Spanakopita is a delicious Greek filo pastry parcel or pie stuffed with wild greens and feta cheese. These ones are formed into individual triangles with crisp crackly pastry on the outside and a chewy, salty, fresh tasting inside. The greens in this filling are mostly nettles and three cornered leeks.
We’re well into December now and I’m happy to say, the festive season is upon us. If you’re hosting, I have the most delicious mushroom & chestnut vegetarian sausage rolls to help your party go with a swing. Or if you’re invited out and need a dish to take along, these will do the job perfectly.
If you’ve never rolled a cucumber, I urge you to do so. These cucumber roll-ups with garlicky feta & mint filling make for a delicious refreshing summer starter, light lunch or barbecue accompaniment. They’re really easy to make, especially if you have the OXO Good Grips Chef’s Mandoline Slicer 2.0 at your disposal.
These cabbage & cheddar muffins with garlic scapes are incredibly easy to make and are packed full of vegetables and protein. They’re also very tasty and being bite size are ideal for packed lunches, picnics or parties. They freeze well too.
The party season is now in full swing and although I rarely buy ready made pastry, these Gourmet Pidy pastry cases make excellent party fare for a time strapped host. Time and thought can go into creating delicious fillings without worrying about making the pastry and then having to shape it suitably. Pidy are a Belgium company that has been making their award winning pastry cases since 1952. They provide a range of interesting pastry forms, but have only recently launched into the home cook’s market. Their products are available via Amazon, delis, farm shops and other independent retailers.
Having decided on chilli as this month’s ingredient for We Should Cocoa, I rather lost the plot and ran out of inspiration. I’d just made a chilli chocolate cake so wanted to do something a bit different. I eventually plumped on chocolate chilli truffles which I was quite excited about, but in the end I ran out of time. I also had the first ripened chillies from our plot and they needed using.
CT is trying to breed a species of chilli called rocoto (Capsicum pubescens), so it can not only grow outdoors in the UK but will also ripen reliably. This means, all being well, we end up with a mountain of chillies to process each year. Luckily, we’re both fond of chillies and I make this chilli sauce every season, which doubles nicely as a Christmas present for chilli lovers.
So stuffed chillies it was going to be. My first thought was to stuff them with a mixture of chocolate and ricotta as I liked the idea of chocolate ricotta rocotos; thinking it through, I decided cream cheese would be a better option. These chillies are hot and having eaten them stuffed before, I was concerned they might just blow our heads right off. Fat is one of the best methods of cooling down the capsaisin, the compound responsible for their heat; either that or sugar. Ahhh, sugar. I had been going to use a dark 85% chocolate to mix with the cheese, but finding out about the sugar, I went for a sweeter chocolate instead. Orange chocolate was the one I chose as I thought the zingy flavour would bring out the citrus notes in the chillies. So this is what I did:
- Asked CT to do the difficult bit decapitating and deseeding 8 rocoto chillies without breaking them – no mean feat.
- Melted 30g of 47% dark orange chocolate (Lindt Orange Intense)
- Mixed this into 100g cream cheese.
- Using the handle end of a teaspoon, pushed this mixture into the chillies. Placed the tops back on the chillies and placed into a greased baking dish.
- Baked on the bottom shelf of the oven whilst the bread was baking at 200C and left them there for 20 minutes.
- Drizzled some more of the melted chocolate over the top.
Hope springs eternal but so does the heat of a rocoto. We had one each, eaten with a cooling chillie free cauliflower curry and rice AND they still nearly blew our heads off. Luckily a fire extinguisher was at hand in the form of the leftover filling which we spooned into our mouths in desperation. This was only marginally cooling, but it was delicious and I think will be featuring in some future cheesecake recipe. CT said, when he recovered his voice, that it felt like someone had poured molten wax down his Eustachian tubes. I would not recommend this method of eating chillies unless you are of a particularly strong constitution.
PS the next evening CT blitzed the remaining curry for soup and included 1 chilli. If you like your food spicy hot, this was just about right – delicious.