Monday, 31 May 2010

Mini-Spanikopita (Flaky spinach and fennel pastries)

This is my cross between Rose Elliot's Flaky Spinach and Fennel pastries and Spanikopita.

8 sheets filo pastry
3oz butter, melted

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped (spring onions can also be used)
1 tbsp olive oil
1lb fresh spinach, cooked, well-drained and chopped, or 8oz frozen spinach thawed and squeezed as dry as possible
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2-4oz feta cheese, crumbled small
1tsp fennel seed (optional)

1. Make the filling by frying the onion in olive oil in a large saucepan until soft but not browned, then remove from heat and add the cooked spinach, chopped parsley and fennel seed.
2. Preheat oven to 190C/Gas mark 5.
3. Unroll the filo pastry and spread out in a pile with a damp cloth over.
4. Take one sheet of filo pastry, place on a large board and brush all over with melted butter. Lay another sheet on top and brush that too. Cut into five equal-width strips.
5. Place a teaspoon of filing 2.5 cm from the end of one strip. Fold the top corner over, making a triangular shape. Then fold the whole triangle over itself again and again until you get to the end of the strip. Brush with melted butter and place on greased baking sheet.
6. Continue with the rest of the filo and filling in the same way until it is all used up and you have lots of little triangles on baking trays.
7. Bake for 15 min until the pastry is golden-brown and crisp.

NB can be frozen after step 6, then cooked from frozen.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Lemon Curd

For this recipe you will need a microwave oven (conventionally it is done in a double boiler saucepan).

Makes about three jars.


1 lb sugar
4 eggs
4 lemons
8 oz butter


  1. Find a large mixing bowl, made of glass, plastic or china (not metal).
  2. Put the pat of butter in the mixing bowl and warm it in the microwave for 30 seconds to soften it.
  3. Add the grated rind and juice of the lemons to the bowl.
  4. Add the sugar.
  5. Put the bowl in the microwave again and heat it for a minute or two till it's all runny. Stir it.
  6. Add the eggs and beat the mixture with a hand whisk (or a fork would probably do okay) until it's all smooth and a consistent colour and consistency all through.
  7. Microwave for 30 seconds on full power. Remove and whisk the mixture again.
  8. Repeat step 7 for as many times as required (about 7-8 times) until the mixture becomes thick and creamy. It must not boil. Use medium power for the last one or two sessions if you are anxious about going too far.
  9. Pot into warm glass jam jars, and screw on the lids while it is still hot (or use the traditional wax paper and cellophane jam covers).
  10. Use within about 4 weeks. May need to be refrigerated after opening depending on how fast you eat it.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Victoria Sponge

Quantity for 8" sandwich tins or approx 18 fairy cakes.

6oz butter
6oz (vanilla) sugar
6oz self-raising flour
3 eggs
vanilla essence (optional)

1. Line base of sandwich tins with greaseproof paper and grease tins.
2. Cream butter and sugar until 'soft and fluffy' - if butter is hard, give it 20 second in microwave on full power.
3. Weigh up flour ready but do not add to mixture.
4. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat enthusiastically and add a spoonful of flour between eggs to prevent curdling.
5. Beat in remaining flour (and a few drops of vanilla essence if desired).
6. Divide evenly into two tins and spread out (or dollop into cake cases for fairy cakes using a teaspoon).
7. Bake in oven gas mark 4, 180C (160C in fan oven) for 20-25 mins until golden on top and starting to come away from the tin at the edges. Fairy cakes take 15-20 mins.

Allow to cool, then fill with butter icing - or jam, or lemon curd, etc.

Lemon option - add grated rind of 1 lemon to cake mixture, use juice from the lemon in butter icing for filling.
Chocolate option - replace 1oz of the flour with 1oz cocoa powder.