey
375 ml vegetable stock
Bunch of chopped parsley (some for garnish)
Juice of a lemon
Good shake of Worcestershire sauce
1 small cauliflower blitzed in a food processor to crumbs
Chopped toasted almonds (for garnish)
Pomegranate seeds (for garnish)
Salt & pepper
Make up the saffron water.
Melt butter in a large pan.
Add and fry spices for few minutes. Add tomato paste.
Add onions and fry for 5-10 mins until softened. Add garlic and fry for few more minutes.
Add carrots, sweet potato, aubergine, courgette and pepper. Cook for few minutes turning constantly. Add apricots, dates, chick peas, lentils, raisins, olives, honey, saffron water and veg stock.
Add Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and 2/3rds of the parsley.
Either cook on stove top, oven or slow cooker until all is nearly tender. Add cauliflower and let cook out.
Taste and season with salt and pepper. When serving garnish with toasted almonds, pomegranate seeds & parsley. Serve with pitta bread or other bread. Enjoy.
Digestive biscuits, crushed 175g
Butter , melted 75g
Lebnie or low fat skimmed milk cheese 280g
Raw brown sugar 50g
Honey – 2 tbsp
Blackcurrants (topped and tailed) 100g
Double cream – lightly whipped 250ml
Fresh blackcurrant sprig or lemon balm leaves to decorate
Preparation time: 25 minutes plus chilling
Mix together the crushed biscuits and melted butter. Press the mixture evenly over the base of a 20cm loose bottom tin. Refrigerate for at least an hour while preparing filling.
Beat together the cheese, sugar and honey until smooth. Stir in the blackcurrants.
Then fold in the whipped cream. Spoon evenly over the biscuit base.
Refrigerate for several hours or overnight, till firm.
Decorate with sprigs of fresh blackcurrants or lemon balm leaves.
THE FAMOUS CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE TORTE – from Delia’s Happy Christmas
450g dark chocolate (70-75% cocoa solids)
5 tablespoons liquid glucose
5 tablespoons rum
570ml double cream, at room temperature
75g Amaretti biscuits, crushed finely with a rolling pin
To serve: cocoa powder for dusting, chilled single pouring cream, some extra Amaretti biscuits
You will also need a 9 inch (23 cm) cake tin, lined with a circle of baking parchment and the base and sides lightly brushedwith groundnut oil.
Start off by sprinkling the crushed biscuits all over the base of the tin.
Next break the chocolate into sections and put them in a heat proof bowl together with the liquid glucose and the rum. Sit over a saucepan containing 5cm of barely simmering water, without the bowl touching the water – it will take 5-10 minutes to become melted, smooth and glossy. Stir, then take off the heat and leave the mixture to cool for 5 minutes or so, until it feels just warm.
Now, in a separate bowl, beat the cream to the floppy stage. Fold half into the chocolate mixture and then fold that mixture into the rest of the cream. When it is smoothly blended, spoon it into the prepared tin. Tap the tin gently to even the mixture out, cover with clingfilm and chill overnight.
Just before serving, run a palette knife round the edge to loosen the torte, then give it a good shake and turn the whole thing out on to a serving plate (don’ t be nervous about this – it’s very well behaved). To serve, dust the surface with sifted cocoa powder and a few amaretti biscuits and, if you like, mark the top into serving sections . Have some chilled pouring cream to go with it; if you have any, a couple of tablespoons of amaretti liqueur will make a wonderful addition to the cream.
NOTE: The torte does freeze well, but since you can also make it a couple of days in advance, this doesn’t really seem necessary.